The Maldives is without a doubt a bucket list-worthy destination. Boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, this island nation is heaven-on-earth for watersports enthusiasts, honeymooners and families alike. With nonstop flights to Velana International Airport in Male from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Maldives is now more accessible than ever. What’s more, the country re-opened successfully to welcome tourists again in July of 2020 and never looked back.
The requirements for entry are relatively straight forward, as travelers need a COVID-19 negative PCR test result taken 96 hours prior to departure, counting from the first port of embarkation en-route to the Maldives. Also, a Traveller Health Declaration must be filled in and submitted by all guests traveling to and from Maldives, within 24 hours prior to their travel, which may be submitted electronically via IMUGA. Your clients will have to show the QR code generated by completion of this form before boarding their flight in and out of the country.
We Made It to the Maldives! Now What?
Most resorts in Maldives encompass an entire island, so once guests arrive at their resort, they only mingle with others at the same resort, which makes for easy social distancing. Should your clients want to visit multiple resorts during their Maldives vacation, they will be required to take an additional PCR test within 48 hours of arriving to each property. As island hopping can get quite pricey with this requirement, especially for groups and families, choosing the right resort has never been more crucial. Luckily, there is no shortage of amazing properties throughout the country.
I have been fortunate enough to visit nine different resorts in the Maldives, both with and without children, and one of my favorites is Gili Lankanfushi. It also happens to be among the easiest resorts to get to, with just a 20-minute speedboat ride from Velana International Airport.
Gili Lankanfushi is the epitome of laid-back luxury, from the very moment guests step on the boat, where they will receive a bag to store their shoes. The hotel has a “No news, No shoes” motto, so shoes are optional everywhere in the resort. This stunning, eco-friendly property delivers an unpretentious, yet authentic and luxurious Maldivian holiday, despite the fact that its location on North Male Atoll is not quite as remote as others.
An Overwater Haven
Gili Lankanfushi is a smaller island with only 47 villas, which is largely part of its charm. Reminiscent of a Robinson Crusoe castaway experience, the rustic-luxe villas are constructed with sustainably sourced wood and palm fronds, many of which were harvested directly on the island during the island rehabilitation process. All toiletries are organic and provided in refillable earthenware containers to minimize plastics. The overwater villas are among the most expansive in the Maldives, with easily adaptable floor plans, where even the entry level accommodations, the Villa Suite, was able to comfortably host our family of five. Spread across two floors, each villa boasts a master bedroom, air-conditioned living room that can be converted to a second bedroom, an open-air bathroom and a rooftop terrace.
The resort offers a variety of other room categories, including Villa Suites with pool, Family Villas and Residences. The Crusoe Residences are uniquely private in that they are stand-alone and only accessible by boat from the island. For the ultimate family reunion, book your guests in the Private Reserve. This 4-bedroom overwater home spreads across 18,000 sq. ft. and comes with a private gym, cinema and even a slide from the top deck directly into the ocean.
Each villa is cared for by a “Mr Friday” (named after Robinson Crusoe’s loyal assistant and dear friend), or butler, to care for guests’ every needs. Your clients will have direct access to their Mr Friday from their villa phone or via WhatsApp to coordinate activities, dining, excursions, covid testing, etc for an all-around seamless experience. Each guest is also assigned a bicycle that awaits them at their villa upon arrival. It’s a great way to move around the island, although requesting a buggy is an option at any time.
Dining at Gili Lankanfushi is alway a creative event. There are only three restaurants at the resort, but the staff does an amazing job of providing variety in both presentation and culinary options. The food is always delicious, made to order, and prepared with the highest quality ingredients, many of which are grown in organic garden on property. Kashiveli, meaning coral sands, is located directly on the beach and open for breakfast and dinner. At breakfast, your clients will enjoy a variety of food stations, including made-to-order fruit plates and smoothies, traditional Maldivian dishes such as Mas Huni, and other breakfast favorites from around the globe. Guests will be awed by the newly added Cold Room, which features a selection of premium cold cuts, artisan cheeses and decadent chocolates as part of the gourmet breakfast experience at Kashiveli.
For breathtaking panoramic ocean views while dining, your clients can head to the Overwater Bar, which serves organic salads, Mediterranean dishes and the catch of the day for lunch. It’s also a great place to kick-back and enjoy the island breeze and stunning sunsets with one of their carefully crafted cocktails in hand. In the evenings, Kashiveli and the Overwater Bar are transformed to fun-filled market experiences—Asian Street Market, Mediterranean Spice Souk, Passage to India and Maldivian Seafood Grill nights.
Last, but certainly not least, By the Sea is an intimate Japanese fine-dining venue, offering mouth-watering sushi and teppanyaki for a fun-filled dining experience even the little ones will love!
Family Fun, Maldives Style
While there is no formal kids club at Gili Lankanfushi, the resort is extremely family friendly. Activities for children are offered daily, and the resort caters to the little ones by adding more kid-friendly experiences during holidays or times of high family occupancy. What really surprised me was the uniqueness and quality of the experiences that the resort coordinated for families. Wine tasting, gardening, marine conservation, cupcake decoration, cooking classes and sushi making were all on our itinerary over a 4-night stay. The wine tasting was particularly enjoyable, as we had never had the opportunity to experience a wine-tasting session as a family. Children and other guests that may not partake in alcoholic beverages do not get left behind at Gili Lanakanfushi, as the sommelier presents them with an enticing pairing of carefully selected non-alcoholic wines. The children truly enjoyed the experience of feeling “grown up,” as they learned the intricacies of proper wine tasting and had the opportunity to guess what ingredients and undertones were accentuated in each wine. So fun for the entire family.
Endless Activities & Amenities
When the ocean is your backyard, the possibilities are endless. Guests can explore the amazing underwater world as they dive with PADI professionals, glide through waves with a professional surf guide from Tropicsurf, or participate in one of the many watersports options on hand. Think wakeboarding, windsurfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, etc. Your clients can also enjoy time on a yacht or dhoni if they head out on a fishing trip, island picnic or a sunset dolphin cruise. For land-based activities, Gili Lankanfushi has a resident tennis pro that is available for lessons on request, morning yoga classes are offered throughout the week and a variety of cooking classes are on offer as well. And no visit to Gili Lankanfushi is complete without a visit to the wellness sanctuary at the Meera Spa. Complete with overwater treatment rooms, an Ayurvedic Treatment Champa, steam and sauna rooms, and an open-air relaxation area with gorgeous ocean views, no Gili story is complete without a visit to the Meera Spa.
Needless to stay, there is no room for boredom on this little gem of an island.
This story originally appeared in worldstompers.com, a family travel website created to inspire families with kids to expand their idea of adventures. You can follow the adventures of the Bazavilvazo family @worldstompers on Instagram and The Worldstompers on Facebook.