Forget Bali: Sumba is just swell

An eco-conscious resort draped in luxury and with a private, globally recognised surf break out front? Yes, please

By Jocelyn Pride 25/09/2019

Affectionately known as ‘the edge of wildness’, the story of Nihi Sumba, a luxe retreat on Indonesia’s forgotten Sumba Island, an hour’s flight from Denpasar, reads like a fairy tale. A surfer finds the ‘perfect wave’ and in 1989, he and his wife build six bungalows to share with intrepid travellers. Twenty-three years later, billionaire guest falls in love with the island, buys the resort and together with a business partner, transforms it into one of the best hotels in the world.

Pioneers Claude and Petra Graves still live at the resort and the current owners, Christopher Burch and James McBride, holiday there several times a year. And it’s this grassroots philosophy coupled with a firm connection to the Sumbanese culture that makes Nihi Sumba a leader in sustainable luxury. Overlooking a jaw-dropping 2.5-kilometre sweep of private beach, shrouded in a jungle of twisted vines, the 27 villas are inspired by Sumbanese architecture. With lofty thatched roofs, exposed timber beams, local hand-woven fabrics and private pools, each has its own personality.

From beachfront to tree house, family size to honeymoon hideaway with several hundred staff (93 per cent are Sumbanese), the service is impeccable.

Dining options abound – barefoot luxury with sandy floored restaurants, private dining nooks and a waterfront cocktail bar to soak in the dramatic sunsets. Kaboku is the latest dining experience – a sleek sushi bar catering for only six diners. Food miles are low with ingredients plucked from the sea and earth. Menus also extend to bespoke activities like beach horse rides, stand up paddle-boarding, the famed ‘spa safari’ (jungle trek followed by an unparalleled pampering experience), fishing expeditions, craft classes, yoga and visits to local schools and villages with the non-profit Sumba Foundation. And then there’s that wave – a consistent left-hand reef break, Occy’s Left, named after former Aussie pro Mark Occhilupo and which is reserved for only ten surfing guests each day. Sign us up.

Nihi.com

This excerpt comes from our 2019 Spring Edition - Best of the Best, to get your copy click here.
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