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Review of Gili Lankanfushi Maldives

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Gili Lankanfushi Maldives
5.0 of 5 Resort   |   Lankanfushi Island, 08290   |  
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Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Lankanfushi
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2009

I believe that as a well traveled person ,I have an idea of what the top resorts in the world should be like and I have NEVER been to a more beautiful place then Soneva Gili by Six Senses in the Maldives.

I speak from the heart when I tell you the hospitality is so good I felt I was home all the time. Starting right at the beginning with the welcome, not from any “Jo Soap” but from the General Manager and the Resort Manager, Marteyne & Kurt, I felt like I was Royal Family!!! Can you imagine...every guests being welcomed by senior managers-now that’s what I call service.

Every minute of our stay was amazing...from the food, to excursions, managers drinks, the over water spa...and I have to say the best sushi I have tasted in a long time. Think Zuma or Nobu with a Peruvian influence...Miki the Chef is a character never to be forgotten.

The food was so incredible that by the end of the week I had not eaten 3 meals a day but the equivalent of 6 meals a day. The options are endless and the quality top notch.

The “hosts” (those who work for the resort) were incredible. In particular there was a Japanese host ,Yoshimi ,who was anywhere and everywhere and always had a smile on her face, wanting and willing to help. One day we actually counted how many times were saw her, it seemed one minute she was on one side of the island and the next she suddenly appeared on the other side. Brilliant!

Give yourself the treat of a lifetime and visit Soneva Gili ....I can say without a shadow of doubt that this has been my best holiday experience ever.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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871 reviews from our community

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  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2009

My wife and I have just returned from a 5 day visit to Soneva Gili and although there are a lot of entries for this resort I thought we would add our observations. What we have to say may seem overly critical but you should not take it that way; this is an excellent resort and anyone would have a great time there, but it is very expensive and as such you should expect the best and the resort should not be afraid of criticism.

They aim for a sort of rustic charm but with luxury over-riding that and as such you might say that the “rustic” is becoming a little too evident in that there are too many signs of wear and tear in the villas. They are only small things in themselves but they do accumulate, e.g. rotting deck timbers, rusty nails, rattling a/c unit, drains occasionally smelling. Somewhat irritatingly each in themselves is not sufficient to complain about and so you don’t but in the aggregate you perhaps wish you had said something.

Beyond the fabric of the property the rustic charm works well. The bicycles they provide are fantastic and make the whole island very accessible. The main pool and bar are beautiful and offer a very relaxed environment combined with exemplary service levels.

The location of the property has some advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side you leave the airport, walk 50m to the boat and within 15 minutes you are on the island. The downside is that this is far from a remote hideaway. The island is very close to several neighbours; to the north, about 500m away, is what looks like a government complex (high walls and several large ships) and to the south is another resort, again about 500m away. These neighbours are broadly very visible for many of the villas but I should stress that we were not troubled by any noise from these properties. In addition the island lies close to what might be described as a major sea route and so there is a constant passing of nearby boats and in consequence a background noise of marine engines which is enough to be evident but not so much to really annoy. If you do mind noise then I suggest you look to stay on Jetty 2 that is on the quieter side of the island whereas Jetty 3 could be quite exposed.

The island is located in a large lagoon. The main communal areas are located on the west side of the island close to the western edge of the lagoon. The water here is deep and has direct access to the open ocean. The villas are on three jetties. Jetty 3 is small and on the west side while jetties 1 and 2 are much larger and sit in the eastern side of the lagoon which has very shallow water. You cannot readily swim off jetties 1 and 2 as even at high tide the water is barely more than 1m deep while at low tide it is barely 30cm in many places. Interestingly, the water in the eastern lagoon is generally much clearer than the west and the coral of better quality, so the snorkelling is quite good when you can do it. We did see several people paddling out from jetty 1 to the outer sea wall, some 300m away from the jetties, at low tide. The swimming from jetty 3 is clearly better as the water is much deeper but there are only 6 or 7 villas and they seem to be in popular demand.

We did experience a major problem with insect bites. We each accumulated over 50 bites over the course of 5 days and we still are mystified as to how and when; we used 100% DEET on exposed skin when out at night and used the mosquito net in a closed and air conditioned room. I suspect that there are a lot a sand flies on the beach, which may be more immune to DEET, and the rooms are far from air or mosquito proof which could be the cause given the poor fit of the net. Either way, the bites were horrendous and were the one real dampener on the holiday, so much so that it would affect my decision to return. We noted others who had been bitten but some who seemed not to have been so it would be interesting to hear more about this from others.

The food is of a consistently high quality and should please most people. We very much enjoyed the new Senses by the Sea restaurant but do book in advance as there are only 6 tables! The breakfasts are very good and certainly kept us going for most of the day.

