Hong Kong Tatler - - Travel -

way the re­sort op­er­ates is not so sur­pris­ing per­haps, but the fact that all Ni­hi­watu’s prof­its are in­vested in a foun­da­tion to ben­e­fit the peo­ple of Sumba is.

Set up in 2001 by the Graves and a regular guest, the Sumba Foun­da­tion has funded nu­mer­ous schools, clin­ics and wells on the is­land, sup­ply­ing close to 200 vil­lages with clean wa­ter and re­duc­ing malaria by 85 per cent in the neigh­bour­ing ar­eas. It also runs or­ganic farm­ing, schol­ar­ship and hu­man­i­tar­ian projects that aid peo­ple on one of In­done­sia’s poor­est is­lands, and all of them ex­ist in sym­bio­sis with the re­sort, which is also the big­gest em­ployer on the is­land. Ni­hi­watu or­gan­ises vis­its to some of the projects it sup­ports so that guests can see the work be­ing done. Most leave gen­er­ous dona­tions; some even re­turn as vol­un­teers.

True to the re­sort’s fo­cus on sus­tain­abil­ity, a high pro­por­tion of the pro­duce served up is grown by vil­lagers. The fish, too, are freshly caught by lo­cal fish­er­men as far as pos­si­ble, and the food is cooked in a kitchen helmed by for­mer Aman­re­sorts chef Bernard Prim. Food and drink are of­fered on an all-in­clu­sive ba­sis, and meals can be taken when­ever you like by drop­ping by one of the restau­rants or us­ing the walkie-talkies pro­vided to sum­mon your per­sonal but­ler. Un­like most luxury re­sorts, Ni­hi­watu is very so­cia­ble, and we end up get­ting to know our fel­low guests bet­ter over sun­down­ers or din­ner most nights—although pri­vacy is not hard to find.

Nu­mer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties are in­cluded in the price at Ni­hi­watu, with oth­ers avail­able for a sur­charge, and there’s no short­age of ways to spend your time. In ad­di­tion to surf­ing, there is ex­cel­lent snorkelling, scuba div­ing, kayak­ing, fish­ing and spearfish­ing, while plea­sure cruises are an op­tion for the less ad­ven­tur­ous. On land, there’s horse rid­ing on the beach, yoga classes and op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn about the lo­cal cul­ture—as well as a host of se­cluded daybeds and ham­mocks for naps be­tween ex­er­tions. A ded­i­cated staff pho­tog­ra­pher can be on hand to pro­fes­sion­ally doc­u­ment your ac­tiv­i­ties. Per­haps most in­ter­est­ing of all, how­ever, is the re­sort’s guru pro­gramme, through which vis­it­ing ex­perts in fields as di­verse as yoga, med­i­ta­tion, photography and surf­ing give guests the ben­e­fit of their knowl­edge. To this end, the re­sort has cre­ated a “guru vil­lage” com­plete with space for 12 ex­perts as well as a pool and bar­be­cue area.

The ac­com­mo­da­tion for guests, as one might ex­pect, is even more al­lur­ing. Surfers tend to snag the Wave Front Vil­las, but we had the plea­sure of road-testing the pro­to­type for the next gen­er­a­tion of vil­las, a tree house of sorts based on tra­di­tional Sum­banese homes. Down­stairs fea­tures a pri­vate in­fin­ity pool, lounge and gar­dens, while up­stairs con­sists of a large bed­room with stunning ocean views and an open-air shower room. Ev­ery­thing is hand­crafted from lo­cal ma­te­ri­als such as teak and rat­tan. The high­light, how­ever, is the elon­gated chim­ney­like ex­panse that stretches up some six me­tres above the bed—a space that would play host to the an­ces­tor shrine in a Sum­banese house—which seems like a path­way to in­fin­ity when the bed is en­closed by its white drap­ery.

Im­pres­sive as Ni­hi­watu may be, many of its great­est at­trac­tions are not in the re­sort at all. One of the high­lights of our trip was vis­it­ing the Wanukaka wa­ter­fall, an in­cred­i­ble site of nat­u­ral beauty at the end of an hour’s trek through the jun­gle. Cas­cad­ing into a wide nat­u­ral pool en­closed by a small canyon, it wouldn’t have looked out of place in The Lord of the Rings, and to have it vir­tu­ally to our­selves made it dou­bly spe­cial.

Like­wise, a visit to Nihi Oka beach is highly rec­om­mended. A se­cluded spot a few kilo­me­tres along the coast, Nihi Oka is set to be de­vel­oped into a minia­ture re­sort. For now, it fea­tures a cliff-top plat­form set up for a ro­man­tic break­fast or bar­be­cue lunch, and a tree-house mini-spa to up the bliss fac­tor. It’s th­ese kinds of touches that ul­ti­mately de­fine the Ni­hi­watu ex­pe­ri­ence; just when you think you’ve seen all it has to of­fer, the re­sort has a knack of sur­pris­ing you anew with novel twists, bright ideas and for­ward­think­ing philoso­phies. Like its sig­na­ture wave, it’s quite sim­ply a force of na­ture.


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