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I had my eyes set on Nihi Sumba, formerly known as Nihiwatu, as it opened its doors as a full-service luxury resort. As marketing materials and videos hit publications about the luxury hotel and its beauty was revealed through photos and images of guests and resort staff, it moved even higher on my bucket list.
Best Hotel In The World Nihi
Needless to say, this has to be one of the most luxurious hotels of the decade, along with the Brando Polynesian Hotel. I couldn’t wait to check out Nihi Sumba for my annual birthday party (remember when I spent them in the Manta Resort Underwater Room? Check out the video here and review here ).
Best Hotel In The World Is Nihi Sumba — Built By Fashion Mogul Chris Burch On A Remote Indonesian Island
What is the best Travel + Leisure hotel in the world? And is Nihi Sumba really worth the exorbitant price? I asked myself all the good questions. Let me take you on a virtual tour and share my review of Nihi Sumba Hotel. But first a video of my stay!
Disclaimer: I was not the host of Nihi Sumba, I paid for this stay entirely out of pocket.
Nihi Sumba began as a home surf camp and base in the 1980s when Claude Graves bought the land and opened a simple lodge. Graves had experience running a hospitality business in Kenya where he started out in the big game hunting industry.
He ran East Africa’s most successful club in Malindi on the Kenyan coast before selling it to travel the world with his wife in search of the best surfing.
Nihi Sumba Island
Claude and his wife ended up in Sumba at the end of the decade, where they lived off the land like the locals and later bought property on the beach to build a small surf hotel. It is with the local people that they have built the close relationships that are so important to Nihi Sumba’s success.
The tombs made Nihi Sumba a beautiful rustic resort, built with local elements and completely self-sufficient. Newspaper articles say that the hotel used local copra coconut fiber as fuel. The hotel first opened in 2005 with a Robinson Crusoe feel and an absolute surf focus.
In 2012, when she had just twelve huts, Graves sold what she had built to Chris Burch, a successful billionaire and ex-husband of famous shoemaker Tory Burch, who partnered with veteran hotelier James McBride to make Nihi’s dream come true. .
Burch and McBride built on Graves’ dream and became a small but dedicated resort to stardom. They renovated it to provide the ultimate in barefoot luxury with a focus on marketing and PR.
Living In A Treehouse At Nihi Sumba
As a result, Nihi Sumba appeared in luxury travel publications as “the next IT destination”, a coveted getaway for the rich and famous, an exclusive resort only for the few wealthy guests who could afford at least US$7,500. count in high season.
The efforts culminated when Travel + Leisure chose it as the best hotel in the world in 2016 and again in 2017, among other amazing properties such as The Oberoi Udaivilas (2015), Triple Creek Ranch (2014) or Camp Mombo in Botswana. became (2013).
Although Graves is no longer at the helm, his approach remains, even if the resort has lost the rustic, authentic feel of its early days. It helps that he’s around so often, with his no-nonsense attitude and genuine loyalty to the country he’s come to call home, and he continues to support the Sumba Foundation.
My review of Nihi Sumba Hotel cannot begin without mentioning the location of the resort as it is located in the heart of the place. I’ve stayed at so many resorts that it’s hard to find resorts.
Despite Infrastructure Issues, Nihi Sumba Island Named World’s Best Hotel
I slept in private tented camps in Amboseli Park, which can only be reached by private jets from Nairobi. I slept in an underwater room at the Manta Resort, located off the coast of Pemba Island, an island reached by small planes from Zanzibar. I slept in the only resort on an island in the middle of Lake Malawi that can only be reached by private plane from the main cities of Malawi.
I spent a couple of nights waiting in Bwindi National Park to travel in search of gorillas, a park then only accessible 12 hours from Kampala, Uganda’s capital, on a very deep road or two private seats. charter And I visited the remote islands of the Pacific Ocean, most of which can be found on the map.
Is Nihi Sumba as far away as its slogan says, “On the edge of the desert”? In my opinion, I would not classify Nihi Sumba as a difficult place to reach. The resort is 90 minutes by paved road from the airport with direct, daily and affordable commercial flights to Bali, a very well-connected island itself.
There are a lot of countries that are really hard to get to and nobody travels to them. Nihi Sumba’s remoteness comes from the fact that there are no other accommodation options on an island twice the size of Bali. I would go so far as to say that for the vast majority of Sumbanese, Indonesia is Sumba and they will probably never leave its shores.
Probably The Best Resort In The World
If you want to travel to Sumba, there are very few ways to get there. The island is naturally off the tourist radar, even off the beaten track in Indonesia.
Despite sustained tourism promotion efforts by the Indonesian Tourism Board over the past three years, Sumba is still unknown to many. Even for the most demanding travelers. Yes, it’s remote, but in the sense that it’s untouched by tourism or development and remains pristine, not in the sense that it’s hard to get to. Sumba today is what it always was. Many say that Vali is still what it used to be.
To get to Sumba, you need to fly from Bali to Tambolaka. There are only two flights a day to Tambolaka, operated by the unreliable Wings Air and the state-owned Garuda Airlines.
They both arrive and depart at the same time in the morning, so the flights are very inefficient in terms of time usage, arriving in the afternoon and departing in the early morning. Wings Air has slightly better times (departure from Bali at 10am) but fly at your own risk, they are notorious for frequent air accidents which fortunately never end in death.
The Best Indonesian Surf Resort: Niha Sumba Island
Delays are also common with Wings Air and your luggage can get lost, as it happened to us. In addition, Wings Air flights are longer (1.5 hours) because they fly in propeller planes, while Garuda flies in jet planes that reach Sumba in an hour.
Nihi Sumba can arrange international and domestic flights from Bali for you, or you can book directly on the airlines’ websites. If you use Nihi services, you will have access to the Bali and Sumba lounges.
Their booking also includes extra baggage, which is worth noting because Wings Air only allows 10 kg, so you have to pay for extra baggage at the price of $ 1 kg. Bring Indonesian Rupiah to pay with Sumba as they do not accept any other form of payment.
When you arrive at Bali’s domestic airport, you will be directed to find Nihi Sumba staff who will hold your boarding passes and assist you with check-in. The same thing happens in Sumba on your return. As for us, there was a lot of chaos.
The Best Hotel In The World, Nihi Sumba Island, Used To Be A Budget Hostel For Backpackers
The Vali staff were busy sorting out other guests who were overbooked at Garuda, so we couldn’t find them. Not a big deal since you don’t really need help checking in, but they had our boarding passes so we had to call them and find them. There wasn’t even a Nihi Sumba connection in Sumba, and we found him only after entering.
Upon landing in Sumba, Nihi Sumba staff will welcome you with a fresh coconut and some banana cake wrapped in banana leaves to stave off hunger until you reach the resort. The car ride goes through villages and narrow roads where no other cars can be seen. You’ll pass scooters and dozens of waving kids who take off when they see a car.
They are grinning from ear to ear and genuinely enjoying the visit as if it were a day out. The journey is beautiful, climbing through mountain passes and dense forest until you finally see the bay below and realize the wild beauty of Nihi Sumba. The car may have WiFi, but it is unlikely to work because the forest has no telecommunications signal.
When you arrive at the hotel, you will be taken to your villa. There the registration documents will be signed and you will be given your office phone number to contact him or