Hong Kong Tatler - - Travel -

bit as much as those who come to ride the waves. Fea­tur­ing nine new vil­las, ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tion of the ex­ist­ing 12 vil­las and a host of new and im­proved fa­cil­i­ties, Ni­hi­watu Mark II opened its doors in March last year and has al­ready wel­comed the Rock­e­feller and Her­mès fam­i­lies among a slew of other A-lis­ters and well-heeled surfers.

What hasn’t changed is the set­ting, a glo­ri­ous sweep of beach backed by green­ery so lush it seems painted on. On first sight, as we ar­rive from the air­port in one of the re­sort’s all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles, it’s easy to imag­ine how its founders must have felt when they first set eyes on the then-in­ac­ces­si­ble and un­touched coast, and per­haps even why they en­dured more than a decade of tri­als and tribu­la­tions—from lo­cal clan wars and an­i­mal sac­ri­fices to earth­quakes and fi­nan­cial melt­downs—to bring Ni­hi­watu to fruition.

But while the re­sort might owe its ex­is­tence to the Graves, its present in­car­na­tion is very much down to the vi­sion of man­ag­ing part­ner James Mcbride. A sil­ver- haired South African, Mcbride has had a long and il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer in the ho­tel busi­ness, in­clud­ing a stint as man­ag­ing direc­tor of New York’s famed The Car­lyle, where he would per­son­ally en­sure guests such as Roger Fed­erer, Mor­gan Free­man and Paul Mccart­ney were well taken care of.

In Ni­hi­watu, Mcbride seems to have found his Xanadu and his en­thu­si­asm is in­fec­tious. He is an­i­mated enough when he shows us what they have built so far—in ad­di­tion to the vil­las, there is the Om­bak restau­rant, the sun-kissed Nio Beach Club and a spa­cious fam­ily area re­plete with games and ac­tiv­i­ties—but Mcbride re­ally lights up when he starts ex­plain­ing what’s in store. By April Ni­hi­watu will add 11 more vil­las, in­clud­ing an 80,000sqft five-bed­room re­sort within a re­sort. Also un­der con­struc­tion are a hill­top yoga pav­il­ion with breath­tak­ing 270º views of the coast­line and a tree-house jun­gle spa.

De­spite this ex­pan­sion, Ni­hi­watu’s im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment is min­i­mal. Only a lit­tle more than 10 per cent of its 230 hectares can or will be de­vel­oped. In­deed, its im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment and the lo­cal com­mu­nity is some­thing that Ni­hi­watu takes very se­ri­ously. That there are nu­mer­ous eco­log­i­cally re­spon­si­ble ini­tia­tives underpinning the


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