This is a long-overdue review of Gili from the 6 nights my wife and I spent there on our honeymoon back in February. In short, it was absolutely amazing, and we are still talking about it to this day.
We chose Gili partially because of its proximity to the airport - we figured that after we'd flown all the way from the US, we wouldn't want to get on yet another plane to fly to a far-distant resort, and indeed, it was very nice to be a brief speedboat ride away from the resort.
We had a lovely villa towards the end of one of the jettys - this offered better privacy and views than some of the villas that were closer to the short, but obviously comes at the expense of being a longer walk. One tip: while they say "no shoes, no news", and while there are buckets of water placed at regular intervals along the pier/jetty with which to cool oneself, the wood gets very very hot during the day, and we found that we were better off throwing on a pair of sandals or shoes on to protect our feet.
The food and drink was excellent, but the real star is the breakfast buffet, which was not only delicious, but incredibly comprehensive, offering a variety of cuisines, and many many options, including an outstanding curry that changed daily and a variety of juices that we sampled. We found ourselves eating very large breakfasts in an attempt to try as many things as possible, and then having a light lunch in our villa via room service.
The alcohol is a little on the pricey side, but not as bad as I expected from some of the reviews on here. In general I would say that the prices for drinks and wine are roughly on par with the more expensive cities in the US and Europe, which I think explains the disconnect between some of the reviews - if you're used to paying London or New York prices, your martini at Gili won't be too shocking, but if you're from someplace more affordable, it will seem expensive.
The service is wonderful, and very much structured in such a way that they can handle all of your needs - if you want, you don't have to plan anything or try to schedule your days, they will handle it, which for us took a little getting used to. Our Mr. Friday was friendly and attentive, and looked after us with great care while not being obtrusive. Our waiter was downright engaging, taking the time to look up the weather in our hometown and reminding us how it was cold and snowy back home while we were enjoying the beach.
My wife and I got massages at the spa, which I found to be very good, but not anything remarkable (is there such a thing as a really incredible massage?). More impressive were the hair and skin treatments my wife got, which she loved and were one of her favorite parts of the trip.
The resort is very clearly set up as a "hang out and relax" place - there's not a laundry list of excursions and activities, and the island feels almost deserted a lot of the time. That was exactly what we were looking for, but I think someone who wanted a livelier scene might have been disappointed. We did a lot of swimming and relaxing and reading, and it's set up perfectly for that. We did do a snorkeling trip to a better/nicer reef, which was lovely, and requesting the marine biologist to guide us around was well worth the small additional fee - I would suggest anyone take advantage of that if possible.
Beyond that, the staff did a great job setting up a number of romantic outings - a picnic on one tree island, and a private screening of one of our favorite movies. One tip - since you spend almost all of your time on the shore of the island, you don't realize that the interior is much hotter and more humid. Our private screening at the outdoor movie theater was a ton of fun, but it was stuffy and a little uncomfortable without the shore breezes, so keep that in mind.
Overall, we had an amazing time. A week feels like probably the perfect time to stay at Gili - any less and you can't quite relax enough, and if we'd stayed much longer we both agreed that we would probably start to get restless.
A couple of things - they take customer service *seriously*. At the end of our stay, they asked if we would mind filling out a comment card. I gave top marks on everything except for one item, which I'll talk about in a second, and it was probably less than 48 hours before I had an email from the GM, Iain, asking if I could elaborate on my issue. I would wholeheartedly suggest that if you are unhappy with anything during your stay, speak up, and they will genuinely do their best to make it right.
The only negative I can bring up is pretty minor - when we arrived at the Male airport, we couldn't find anyone to meet us. Many of the resorts had kiosk-type stands for people to meet at, but Gili did not. We wandered around for 10 minutes or so, until one of the other resort attendants noticed us, and called the Gili representative for us. He arrived shortly afterwards and was very apologetic, saying that he hadn't expected us to get through customs so quickly. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it would have been nice if there was even a sign or kiosk there to know where to wait, as opposed to wandering around looking for someone or some sign to know where to go.
Other than that, really flawless. For us, looking for quiet, romance, relaxation it was perfection. If you're really focused on having things to do or lots of energy and partying, it's probably not the right place for you.
The real shame is that living in the US, Gili is just too far for us to travel to on a regular basis, or we would be here at least once or twice a year.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.