Gili Lankanfushi has always been described to me as the ultimate place to experience real barefoot luxury, and now I have experienced it, I definitely do believe it. Stepping foot on their transfer boat will be the last step you will take in your shoes until you board the boat again on your departure. The shoes you are wearing are placed in a canvas bag with the words on it “No News, No Shoes” and this, along with your luggage, will magically arrive in your room by the time you get there.
We arrived at Gili at 10am and unlike some previous places I have visited, there is no waiting for your room to be ready, no extra charge for your breakfast because you didn’t stay that night. Your room is ready and waiting, you are welcomed to indulge in breakfast and your personal Mr or Mrs Friday is on hand to help you settle straight in. Mr and Mrs Friday is the butler service on the island – they will cater to every whim, from helping to unpack, to organising private dinners and entertaining children. Atheef, who looked after us was simply wonderful and appeared magically whenever we needed him.
All of Gili’s 45 villas are overwater and our Villa Suite (Gili’s starting room category) was magnificent. 210sqm of wooden floorboards, daybeds, 2 sleeping areas (indoors and outdoors on the roof under the stars) and a bridge to a glass walled shower. This combined with the in villa dining means you don’t ever have to leave your room, but should you want to explore there are his and hers bicycles outside for you to cycle around the island on, a beautiful pool, tennis courts, fabulous snorkeling and the ‘Meera Spa’.
The spa is divine, with rustic wooden floorboards and views out over the Indian Ocean. I indulged in a full body massage and it was superb. So superb I fell asleep. I would definitely recommend booking a treatment for the day you arrive or the day after, I find it really helps me zone out and get into island life.
The ‘big’ question ‘did I get bored when I was in the Maldives?’ My answer is an all-encompassing ‘no’. My days at Gili (after a long lazy breakfast on the beach sampling the smoothies from a 15 page menu – each has ‘star’ ratings based on its health benefits – whether it be detox, skin, energy etc.) were spent doing a host of activities – interspersed with sunbathing. You are given a list of all the activities happening when you arrive on the island and your Mr/Ms Friday will arrange anything you wish you partake in (or anything else you desire!)
Snorkeling on the house reef is amazing – we were lucky enough to see black tipped reef sharks and a ray and the kitchen garden is amazing, the chef is only delighted to show you around and explain the different herbs, salads, fruits and vegetables. There are also numerous boat trips you can take to nearby islands or to spot dolphins (we were assured that we would see them – and we did!) and the lunchtime sushi making class at the wonderful Japanese restaurant ‘By the Sea’ is fantastic.
For those looking for something a little more relaxing there is the incredible jungle cinema, the over-water bar where you can spend your day sipping cocktails from the extensive list and watching the world pass you by or the underground wine cellar which as well as hosting lavish wine pairing dinners, also runs chocolate and wine tasting and cheese and wine tasting in the late afternoon – divine.
If you are looking for the ultimate in barefoot rustic luxury, Gili is in the place to visit…..