Nihiwatu – “On The Edge Of Wilderness”
Voted the best hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2016, Nihiwatu on the little-known island of Sumba is heaven on earth for luxury travel seekers.
Reimagined and re-opened in 2015, Nihiwatu has captured travellers imagination from all corners of the globe. Located on the remote island of Sumba, in southeastern Indonesia, the once cult surf destination was acquired by Christopher Burch in 2012 who has developed it into a culturally immersive enclave of active adventure and endless indulgence.
Sumba is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands and spans 11,000km2, making it twice the size of Bali, with only 650,000 inhabitants. Due to the isolated location of the island, the language, religion and traditional lifestyle of the Sumbanese culture has been preserved, with the majority of the population still following the ways of their ancestors.
Traditional dress is still observed in day to day life and throughout the year the island is the site of many fascinating rituals; the most spectacular of them all are the Pasola ceremonies that take place in February and March at select locations along the coast.
The island offers over 33 villas with private plunge pools, indoor-outdoor entertaining, and views of Nihi Beach. Accommodation ranges from a five bedroom estate to a unique tree house complex elevated on stilts between the island’s ancient trees. Featuring thatched roofs, traditional carvings, antiques, local wood and weavings, the villas reflect the Sumbanese way of life and offer a true haven from the rigours of daily life.
Nihiwatu can tailor your stay and itinerary, organising everything from world-class surfing and fishing, to visiting Stone Age sites and traditional villages, picnicking under breathtaking waterfalls or relaxing under palm trees at Nihi Oka spa. The 2.5km private beach is a great platform for water activities and there are plenty of trekking opportunities, both on foot and horseback. There are plenty of ways to get involved with the local community too, perhaps by partaking in a weaving or cooking class, learning the ancient arts of the Sumbanese culture.
What really sets Nihiwatu apart though is its window into a little-known culture and its commitment to the community, where ninety per cent of the staff are Sumbanese. A portion of Nihiwatu’s profits are repatriated into the Sumba Foundation, a philanthropic vehicle dedicated to fostering community based projectors. Over the last fourteen years, the Foundation has set up four medical clinics, a malaria training centre, and has developed over 100 water wells and stations. The Foundation also supports fifteen primary schools and provides lunch for over 1,000 school children twice a week.
Once you’ve savoured every part of this magical island, admired the spectacular sunsets, enjoyed dinner perched on a clifftop accompanied by the soothing sound of the ocean, had a personal butler attend to your every whim and relaxed by the pool under the starry sky, you will find it pretty hard to go home. But rest assured, there’s always next year.