INTERVIEW WITH STEVEN PHILLIPS: GM OF THE BEST HOTEL IN THE WORLD, GILI LANKANFUSHI

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“Being nominated by Tripadvisor The Best Hotel in the World 2015 is a real mess.”

Steven Phillips speaking, General Manager of Gili Lankanfushi: one of the most dreamed of and desired hotels on the whole planet. Hidden on an small island in the North Malé Atoll, Maldives.

“Everyone says that if you win on TripAdvisor one year, the next year you may not be even in the Top 10.” Continues Mr. Phillips. But no one believes him.

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A room of the Meera SPA, with a jacuzzi and double beds for couple treatments

Are you looking for a place where you won’t see a soul for two weeks? Or where you will dive in the most beautiful reefs of the Maldives? Or where you will sleep in the world’s largest overwater villa (1400 sqm)?

This place exists. And it’s called Gili Lankanfushi.

The essence of the island, where you can leave all your worries behind, stands on its services. Gili is not only the “usual” immaculate beach, so white as to burn the eyes; the “usual” dozens of shades of turquoise blue sea; the “usual” palms loaded with coconuts; the “usual” light breeze that smells like ocean. All of this belongs to any tropical island in the world.

Gili Lankanfushi is something more.

“You can find two types of high-end hotels in the Maldives: the standard five-star hotels and the resorts like Gili Lankanfushi

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The terrace of the 29 Villa Suites with sun beds and direct access to the Indian Ocean

The standard accommodation isn’t that standard after all: the 29 Villa Suites, a 210 sqm overwater villa with an air-conditioned bedroom, a bathroom bigger than you can ever imagine. Direct access to the sea, a dining room, a rooftop terrace with daybeds and dining table. And an overwater sundeck with sun loungers. You will find your Mr. Friday waiting for you: a personal butler that turns every desire into reality and cares only about you from your arrival to your departure from Gili Lankanfushi.

Mr. Friday will explain you about the bicycles with which you can explore the island. The breakfast is served on the beach and based on fresh juices designed by the SPA. Moreover local and imported products (everything exclusively healthy), cereals, tropical fruits, baked goods and even sushi. You can dine in three different restaurants: the By the Sea (japanese cuisine), the Overwater Bar (with spectacular ocean views), and the main restaurant. A wine cellar with more than 350,000 wines waits for you. And also a cave for chocolate and cheese. Last but not least: the possibility to organize a romantic dinner on the beach or in the tree-house in the center of the island.

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The bedroom of the Villa Suites is elegantly decorated and has spectacular views of the ocean

 maldives, gili lankanfushi, steven phillips, best hotel in the world

The bathroom of the Villa Suites, the “standard” accommodation, has a bathtub facing the sea, direct access to the ocean and an outdoor shower

Steven Phillips

Steven Phillips is a Welsh gentleman. Funny and witty, always ready with a joke. He worked in London, Japan, Malta and Abu Dhabi. Then fell in love with the Maldives and now works and lives on the island with his wife. He greets me at the Overwater Bar with a gin tonic in hand and begins to tell me about his career. About Gili Lankanfushi. And how they won Best Hotel in the World 2015. And obviously about how “hard” it is to live on this heavenly island.

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The Overwater Bar is the perfect place to enjoy the breathtaking views at sunset

“You can find two types of high-end hotels in the Maldives: the standard five-star hotels and the resorts like Gili Lankanfushi”. Explains Mr. Phillips. “Our secret is to have a consistent care for every detail. Guests feel really pampered and they really are: we have almost 300 staff members for 130 guests and Mr. Friday deals with every need possible as if the guest was a family member. Mr. Friday doesn’t have a hard time either if you consider that they sometimes receive the highest salary on the island after mine! You can not imagine how many European ladies would like to send their sons or daughters working with us!”

“We also offer a level of privacy that you can not find in any other resort. I challenge you to find an island like this one, where, despite the hotel being full, you will see not more than a dozen people around. The real question indeed is, why go around? When you have an entire overwater villa for yourself, our mind-blowing room service and your sweetheart next to you, there’s no need to go anywhere.”

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The organic vegetable garden is in the middle of the island and provides all the fruit and vegetable used for the guests

 maldives, gili lankanfushi, steven phillips, best hotel in the world

The wine cellar has also space for chocolate and cheese

Best Hotel of the world 

After becoming the number 1 hotel in world, expectations are high but Mr. Phillips is not intimidated. In December 2015 the renovations on the Private Reserve ended and now guests can again book this 1400 sqm overwater villa, two main bedrooms with 2-people jacuzzi each, guest room, dining rooms, spa, gym, cinema, two butlers, personal boat to move around, and a wine cellar with 400 wines. While in 2016 they plan to renovate the other villas, to build a swimming pool inside the ocean and to partner with Tropicsurf, the “luxury surfing” pioneers.

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The Private Reserve (1400 sqm) is the biggest overwater villa in the entire world

 maldives, gili lankanfushi, steven phillips, best hotel in the world, private reserve

The outdoor and indoor halls inside the Private Reserve

Gili Lankanfushi is located in the North Malé Atoll and is reachable by a 20 minutes speed boat transfer directly from the International Airport of Malé, capital of the Maldives. For information or reservations, contact the hotel at +960 6640304 or mr.friday@gili-lankanfushi.com.

Interview by Ludovica Amodeo Grabau

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