And then I reached paradise… Nihiwatu Resort on the island of Sumba, a mere hour’s flight from Bali’s Denpasar Airport followed by a fab safari style ride in an open air vehicle cross-island, you pass local children smiling and waving as you go, finally arriving at the resort that will forever be known as “paradise”.
How this resort actually exists defies reason… it’s located in one of the most isolated places I have ever been. A place where time may have literally stood still and then you arrive at this amazing resort called Nihiwatu, a paradise so delicately and perfectly planned – and so unobtrusive you might never have known it was there.
Nihiwatu consists of a total of 33 villas, including family estates… all of which are authentically designed, taking inspiration from the local Sumbanese style architecture all the while being luxuriously appointed. Here you are perfectly positioned centre stage to take full advantage of the adventurous offerings that surround you.
Originally started by Claude and Petra Graves… and known foremost as a surf retreat – Nihiwatu has since developed into so much more with the guidance an enthusiasm of new owners Chris Burch and his business partner, star hotelier James Mc Bride. Both have both helped Nihiwatu evolve into what I believe is one of the world’s best resorts. Truth.
The result is almost too fabulous to believe – here Aman meets safari (and that’s hard to do if you’re not Adrian Zecha!).
WHAT I LOVED
Interiors so achingly chic by Parisian interior designer Marco Scarani and partner Susan Colley – they all feature traditional Sumbanese artifacts throughout… including carvings, local wood and beautiful Ikat prints on the furnishings (these fabulous, collectable ikats, have all been hand-woven on traditional weaving racks in villages nearby!).
authentically designed, taking inspiration from the local Sumbanese style architecture all the while being luxuriously appointed.
Take Chris Burch’s private estate Raja Mendaka (like I did) – here you can kick back with ten of your nearest and dearest in full estate luxury – all perfectly private and super fab… and with a bit of luck you will have Marthen as your butler… to look after you like family. All villas have a tasteful island style in keeping of the natural surroundings and all come with private pools so a naughty dip is in order on those balmy late nights.
Careful… you might never want to leave the estate!
Ocean adventures abound to keep you going for weeks… swim with the whale sharks, snorkel the reefs or go fishing. Any water sport imaginable is on offer here, and of course you have the surf! Just quietly… you may even be lucky enough to witness a baby turtle hatch and release from the resorts conservation hatchery.
Also don’t miss the hiking treks – The Blue Waterfall and the Nihioka Spa Safari are all unmissable. Nihioka is the adults only full day spa experience – you start by trekking across Sumba, through herds of water buffalo and a traditional village (take some Rupiah to buy those covetable indigo Ikats) before you reach the heaven that is Nihioka. Here you will have two spa therapists for unlimited spa treatments all day – it’s out of this world.
Food is fabulous and the views while lunching at Nio Beach Club will take your breath away. I also liked the “family” dinners held a couple of nights a week as these gave me the opportunity to mingle and meet the most fascinating guests but you are equally welcome to dine (privately) poolside in your luxury villa – just say the word – all your meals are included in your rate here at Nihiwatu.
I spotted chic Parisian families surfing their days away (who I learned have been coming for years) and handsome, newly married couples who all agreed Nihiwatu was possibly the most romantic place on earth. The island definitely makes for the perfect upscale family island adventure but couples and A Listers are equally catered for as they can luxuriate privately, away from prying eyes.
I loved every minute of my stay at Nihiwatu – so much so I extended by a night (in fact 50% of guests extend their stay) so please… don’t plan a flight to rush back to your real life – you may just never want to leave.
Many thanks to James McBride who finally got me to the island to see what all the fuss is about and to Carla Petzold-Beck the resorts stylish GM who made sure my stay was absolutely fabulous.
Contact me to book your very own stay at Nihiwatu and receive VIP luxury amenities like complimentary upgrades and more.