Maldive’s opened its beach’s in 1972, at the time there were only 2 resorts available Kurumba & Bandos. The resort’s were based on a very simple concept. To accomodate the travelers & provide them with the basic amenities available at the time. The rooms were built using local ingenuity & labour near the most priceless asset the Maldives had to offer, the beach. The menu consisted of mainly local dish’s & imported beverage’s. Most guest’s preferred to snorkel/dive or swim in the turquoise blue water’s or bask in the sun. For discerning traveler a different experience was available, fishing & island hopping trip’s were arranged at a moments notice. Even then the weary traveler’s were met with eager staff willing to accomplish any task that may be asked of them. This is the one constant that has remained unchanged through the years. The Maldives is known first & foremost as a beautiful nation with friendly & helpful locals. However, good will & great service will only get you so far. Since during the off season bookings are far & in between.
As years passed resort operator’s gradually came up with innovative way’s to maximise vacancies year round while keeping their customer’s satisfied. This amalgam was perfected when resort operators reached out to world renown franchises in a bid to introduce quality amenities that would be embraced by the mixture of international travelers that arrived each year.
As a result of this union, “Luxury Resorts” were born. Each luxury resort tries to outdo the other by trying to find the balance between comfort & nature. Countless plans are drawn until man or nature doesn’t need to compromise. Then the most chic & vibrant designs are selected & the idea slowly starts to take life. When it is finished the 1st occupants arrive, who will live there & call it their home. These are not your ordinary employees from the good old days. Gone are the days when the kitchen was a site for hectic chopping followed by cooking up a decent stew. The dish is the canvas upon which the artist creates his own work of art. Gone are the days when staff were struggling to overcome the language barrier. The bilingual GRO, who could mince words fluently while slicing a grilled fish the right way. Gone are the days when a simple clerical error shattered the dreams of eager arrivals. Meticulous attention brought on by rigorous training have minimized but not altogether eradicated these unfortunate events.
The year is 2014 and it looks like Maldivian tourism couldn’t be more appealing . We have over a 100 resorts dispersed across the country. Most of the big hotel franchises from all over the world in our backyard. Taking a slice & making it their own. New projects have either come to fruitation or are on the drawing boards. With all that is happening, lets take a moment to examine one of the current trend setters who are setting the bar for industry standards.
Gili Lankanfushi is the focus of this article. This luxury resort is a coral island that is a mere 20 minutes speed boat ride from the International Airport. Has a total of 45 Water Villas neatly scattered across the lagoon. They are divided into 5 categories: Villas, Residences, Crusoe Residences, Private Residences & Spa Suites with each villa coming with its own glass walled bathroom which is connected by a seperate walkway.
The range of amenities available depends on where your staying and how much of an effort your willing to make. The Spa suite is an attached amenity available with only 1 Private Residence or 1 Crusoe Residence. These 2 villas would be perfect for those seeking to completely isolate themselves from the the rest of humanity & just take some time to unwind & stop. All Private Reserves & Crusoe Residences are isolated from the nearest villas by 30 metres.
You will be provided with your very own personal butler or Mr/Ms Friday who will have a range of tasks from ferrying you to & from your remote castle,
arrange excursions, spa appointments, sunset cruises, restaurant reservations and even help pack or unpack your luggage. And also take care of the little ones while you enjoy a day getting pampered at the Meera Spa by our Master In Residence.
For fine dining there are are numerous possibillities. Including the Main Restaurant which is on the west beach of the isle. The have a wide variety of dishes so you can enjoy the delicacies of home away from home.
The Over Water Bar is perched on stilts in one of the prime locales in the lagoon. By day the bar serves a light menu of salads made from the garden with sushi prepared from the days catch. They also have a selection of Meditterranean delicacies & imported meats dressed in local spices on the menu. You can enjoy your lunch while sipping your favourite champagne staring out from the 360 view of the Indian Ocean.
For the fastidicous soul who desire more then the regular extravagance, just head on down to experience dining at By The Sea Restaurant. There is mix of delicacies from all over the world which include Japanese, European & Peruvian dishes. Wash it all down with japanese sake’s or choose from the extensive selection of wines from the Underground Winery & Choclate Cave. These and many dining experiences ar available at Gili Lankanfushi.
Dining & lounging around are not the only pleasure’s one can immerse themselves while at Gili Lankanfushi. There are mind blowingly convenient activities available just a stones throw from any & all Vilas on the property.
Ocean Paradise Dive Centre offers a dive in the Manta point which is world famous for its abundance of colourful sea life & hypnotising rows of coral shelves. The multilingual dive team will be more then happy to clarify any doubts you have, whether you are a beginner or experienced diver.
Who say’s you gain weight while on vacation ? Simply drop by the Fitness Centre which is equipped with the latest fitness equipment concieved by man. Do your work out while listening to the soothing sounds of nature.
Take a stroll through nature & visit the Organic Gardens that provide most of the greenery that go into your favourite meals. Observe as the gardner goes about his chore’s around the beautiful garden.
Take advatage of the rustic Library, catch up on your reading or look up refrences. You could also take a book for some light reading on the beach or villas.
Next to the Library is the Gallery & Island Boutique where you can procure all types of souvenirs & collectables that will remind you of this gem in the Indian Ocean.
After all this if your looking to awaken the senses a yoga session is available. Along with water sports likecatamaran, kayak, windsurfing, canoeing and Hobiecat sailing. Tennis court, volleyball, table tennis and jogging large selection board games including chess, backgammon, trivial pursuit
Incase getting pampered all day at the resort isn’t appealing ask for an excursion. Have your favourite movie screened at a sand bank. Exclusive excursions can be arranged so that snorkeling & water skiing could be done on a wider scale. Slip out of the water & bask on the deck of the safari while the captain gently guides the vessel towards a near sand bank for a customised picnic. Go on a sunset or sunrise cruise of the open ocean while watching dolphins go about their business.
Visit the capital city Male’ for a night out while being accompanied by a local guide who will show you the hot spots around town. Visit the hub of the nation which will show you a glimpse into the life of a regular Maldivian.
For all this luxury Gili lankanfushi does do its part ot raise awareness about the environment & sustain the beauty of this fragile eco system. The Enviroment Awareness program is held each year to inform hosts of the latest relevant information available so that they may better prepare themselves. All hosts are instructed to take extra care not to cause any damage to the environment.
A Resident Marine Biologist is on site to record any & all change’s that may disturb or destroy the marine organisms that inhabit the property.
For all their hard work & dedication, Gili Lankanfushi has been awarded the World Travel Award in 2013 & also named as the Travelers Choice by Trip Advisor in 2014. Two titles that do justice to the dedication & commitment that is displayed by the hosts at the resort.
Yes, Its a different climate then it was in 1972. With resorts nowadays providing all manner of facilities & services accompanied by staff that are well trained to handle any situation. Each year we hear about resorts getting more fancier by adding more amenities & boosting their reptation.These include Anantara opening their underwater restaurant on its property while Shangri La offers a nine hole golf course.
This may be the start of a new chapter in Maldivian tourism. One in which we break away from the traditional concept of being a seaside resort & morph into a truly amalgam destination. Sure it won’t happen overnight but what we can be sure of is that Maldives will always provide quality with quantity.