The Nautilus - a secret escape, a place to get lost in and above all a paradise that’s yours to roam free in once there. This is a place unlike any other resort in the Maldives. Because it isn’t a resort. It is a small private island retreat for those looking to be in the Maldives without the typical rules, dress code, and schedules of high end five-star establishments.
A place where discretion governs and freedom reigns. It is not about seeing and being seen, it is about being. Having the opportunity to experience what The Nautilus has to offer is one thing but summarising it is another. We could write chapters about this place but for the purpose of ease and not to overwhelm, we have decided to illustrate this experience from the days and nights spent here, starting with our first night.
Day 1 - Exceeding Expectations
We came without any expectations. We didn’t want to hold onto any preconceived idea of what awaited us, we wanted to come fresh like a blank canvas so that we could really experience the place authentically. We knew this was a luxury experience, we were aware that it is a small island but there was so much more that caught us by surprise once we arrived.
The weather that morning was choppy but we arrived just as soon as the rain was about to pour. It was about a half hour seaplane ride from Malé. We were escorted to the Manta Air Lounge before boarding our flight. Of course check-in was absolutely seamless, all formalities already pre-handled by the team so there wasn’t much for us to do besides wait over some light refreshments before boarding. The Manta Air seaplanes can be thought of as the business class edition of seaplanes in the Maldives - only 2 seats per row instead of 3 and extra legroom for passengers so one doesn’t feel squished as you would with the standard Trans Maldivian Airway seaplanes. Super comfortable with a private jet feel set the tone for what was to come at The Nautilus. For those that prefer even more exclusivity from the get-go, The Nautilus also offers its private charter.
Landing at the Baa Atoll, we were led onto a small floating jetty to get aboard The Nautilus yacht for a five minute journey to the island. The reason for this is to minimise sound and smell pollution almost entirely which is why you’ll notice zero seaplane engines roaring past your villa or anywhere on the island for that matter. Which is refreshing considering that larger resorts can have a tight schedule of seaplane after seaplane roaring overhead and landing in front of the beach. When we arrived at The Nautilus we were greeted by a team ever so hospitalbily and in no time at all we were led by our butler, Juney, for a quick tour of the island (and I mean quick because the buggy can circle the island in about 2 minutes) before arriving at our dreamy beach villa. Upon first impression the villa evoked luxury and sophistication with a private island bohemian-chic feel. Overlooking the beach with your own wide casting views it felt very private and you quickly forgot that there are, in fact, neighbouring villas.
With a vast living area overlooking the plunge pool and beach, a large bedroom to the other side and a very picturesque bathroom area, it’s no wonder guests could so happily reside in their villas for the duration of their stay. An uber chic home away from home on an island providing first-class luxury and sheer comfort at every corner means that anything that you need attending to will be quickly dealt with so that ultimately you’re left with nothing in mind but the feeling of deep tranquillity and perhaps a tinge of excitement for how lucky you feel to be here. The villa was kitted out with everything that you’d need and anything that you felt was missing you could request your butler for. We were provided a beautifully donned cot with an enchanting mobile and mosquito net over it. This small set-up gesture gave us an immediate feeling of warmth and thoughtfulness as well as personalisation. We were also provided a sofa bed in the living area for our son which seemed to be the perfect set-up as beside it sat a coffee table replete with an array of personalised sweets with our children’s names on them as well savouries and a bottle of fine Champagne to welcome us. We were told that upon arrival we were given complimentary laundry service in the clothes that we arrived in and for the duration of our stay, up to 4 pieces of complimentary laundry per day - perfect when you’re travelling with kids and are never without a pile of laundry. Also perfect if you prefer to travel light with hand-luggage only and dream about jetting off with nothing but some swimwear and a t-shirt or two, kick the shoes off immediately upon arrival, and give in to your best Robinson Crusoe fantasy. The private yet intimate atmosphere of the Nautilus doesn’t require “island chic” or “smart casual” wear for dinner, or any reservations for that matter. Being there is dresscode enough (as long as you’re not nude).
