Following a complete redesign of the Maldivian island resort, Gili Lankanfushi marks its 10th year with new experiences fitting its overall environmental ethos.
Inhabiting a tiny coral island that’s just a 20-minute boat ride from the Maldives’ capital in the North Malé Atoll, Gili Lankanfushi provides a rustic luxe take on the Maldivian private island experience, placing sustainability at the forefront of its overall hospitality approach.
Standalone overwater Crusoe Residences, which you can only reach by boat, and the what’s said to be the world’s largest overwater villa at 1,700sqm further set the barefoot luxury retreat apart.
Inspired by their natural surroundings and designed with sustainability in mind, the island’s 45 overwater villas combine a wood, bamboo and palm thatch structure with furnishings that are custom-made from recycled wood, white textiles and glass floor panels providing a glimpse of the ocean below.
Patterns mimicking the constellations are laser-cut into wooden coffee tables and coral patterns are printed onto textiles, with marine creatures such as turtles then incorporated into decorative details. The open-air second floor of each Crusoe Residence features a rooftop daybed for sleeping under the stars.
A highlight of the resort is its sprawling Private Reserve accommodating up to 12 guests in four bedrooms, with extensive indoor and outdoor living space, an open-air cinema, gym, spa, infinity pool and waterslide into the lagoon. All villas, as well as the Private Reserve, come with ‘Mr/Ms Friday’ butler service.
The island retreat relaunched with the design of Bali-based designer Maverick in December 2019 following a major renovation of the resort after it was partially destroyed by fire at the start of the year, with the on-island carpentry team crafting design details from recycled materials.
Post-pandemic, and now marking 10 years since it first came onto the Maldives’ hotel scene, the resort has enhanced the experience guests have in this redesigned island hideaway throughout 2022.
Earlier this year, the resort announced the launch of its new surf experiences, aimed at both beginners and advanced surfers, in partnership with Tropicsurf and led by the resident Tropicsurf instructors. beginners start on the lagoon’s less challenging waves and those with more experience head out on a boat to some of the Maldives’ best surfing spots. A surf and spa option combines this surf tuition with Surf Remedial Massage treatment.
The launch of these new surf packages was then followed with the introduction of executive chef Harinath Govindaraj’s new plant-based culinary concept in which island-grown produce is showcased in a chef’s table experience right at the heart of the resort’s lush organic garden.
Chef Hari transforms the growing range of vegetables and herbs into tasting menus of creative dishes like a Gili Garden Green Gazpacho and his signature aloe vera and coconut ceviche with aloe vera tempura, which are all prepared and cooked in front of you while Hari share the story behind these ingredients, the plant-based culinary concept, and his own journey into cooking.
Further enhancing the environmentally minded food and drink offering, the resort has just revealed its own signature coffee blend created in partnership with a Malé-based coffee roaster who use beans sourced from small coffee farms.
As a part of its overall drive for sustainable tourism, the resort minimises its environmental footprint through water and energy reduction, a strict no plastic policy and an on-island eco centre for recycling glass, aluminium and food waste as well as plastic that’s carried on the current from other islands. Fish is caught using sustainable fishing methods and sourced from local fishermen, spa products are sourced from eco-friendly providers and produce is grown for the kitchen in the island’s organic garden.
Conservation projects then focus on marine initiatives such as a Coral Lines project aiming to protect and replenish the island’s house reef, growing and transplanting coral fragments to maintain biodiversity and mitigate episodes of bleaching.
The resort works to replenish, monitor and protect sea grass that is vital to the surrounding ecosystem, and the onsite marine biologists also work with several international NGOs, such as the Manta Trust, to support their conservation activities. The resident marine biologists and sustainability manager are on hand to give guest’s insight into this side to Gili.
Across the island, dining venues span European, Maldivian and Japanese cuisine, with wine and cheese tasting sessions hosted in the underground wine cellar incorporating a statement central table made out of reclaimed driftwood.
Facilities then range from a surf shack and marine biology laboratory to tennis courts, the main infinity pool, a dive centre, the overwater Meera Spa and a Jungle Cinema. Days here can be spent surfing, diving, snorkelling on the house reef and setting out on fishing and dolphin watching cruises on the resort’s yacht.
As this newly enhanced retreat celebrates its 10th year, the Maldivian hideaway succeeds in garnering new attention while retaining a loyal following with its rustic-luxe concept and eco status.