As a sleek black sedan arrived to pick us up straight off the tarmac. I could feel a dozen green eyes at the back of my neck. If Mr Smith was in one of those cheeky moods of his, he might have turned around and waved at the bus load of tourists heading to the international terminal. These Smiths, however, were whisked away in style to the private terminal where check-in counters and luggage belts were replaced by a fabulous buffet table. Ah yes, it gets even better. There is nothing like breezing-in on a private purple seaplane upon the shores of a gloriously white sandy beach in the utopian paradise that is the Maldives, to make one feel like a billionaire.
Then again, there are some things that are priceless. Like how I was feeling completely at home in Nautilus Maldives the moment my bare feet touched its private shores. I don’t know what hypnotic voodoo it involved (I suspect it was a combination of several well thought-out acts of love by some or all its 160 staff) but Mr Smith and I were powerless against the spell and readily succumbed to the notion that we were the owners of the island; there to be nothing short of properly pampered.
To start with, our house captain, Hushy, (think Mr Roarke from Fantasy Island sans the white three-piece suit) had set the scene even before we arrived. He is omniscient, so he knows our ideal pool temperature, room temperature, slipper and bathrobe sizes and even Mr Smith’s obsession with food-types that extends to sleeping on buckwheat pillows. (I sometimes think Mr Smith would readily sink his teeth into the pillow were it edible). When we arrived at our ocean house perched upon a sea of turquoise, our favourite music was playing, our favourite canapés were overflowing on the coffee tables, champagne was on ice and a customised bar was stocked to the brim with snacks and drinks.
I found Mr Smith on hands and knees looking through the glass-bottom floor of our abode watching the pretty parrot fish and baby shark at the bottom of the ocean beneath us. He would shortly claim with defiance that there is absolutely no reason for us to venture beyond our living room. I would have agreed if it were not for the fact that part of my fantasy on Fantasy Island was to hop aboard a boat for 15 minutes to reach Baal Atoll and swim with, give or take, 80 giant manta rays.
The sprawling wooden deck was fit for a glittery mid-ocean private party and the infinity pool beyond had me squealing in delight. But first, before the champagned-fuelled afternoon dip, an afternoon nap beckoned to us, thanks to the giant double-bedded outdoor swing. Mr Smith and I love a good friendly race to the most comfortable spots on the planet since our college days and I called dibs on the swing. It seemed the wind and the waves whispered, ‘sleep now’ and it was pure magic. I woke up a couple of hours later, only to find Mr Smith cocooned right next to me enjoying an equally luxurious nap and our luggage neatly unpacked by Hushy.
The island is the perfect size: small enough to wander barefoot from shore to shore and big enough to house all the bells and whistles of a five-star hotel. There were several dining areas, tennis courts, a games room and a boutique that sells everything from Missoni beachwear to Camila kaftans.
The word ‘non-scripted’ gets thrown around a lot here but to our absolute delight, we found out it’s all true. You can do what you want, where you want, when you want. 4am manicures, breakfast at midnight, champagne in bed, no dress codes, no jet-lag, no clocks… it’s that kind of place.
There was yoga in the mornings to burn off the calories from the complimentary cocktails in the evenings and Hushy worked his magic to help us fill the time in between with whatever we fancied; from water sports to spa sessions. So, please leave a message after the tone. These Smiths will be spellbound for a while.
Family physician, co-founder of award-winning skincare brand Drs Chua & Partners, jewellery designer and mother of two: Dr Iroshini Chua wears many hats. She grew up in Sri Lanka, attended medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and now lives in Singapore, which she calls her home and launch pad to the world. Her love for photography, food and fashion has her globetrotting frequently; and her passion project is raising funds for various charities alongside her husband, by selling their photographic prints. She is the society travel correspondent for Singapore Tatler and has also contributed travel stories for Robb Report and Billionaire.com.