Gili Lankanfushi: A gourmet getaway in the Maldives

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The Maldives is one of those destinations that nature has bestowed with an embarrassment of riches. (Supplied)
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The Maldives is one of those destinations that nature has bestowed with an embarrassment of riches. (Supplied)
Updated 26 April 2018
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Gili Lankanfushi: A gourmet getaway in the Maldives

  • This island resort is the perfect destination for foodies and sun-worshippers alike

DUBAI: The Maldives is one of those destinations that nature has bestowed with an embarrassment of riches. And what nature has given, numerous resorts have taken and perfected with their ultra-luxury offerings. Which is what makes choosing exactly where to go that much more difficult. And while each island has its own special charm, anyone seeking a gastronomic experience should look no further than Gili Lankanfushi.

This intimate resort, located a 20-minute speedboat ride away from Male airport in the north Male atoll, is home to just 45 over-water villas. Everything on the island ­— and beyond, as several of the villas are perched on stilts offshore — from the villas to the restaurants and the spa, is done up in a rustic-chic style, making for a pared-back, but still luxury, setting.

The inviting villas, complete with direct access to the crystal clear lagoons; curated collection of activities including snorkeling and sunset cruises; and Insta-perfect spots — think idyllic hammocks swinging between drooping palms — are temptation enough for tourists, but it’s the gourmet offerings that make Gili Lankanfushi a must for gourmands. And with a sustainable ethos at its heart — much of the food is created using local fish, and produce from the resort’s own organic vegetable garden — you can feel good about yourself while you’re eating too much.

We’d recommend taking the Gili Tasting Journey as soon as possible after your arrival. It takes you through the island’s main dining destinations for a teaser of what each has to offer, through a mini course and beverage at each, led by the resident sommelier Fabrice Blazquez who colors the evening with enjoyable banter.

A typical evening could start with canapés at the over-water bar, the perfect sundowner spot, before moving on to the spectacular underground wine cellar, built around a tree trunk that washed up during the 2006 tsunami — a great example of how this sustainably minded resort works with the environment, rather than imposing on it. This intimate space boasts organic features and pebble floors (you’re provided heated foot pads, as everyone is expected to walk around barefoot around the island, in line with their ‘no news, no shoes’ policy) which, combined with the modernist glass and metal, make it feel as though you’re walking into an art installation.

Here you can try intricate creations such as octopus with mango salsa, and beetroot jelly with goat’s cheese mousse, after which you are led into the leafy surrounds of the organic vegetable garden. As the sunset casts a magical glow over the rustic wood ‘leaf table’ you can sample some traditional Maldivian smoked fish snacks.
You then make your way to Fini Foni, a cute ice-cream parlor which, for this tour, offers foie-gras macarons. The evening ends with sushi and sake at specialty Japanese restaurant By The Sea.

The breakfast offering, too, is superlative. And best enjoyed beachside. The morning buffet offers a range of regional delicacies, including Mas huni (tuna and coconut served with flatbread), while the a la carte menu features eggs to order — we’d recommend the Maldivian spicy omelet with tuna and curry leaves. Alternatively, keep it light and healthy with fruits, smoothies, and detoxifying spa beverages.

Personalization is key to the Gili Lankanfushi experience. Each guest’s stay is managed by a private butler, resulting in bespoke dining experiences. The island is dotted with picturesque spots perfect for romantic meals, whether a gazebo tucked away in the tropical jungle, a secluded slither of beach, the outdoor jungle cinema, or the tiny One Palm island just offshore. Pick your spot and a personal chef cooks up a three-course meal of your choice for a magical experience.

Or, if you fancy staying in and enjoying the plush décor of your villa, just order in and chill. Unusually for a resort, ordering in-villa doesn’t cost a premium. Try dinner on your upstairs terrace, after which, weather permitting, you can even sleep out under the stars.

And once the guilt sets in, there are plenty of water-based activities — diving, fishing, surfing, sailing, waterskiing — to help you work off a few pounds.


The Six: Films on show at California’s Arab Film Festival

The Arab Film Festival is set to run until October 21 2018 in San Francisco. (Shutterstock)
Updated 12 min 48 sec ago
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The Six: Films on show at California’s Arab Film Festival

  • The Arab Film Festival is set to run until October 21 2018 in San Francisco
  • We take a look at six films on show at the festival

DUBAI: The 22nd edition of the Arab Film and Media Institute’s film festival is set to run from Oct. 12-21 in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Here are six films that audiences will be able to enjoy.

‘This is Home: A Refugee Story’
Displaced from their homes, Alexandra Shiva’s film offers a portrait of relocated Syrian immigrants learning to walk again in Baltimore, Maryland.

‘From Under the Rubble: A Story from Gaza’
The film tells the story of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead,” in which three weeks of heavy shelling saw more than one thousand Gaza Strip residents lose their lives.

‘The Blessed’
Set in Algiers in 2008, the film follows Samir and his wife Amal, as well as their teenage son. On the couple’s 20th wedding anniversary they party with friends while teen has his own adventure.

‘Soufra’
The film follows the inspirational story of entrepreneur Mariam Shaar — a generational refugee who spent her life in a camp near Beirut — as she sets out to launch a catering company.

‘Martyr’
The drowning of Hassane, the protagonist of the story, triggers a series of events that shake his family’s faith to its foundations as he’s deemed a martyr.

‘From Baghdad to the Bay’
The film tracks the harrowing journey of Ghazwan Alsharif, who served as an interpreter and cultural adviser for the US army during its invasion of Iraq in 2003.