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Luxury Tourism & Social Engagement in an Exotic Jungle Paradise
Nihi Sumba Island by Christopher Burch – wild, romantic and perfect for anyone that would like to escape to paradise. This exotic luxury hideaway can be found secluded in a beautiful bay in the middle of the tropical jungle on Sumba Island. In true Sumbanese style, it offers luxury and relaxation to romantics, adventurers and surfers with a private beach and a view to die for.
After the American entrepreneur, Christopher Burch, fell in love with Sumba himself after visiting several times, he decided to buy the small surfer retreat from fellow American couple, Claude and Petra Graves in 2012. Together with the hotelier James McBride, he completely transformed it into the luxurious and romantic hideaway with a charismatic profile – Nihi Sumba Island, formerly known as Nihiwatu. Chris strives to preserve the innocence of the island and in spite of all its luxury, keep its carbon footprint as low possible. He, for example, bought an additional 230 hectares of land for nature conservation, of which only a maximum of 26 hectares should ever be built on.
The travel world is ready for change. The idea of a traditional five-star resort, in which we bring all our expectations of glamour and home with us, then sequester ourselves in a gated property that tries to deliver them, is fading. Instead, we increasingly want basic humble things and meaningful connections. And of course, people want authenticity.”
Luxury holiday with Purpose
Sumba Island is twice as big as Bali, but with only 750,000 inhabitants sparsely populated. To date, the island has preserved its original beauty and Sumbanese culture – wildly romantic, like Bali 30 years ago. However, many people are still impoverished on this remote and untouched island. Nihi Resort now offers employment to some of them and thus the prospect of a better life.
With almost 400 employees (mostly locals) for the 32 villas, Nihi has an impressive staff-guest ratio. And thanks to the Sumba Foundation, the core of Nihi Sumba, it also makes an essential contribution to the local people as far as malaria control is concerned. In many places employees can now also build new houses for themselves and their families.
“The Edge of Wildness”
Already at Denpasar airport in Bali you will be picked up by one of the friendly Nihi staff members and escorted to the gate or the lounge. After a short 50-minute flight with Garuda Indonesia, offering daily flights to Sumba, you will reach the small airport, Tambolaka.
From here your journey continues with a safari jeep to the resort. With fresh coconuts in hand and exciting views of the island, you then reach the resort after an hour and a half’s drive.
The luxury resort offers the following: 32 individual and spectacular pool villas, a unique spa, NihiOka, an open-air restaurant with ocean views, the Nio Beach Club, a Boat House with a bar, a yoga pavilion, a chocolate factory, horse stables and a fantastic infinity pool directly by the sea.
Since the beach belongs to the hotel, it is as deserted as these pictures show. You will only encounter a few riders on horseback and if you are lucky, a Buffalo herd that the Sumbanese farmers bring out to the beach every day.
The Perfect Place for Romance
After we got married on the dreamy beach, Anse Source d’Argent in the Seychelles in 2012, the extraordinary Nihi Sumba Resort would be the romantic and special place where we would renew our vows in October 2017 on our the 5th wedding anniversary.
All the villas in this resort have exotic Sumbanese names and are entirely different and unique in their design. The villas have one to five bedrooms, signature canopy beds, carefully selected furniture, are decorated with attention to detail, have chic mini-bars with liquor and handmade chocolates, pools and often dramatic views of the Indian Ocean.
This beautiful one bedroom duplex villa was our home for our vow renewal ceremony. Together with five other villas, it is the crown jewel of Nihi Sumba Island and is part of the estate owned by Chris Burch.
The villa has a covered terrace, a semi-open living room, an outdoor lounge, a quaint open bathroom, a metal bathtub on the terrace on the first floor and a pool with breathtaking views – all in all strikingly beautiful!
The bathtub from which you can watch the stars at night and have incredible views to enjoy during the day is a dream!
In the mini-bar, you will find everything your heart could desire!
You also have panoramic ocean views from the open bath and outdoor shower.
This villa offers spacious rooms, great stylish design with a lot of natural stone, one to two bedrooms, a fabulous outdoor patio with a Bale, an infinity pool and a chic outdoor shower.
The Villa Lamba 1 is situated directly next to the Boat House. It has a massive terrace with infinity pool and sitting area, a stunning semi-open bathroom with a gigantic bathtub, an outdoor shower and signature Nihi canopy bed.
The other villas with melodic names such as Haweri, Puncak, Santoro, Wamoro, Kasambi, Marangga, Kanatar and the Mamole Tree House, also offer exceptional luxury in their own unique way. The Mamole Tree House was just chosen as the “Most Beautiful Treehouse in the World” by the Telegraph.
Restaurant & Bar
Ombak Restaurant | Breakfast
Breakfast is served in this open-air restaurant with magnificent sea views. While watching the surfers riding the waves, you can enjoy some delicious egg dishes, freshly squeezed juices and fresh fruit.
Nio Beach Club | Lunch
The Nio Beach Club is located directly next to the pool and in the afternoon grilled dishes, burgers and freshly prepared pizzas baked in a wood-fired clay oven are served. Lunch and snacks are also served by the pool…
… but you can also enjoy lunch on the terrace of your villa if you prefer to do so.
Boat House und Bar | Sunset Cocktail
The quaint Boat House is the meeting place for surfers and water sports enthusiasts and in the evening a beautiful place to enjoy the sunset from with an exotic cocktail in hand.
Ombak Restaurant | Dinner
In the evening, the Ombak restaurant is the hub of social activity and it has a very romantic ambiance. If you would like to, you can even dine with your feet in the sand. Fresh produce from the organic garden and local fresh fish are served.
