Nihiwatu is perfect if you would like to stay in one of the most stunning locations on the planet. Nihiwatu was created from a vision to protect and preserve the unique Sumba culture and empower the local communities to support themselves and their families. The resort proudly employs over 90% local Sumbanese, who are authentically hospitable. Sumba has an ancient culture, untouched by the modern world and a visit to the villages of megalithic tribes is fascinating – a far cry from Bali, but just a short flight from there.
The property encompasses 175 hectares of tropical forest, rice terraces and grasslands, while its breathtaking beachfront is protected by headlands that ensure total exclusivity.
Nihiwatu’s 21 villas represent the leading-edge of responsible luxury; hand-built by local craftsmen using materials indigenous to Indonesia. All of the villas have great views and are the last word in understated luxury, featuring spacious outdoor living areas. The emphasis is on open-plan living that reflects the simplicity and grace of Sumbanese architecture. The principal residence, opening April 2015, comprises two bedrooms in prime position on the beach front with private access to Nihiwatu beach and a large deck with a plunge pool integrated into the 60 ft (19m) long swimming pool. The three two-bedroom beach side villas are perfect for family adventures. Each of the beach villas feature large open-air entertaining spaces complete with private dining, bar and kitchens and a dedicated butler service.
The Marangga Wave Front Villas are traditionally Sumbanese in design with an extraordinary bed taking centre stage with undisturbed views of the Indian Ocean. These villas offer secluded privacy for Honeymoon couples. On the beach, tucked in a grove of Pandanus trees, is the jungle spa and close by is a beach-chic boat house and bar that is the focus of watersports activities; also on offer are diving, fishing and yoga to horse riding along the beach at moonlight. A stay at Nihiwatu is an unforgettable experience. Children are very welcome at Nihiwatu but there are no specific child related facilities.
The hotel’s new owner, Chris Burch, has committed future profits to be channeled into The Sumba Foundation, which is the philanthropic concern set up by the founders, who will continue to help drive. This includes tackling the very real issue of malaria, so far reduced by 86 per cent within a 14 mile (20km) radius of Nihiwatu.
But that is not the only strand of the foundation’s work: it has already provided 172 villages with clean water and is also addressing education and malnutrition. Evidence of success in every village is brought into sharp relief by those island communities that haven’t yet been reached by the foundation. Indeed, there’s still much to do: another five to eight years work and about $8 million (£5m), and there’s a chance malaria can be eradicated island-wide.
Sumba is an island in eastern Indonesia, is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, and is in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. With its rugged undulating savanna and low limestone hills, physically it looks nothing like Indonesia’s volcanic islands to the north. Sprinkled throughout the countryside are hilltop villages with thatched clan houses clustered around tombs, where villagers claim to be Protestant but still pay homage to their indigenous marapu with bloody sacrificial rites.
Throw in outstanding hand-spun, naturally dyed ikat, and the annual Pasola festival – where bareback horsemen ritualise old tribal conflicts as they battle one another with hand-carved spears – and it’s easy to see that there is a lot to Sumba.
This is one of the poorest islands in Indonesia, but there have been infrastructure improvements Some traditions persist, however. Sumba’s extensive grasslands make it one of Indonesia’s leading horse-breeding islands. Horses still serve as a mode of transport in more rugged regions, they remain a symbol of wealth and status, and can still win a bride.