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Hospitality in the Maldives: Hosted by the hosts


A good host will always be ready for his guests, will know their names and figure out their wishes and preferences as quickly as possible.

We were surprised on multiple occasions in this respect during our stay at the Gili Lankanfushi Resort in the Maldives…

On our very first day here, it struck us: All the workers here call themselves hosts regardless of job description. Whether they work on the service side, in the spa or the clothing boutique, the more than 280 resort employees are all simply “hosts.” And it shows in the positive spirit with which they perform their duties.

Invariably, morning after morning you will find yourself greeted with a glowing smile and spoiled with so much hospitable warmth as if there were no tomorrow. At no time does their attitude come across as artificial or obtrusive.

Our attentive waiter Erfan notes that we prefer non-carbonated water and in the mornings a fresh squeezed fruit juice instead of coffee. Ok, maybe just in the Maldives…That all workers daily address us by name flatters us no end! You really do feel like you are a welcome guest here.

Waiter Erfan and travel blogger Katja

Waiter Erfan and Katja

Gili Lankanfushi’s Host Village

When Director of sales and marketing Roberto Arganese floats the idea of visiting the “Host Village”, we readily agree: We are curious to find out how and where the hosts live who pamper us so royally every day.

Roberto Arganese telling Walter about the Host Village

Roberto Arganese telling Walter about the Host Village

Part of the island is set aside for the employees and is in fact organized along village lines with a village shop, artificial turf soccer field, employee restaurant, a fitness center, surf center and a common room where they have frequent parties. These facilities are labelled in ways we find both funny and congenial: “Gili goes shopping” or “Gili gets fit” and “Gili gets together!” Simply simpatico!

Host Village employee restaurant

Entrance to the employee restaurant “Gili Licious” in the Host Village

With the exception of the managers, all employees – pardon!…all hosts… live here, but that is not to say that management cannot frequently be encountered in the Host Village. And because it is a few meters from Resort to Host Village, hosts as well as guests all have their own bicycles…

Bicycles belonging to hosts

Bicycles belonging to hosts

Gili innovates

When we ask about the caption “Gili Innovates” written on a board, Roberto introduces their innovation program to us: all departments, such as food and beverage, housekeeping, engineering, and so on, are encouraged to submit new ideas every month. Suggestions can range from better or more efficient ways of doing thing to ideas for promoting team work.

Recently they launched a campaign under this “Gili Innovates” program that they hilariously call “In Your Shoes” – it strikes us as funny, since no one on Gili Lankanfushi ever wears the things…Because this is one resort that lives by the motto “No Shoes, No News“. But three guesses if there is island-wide WLAN coverage or if that’s out of the question, here in the middle of the Indian Ocean ;-)

Satellite dish for broadband Internet connection

Satellite dish for broadband Internet connection

Well, so much for the subject of “no news”…

But let’s get back to the innovation program!
The goal of the “In Your Shoes” campaign is to let the management team slip into another role for a day. For instance, general manager Steven Phillips worked as waiter for a day. This forced him to listen constantly to Walter trotting out his well-worn sayings – and still keep smiling. He couldn’t have gotten a better insight into what his waiters have to endure every day ;-)

Director of sales and marketing Roberto Arganese on a Sunday looked after the “private dining” in the villas. It seems to us an absolutely genial idea, this way of impressing on management what their team accomplishes day after day, and so lay the groundwork for understanding concerns that are bound to arise. Gili Innovates! and is to be commended for it. Bravo!

Eco-consciousness on Gili Lankanfushi

What impressed us most about the eco-chic Gili Lankanfushi Resort is how they walk the walk of environmental consciousness by working with natural and traditional building materials. But also the waste sorting was impressive (even the Host Village recycles!) Eco-thinking seems ever-present. For instance, the drinking water they distill on the island is served only in refillable glass bottles, and they give preference to imported products that do not come in plastic containers.

Textiles for bathrobes, linens and towels are woven of organic materials. Most woodworking is done in the island’s own carpenter shop. And the bicycles that come with each villa are made of bamboo!

Carpenter repairing the floor in a private villa

Handyman Carpenter repairing the floor in a private villa

 Bikes made of bamboo

Bikes made of bamboo

And something that’s just being installed and now ready to be unveiled: a roughly 100 square meter raft covered with solar cells that will begin operations imminently and produce a respectable 20 kilowatts of local electricity. Gili goes green! Good for Gili, good for the planet!

Sundeck and solar panel in the Host Village

Sundeck in the Host Village with solar panel behind it

The Gili Lankanfushi hosts contributed immensely to our enjoyment while we stayed on the island. The mere act of saying good-bye to part of our “Gili family” waving from the dock as we pulled away nearly had us feeling…a bit weepy…


An entire delegation of hosts waving goodbye to us

Thank you very much to all the hosts who helped make our stay on Gili Lankanfushi an unforgettable experience!



About Author

Katja is’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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