Soneva Gili by Six Senses
What We Love
- This award-winning resort was built for romance
- The lovely over-water spa
- A gracious staff
- Impressive eco credentials
- Proximity to Malé, where international flights arrive, means it’s easier to get here than you might think
What To Know
- Transfers from Male require a speedboat ride; the cost is about $165 per person round-trip
- The resort isn’t as secluded as others on the islands
If you’ve ever wondered about a hotel’s ability to change the landscape of a destination, look no further than Soneva Gili and its 45 over-water villas. These days, stilted bungalows set in the middle of turquoise waters are a fairly common sight in the Maldives (and in dreamy travel calendars everywhere). But in 2001, when Gili was built around a tiny coral island, the idea of over-water accommodations was relatively new. A true Maldivian classic, Gili remains one of the world’s best places for an exotic stay.
Most of the villas are connected to the tiny main island by a jetty; seven stand free in the water and are serviced by ferries (though more adventurous guests are welcome to use the provided rowboats). All are outfitted in Six Senses’ signature rustic-chic style: earth tones, indoor/outdoor spaces and romantic canopy beds. Suites and Residences have rooftop sundecks and chess tables,while palatial Crusoe Residences are more secluded and have kitchenettes.
The well-rounded selection of restaurants includes By the Sea, the resort’s take on Nobu with a Peruvian-Japanese menu (think soy-marinated tuna steak) and its own sushi bar. At the main restaurant, different cooking stations serve up a range of international dishes. Breakfast pairs curries from India, noodles from Japan and Chinese dim sum alongside Western dishes. Lunch at the overwater pavilion is similarly diverse, with Japanese pizzas and freshly caught fish.
Wellness is a core principle at Soneva Gili, as evidenced by the experts at the over-water spa. The rotating roster of visiting therapists includes everyone from stomach massage specialists from Thailand to yogis from India. The best bet is to stick with any of the Asian modalities, especially the ayurvedic and Thai offerings, like shiatsu and foot acupressure — a must if you’ll be taking the resort’s “No Shoes” policy to heart.
How to Get There
Where do we start , upgraded to a fantastic family villa , looked after spectacularlt by our man Friday Ishmael , (nothing too much trouble) . From the moment we landed and stepped onto our OWN speedboat , and arriving at the island everything exceded our expectations . As we had been before we were welcomed back like family friends . The service food and resort are still astounding and after only a few days of the no shoes no news , felt totally relaxed . The Man Friday system works really well with Ishmael providing champagne and canapes on the beach to watch the sunset , to decorating our room wit flowers banners and balloons on our last day . Sea life was exciting , weather brilliant , and just an overall fantastic return . You don't need to go for long but as a battery recharge this was just what we needed .
Welcome back Miss Clemence and Mr Kevin !
This hotel is our small paradise and favorite hotel by far! After a 3.30 hours flight from Dubai and a short 20 min boat ride, we finally arrived in Gili Lankanfushi for a 5-day holiday! We received as usual an amazing and warm welcoming from Nicolas the Resort Mánager and our Mrs. Friday, Nana, who both spoilt us during our entire trip.
The in-room breakfast is just the best way to start the day! As returning guests, we had the chance to get our names on the bicycles, which we really enjoyed! We stayed in two different villas, the first two days we were in a beautiful Villa Suite with a breath taking sunrise and then moved to a Crusoe Residence. The Crusoes are completely independent and can only be reached with your private boat. They boast unforgettable sunsets and ultimate privacy.
Do not take any shoes, as you probably won’t wear them until your return flight!
The resort has many activities such as sunset cruise, water sports, diving, dolphin cruise and many more. Kevin went scuba diving to the fishing point and swam with many stingrays, octopus and eels. We also went snorkeling and saw some baby sharks, turtles, eagle rays, stingrays and so many colorful fishes.
On the second day, the sky was so clear that our Mrs. Friday, Nana had a bed prepared outside on our rooftop so we could sleep under the stars.
Do not miss the Japanese restaurant, By the Sea (booking is needed). Chef Abraham and his amazing team organized a private romantic dinner on the beach. The lobster is absolutely delicious!
We highly recommend the spa! Pat and her team will take great care of you! I tried for the first time acuponcture with Dr. Sohal, and really enjoyed it! It is not painful at all and I felt extremely relaxed after the session.
For our last day, Nicolas moved us to the Private Residence, the largest over water villa in the world with four bedrooms, the best water slide, private gym, spa with sauna, cinema, and pool! The perfect villa to go with a group of friends!
After a third visit, we still had many activities to try and will have more for our next visit like the vine and cheese tasting, the private cinema, the sunset cruise and new scuba diving spots. We can’t wait to come back, hopefully in March/April!
Many thanks to Nicolas and Nana for taking such a good care of us, Chef Abraham and Chef Hari for the delicious food and beautiful buffets, the Bar team (Roman, Zeehan, Abdullah) for the great Nicolas Victory cocktails and shishas ;), Pat and her Spa team for the best massages, Ahmed, Zihan and his brother Fayaz, the reservation team (Fiyaz), and the House Keeping team for making this third visit a dream!
See you again soon!
Clemy and Mister AK
I had an awesome time at Gili. Great Villas, paradise views. Our Mr Friday very helpfull and with great attitude. But I find it very expensive the meals. And the taste of them were not worth the value. Thank you Ziman for your great work on us!
As we entered the speedboat at Male, we felt that this week at Gili will be special. And that's how it was! Our passion and love is travelling to special places and unique hotels around the world. So we already knew some amazing hotels and lodges. The Villas are huge and there you find everything what you need...and if not you can be sure you will get it! I was really surprised about the make up cooler which you can order! And I loved it!!! We spend a lot of time at our villa, because we enjoyed the lagoon and the tranquillity of the sea. Every evening the sunset at the overwater bar was a must!!! Lying in the net above the water and drinking a delicious cocktail while the sun goes down. These are moment which we will never forget!The food at Gili is high cuisine. Every day you have different themes and the special food markets like the Asian street food market or the Mediterranean street market are very special! Don't miss that!!! The variety at the breakfast is huge. You should take enough time therefore. Apart from the buffet you have the opportunity to order a lot of things from the a is carte menu. Every day they offer a different breakfast special. We loved the egg Benedict or the fresh mussels!On one evening we had a romantic destination dining at the palm beach! What should I say...i am still speechless about this special evening. Thank you Luddha for the very special dug in table in the sand! We also got a heart made of lights around our table and everywhere there were laterns at the beach. Also the bonfire was a great idea. So again Gili thank you for this very special experience!The island is very close to Male. Only 20 minutes by speedboat. I think the lagoon is one of the most beautiful lagoons on the Maledives!But that what Gili makes so special are the people who work there! You feel that the employees are happy and proud to be part of the Gili Team and that's very important. Soda, Angeline, Papre, Luddha and of course our Mr. Friday Shaan took so good care of us!For sure we will come again, because Gili is special. After this week we came home completely relaxed and happy!That's how an holiday should be!!!
We came in Gili for our honeymoon. We had a 4 nights stay and then we moved to another resort. At first we were very impressed by the resort. However, now I can say that was really good but not the perfect. Is not adequate for honeymoon. Is more appropriate for families. However, the size of the villa and the construction is really amazing, the ocean view is breathtaking. Staff very kind, Shazu ( Ms Friday) absolutely helpfull. The most impressive is the “no shoes” policy. I recommend it , but no for honeymoon couples!