For special events, there are many romantic spots – also directly on the beach.
On select evenings a scrumptious Barbecue buffet is served.
Chef Clinton stems from South Africa. He and his team serve mouthwatering local and international dishes.
The overall mood at the resort is very relaxed with a feel-good atmosphere.
Wedding & Honeymoon
For our 5th wedding anniversary, we renewed our wedding vows at Nihi Sumba. The vow renewal ceremony took place on this fabulous beach with Sumbanese priests. An extraordinary experience – report to follow!
Renewal of Vow Package from USD 981++
- NihiOka Spa Safari, including a visit to a nearby Sumbanese village, breakfast and lunch on the cliffs, as well as a range of spa treatments, from massages and reflexology to salt scrubs and mud wraps
- Traditional Sumbanese vow renewal performed by Sumbanese high priests
- Romantic dinner in a restaurant of your choice
In the evening we had a very romantic dinner in the Nio Beach Club complete with wedding cake, serenade and stunning fireworks on the beach.
With this cool crew, you can surf, fish, paddle or go snorkeling.
The waves in the bay are perfect for surfers. Surfers from all over the world come here to surf “Occy’s Left.” To ensure that everybody gets a turn a maximum of only ten surfers are allowed at the resort.
Spa & Wellness
At the NihiOka Spa, approximately a half hour drive away, you will be spoiled all day long with unlimited spa treatments at this genuinely unique Spa. Our report >>
The resort has its own stables on the beach. If this is your thing, I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than a horse ride on this beach!
Chris & Charly´s Chocolate Factory
In the chocolate factory, you can learn how to make chocolate. The mini-bars in the villas are also stocked with these delicious chocolates.
Yoga, Yoga Retreats, Waterfall Hikes and visits to a nearby Sumbanese village are also on offer.
While we stayed at the resort, there was a touching presentation on the Sumba Foundation that took place during a Barbecue evening. It is a private, non-profit aid organization that the former owner of Nihi, Claude Graves, founded in 2001 and that has since then provided humanitarian aid.
“Its not about perfect, its about beautiful” -Chris Burch
On this evening, the owner of Nihi and supporter of the Sumba Foundation, Christopher Burch, even attended the presentation. He supports the local Sumbanese population with a lot of heart and has expanded the work of the foundation considerably.
With education and through the construction of seven malaria clinics, Malaria has already been reduced by 75% on the island and around the Nihi resort by 93%! Over the past 14 years, the foundation has established more than 11 elementary schools and has also equipped a mobile ultrasound for pregnant women, built 48 wells and provided clean water to 172 villages. (More info)
Every day the children in the schools get a free lunch. On tour, Nihi resort guests can also help to hand out the meals, if they would like to.
You can either have a look on the website at “Pack for a Purpose” or ask Nihi Resort before your trip what the children’s needs are at that moment. We brought along coloring books, pencils, erasers, crayons and footballs – they just loved it!
You should definitely join the Sumba Foundation’s Project Trips and visit a malaria clinic and a school. It is fascinating and absolutely impressive to see what they have already achieved here. The passionate Rainy accompanied us on our trip.
Kenny Knickerbocker, +62 (0) 813 3956 6103, Kenny@sumbafoundation.org
The resort, the natural surroundings and the villas are a dream. The view from the pool at Villa Mendaka is spectacular! The local staff is lovely and warm-hearted! We had an idyllic vow renewal. Unfortunately, some things went wrong during the organization and planning, so not everything was perfect. So what? As Christopher Burch said – it’s not about being perfect, it is about being beautiful. And it indeed is beautiful here! This almost untouched island has such flair. With a heart for its employees, an extraordinary concept, tasteful and unusual design, its nonchalance and social commitment, it is no wonder that the NIHI resort has been chosen as the “# 1 Hotel in the World” for the second time in a row.
Room: 32 spectacular villas (1 to 5 bedrooms)
Flight duration: About 50 minutes from Denpasar Airport, Bali
Transfer: About a 90-minute drive from Tambolaka Airport. Shuttle service from the airport to the resort in a Nihi Jeep is an additional USD 250 -per person
Air Temperature: 20 – 32 degrees Celsius
Best Time to go: Dry season: May – October; Rainy season – 3 months in the East and up to 5 months in the West: November – April; Best Time to go: April – July and from October to mid-December in the Southwest; Surfing season: May – September
Time difference: CET +8 hours
Price: From USD 750- per night per double room. Fully inclusive of the following: Full board and Soft drinks, Butler-Service, Minibar (stocked up once daily, including beer and spirits), Laundry, Sumba Foundation Project Trips, Stand-Up Paddle Boarding, Snorkeling, Group Yoga and Meditation Courses at the Yoga Pavilion. A minimum stay of three nights applies. Rates >>
Specials: Stay 4 & Pay 3; Stay 7 & Pay 5
Special features: Unique location in a beautiful bay, magnificent deserted beach, exceptional villas, incredible spa safari, easy going atmosphere, travel and making a difference
Perfect for: Surfers, couples, nature lovers, romantics, honeymooners and adventurers
NIHI SUMBA ISLAND
Front Office: (+62) 811 3978 550
Leading Hotels of the World – Elite member
The World’s Most Romantic Hotels – Travel+Leisure 2018
#1 Hotel in the World – Travel+Leisure 2016, 2017
Destination Resort of the Year – AsiaSpa Awards 2015
More interesting articles:
Travel+Leisure – The Rebirth of Indonesia’s Sumba Island
The Points Guy – Video Interview With Chris Burch and James McBride
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Please note: Nihi Sumba Resort partially sponsored our stay. Thank you so much! The opinions expressed in this article are nevertheless 100% our own!