They had just finished the installation of a new gym when we were there and it was fabulous with great views and new equipment.

We were troubled by noise on a couple of occassions. One day we awoke to buzz saws and prolific hammering from the main island. We assumed it would abate as our room cleaner said the whole jetty was complaining. By 2pm we had had enough and also complained and the racket was eventually stopped by 3pm. Then the following day they decided to replace the roof of the adjoining villa! Not major problems but very annoying, especially given what it costs to stay there.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
In the sticks
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2009

As veteran Soneva Fushi goers, we were looking forward to comparing the Gili. We travelled with a teenager and another family with a 7 year old. From the moment of landing, we were met by the wonderful 'Kurt', a true gent, and whisked off to the island where we were met by Marteyne the GM, who greeted us most warmly and this was the beginning of a friendship which I hope will last beyond the holiday.

The accommodation, food and ambience is exceptional. We have stayed in the Soneva Fushi Villa Suite with Spa & Gym, and I have to say the accommodation on the jetty's at the Gili took our breath away (especially having the opportunity to sleep outside). The breakfast served to your table was better in our opinion than the Fushi and there is no fishing wire above your head to distract the crows so the beauty of the landscape is sensational.

The freshwater swimming pool was a real bonus so much better than the salt water at Fushi and it was great to have a central point to socialise. All the staff work very hard to see to your every need and Marteyne and Kurt took the time to spend time with us during the evening which was a real pleasue. We are so grateful to the effort spent for our last night surprise and will remember the experience for the rest of our lives.

My husband really enjoyed visiting the staff quarters, and it was good to see that the company really look after their staff - this is reflected in the good service that they give the guests. When explaining the trip to our friends, we find it impossible to project the unique heavenly qualities of this understated luxury. You have to experience for yourselves to accept it. Everybody should go to the Gili at least once in their lifetime, and in our opinion - make the effort to go whilst Marteyne & Kurt are in management!!!

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northampton, England
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
105 helpful votes 105 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 29, 2009

Overall feelings:

From the first second to the last this holiday had something very special, something you can't buy, you only hope and pray that you’re going to get & we got it! I have no doubt you'll get it too, if you stay there. What is it? That total subliminal feeling that everything and everyone is doing all they can to make your time on their island the most wonderful experience you could ever have. The personal touch that goes far beyond just being a voice on the phone or a service attendant at meal times, people who truly care. That is the essence of Soneva Gili.

Pick up, Transfer & First Impressions

After the slightly chaotic scenes at the Airport as we timed our arrival with two other flights at 8AM in the morning and we'd not read the warning signs about not being allowed to bring in alcohol, we needed a smooth transfer. We got it. Ahmed our GRO introduced himself with a big smile and warm greeting, quickly took over proceedings and allowed to relax within seconds. Cold towels and water, shoes removed and into the awaiting speed boat in a flash before others had even located their rep. Perhaps lucky, perhaps just the effective way that Soneva Gili does it? To add to our experience, Ahmed kindly arranged for a school of Dolphins to meet us half way across the water - it was an amazing thrill. I think the crew were as excited as we were and we stopped for a good 5-10 minutes just watching them dive and then re-appear. Obviously we were very lucky and I don’t think they guarantee it... but a great and prophetic omen of what was to come. I had done all the planning, seen the website and tried to visualise the reality, my wife hadn't. It was a real first time WOW as we pulled up to the welcoming jetty and she took in the fact that this was really going to be our home for the next 10 days. For me, though I’d seen the pictures and read the reviews it was also far beyond what I could truly have imagined. We were greeted by the senior management as they do for all guests and quickly transported to our villa following a brief tour and concise explanation of all the amenities by Ahmed. Within 15 mins of arriving we were in villa 40 overlooking 1 palm island and soon after taking our first dip in the aqua blue Indian Ocean.

Note: Soneva Gili has their own time - 1 hour ahead of Male time, to maximise sunlight. Clever idea and it works.

Villa & other buildings

The villa is Spacious, with an open lounge area, big dressing / bathroom area and large comfy bed. We had no issues with insects but there was a net if needed. The deck with sunbeds meant we could dive in at high tide straight into the water or just watch the reef sharks, manta rays, turtles and 00's of different fish swim by. Not to mention the resident crabs that lived in the high rises of the stilts on which our villa rested. Note: No crab ever tried to enter, in fact they were quite camera shy.

The restaurants over the water, Senses by the sea and the main one were all beautifully appointed and decorated in keeping with the surroundings. The spa is on its own private jetty and well worth a visit.


