The former Soneva Gili was conceptualised as a bold organic statement that aggrandized the shabby chic movement. The resort soon became the status Mecca for moneyed itinerants looking to satisfy their penchant for always wanting to pay more for less. Rebranded today as Gili Lankanfushi after its acquisition by HPL, this resort is still renowned for its organically raw architecture that alludes whimsically to Robinson Crusoe themes.
The most unusual dining option at Gili Lankanfushi is routinely staged at the Underground Chocolate Bar and Wine Bunker where impressive modern entrees are paired with prized labels from the cellar's extensive collection. While such a gourmet outing may not be a rarity in Maldives, this novel approach to haute dining 6 feet under is indeed fun and surprising. Meera Spa is a great haunt for lazy afternoons - the massage beds come with crystal clear views of the seabed where puffers and triggers play out the daily dramas of their watery existence.
The transfer from Male to Gili was seamless with laudable efforts put in to inject an exotic hideaway mood. Our butler tried his best to make our stay truly memorable but we would have appreciated a bit more anticipation on exigencies like weather before the start of an outing and petite sharp corals on the beach (this is prided as a barefoot resort) unprimed for sunrise breakfast.
This is an island built to evoke a castaway fantasy, but one that is replete with every excessive whim except footwear and newspapers. The Versailles of this island is a 1400 square meters private reserve of unpolished pine planks and pillars fitted with outrageously grand accoutrements. This water mansion is a testament of design gumption that has clearly withstood the test of time, a decade and six years to be exact, and though one could be easily beguiled by its rawness at first, a shabby shack this clearly is not. Cocooned within such a lordly sphere with BOSE surround sound system, a gym, private spa suite and digital movie screen, one is tempted to do nothing or try everything.