Kia Orana! Last month, Mr Polka and I took a fun trip to the Cook Islands to discover all that this much underrated country has in store for honeymoons and destination weddings. Check out part one of my adventures on the Expedia blog
It was dark when Mr Polka and I arrived at Nautilus Resort, our home for our time on the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. General manager Ben greeted us and we made our way to the bar for one very well needed pina cola. We couldn’t see a thing but the palm tree outside the window behind us. It was a strange feeling – I had known the sights of this tropical island from photos and all I could see was darkness. Now don’t get me wrong – our arrival was not without fanfare – from the frangipani eis placed around our necks, to the fruit platter and (aptly named Nautilus) sparkling wine waiting in our fridge to the tropical blooms which literally were on every single surface, I knew I had arrived in paradise.
In some ways, I think the evening arrival only heightened the amazing views we woke up to the next day – a beach right in front of our room, off our own deck with infinity pool and the quintessential tropical island sitting in the middle of it, palm trees creeping out the top. This is the stuff photographs are made of.
Nautilus is brand new – having only opened in August last year. It will have 18 rooms upon completion – each with it’s own deck and infinity pool. There are five kinds of rooms here – the garden villas which overlook the resort’s beautiful tropical gardens, the lagoon view rooms which look directly out onto the lagoon (and are a mere few steps away) the beach front rooms and the two and three bedroom rooms (perfect for families or destination weddings). Our room – number two was a lagoon view room and was a mere few steps away from the water’s edge.
Each room is an oasis of luxury – as well as the private deck and pool, they each have super king beds (complete with mosquito nets, Mr Polka’s new favourite thing), air conditioning and ceiling fans, an enormous bathroom with double sinks, deep bath and rain shower, a kitchenette with bar fridge, Nespresso coffee machine, kettle and toaster and decor that while chic and sophisticated, doesn’t take away, or compete from the beauty of its tropical surroundings.
The open plan layout of the rooms allow for a living area with flat screen TV and writing desk all focused around that view that is easily accessible through the floor to ceiling doors. Internet here is free and the multi-channel TV has much to choose from. But I suspect you won’t need either during your stay here (unless it’s to instagram that incredible view).
Nautilus, like it’s sister Muri Beach Resort is eco-friendly. From the water that comes from your tap being UV treated, to the solar panels that power the resort. Even the gardens lend a hand – filled with edible plants which make their way into the restaurant.
If we’re talking about food – Nautilus Resort has one main restaurant, but let me assure you it’s a good one. Firstly the bar sits right on the sand so you can definitely tick the bucket list item of drinking cocktails under a palm tree off the list (And just a top tip? Their mojito is one of the best I have ever tried). We would often drift inside to the main restaurant for dinner after enjoying the bar’s happy hour and settle in for a three course dinner that was well on par , if not better than a lot of Melbourne restaurants (their Island fries? My new favourite!). The restaurant also serves breakfast and lunch and if you tire of it, or want to expand your culinary horizons – the resort is located right on Muri Beach and most resorts and their restaurants welcome diners in from the sand.
The resort has a range of free water-sport equipment for guests to use – we spent one afternoon kayaking around the little island (well I sat, Mr Polka hates getting hit in the face with my kayak paddle) while Mr Polka attempted stand up paddle boarding later that afternoon. The resort also has flippers and snorkeling masks. Soon they’ll house an on site spa and active kids club.
While I send you dreaming with the resort’s facilities – all of which made our stay just that little bit perfect, there was one very special part of Nautilus that left it ingrained in my memory – the people. From Ned, who introduced himself the moment we walked into the bar that very first night and greeted us by name every time he saw us, asking about our day to telling us about the news back home. To Leilani who made me laugh every night at dinner with her cheeky personality and who gave me the warmest hug on our final night. And Ben – the general manager who always wanted to ensure our stay was okay. To the team who upon hearing we were leaving on our final day before the restaurant would open for breakfast, organised a breakfast hamper to be delivered to our room to make sure we were well fed.
These moments are the ones I remember Nautilus by. I’ve stayed in a lot of nice places and I can’t remember the people – but Ned, Leilani and Ben (as well as Jane, the lovely owner of Nautilus who we were lucky enough to have a drink with) will forever remain embedded in my mind as what Nautilus is all about. A luxury experience that comes with heart and soul.
The Polkas traveled to the Cook Islands courtesy of Expedia. My tan (Mr Polka doesn’t tan – he remains neon white) is courtesy of the Cook Islands sunshine and still remains. Meitaki for the amazing trip and long lasting memories.
Images taken by Ms Polka Dot.