For the past 26 years and perhaps longer, surfing aficionados from all over the world have been making the journey to the Indonesian island of Sumba to experience the left-hand wave at Nihiwatu, a magnificent surfing paradise. It was in 1988 that Claude and Petra Graves first arrived and painstakingly set about building a small resort with eleven keys. They continued to attract surfers, limiting the number to ten per day, giving the resort almost cult status and building a successful business that has garnered more than its fair share of awards from leading publications around the world.
The exotic, secluded resort is nestled upon 567 acres of land, only 65 acres of which are developed – and it is capped at that. Formerly a Dutch colony, Sumba is home to 650,000 residents and is categorized as a deciduous forest eco region due to its special flora and fauna, and Nihawatu features a spectacular 2.5 km of pristine beachfront.
Each suite at Nihiwatu has a dedicated butler – always at the ready with a smile to cater to guests’ every need in a charmingly unobtrusive way. They are part of the 300 terrific Sumbanese staff led by a hand-picked group of ex-pats who truly appreciate the culture and the island, who offer bespoke luxury service.
For authentic culinary excellence, Nihiwatu’s main restaurant, the Wavefront, has unparalleled views and a renowned executive chef Bernard who has a lot of experience in Asia. Guests can also eat at the Nio Beach BBQ or gather at the iconic Boathouse Bar where the beach fire pit invites inspired nightly discussions of the day’s activities. Resort rates include breakfast, lunch and dinner, and non-alcoholic beverages.
Nihiwatu features every form of water sport imaginable from surfing and snorkelling to scuba-diving and deep-sea fishing. Active pursuits on land range from trekking through the natural and unspoiled beauty of the landscape, to riding on Sumbanese horses (smaller than western horses but sturdy and ready for a canter on the beach), to yoga beside an enticing waterfall. Cooking classes are offered in the beach kitchen, perfectly positioned between the forest and the sea.
The next phase of the journey is in process, with plans to grow responsibly. Looking to take the resort to the next level, U.S. entrepreneur Chris Burch purchased Nihiwatu and, together with his Managing Partner James McBride (best known for his time at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, and most recently as President of Malaysian hotel conglomerate YTL Hotels), set about transforming the property. Adding suites including a five bedroom master suite, four tree house apartments and additional rooms, the resort will grow to 32 spacious villas and a tree-house Jungle Spa by Spring 2015.
The deep-rooted commitment to give back will be maintained and all profits repatriated into the Sumba Foundation. The result? A unique collaboration between Nihiwatu and the local community that today co-exists with compelling interdependence: the resort has become the biggest employer on the island.
Additionally, in October, Nihawatu will launch its Guru Retreat programme. A Guru Village has been created that will accommodate up to twelve Gurus, each invited to stay between one week and one month, to share their passion and enhance the experience of guests. Nihiwatu is a place for life-changing and life-enhancing experiences and is the perfect intimate setting to discover and renew a sense of adventure. From adventurers redefining hiking trails, to world-class spear fishermen, to surfers who have broken boundaries; from photographers sharing their secrets or artists inspiring guests to paint – these Gurus will share their crowning creations.
So you no longer have to be a surfer to enjoy this resort (although it certainly enhances the experience). More important, however, is an appreciation of the Sumba Foundation that exists because of the generosity of hotel guests past and present, proving that in the hospitality industry at least, a responsible citizen can have a lasting effect when he puts his mind to it.
Traveling To Sumba
Sumba is an hour and 20 minutes by air from Bali, with several daily turbo prop flights to Sumba. Nihiwatu also organizes charter flights for guests that can be booked via their Bali office. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.nihiwatu.com.