You can expect to be pampered almost immediately at The Nautilus and your villa becomes your own home for the duration of your stay. An oasis of pure tranquillity without any disturbance from other guests and external noises apart from the sound of the waves - this is the place to relinquish, to revel and to get spoiled in. With only 26 beach and ocean houses, one can imagine how small the island might be but one doesn’t feel the size to be anything but private and congenial. It is secluded, exclusive and it exudes immediate conviviality, and that is ultimately what The Nautilus enconpasses. In fact, it was hard to tell whether there were any other guests on the island most of the time, even though it was fully booked, except when you came to the daily Nautilus Rising sunset drinks. To give such distinguished travellers this option in the Maldives means to give them not just a luxury vacation but a luxury experience where time is not dictated by anyone but you. Breakfast at 5pm? Why not? Dinner at midnight? Who cares? Time is thrown out the window here, what matters is your own time and your own time only. Anywhere at any time is what The Nautilus wants to cater to. You would like to have your breakfast served on that table over on the other side of the Island with the magnificent views? No problem. The most refreshing aspect is that even if you, like us, tend to end up at the Breakfast table at the usual hour, the restaurant is virtually yours. No lines at the buffet, no waiting to get the attention of a waiter, no chatty neighbouring tables. Perhaps you catch the glimpse of another guest at the other end. There is no competition because there is none - this is perhaps the only retreat in the Maldives that offers this type of experience and with 26 villa options for any size, this is why it is achievable.
This is pretty much how we felt once we were settled into our villa and we spent time soaking up the in-room experience, familiarising ourselves with this little paradise knowing that if we stepped out we would be greeted by a welcoming flexibility. Juney, our butler ensured we were comfortable and offered to take an order of any type of fruit we wished for, as a welcome platter. We proceeded to order slices of kiwi, rambuttan, mangoes and strawberries. Much of our first day was spent exploring the kids club activities and relaxing at their Naiboli bar. The fact that each restaurant is within a short walking distance meant we didn’t need the usual bikes or wait for a buggy pick-up and were pretty much barefoot the entire day and for the rest of our stay. The definition of barefoot luxury cannot be overstated enough - it was a comfortable, relaxed barefoot experience so much that it became a natural instinct to the point you forget the need to wear shoes. One is still seated in style upon sandless floors, unlike some other resorts where you might dine barefoot in the sand which some might find irritating.
We made it just in time for the pizza-making class for our son who enjoyed the session together with the other children who were also guests on the island. It was refreshing to see the kids club moving throughout the island with their activities as opposed to being cooped up in the kids club only. We then walked on over next door to the Naiboli bar for some light refreshments whilst basking in the main pool area with the waves lightly colliding against the pristine beach. What was striking for us was the amount of guests at the bar and in the main pool area - almost no one. You would’ve thought there were very few guests holidaying here, on the contrary the resort was running at full occupancy, it’s just that they were all within the comforts of their luxury abode, which says a lot.
The highlight of our first evening was cocktail hour - Nautilus Rising - between 6pm to 6:30pm. The Nautilus hosts a cocktail hour at its different locations each evening, which means that you’re free to order any drink you please and simply enjoy it. It was a great way to see other guests convening and we noticed a lot of families as well as couples and larger groups coming together and lightly socialising. We resumed our first dinner at The Nautilus' beachfront all-day dining restaurant, Thyme. Again, there were very few guests simply because dinner is at any time and anywhere the guests please. We ate there anyway as we wanted to experience outdoor dining on our first night and proceeded to order from the menu. We even requested for our unfinished bottle of champagne to be brought over, which Juney wondrously organised. We then took the liberty of ordering from the Ananda section which turned out to be utterly and unexpectedly delicious. This section of the menu was crafted by Ananda’s head chef offering taster dishes of what one can perhaps expect should they forgo a retreat at the wellbeing sanctuary in the Himalayas. During our stay, The Nautilus invited its Master Yogic, Sandeep and its Head Chef to the island to offer an ayurvedic wellness experience for its guests. Within the wellness experience comes an ayurvedic menu of wholesome and nutritious dishes that you can choose from which is what we ultimately did.
We came back to our room, needless to say we slept in utter comfort, mesmerised by the super private and exceptional service we were experiencing and excited for the days ahead not wanting it to end.
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