Travel+Leisure‘s global readers recently voted Nihi Sumba Island (formerly Nihiwatu), Indonesia, on the remote island of Sumba in Southeastern Indonesia, as the #1 Hotel in the World for the second year in a row at the “World’s Best Awards”. This eco-friendly, hospitality-centric resort deserves this honoured recognition awarded by discerning travellers. Other hotels winning top marks include The Brando (Obama’s recent favourite), in Tetiaroa, French Polynesia, and the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, Wyoming, US.
So why have travellers chosen Nihi Sumba Island as their favourite for the second year in a row?
Nihi Sumba Island could be considered [an example of] sustainable tourism development.
—Tourism Minister Arief Yahya
Yahya said that the luxury resort most likely won the award because of its commitment to the local community and environment through its eco-friendly design.
With philanthropy at the core of the business model, the Nihi legacy stands for goodwill, and an investment in the preservation of the communities, extending beyond a destination. With the resources and benefits of a luxury resort, Nihi continues to create awareness for the issues faced by local communities while providing jobs and services.
Fostering community-based projects, a portion of Nihi’s profits are now repatriated into the Sumba Foundation. This philanthropic project, established by Nihiwatu founder Claude Graves and Sean Downs 2001, enables resort guests to become benefactors of the Foundation. The resort has become the biggest employer on the island and contributes massively to the health and welfare of the community. Since its inception, the Foundation has built 60 water wells and 240 water stations; 16 primary schools; and four medical clinics that provide reliable healthcare to over 25,000 people.
Our guests are looking for more than just a vacation. They want to feel connected and useful, to give back and be a part of something larger than themselves. Through highly customised activities and personal itineraries, our guests experience compelling moments that inspire, and ultimately create a charitable impact.
—Chris Burch, Nihi Hotels owner
“Nihi Sumba Island is the premiere property in our expanding Nihi Hotels portfolio,” said Managing Partner James McBride. “We are actively seeking growth opportunities grounded in our doctrine ‘The Edge of Wildness’. Current destinations of interest include the South Pacific and Central America. These areas present environments not entirely influenced by modern conveniences therefore benefitting from the natural exploration, education, and philanthropic aid of a Nihi Hotel.”
Guests can learn how to make a variety of candy bars with Sumba’s locally sourced cocoa beans, complete with a sample tasting. Charly doesn’t just do chocolate, though—the Chocolate Wizards and entertaining babysitters will keep the kids happy with organic chocolate making, traditional Sumba dancing and Bahasa classes, nature trail adventures, scavenger hunts, and arts and crafts.
Professionals combine the physical benefits of yoga with mediation, movement, and flexibility designed to take you on a therapeutic journey for a balanced mind, body, and soul. Enjoy an open-air yoga session among the factory’s lush outdoors, with the sweet fragrance of chocolate from the raw cocoa and oil massage from the healing hands of the award-winning spa staff. Want a one-of-a-kind stretch? Join the five-star luxury Wild & Free Yoga Retreat on October 7–12, 2017 with Yogi Sjana Earp and Movement guru Rod Cooper.
4. Lake Weekuri
Nature’s saltwater pool separated from the ocean by a rugged cliff, Lake Weekuri is the perfect setting for magical swims and lakeside picnics. The clear blue water with varying depths is surrounded by lush trees and beautiful rocks for both sun and shade, and leisurely bathing or a refreshing plunge.
Fancy you can rock these waves? Get taken to a “Surfari Spot” and carve it up at The Hole or Sumba Sunset. Known as “God’s Left” or “Occy’s Left” (after Australian surfer Mark Occhilupo), this area is a world-class surf spot with amazing waves that will satisfy those willing to brave the breaks. Even beginners will find a sweet spot to surf at the nearby Coconut Cove with tailored surf lessons. You won’t be bumping into anyone on these waves: only 10 surfers at a time, dude.
Nihi Sumba Island menus reflect local flavours, using daily-caught fish and seafood and fresh produce and legumes from the resort’s own organic garden. Guests can enjoy the Nio Beach Club & Pool casual dining spot, or the Ombak (“wave front”) restaurant and bar lounge.
Nihi offers guests 27 private villas with plunge pools, plus the option to stay in one of two, two-story tree houses connected by a bamboo bridge. Both villas have a bedroom, bathroom and balcony, and the main treehouse also has a living area and private infinity pool. If you want to really see how the other half lives, stay in owner Chris Burch’s private home–Raja Mendaka—which is also available to guests. This Best In Design Award winner at PURE 2015 estate includes four additional villas.
Along with surf lessons and chocolate making, Nihi can create bespoke excursions for guests. Enjoy snorkelling, sustainable spear-fishing, private boat charters, waterfall trails hikes, trekking, horseback riding and cultural activities. Guests are invited to discover what The Sumba Foundation is doing across the island: visit a local water project, a Malaria-combating health clinic, or volunteer one morning with the school lunch program. This is a fantastic way for guests to feel a strong connection with the local community and to see the resort’s commitment to community-based projects on Nihi Sumba Island.
Additionally, Nihihotels.com has been revived with visual storytelling, video, and irresistible details, transporting viewers from their everyday lives to a new territory of possibility. For more information, get lost in our world @nihiwatu on Facebook or Instagram.
Written By: Adriane Rysz