It was like eating in a top restaurant every night, with Chef up there with any celebrity / top London restaurant food we'd had before. We mainly had the gourmet meals, usually 4-5 courses for $100 per person or the special themed banquets including Maldivian / Sri Lankan & Indian dishes. You could eat off the a la carter menu which we also did. On a couple of occasions we eat at Senses by the Sea, run by the magnificent Miki - a great character who converted a sushi virgin into a true advocate of raw fish. His Tuna is out of this world! We were lucky to be in the resort at the same time as Diana von Cranach who was a guest chef specialising in raw food - I was slightly sceptical at first but the taste and quality of the produce was sensational. As with the sushi, it was a first and now will also be something I’ll try again.

Things to do

After a light breakfast, fruit and mango smoothies + some eggs, we spent most of the days kayaking, playing table tennis, snorkelling, swimming, Tai Chi, gym, cycling. There are plenty of other things you can do, though its also a fantastic place to do nothing. We did enjoy a couple of great wine tasting sessions with Jasper, the Sommelier. We did wine with chocolate and cheese on separate occasions. He made it allot of fun as well as being knowledgeable and happy to listen to our more off the wall descriptions on taste, normally towards the end of the sessions. He was always on hand to offer advice in evenings on wine food parings; they have a well stocked envious collection of great wines.

Something special

On the last night we booked a romantic meal. Originally we were going to have it in the Shark hut but on Saturdays they have a film and it was suggested we should have it on Palm Island. Chelsea, the guy who'd served us at every breakfast and evening meal and entertained us with jokes and made fishes and birds out of coconut branches was due to have a day off. It was a shame as we'd got on so well. To sum up how much the staff cared, he swapped his day off and prepared a beautiful candle lit romantic table of such beauty that it reduced my wife to tears of wonderment. It was an incredible finale to our very best holiday ever.

We've stayed in other beautiful breath taking places but Soneva Gili has that extra something that money just cant buy. ENJOY.

Special mentions:

Ahmed - Top Guy, a true Ambassador of Soneva Gili
Chelsea - The 'Man' with a great smile as well
Chef - A brilliant man who clearly loves his work with so much passion
Jasper - I want his job, but he did it superbly
Miki - Come to London - Gordon Ramsey would hire you in a second!
Kirk - Made sure we were always looked after

Everyone else - Awesome

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ahmedabad, India
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2009

Heaven on earth for someone loving seashore, with the best of class facilities. For Hedonism to be rewarded, there can never be a place as good as Soneva Gili

  • Stayed January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 11, 2009

Not a cheap trip, but you get what you pay for. Our stand-alone villa was lovely, if a bit isolated. The location is perfect for a quiet sun & surf getaway. The food was fantastic. The spa was blissful. The staff were so helpful we started to feel guilty. An impressive wine cellar if you can't go a week without your Chateau Latour fix. The Safani jewelry store was a nice touch, elevating the gift options beyond the usual resort-store soap stone carvings and coasters. Would love to go back.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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United Kingdom
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 10, 2009

I had stayed in this hotel about 5 years ago and compared to my last visit I was slightly disappointed. Still this remains a great hotel and we had an excellent time. The staff seemed a little less willing to go out of their way to serve and the resort was a little less fresh. The sea was as great as ever and the food and drinks remained fantastic. The resort remains ideal for couples . I thought the excursions are always fun for getting away from the beach routines and good value for money. Overall still recommend it.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gili Lankanfushi Maldives

Address: Lankanfushi Island, 08290
Location: Maldives > Kaafu Atoll > North Male Atoll > Lankanfushi
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Lankanfushi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Gili Lankanfushi Maldives 5*
Number of rooms: 45
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Gili Lankanfushi Maldives is a short 20 minute boat ride from Male, the capital of the Maldives. It is a tiny coral island in a sparkling lagoon, with jetties threading across the water out to spacious villas. The forty four stilted villas plus the vast Private Reserve are crafted in a traditional style from natural materials and offer rooftop and over-water sundecks, featuring open air bathrooms, sumptuous daybeds and a personal entertainment center. For ultimate privacy, we have seven Crusoe Residences that are only accessible by personal boat. Come ashore for some great dining and equally great wines or perhaps a romantic moonlit dinner delivered right to the villa. The possibilities are endless.The interior decoration has been devised to recreate a natural habitat, using sustainable woods, natural materials and traditional fabrics, whilst still offering all the modern day amenities and creature comforts of true luxury. At Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives we are very sensitive to the environment. The utmost care has been taken in developing the island with respect to its ecological balance. The Maldives is a paradise for snorkeling and diving and the resort has its own fully equipped PADI diving school plus a variety of water sports. This place tops the list of must-do destinations for those seeking the aquatic paradise. ... more   less 
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