Gili Lankanfushi: A gourmet getaway in the Maldives

This island resort is the perfect destination for foodies and sun-worshippers alike. (Photo supplied)
Updated 19 May 2018

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.


Hospitality summit to be hosted by Saudi Tourism Ministry and G20 Secretariat

Visitors are seen in front of Qasr al-Farid tomb at the Madain Saleh antiquities site in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, January 31, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 October 2020

Hospitality summit to be hosted by Saudi Tourism Ministry and G20 Secretariat

  • The event wants to provide an inspirational and important platform to bring the industry together amid the coronavirus pandemic to discuss how the outbreak has affected global and local tourism

RIYADH: A virtual conference for global leaders in the hospitality industry is being held later this month by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism and the G20 Secretariat.
The event is part of the International Conferences Program and has been developed to tackle the big ideas and challenges faced by the hospitality industry in the Kingdom and the rest of the world.
It takes place on Oct. 26 and 27 and involves more than 100 industry speakers and thousands of participants from around the world.
The digital event platform will provide an immersive live experience, including a virtual exhibition, one-to-one video networking and integrated chat features.
High-profile speakers include: Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International; Arnold W. Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation; Gloria Guevara Manzo, CEO and president of the World Travel & Tourism Council, and Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority.
The event wants to provide an inspirational and important platform to bring the industry together amid the coronavirus pandemic to discuss how the outbreak has affected global and local tourism.
The speaker’s lineup will discuss and reimagine the future of hospitality in the Middle East and across the globe.

FASTFACTS

• The event is part of the International Conferences Program and has been developed to tackle the big ideas and challenges faced by the hospitality industry in the Kingdom and the rest of the world.

• It takes place on Oct. 26 and 27 and involves more than 100 industry speakers and thousands of participants from around the world. 

The event also wants to help participants create an industry that is relevant for a post-pandemic world, supportive of entrepreneurs and innovation, sustainable for the global economy and the environment, and attractive to the workforce of the future.
Summit organizers have put together live program sessions for delegates that focus on understanding the new landscape, collaborating and assessing opportunities, and innovating to recreate the industry’s future.
The event will also feature a “networking area” that will match visitors with another decision-maker in the room for a quick video call, and allows people to exchange business cards virtually.
There will be roundtables for more-focused interactions and discussions on specific industry topics where people can join a multi-screen live video conversation to exchange business ideas and industry knowledge.
Interested industry professionals can register to attend at http://www.futurehospitalitysummit.com.