NIHI SUMBA, #1 Hotel in the World as voted by Travel & Leisure Magazine two consecutive years in a row.Traveling to one of the most remote destinations in the World is exciting, well worth the 26 hours it takes to get there. Sumba Island is one of 17,500 islands in the Indonesian Archipelago. The island is 2 1/2 times the size of Bali. It’s a Christian Island however up to 30% practice the religion of Marapu. Despite the distance, more than 50% of Nihi’s clientele come from North America.Tired but exhilarated, I arrive in Bali, the Nihi Sumba team greets me upon disembarking the aircraft with such warm and ingratiating smiles, whisks me through customs (skipping the very long line that on any given day can be over 2 hours long), gathers my luggage and escorts me straight to my awaiting car. TIP: Be sure to book the greeting service through the hotel.After a quick overnight stay in Bali, we were off to Sumba. There are only 2 flights a day, our NAM flight was 50 minutes, if you take WINGS, its a 70 minute flight. Upon arrival at Tambolaka Airport, the Nihi Sumba team is there to greet you and whisk you away in one of their fleet of African Safari style vehicles...fresh coconuts and fresh baked treats on hand for you to enjoy on your 90 minute ride to paradise.On the drive through the Sumbanese villages, thatch roofed wooden homes sporadically line the rugged roads. The homes are built based on Marapu cosmology and have three levels. Underneath is the place of the animals...like pigs and water buffalo, the main central part is for humans, and the tall roof is for the gods and ancestral spirits.We arrive at the top of a valley where “WELCOME TO THE THE EDGE OF WILDNESS” greets us along with the vast Indian Ocean, its waves wildly crashing below. Words can not vividly describe the truly arresting beauty of this place. Many journalists have tried but have not been able to articulate what is NIHI SUMBA. It’s luxurious, and lavish yet rugged, and wild. It’s tranquil, lush, uber swank, sexy and refined. Once you settle in you’ll just want to let your hair down and chill, its barefoot luxury at its finest. Until you see it for yourself, you cannot fully comprehend the vastness of the properties over 500 acres with 28 villas and 33 rooms all with breathtaking ocean views. You can be in your own little paradise and never see another person (other than your personal butler) or you can kick off your shoes and join the party that breaks out at the beach bar after dinner and dance on the bar till all hours of the night. There are three restaurants to chose from. Kaboku is a omakase style beach front restaurant limited to six people. Nio Beach Club and Pool has amazing daily specials, serving the freshest of seafood, pizzas from a wood burning oven and chicken from the rotisserie. I will say i had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had there as well. On Saturday evenings there is an elaborate buffet with anything you can imagine from traditional Indonesian dishes to the freshest of sushi to mouth watering barbecue served at the Menara, where you learn about the Sumba Foundation.
A surfers paradise, Nihi has the only private wave in the world with waves up to 20 feet. There is every type of water activity from paddle boarding to kite surfing. Go spear fishing and bring back your catch to be prepared for your lunch or dinner. If you’re into hiking, there are magnificent waterfalls that are a must see. 17 majestic horses are housed in the Sandalwood Stables on the very edge of the pristine beach where these gorgeous animals run freely and swim in the ocean.There are tons of great activities for children like chocolate making at Nihi’s very own Chris & Charlie chocolate factory along with turtle releasing at dusk, various creativity workshops and a kids pony club. If you’re more into restorative options, there’s a number of wellness activities. Also not to be missed is the 90 minute hike to the Nihioka Spa Safari where you are certain to experience the ultimate in pampering with breathtaking views of the ocean, overlooking rich rice fields with open air treatment rooms and private dipping pools. Have a delicious breakfast or lunch prepared over an open fire in a tree house right on the ocean. Just don’t expect to check your emails or post anything on instagram as its a WiFi-free zone. The resort is completely off-grid. Its a total detox from the outside world, the London Times called it “the world’s sexiest spa where you can be a 5-star castaway”. It’s paradise.NihiOka Spa SafariView from Ombak RestaurantMy jetlag is serious and a 5am wake up is inevitable as the sun rises very early in Sumba. The mornings are glorious with a delightful breeze and the melodic sounds of the Indian Ocean colliding with the golden sands below. Mid morning things start to heat up, the dense humidity can almost be cut with a knife. It’s the middle of summer here in November and it has been particularly dry for the past 6 months. The rainy season is around the corner. There is a water crisis here and everyone will be happy to see the rains finally arrive. Villa Puncak is on the top of a hill. Below on the beach there is a haze, possibly formed by the cool waters intermixing with the warm sand and hot air, the fusion creating a mist. Im realizing that i may not have packed the right clothes...loose linen and cotton is best and to be perfectly honest, I spent most of my days in the beautiful Nihi signature robe...something i will definitely need to buy from their beautifully curated boutique. No heels needed here, you really dont need more than a pair of flip flops, sneakers to hike in or just your bare feet. Less is more at Nihi.
We are here during the annual British Polo Day and the resort is fully booked yet you barely see a soul, it seems like we are here all alone having paradise all to ourselves. What a magical place, i cant wait to go back some day!
My personal recommendations:
- NihiOka Spa Safari
- horseback riding on the beach.
- sunset yoga in the beautiful yoga pavilion with sweeping views of the entire beach coastline
- A visit to the Sumba Foundation
Do not leave home without:
...but if you forget any of these, you can buy it all in the gift shop.
- A hat
- Bug spray
- A fan
- Loose, light clothing
High Season: May to September (best weather because its winter, cooler with less humidity)
Flights to Sumba from Bali:
NAM by Garuda (afternoon flight)
WINGS (am flight is the best to take)
Check out their website for additional details:
For more information, call Ibu Shanty in the US: 910-622-2657 or email: Shanty@nihi.com