Sandy Kilgour checks in at the Nautilus Resort, Muri Beach, Rarotonga.
We arrived in Rarotonga after a delay leaving Auckland and a very bumpy flight because of "dry air turbulence". Customs was a breeze, getting out in the sunshine after just 15 minutes, even after declaring lots of cheese and crackers. The Nautilus had arranged pick up with the very bubbly Margaret who lei'd us with the beautiful fragrance of gardenia. A pleasant 20-minute drive from the airport to the welcome at the Nautilus, Margaret was full of fun Raro facts and hot tips, including Villi's - the best burgers on the island (which later proved to be mouth-wateringly correct).
Check-in experience: A seamless and friendly welcome from the reception team, who had a refreshingly cold tropical juice ready for us.
The room: We stayed two nights on each end of a week-long escape to the paradise of Aitutaki so we had a different premium beachfront room each time. Room 2 was slightly outperformed by Room 6, which was closest to the main pool and restaurant. But with our infinity plunge pool and the lagoon just 10 steps away, we were spoilt for swimming choices.
Rooms with views: A stunning, palm-tree-lined vista of Muri Beach lagoon, island and reef.
Bathroom: Luxurious and large. A beautiful Victoria and Albert free-standing bath offering great in-room pampering with the provided Lavish Heavenly Bath Infusion. A lovely in-room taste of luxury in paradise.
Price: Premium Beachfront rate is $900 per night.
What's so good about this place? The Nautilus boasts "the fusion of relaxed island atmosphere with elegant sophistication" and I think that they have exactly described the experience of our stay here. It was the combination of my two favourite things on holiday - luxury and tropical paradise.
The bad: One of the days was very windy, however on the same day the Herald reported winds at home of 140km, so no complaints really.
What's in the neighbourhood? It was great to wander around Muri Beach as there are some excellent casual food and drink options. The "Cook Islands Famous" custard squares at Deli-licious are - as promised - delicious, with a perfect double-shot flat white, made Kiwi style.
The best burgers from Villi's (the egg burger was my favourite) are only around $7. We made two trips.
Food and drink: "Nauti Hour" was from 3-6pm with a promise of a "legendary Nauti Mojito". This too lived up to the promise although after having two, I required a lie down.
Noise: Even though there was a wedding at the resort, the wind in the palm trees and surf were the only sounds we heard.
Exercise facilities: Kayaks and snorkelling gear are available for free use.
Spa: Of course you have to have a spa while in a tropical resort. I opted for a spruce up before the trip home. The lovely masseuse rejuvenated my feet and hands while entertaining me with stories of islands from her hometown Fiji.
Perfect for: Anyone who wants to rediscover the fine art of doing nothing, coupled with elegant sophistication. I left wondering why, with only a four-hour flight, I don't just come here for a long weekend. Maybe I will now.