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Gili Lankanfushi – Barefoot paradise in the Maldives

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All right – we knew we’d selected a 5-star resort on Gili Lankanfushi that would leave nothing more to be desired. But even so, what we found there far exceeded our expectations – welcome to an earthly paradise!

Boats on the beach at Gili Lankanfushi

Boats on the beach

Waiting for us upon our arrival at the airport in Malé was a tanned, friendly Maldivian with a dazzling white smile and a placard made of noble wood (no paper or plastic here) that had “Gili Lankanfushi” carved into it.

Barely had we settled into the cruiser waiting to ferry us to the island, we were “made” to take off our shoes; on Gili Lankanfushi they go by the motto “No Shoes, No News.” From that moment on we would only move about on bare feet – if at all… And this after I’d had packed our shoes for this trip faster than ever before – just flip-flops, oh yeah!

Katja & Walter on the cruiser to Gili Lankanfushi

By cruiser to Gili Lankanfushi – first, off with their shoes!

Gili Lankanfushi – the island

The paradisical isle Lankanfushi is part of the northern Malé atoll and is just 20 minutes by fast boat from the international airport on Malé. Friendly hosts (the term used on Lankanfushi for all who look after the guests – from waiters to housekeepers to the resort manager) already welcome us on the cruiser as it heads to the island, and we begin to learn more about our destination.

Sun bathing at the beach

Ready and waiting – your personal paradise.

As we tie up at the dock, we are yet again met by an entire delegation this time, including resort manager Brad and our Ms. Friday – our personal “butler,” emulating the way Robinson Crusoe named his faithful companion. All guests (or villas) on Lankanfushi have a Mr. or Ms. Friday assigned to look after the guests for the duration, arrange excursions or fulfill whatever other whim they read in their eyes. Wow…

An entire delegation awaiting our arrival

An entire delegation awaiting our arrival

Our Ms. Friday is Chinese and her real name is Rei. She takes us on our first tour of the island in a golf cart, introducing us to the beautiful white sand beaches, the restaurants, the pool bar and the dive center. She also helps us add the resort’s “open air movie theater,” library, boutique, souvenir shop and spa to our mental map.

It only takes this first tour for us to be captivated by the magnificently located island with its rich green palm and mangrove forest encircled by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. We find ourselves in a dream that becomes even more surreal the moment we step into our water villa…

The water villas

The 45 water villas built over the water on stilts are incredibly spacious. We first enter an “open living room” with an instant gorgeous view of the ocean and a sundeck with direct access to the water – what else?

Drinks on the sundeck

Now, that’s the way to have a drink…

Water villa sundeck

Our water villa’s sundeck

Seating corners, dining table, sun loungers – everything is arranged for enjoying the ultimate relaxing vacation in a tropical paradise to the hilt, with ocean everywhere you look. We start our mornings with an all-pervading feeling of happiness: simply heavenly is the only way to describe starting the day with a (still) cool breeze gently ruffling your hair and the ocean’s soothing sounds in your ears!

Open-air shower

This way to the open-air shower

The bathroom, too, is gigantic, generously laid out in an open plan with an outside private open-air-shower area. With a little luck, through the glass porthole in the floor, you get to watch a small shark or stingray swim by below. Beastly beautiful!

Stingray in front of the water villa

A “small” stingray comes to visit.

But where exactly is the bedroom? Possibly upstairs? Way off base – because upstairs there is another sundeck with view available. The no-less roomy bedroom is in line with the open bath and open living room. It is fully enclosed because it is the only air-conditioned room. Still, generous window walls let you watch the sunrise and sunset from inside. We guessed that the villa is some 20 meters on the long side!

View from the bathroom

View from the bathroom

Water Villa bedroom

Bedroom with view

Bedroom with a view

Walter thinks he deserves an office like this from his employer…

Eating beautifully on Gili Lankanfushi

As the name implies, the “Main Restaurant, “ built in rustic wooden style, is the principal restaurant where they offer both an extremely varied breakfast and put together individualized menus in the evenings. In no way, however, is this a run-of-the-mill restaurant, as the pedestrian name might suggest. While we were there, meals were prepared according to themes. So, for example, there was an “Asian food market” for which mouth-watering delicacies from the Asian realm were prepared fresh at various stations. In flying skillets. Seriously!

Appetizer

Delectable appetizer

To go it one better, one evening they served a Chef’s Gourmet menu. The food is delicious; vegetables and spices come mostly from the island’s own organic garden; the plates and buffets are arranged like little works of art and the super-busy patissier sees to it that each of the menus concludes with a brilliant treat.

You can enjoy a light midday lunch in the “Overwater Bar” or can let yourself be cooled off with fine fruit juices and drinks. The bar sits on stilts over the water, and it hardly bears mentioning that here, too, you have a wonderful 360 degree panorama of the turquoise blue sea.

Overwater bar and restaurant

Overwater Bar and Restaurant

All you lovers of Japanese cuisine, do not fail to try the “By the Sea Restaurant”! We savored a first-rate Japanese gourmet menu here! If you like, you can watch as sushi and sashimi specialist Michio prepares her tasty rice and fish compositions behind the sushi bar. Because tuna is a local fish in these waters, she’s on her home game naturally. It tastes outstanding!

Oh, yes, and there is also the gourmet wine cellar for staging wine and chocolates tastings. We indulged in a “wine & chocolate tasting” put on by sommelier Rohan. We wrote it up in a separate report to save space…

Dining in the sunset

Dining in the sunset

Should you hanker for still more togetherness just for two: one of the possibilities for getting away on this paradise island is that you can ask Mr. or Ms. Friday any time to arrange private dining by moonlight on your roof terrace or anywhere along the beach.

Sunset at the beach

What a sunset!…

Also feasible is spending the night under the star-strewn sky over your private roof terrace. We decided ultimately to skip this option, since even at night the 29 degree ambient temperature is rather warm for sleeping. Instead, we allowed ourselves to cool our bedroom down to a more comfortable 27 degrees…

The “Meera Spa”

Naturally, the “Meera Spa” is also built on stilts over the water, once again providing a simply wonderful ocean view. Offered here are various massages and treatments. We treated ourselves to a Balinese massage while watching the fish traffic below us through the glass floor… The relaxation room is – what else – an open veranda with ocean panorama. Infinitely relaxing!

Meera Spa

Sofa in the Meera Spa

Spa therapists with sun umbrella

Our two therapists with sun umbrella…

Besides the treatment rooms, you’ll also find a sauna, steam bath and, of course, the “obligatory” fitness studio. With our best weary look, we made a big detour around it every time. Also on offer in the mornings are yoga and tai chi sessions, for that highly relaxed start of a new day in paradise.

Our thanks…

… go to Roberto Arganese, Director Sales & Marketing of Gili Lankanfushi for the hospitable invitation! Hearty thanks also to Fazla Jaleel, PR & Marketing Communications Executive, who coordinated our stay. Also, host managers Steven, Brad und Aziz, waiter Erfan, sommelier Rohan, dive master John, marine biologist Debs, Michio and the many cooks and countless other helpers made ours a heavenly stay !

And, last but not least by any means, our best thanks to Rei, our Ms. Friday for all the good “pampering.” ;-)

…and not to forget Bob, the gray heron, for always entertaining us, which got him his very own article here.

Grey heron

Grey heron in front of the Robinson Crusoe water villas

Some more impressions from paradise:

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Katja is travelmemo.com’s destination research and booking expert. She always has the upper hand on itineraries and travel details. When not on the road, Katja is a corporate communications manager.

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