The Maldives has a luxury newcomer that is opening up a private island to welcome the next generation of travellers
The Nautilus Maldives – a privately-owned island in the heart of a UNESCO biosphere reserve – opens this November with the serious ambition of being noted as one of the leading luxury resorts in the world. The inspiration behind this boutique 26-room island is a Maldivian entrepreneur with over 30-years’ experience in business and resort ownership. Originally thinking about building his dream retreat on the tiny island, The Nautilus has grown to become his personal vision of what the last word in island luxury – in both the Maldives and worldwide – should be.
‘The Nautilus Maldives has been designed for the new generation of luxury travellers; travellers who expect more than just a great sun tan at the end of a holiday and are looking for transformative experiences and activities that they can share with those who matter the most to them,’ he says. ‘Before beginning this project we did a great deal of research about luxury resorts around the world to ensure that we can surpass their standards and also launch a concept that’s different. The Nautilus philosophy therefore is one of absolute freedom for its guests, offering a laid-back ‘modern bohemian’ lifestyle where guests can escape from their everyday lives, truly be themselves, and reconnect with their inner being, with nature and with their families – all in a beautiful Maldivian setting. A stay here isn’t like a stay anywhere else’.
This philosophy has meant rethinking how a luxury resort is run in order to base services around the guest and not follow standard operating procedures. With this in mind, service is driven by the House Captains (butlers), who take care of every detail instead of handing over to receptionists, concierges, excursion guides etc.
Restaurants don’t have set opening hours: breakfast can be taken at any time of day – and not even in the restaurant if the guest prefers breakfast in bed or by their pool. While there will be menus in each of the three restaurants, these are seen as starting points for a discussion with chef about what the guest would like to eat rather than as set guidelines for what can be ordered. Spa treatments can happen without appointment and if the urge to borrow the resort’s yacht and head out into the blue yonder for a picnic should suddenly strike, the House Captain – one to every guest – will simply arrange everything as needed. To build on this relaxed feel, guests are invited to casual sunset cocktails every evening and can help themselves to Deli-style snacks from the poolside bar throughout the day – or ask the House Captain to pick up something for them.
Uniquely in the Maldives, The Nautilus experience begins on the runway at Velana International Airport, where every guest will be taken straight from the plane to a VIP terminal in the airport for a relaxed customs and immigration clearance. From there it’s a short hop to The Nautilus’ own private lounge to await the 35-minute seaplane flight to Baa atoll.
Accommodation at The Nautilus is called ‘houses and residences’ because guests should feel the same levels of comfort and ease as when at home, along with the most spectacular features the Maldives has to offer. Those features include private pools, ocean views from every house, soft sandy beaches encircling dense tropical greenery, and a rich coral reef just metres from the island’s shores. Originally a deserted island – too small at 250m diameter for inhabitation – the tiny island retains many of its original native plants and trees.
Each of the 26 houses is a suite, with separate living room and bedroom. Just 15 one- and two-bedroom houses line the island’s beaches, hidden away among coconut trees, palms, and tropical greenery. Eleven one- and two-bedroom houses stand on stilts over the lagoon. Natural daylight fills the rooms and interior design is tropical with a touch of boho chic whimsy. The island style is relaxed, with the guideline given to the interior designers to ‘make it look like it could be someone’s home, and better’. Most of the furnishings have been custom-built for The Nautilus.
At the three restaurants and poolside bar, guests can explore ‘unscripted dining’, meaning the freedom to order off menu if that’s how they feel. The Nautilus is a world where a menu is just a place to gather inspiration and meals are designed for the guest, whenever they want to eat. Dining, for those wishing to follow chef’s suggestions, include intriguing infusions of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine at the over-water signature restaurant; elegant simplicity with Japanese and Latin-American creations at the grill; and global delicacies at the all-day dining restaurant. No opening or closing times, no breakfast hours, no shoes, no dress codes. Guests come as they are, enjoy great company and indulge in a shared passion for extraordinary cuisine.
The Nautilus doesn’t judge, doesn’t impose and doesn’t inhibit its guests. Instead, it removes barriers and creates incredible excursions and adventures, taking guests where they want to be when they want to be there, from midnight swims in glowing phosphorescent waters alongside a marine biologist, to exploring deserted islands on a yacht or floating in a ‘star filled’ pool under the milky way while the House Captain whisks up another perfect cocktail. Guests looking for a mindful holiday are invited to join daily complimentary yoga, meditation and fitness classes. Watersports activities such as snorkelling, kayaking in a transparent canoe, or stand-up-paddle boarding are free: guests simply decide when they want to go.
Located in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, a kaleidoscopic wonderland of incredible marine life awaits discovery. Trips to world-renowned Hanifaru Bay to swim amongst whale sharks and manta rays; diving on iridescent coral reefs; exploring remote sandbanks and deserted islands picnic in hand or just cruising the ocean in a custom yacht are among the many adventures guests can look forward to.
The Nautilus sets guests on their own path to wellness, drawing on ancient wisdoms and modern innovations for a transformative journey in its four treatment rooms in the heart of the island. The spa specialises in the bespoke, designing wellness programmes and daily rituals that refresh and relax, pamper and protect. Guests can salute the sun at dawn, discover alternative healing, join complimentary wellness classes or craft their own path to restoration.
On the quiet, unrushed shores of The Nautilus, life moves at a different pace and guests are given all the time in the world to reflect and recalibrate. Room rates at The Nautilus Maldives start at US$1,967 for two in a Beach House with pool on bed and breakfast basis. Bookings begin in April 2018 and can be made at: