What do you miss most about travel? For city-dwellers who have spent the better part of the last year trapped in buildings, crystal clear waters and sandy beaches may sound nothing short of a faraway dream.
But as several countries around the world start to recover from pandemic-dealt blows to public health and their economies, gradually-resuming recreational travel seems to finally be in the cards for those of us suffering from severe cases of wanderlust. If you are refreshing your travel bucket list after the socially distanced months of the past year, here’s a name to add to the top—The Nautilus, a newly reopened private island resort in the azure waters of the Maldives.
Nestled in the heart of the Baa atoll and part of a UNESCO biosphere reserve, The Nautilus is the only Relais & Châteaux property in the Maldives, meaning it joins an exclusive tribe of hand-picked destinations characterised by exceptional warmth, ultimate luxury and a special kind of je ne sais quoi. When you set foot on the private island resort for the first time, it is easy to see why it is one of the rare places that qualify.
The pristine beach and blue waters form a perfect backdrop for the range of houses and residences at The Nautilus, each one so serene and beautiful, they seem out of this world. Genuine hospitality and personal touches abound—24-hour private butler service will ensure that your every whim is catered to, going the extra mile to elevate your experience by contacting you to learn about your preferences before you even arrive.
Besides the signature spacious sundecks, private living rooms, and elegant, organically-shaped bedrooms that crown every abode, the true draw of The Nautilus is the unforgettable view you are guaranteed to have. Each of the 26 available houses and residences offer spectacular horizon vistas stretched out over your private freshwater temperature-controlled infinity pool, sheltered by manicured gardens.
Most outstanding of all is The Nautilus Mansion. Larger than life and positioned at the ultimate height of tropical luxury, The Nautilus Mansion a two-storey, three-bedroom castle that will feel like home away from home—if home were a palatial beach house decked out in eclectic design and beautiful art, complete with dreamy sea views from several vantage points like the private sundeck and balcony.
As The Nautilus reopens its doors in the midst of a pandemic, hygiene and safety are top priorities at the island resort. While the sprawling premises promote privacy by design, a conscious lack of interaction between guests has now been put in place in the name of safety. “All protocols at The Nautilus are in line with the World Health Organisation guidelines, and in many cases exceed them. During this time, our main goal is to make sure that our guests are safe, happy and can relax,” says island manager Mohamed Ashraf.
Safety protocols at The Nautilus set in before you even set foot onto the island; they start from when you arrive at the airport. To minimise unnecessary interaction with other travellers, all guests are met while disembarking their planes and escorted to a private VIP lounge. They also get to skip dreaded airport queues—all matters regarding immigration, baggage and customs are handled by the lounge personnel, while luggage is disinfected before safely reaching guests’ hands once they’ve arrived at their residence.
Then, guests will board The Nautilus’ private eight-seater business class seaplane (which is an experience in its own right) and fly directly to the island and into a slice of paradise. Here, what awaits them are expansive blue skies, fresh air, and an unforgettable getaway in a brilliant, sun-drenched lagoon.
Scenic views aside, what sets The Nautilus apart from other ultra-luxury resorts is their philosophy of true flexibility and customisability—none of the resorts’ amenities have opening hours or schedules. The three restaurants serve up delectable gourmet cuisine at any time of the day, sans dress code of any kind, bringing new meaning to the term ‘unscripted dining’. This means you can tuck into breakfast at 2pm, or indulge in a late-night snack at 1am, without fretting about fitting your mealtimes within stipulated hours. There are also a slew of activities to enjoy at your own pace, from bespoke treatments at the island’s over-water spa, cocktails at the pool bar, open-air ‘Cinema under the Stars’ on a secluded sandbank, or a guided snorkelling adventure with the resort’s in-house marine biologist. In short, life at The Nautilus is serene and unscripted, and one that you will never want to leave.
If you do need to pick up a few extra hours at work while you’re away, trust The Nautilus to level up your WFH experience and make you never want to step into an office again. You can opt for the resort’s ‘workation’ package, which offers you a personal desk, shaded sun canopy and portable high speed WiFi, allowing you to work in a peaceful sandbank outside your residence in total privacy. Young ones can also enjoy a specially curated programme that is both educational and fun, including activities like an underwater treasure hunt, a Dhivehi local language class, a visit to a local island and museum, or basic culinary skills class with award-winning chefs.
Beyond the picturesque picture it paints, The Nautilus is well-aware that it has been a year of struggle for all. The resort has thus come up with an initiative to give back to the nearby island of Dharavandhoo, which houses the nearest domestic airport in the Baa atoll region. “We wanted to help the local community during this time by funding the installation of a PCR testing facility within the healthcare centre on Dharavandhoo Island. This facility is just 15 minutes by yacht from The Nautilus, and is one of the only PCR testing facilities within the Baa atoll,” says Mohamed Ashraf.
In addition to catering to the testing needs of the local community, this centre will also provide COVID-19 testing for guests and staff of The Nautilus on a complimentary basis, with results delivered on the same day. All generated revenue will go directly to the health centre of Dharavandhoo, thus helping to uplift the community in a time when they might need it most. This may put your mind at ease as you kick back in your serene beach house and drift off to the sounds of rolling waves, for as the social-minded globetrotter will know—in 2020, nothing is quite as important as travelling with a conscience.