The world’s best resort isn’t where you might expect it to be.
It’s not a villa floating above the shimmering waters of the Seychelles or Maldives. Nor is it a boutique, bougainvillea-draped chateau spilling down stone cliffs to a private beach in the Mediterranean.
According to Travel & Leisure readers for the past two years, the best resort in the world in all categories is located 400 kilometres east of Bali on Indonesia’s most unexplored island, Sumba.
Originally developed as a surf resort to provide guests with access to the region’s most sought-after waves, Nihi Sumba has captured the hearts of travellers from around the globe and is today known as one of the most coveted destinations in the world.
As the brainchild of American entrepreneur, Chris Burch and South African-born hotelier, James McBride, it features 27 jaw-dropping pool villas built in traditional Sumbanese style.
Set on 467 acres of tropical forest, rice terraces and grasslands that wrap around the pumping Nihiwatu beach, Nihi Sumba has evolved from its humble beginnings into a luxury resort with a conscience and an example of a sustainable operation in harmony with the environment and the Sumbanese people.
The resort prides itself on being environmentally friendly, and in addition to the use of natural building materials, its impressive sustainability practices include organic gardens that produce the majority of the resort’s food and a comprehensive composting and water recycling system.
Nihi Sumba is a soulful destination where rugged meets unregulated freedom, and every activity offered to guests in designed to immerse them in the resort’s two most important pillars: nature and community.
From riding majestic horses on the beach, to surfing private breaks, and embarking on signature excursions including spa safaris, visits to local Stone Age sites, picnics under waterfalls and treks along butterfly trails, it is the perfect place to unplug and connect with the earth.
Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities to experience Sumba’s magnificently preserved ancient culture on the island, such as trips to local villages to see traditional arts and crafts, megalithic burial sites and exquisite Ikat weavings.
The most rewarding experience of all, however, is visiting the Sumba Foundation, which was founded in 2001 to help alleviate the crushing burdens of poverty the locals were living under, by focusing on water, health, education and economic projects.
The foundation’s key achievements to date include treating 407,000 patients across four clinics; reducing malaria rates by 93% in core project areas; developing more than 65 wells and 260 water stations; and supplying water, toilets and supplies to 22 primary schools.