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Nautilus Resort, Cook Islands

by | Destinations, Honeymoons, Location South Pacific


Polka Dot Bride

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

Cook Islands

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.

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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.

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Nautlius Resort Pool

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.

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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.

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Nautlius Resort Room

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Nautlius Resort Bathroom

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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.

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Nautilus Resort Cocktails

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.

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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.

Cook Islands Sunrise

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.

Nathalia & Thilo’s Whimsical Lombok Beach Wedding

by | Honeymoons, Inspired Destination Weddings, Inspired Weddings, Location Asia


Polka Dot Bride

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Nathalia & Thio

Nathalia & Thilo wanted a beach side wedding for their special day, so they headed to Lombok and chose the stunning beachside location for their wedding. They worked closely with White Sand Weddings Lombok & Gili Islands  to bring their dream wedding to life – marrying right on the beach and eating and dancing with their loved ones under the stars.

Angga Permana Photo was there to capture the photographs.

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The bride and her bridesmaids wore custom made gowns, the bride creating the bouquets and hairpieces herself.

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Nathalia and Thilo chose Villa Sapi, Lombok for their wedding, explaining, “When Thilo and I began to plan our wedding, we knew that we wanted a day that was personal, intimate and most of all fun. We share a love for the ocean, so we knew from day one that we would be married on the beach. We took a short trip to Bali and Lombok, did some surveys and checked some venues. Our last venue to check was a lovely villa in Lombok, Indonesia called Villa Sapi and from the minute we walked in, we knew immediately that it was ‘the spot’. We had a beach-front ceremony on a white sand beach, overlooking the crystal clear water and perfectly blue sky.”

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Nathalia remembers, “One of the most special things for us was having all our favourite people together in a place that we are so fond of. I loved taking the sunset pictures right after the ceremony. It was gorgeous and a really special time for Thilo and I before we had to head to the magical dinner reception.”

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Nathalia remarks, “We were lucky to have glorious weather on the day. Much of our wedding was DIY and it would not have been the same without the help and support of our lovely friends and family. It really was a team effort in so many respects and we were really humbled by the effort that everyone went to for us to make our wedding so personal.”

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“We will never forget the wonderful, warm, welcoming staff at Villa Sapi for making our celebration so special and a fantastic dream come true.”

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Nathalia & Thilo, congratulations on your marriage! Thank you for sharing your day with us! Thank you also to Angga Permana Photo for sharing today’s wedding with us.

Photographer: Angga Permana Photo / Bride’s Dress: Custom tailor made / Bride’s Shoes: Christian Siriano / Groom’s Attire: Custom tailor made / Groomsmen Attire: Custom tailor made / Bridesmaid Dresses: Custom tailor maid / Bride & Bridesmaids flower crowns: DIY by the Bride / Groomsmen Bowties: theupperleft / Wedding Planner/Coordinator: White Sand Weddings Lombok & Gili Islands / Venue: Villa Sapi, Lombok / Catering: The Square Lombok / Guest Table: Decor Indonesia Bali. / Flower, Canopy and Reception table decoration: Handmade by the couple

Luxurious African Safari

by | Destinations, Honeymoons


Chloe van der Werf

To luxury, &Beyond.

Ever wanted to experience an African safari, but was a little concerned about how rough it may be? Push those worries aside and drop those khaki’s, because we have found just the thing.

&Beyond is a world leader in luxury experiential travel. Specialising in tours and safaris to Africa and South Asia, they offer 33 stunning lodges and camps for you to choose from, so you are sure to find something that tickles your fancy.

Whether lounging around the pool with your favourite novel, taking a dip or sipping a sundowner, these lodges and camps are an ideal place to wind down and get back to nature as you overlook some of the most breathtaking views in Africa.

With the choice of African destinations such as Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, South Africa and East Africa, there’s bound to be a few locations that will inspire your inner adventurer.

After an exhilarating day of sightseeing you can dive into your private pool and have front row seats of some of Africa’s most amazing wildlife. Many of the animals love to pop by to say a friendly hello.

Some of &Beyond’s most adored locations are:

&Beyond Phinda Vlei Lodge: With just six villas at this lodge and each with their own private pool, privacy will not be an issue.

&Beyond Kichwa Tembo Masai Mara Tented Camp: This camp is renowned for its yearly visit from the two million animals that make up the great migration.

&Beyond Exeter River Lodge: Grand private plunge pools overlook the Sand River, South Africa’s most renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

&Beyond Great Fish River Lodge:  This lodge is in the perfect location for the keen birdwatcher. With each of the nine suites offering a breathtaking outlook over the Great Fish River and each with their own private plunge pool.

&Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge: This lodge is cradled against ancient stone mountains on the NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia, offering guests a natural spring fed swimming pool and stunning views of the desert with ever changing colours over the distant sand dunes.

&Beyond Kleins Camp: Breathtaking views over a game filled valley with rolling hills in the distance. Kleins Camp watches over one of the greatest wildlife migrations on earth. This remote and incredibly private camp offers you the very best experience of wild Africa.

&Beyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp: You will be able to enjoy the solitude of a 25 000 hectare wildlife concession in the famous Okavango Delta. You will have sweeping views of the clear blue channels of the Delta as they offer you a cool break from an early morning safari.

What do I think the best thing about &Beyond is? (obviously other than the ability to see some of the worlds most breathtaking and wild parts of the world in luxury) it’s that in just partaking in this experience you will be helping to sustain many hundreds of rural communities and millions of hectares of treasured and at times endangered wildlife land. I mean what is better than a luxurious holiday while also helping to protect some of the world’s most stunning creatures and land.

&Beyond also offers packages in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka.

Images by &Beyond

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