I'm back after a glorious 2 weeks traipsing around Portugal, with a short detour to Amsterdam! Stay tuned for some travel and foods coming up soon. Meanwhile, a quick post from an earlier trip - my experience flying Sri Lankan Airlines' inaugural flight from Colombo to Gan Island, Maldives.
Gan Island is the southernmost island of the Maldives and it's a relatively less touristy part of the archipelago. Earlier, you had to fly to Malé and then catch another flight to get to Gan Island.
In December last year, Sri Lankan Airlines launched a direct flight from Colombo to Gan Island cutting down the travel time drastically. And I got a chance to be a part of this inaugural flight, flying business class with Sri Lankan Airlines!
The flight from Colombo to Gan Island departs at 7 a.m. Since I had arrived in Colombo a day in advance, I had time to check out Sri Lankan Airlines' business lounge - Serendib Lounge at Colombo Airport. Since the airport services a limited number of routes, the lounge is modestly sized but has all the amenities you'd expect in a business class lounge.
I love the location - the lounge is on the first floor with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the aircraft parking bay.
The ambience is relaxed with comfy club chairs and sofa-style chairs in warm tones of brown. I was glad to see a wide array of international newspapers and magazines available in the lounge. There's a TV viewing area with a large flat-screen TV in one part of the lounge, and a business area with computers, photocopiers etc. as well. Wi-Fi is free and reasonably fast. My one grouse was that most of the power sockets in the lounge were not working. When I informed the staff, they gave some random excuse about rain, but I noticed that the sockets were still not working two days later when I used the lounge again on my return journey - quite unacceptable in a business class lounge, don't you think?
On the other hand, the buffet was quite impressive - lots of international and local Sri Lankan specialities, a well-stocked bar, plus the coffee was good. I just had a few fruit slices considering I'd be served breakfast on the flight. If I were in the lounge on a slightly longer layover, I would have certainly tucked in!
Colombo - Gan Island Flight The flight is just 1h50m long, which was too short to really enjoy the comfortable seats in business class! There's plenty of leg room and the seats are quite wide. The in-seat power socket was not working (!!!) but there was a USB charger to save the day.
The breakfast menu listed both international and local dishes. There was a choice between the Sri Lankan breakfast staple of kiribath or milk rice, served with chicken curry and sambal. Though I love the coconutty flavours of this dish and absolutely freak out over sambals of all sorts, I cannot really stomach curry first thing in the morning... So I settled for a boring Spinach & Cheese Omelette. It turned out to be quite good and was accompanied by chicken sausage, roasted tomato, and potato rösti (which was like a thick cake rather than the normal rösti you'd expect).
The view outside was spectacular, I couldn't stop taking pictures! While flying in, I was seated on the wrong side so I couldn't see the island, but on the return flight, I could bid goodbye to the gorgeous Gan Island surrounded by the most amazing cerulean waters of the Indian Ocean. Take a look at the video below.
There are just three resorts in Gan Island, and I stayed at the lovely Canareef Resort. The only way to get the resort from the airport is by the hotel speedboat - the 15-minute ride is a great way to kickstart your Maldivian holiday!
The resort is sprawling with 80 villas and 100-odd rooms. The villa is, of course, the place to be - beautiful wooden, beach-facing bungalows, some of them with sunrise views and others with sunset views, and the piece de resistance are the Jacuzzi Villas.
I stayed in one of these spacious villas, which has a Jacuzzi for two in the back. The villa has a comfortable four-poster bed, a sundeck with lounges, and private beach access. The bathroom is partially open-air, with a good high-power shower. I wish the WC was enclosed, though ;)
The villas are on the western side of the island so there are spectacular sunset views to behold.
It's a shame that the food at the resort is sub-par. Despite having its own herb farm, the food lacks taste and is very insipid (to say the least). The buffet is a mix of international, Sri Lankan, and Maldivian dishes, all of which are uniformly mediocre. Canareef Resort offers several activities. I went on a dolphin cruise & for sunset fishing - got lucky with the first (see video below) but not so lucky with the latter! There's scuba, snorkelling, and diving as well. I also tried a detox scrub at the Sanctuaire Spa, which was a nice, relaxing experience. Check out my video on Canareef Resort, and start planning your Maldivian sojourn!
Disclosure: My experience was courtesy Sri Lankan Airlines, views my own.