While there’s no shortage of spectacular five-star resorts in the Maldives (and more opening every year), Gili Lankanfushi has always offered something a little different—something that’s hard to define unless you’ve been there, and even harder to achieve. That’s why repeat guests of the laid-back, home-away-from-home-style resort were saddened to hear about the devastating fire that closed the place last January. But less than one year later, on this past December 1, Gili rose from the ashes to welcome guests with new villas, refurbished interiors and more.
“The most important thing for us was the team—we kept all the staff during the closure and kept everyone on the payroll in an effort to do the right thing,” says General Manager David Stepetic of the post-fire year. “We wanted to retain the spirit and the culture of the resort.” In addition to keeping their warm and accommodating employees (a significant reason the resort is so popular among guests), the re-born version features ten new stunning pool villas, including two residences and two two-bedroom family villas with infinity pools that look out over the crystalline water.
All 45-villas feature a new interior design with custom made furniture and decor by Bali-based boutique designer Maverick, who scoured abandoned homes and train stations in Indonesia for reclaimed wood to compliment Gili Lankanfushi’s Robinson Crusoe theme and enhance its tropical surroundings. “We wanted to evolve to a more subtle colour scheme,” says Stepetic. “We wanted it to be natural and rustic in terms of new furnishings, but comfortable and functional at the same time.” New touches include bed frames made from recycled teak wood, handmade wooden rocking chairs, handwoven lamp shades and wood coffee tables carved with stars to reflect the Maldivian night sky.
For an even better view of the sublime starscape, the second floor of each villa has a new rooftop daybed that can be made up with luxurious linens and custom print cushions should guess want to sleep under the stars for a night. Meanwhile, the 18,000-plus square-foot Private Reserve, the world’s largest overwater villa, saw the same sophisticated stylistic changes to its interiors, as well as updates to its private open-air cinema, gym, spa, infinity pool and two-story waterslide.
The Hotel Properties Limited-owned resort also redesigned its main restaurant, Kashiveli, which now features more covered seating areas and a large cold-room that gets stocked with charcuterie, cheese, sushi and homemade chocolate during the indulgent breakfast buffet. A multi-course meal in the expanded wine cellar, among the nearly 500 labels, is also not to be missed. Villa suites with pool start at around £2,100.