Small, beautiful and very high class. Those are the basics; the real story is that there is some magic to this place.
Good things happen on Gangehi. And much of the reason for that is owing to Monica.
Monica has been in Maldives since the very beginning of tourism and has been connected with Gangehi for most of that time. "It's like my house now", she says, and she makes the whole resort like a house for her guests. She sets the calm, adult atmosphere that pervades the place. Her continuing presence and fluent Dhivehi (the language of Maldives) has forged a loyalty among the staff that is rare, and a part of the magic.
The resort used to have a beach problem, with no sand for the beach bungalows and the water bungalows stranded on a beach, but this has been completely overcome by pumping. Pumped sand is not as fine as original beach sand and some walls have been built in the lagoon, but now there is beach all around and the water bungalows are over the water.
A permanent feature is the lovely sandbank that stretches into the lagoon from beside the bar and lounge and restaurant. Soft, white and very fine, the open stretch is ideal for the more communal times - from sunbathing to bocce. And it is from here that guests walk out to the reef edge to snorkel or dive.
Just 25 rooms make this the second smallest resort in the country (after Kudahithi). There is, nonetheless, considerable variety in the room locations. 2 Beach Bungalows are tucked behind a little vegetation at the very start of the sandbank. 3 more are hidden in the jungle interior and the other 12 are strung around the perimeter from south to northeast, with good privacy but varying amounts of sun, beach and vegetation. The eight Water Bungalows are individual but paired on a jetty and all face west from their large, private deck.
The Water Bungalows are larger than the Beach Bungalows but otherwise very similar. The interiors are spacious, cool and dim. Dark wood is used extensively, combined with covers and curtains that pick up the black, brown and white designs of the great Maldivian Thundu Kunaa mats. Tinted glass sliding doors show off the great views but keep the interior shaded and private.
90% of guests here are from Italy but, though it is run entirely by Club Vacanze, it is too smart a place to be run in a club style and any non-Italian that liked the sound of the place is welcome and would surely rejoice at their choice.
It is not a club, then, but there is somehow a sense of being bound together. Everyone comes on an all-inclusive basis. There is just one restaurant, one bar and lounge and a small routine of events and entertainments that mould the day and the week.
There is no need to sign for anything, as everything is included. Even diving is included. With few guests and fewer divers, attention is on an individual basis and the diving is terrific. Gangehi is located in a quiet corner of North Ari Atoll with no competition for nearby sites and within striking distance of some world famous sites to the south as well as the hammerhead shark spot of Rasdhoo to the east.
Finally, the dining is second to none. 5and 6 star resorts are coming up around the country and the food standard continues to soar but still dinner on Gangehi is not surpassed. Breakfast and lunch are large buffets but dinner is served at the table. That is to say, 8 to 10 courses on a weekday, 12 on the weekend and up to 17 courses for Easter and Christmas days. Never heavy, never too much, varied and perfectly paced. What a delight that is.
Gangehi is a delight all round. You'll want to string the experience out as far as possible, and then come back the following year.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville