Green Pearls® on Inspection in Paradise
The Maldives – a dream destination for many travelers. Since several years, people have started to rethink and the topic of environmental protection has also gained relevance here. Green Pearls® wanted to find out more about the sustainability situation on site. Thus, I am in search of accommodations, which help to maintain this sensitive nature. My first destination, the wonderful sustainable resort Gili Lankanfushi, is situated at North Malé Atoll. At Malé airport, I am awaited by a friendly airport employee of Gili Lankanfushi, who escorts me to the speed boat.
It is raining and also very windy with stormy waves. After all passengers have been seated and we have put on the swim wests, the boat departs. Although it swings strongly, I feel safe due to the calm behavior of the crew.
“No news, no shoes” is the philosophy of the sustainable Gili Lankanfushi. Simply leave the sorrows at home, lean back and relax. The Gili Lankanfushi is a barefoot resort, and so my shoes are neatly packed into bags – my feet are pleased after the long flight.
Gili greets me with bright sunshine, I am warmly welcomed by the team and my personal “Mr. Friday“ Irufan, who takes me to my villa by cart. Named after Robinson Crusoe’s loyal friend, “Mr. Friday“ makes the stay at Gili Lankanfushi a heaven on earth. He is attainable for the guests 24 hours a day. In my case, he takes care that I am always on time for my appointments.
When entering the villa, the first thought that comes to my mind is “arrived in paradise!” – the view over the lagoon is breathtaking. The biggest part of the villa is designed completely open, there is always a soft breeze and the villa is designed in a way that makes air conditioning unnecessary. Only the bed room is conveniently air-conditioned. The architecture and furniture is adjusted to the local tradition, the villas are equipped with natural materials and unobtrusive luxury. Only around three per cent of the land area at the Maldives are covered with trees. The Maldivian government has implemented a national environment action plan, which among other initiatives forbids to fell trees. Instead, the wood used at the resort is taken from renewable sources in New Zealand.
Overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, I appreciate the view, but I am not here for a holiday. Instead, I would like to see, experience and learn as much as possible about the green initiatives of the resort. In the afternoon, I meet marine biologist Deborah, who has much to tell about coral reefs and the underwater world of the Maldives. I learn that there are 122 different kinds of corals. The resort rescues coral reefs, whereby broken corals are fixed with ropes. After they have grown to a certain size, they are planted out again. I am impressed!
During the subsequent snorkeling session at the house reef, I see the underwater world with my own eyes. I encounter almost all fish species that were introduced to me before by Deborah and her colleague.
© Gili Lankanfushi
I let the day come to an end and enjoy the nice atmosphere at the Overwater-Bar. A fresh breeze is pleasant in the warmth of the night. I appreciate a fantastic Indian buffet – it is not too spicy, so that even Europeans can enjoy the authentic Indian cuisine.
The next morning greets me with wind and bright sunshine. I decide to have breakfast in our villa – with a fantastic view over the lagoon and the Robinson Crusoe Villas in the sea. The turquoise water and the white sand – isn’t that how we have always imagined the Maldives?
After breakfast, Irufan takes me to the spa, where I am spoilt with a relaxing massage. It is difficult to close the eyes to indulge completely in relaxation, as window glasses are implemented in the floor and enable a spectacular view on the underwater world. Every second I can see another fish, I am fascinated.
During a resort tour, I learn more about the philosophy at Gili Lankanfushi. With its diverse sustainability strategy, the resort holistically works on reducing the negative impacts on the environment – from purchase processes, through daily operations, all the way to waste management, the aspect of sustainability is respected. This includes energy-saving measurements, a sustainable design as well as the use of eco-friendly building materials. Also building sustainable awareness of guests, employees and the local community is a matter of heart at Gili Lankanfushi. Children from local schools are invited for resort tours to learn more about the manifold green initiatives. The marine biologist takes guests on an unforgettable eco tour and explains about risks for local nature in an interesting presentation.
Also waste reduction and recycling are important topics at the resort. In the evening, I meet John, chef de cuisine, in “his” organic garden. Here, I learn interesting facts about composting: the resort has an automatic composter that recycles organic waste from kitchen and garden. Every day, around 400 kg compost is produced, which is used for the gardens of the island. All herbs used at the resort are self-grown at the organic garden and fertilized with the produced compost. The first papaya tree was planted and it is considered to also grow own potatoes.
© Gili Lankanfushi
I spend my last night in paradise at the Japanese restaurant and get spoilt with delicious food at star-level quality, which even tops the fantastic food of the previous day. My wish at this moment: enjoy two weeks at Gili and travel home completely relaxed. The reality: I move on the next morning and look forward to our visit at the Green Pearls® hotel Coco Bodu Hithi, which we will report from as well.
My conclusion: Gili Lankanfushi is a luxury eco resort that fulfills all criteria to be a “green pearl”. All employees are extremely well trained and exceedingly kind, courteous and eager to guarantee guests an unforgettable stay at the resort. A warm thank you to the fantastic team at Gili!