Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives

Voted the leading hotel in Maldives and ranked fifth in the top hotels in the world in the 2018 TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice awards, it’s hard to resist the charms of this serene Maldivian resort, with a rustic-chic style, eco-friendly ethos and impeccable service. There’s no rush, no fuss, just pure bliss. It’s perfect for bespoke honeymoons and romantic weddings, with petal-strewn baths, overwater hammocks, in-house choclatiers and a healing spa ritual using Tibetan bowls.

 

Located in the North Malé Atoll, this private resort island is just a 20-minutes speedboat ride from Malé international airport. There are a couple of other islands visible on the distant horizon, so it doesn’t offer the feeling of total isolation, but it is a paradise isle. A Robinson Crusoe theme runs through this desert-island resort: you’ll find copies of Defoe’s classic in your villa, the hotel’s motto is ‘no news, no shoes’, so everyone pads around barefoot and mobile phones are forgotten. You even have Man (or Woman) Friday ‘butlers’ during your stay.

 

Built with sustainable materials (palm, coconut, teak and bamboo), Gili Lankanfushi is one of the Maldives’ most eco-friendly resorts, with its own organic vegetable and herb garden used in its cuisine and a marine conservation programme. Plastic is banned, food waste is composted and other materials recycled and organic toiletries come in earthenware containers.

 

The 45 overwater villas are rustic yet luxurious and secluded. Built of weathered planks with palm-thatched roofs, all the villas are spacious and airy, with a central sitting room and a secluded open-air deck or sun terrace with a ladder into the lagoon. Some have overwater hammocks, bespoke wine cellars and guest rooms. At each end (with floor-to-ceiling windows onto the ocean) are the bedroom and vast bathroom with panoramic bathtub and a semi-open-air shower along a jetty. Upstairs, is a roof-terrace for dining or sleeping under the stars. Chunky wood furnishings give a sense of colonial style and all residences come with your personal Friday, who can arrange everything from a star-lit supper to a Dhoni sunset cruise.

 

The seven stand-alone Crusoe Residences offer a ‘castaway experience’, complete with their own small boat, while the others stretch along stilted jetties. For a romantic getaway, we highly recommend one of the two Spa Suites, offering couples treatments in a private massage room. Gili Lankanfushi also boasts the largest overwater villa in the Maldives: the Private Reserve, set on its own island, with a waterslide into an exclusive lagoon.

The resorts facilities include an ocean-side swimming pool, tennis courts and a fitness centre, and a jungle cinema showing classic films. Gili’s Dive Centre offers PADI certification, watersports, fishing and snorkelling trips as well as coral planting and eco-tours with Gili Lankanfushi’s marine biologist. Wellbeing treatments at the Meera Spa’s include bamboo massage with native oils, and yoga.

 

With its Robinson Crusoe theme, a great range of entertainment, kids menus and baby-sitting services, it’s also perfect for families. The Fridays will entertain the children while Mr and Mrs Crusoe pamper themselves…

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