BLLNR Reviews The Nautilus, Maldives
Prepare for some serious travel envy, everyone
A former Group Editor once said that while you will never become a millionaire working as a journalist, there are some times you can feel like it and boy did those words ring in my ears when we spotted The Nautilus island.
Since the dread COVID, travel hasn’t exactly been the easiest of things but with Singapore and the Maldives easing restrictions, we decided it was time for a much-needed family vacay and where better to go and make some memories than the Maldives, and more specifically, The Nautilus. Having been to the Maldives a few times, I had heard rave reviews of this tiny slice of heaven so was more than keen to check it out.
Now, although the Maldives is just four hours away, travelling with young kids means that no matter how prepared you are, you always arrive everywhere frazzled. But while that might have been our state as we landed, that soon became a distant memory as we were whizzed off in a super swish Mercedes to the Executive Lounge where the kids immediately de-camped to the kid's room (genius) and my husband and I sat down to a mid-morning cup of coffee and biscuit as we waited for The Nautilus’ very own private seaplane to take us to the hotel on Thiladhoo Island. Now, while I’m fine with flying, I was a little worried how my two-and-a-half-year-old would do but all that was put to rest as I turned around to get her to put her on said seaplane and found that the pilot had already got her in his arms and she was happily giggling away as he strapped her in – not an easy task as this one, being a real COVID baby, has serious stranger danger. Things were already looking good. A smooth 20-minute flight takes you to the private boat where we were met by our lovely butler, Hassan, who chatted through the resort before giving us a short tour (we were all exhausted) and taking us to our over over-water villa.
The Nautilus sits on a small, but magical island 85 miles northwest of Valana International Airport, meaning it’s far enough away to make you feel like it’s remote but not so far that you feel deserted. The island is in the northeast Baa Atoll which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Rooms and Villas
The Nautilus is one of the smallest islands in the Maldives and houses only 26 accommodations, 11 overwater bungalows and 15 beach houses and residences but for us, its size is something that most definitely works in everyone’s favour.
The Hamptons meets Boho décor gives a clean, home-away-from-home feeling and the attention to detail is just outstanding – something we would soon learn is the theme of this luxury resort.
The villa’s living room features a glass floor, offering a peek at the underwater world beneath you (something our kids became slightly obsessed with) while the bedroom's wide windows are perfectly placed to give you a sensational view of the crystal clear waters as soon as you wake up. One of the main things about the villas though is how they flow – from the living area to bedroom to bathroom and then outside to the sundeck and infinity pool – it just works in all aspects with nothing feeling out of place or intrusive.
The outside plunge pool gives way to steps down to the crystal clear ocean where you can splash around in your little bit of private ocean, cornered off from next-door neighbours or prying eyes.
For us, our favourite part was the swing chair on the sun deck, and that was where we all fought to take our daily full-from-lunch naps. Each room has a smart TV, wine fridge and mini-bar and daily snacks are provided by your butler. Talking of snacks, this is a prime example of that attention to detail I mentioned earlier and where The Nautilus really comes into its own. Our butler, Hassan, noticed that everyone seemed to love the sweets and chocolate (meant for the kids but hey ho) so every day a little smorgasbord of gummies and choc was waiting for us after afternoon activities. It might seem like a small thing, but this sweet-toothed family really appreciated it and just made you feel really cared for – a very unique touch.
Service and facilities
If there were such a thing as an 11 out of 10, then The Nautilus would get it for service. From our cheery butler to the lovely and helpful restaurant staff, everyone on this island genuinely seems to be enjoying their jobs and is happy to see you. Let me give you another example, we booked a massage but since our kids were being somewhat tricky that day and didn’t want to go to Kids Club, we brought them along with us, giving them the Square AuPair (iPad) to entertain them. Now, anyone with young kids will know that the best-laid plans just don’t work with small people and I spent the majority of my massage being poked and prodded by my darling children and breaking up arguments over whose head was more in the iPad. Having said this, my massage and the masseuse were sublime but, as I said, attention to detail is where this resort shines and our butler, Hassan, caught wind of the fact that my kids might not have let me enjoy my massage as much as I have hoped (in case you are wondering, my husband was left alone to relax because you know how kids are) and arranged a babysitter, with this compliments, and booked me in for a facial so I could actually relax. Honestly, I was so touched I could have cried.
When it comes to the spa, believe me, it’s top-notch. I’ve spent most of my career as a beauty writer and my face has never shone quite as much as after this facial. The spa uses Hungarian hi-tech and Nobel-Prize-winning range, Omorovicza products and if you haven’t heard of them – look them up, trust me.
Another key winner for The Nautilus is the Unscripted Dining theme that they have, meaning you can eat pretty much what you want, where you want and when you want. There are three main restaurants on the island with cuisine ranging from Arabic-influenced, Japanese, and Latin-American to European.
While we spent the days mainly swimming in our infinity pool and lounging on the deck, there is a fully-equipped gym, a water sports centre where you can book big-game fishing on a yacht or simply go scuba diving. Think swimming with the exquisite manta rays sounds amazing – they will organise it. Fancy a private barbeque on a sandbank? You got it. Dinner cooked in front of you in your room? Sure thing and how about dinner on the beach followed by a movie on a big screen on beanbags, complete with popcorn? We did this and truly, it’s a must. And the glory of The Nautilus lies in the fact that although it's not a large resort if there is something, anything you want or need or have to try, they will arrange it for you with a smile on their faces to boot.
Now, I’ve been to a lot of resorts during my time as a writer and if I say it once, I’ll say it a thousand times, The Nautilus is like no other. In the post-pandemic rush to relax and just get away, the resort came up with the idea to just go totally off script when it came to stays and create bespoke ‘once-in-a-lifetime holidays. You won’t hear ‘no’ or ‘can not’ during your stay here, with the guests enjoying just boundless freedom to make the island their own, and make the holiday their very best.
The final word
I always think the sign of a good holiday is one when you are just dreading leaving and trust me when I say none of us were looking forward to going back to reality after this. Our stay was during the time when Singapore still required pre-departure PCR’s and knowing how small our kids were and how scared they might be, Hassan arranged for the doctor to come to the room, put on cartoons and went out of his way to ensure they were as happy as they could be during the swab. This is what sums up the spirit of The Nautilus – they think, they plan and they care. Book a trip, you won’t regret it.
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