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“Not just the place, but the PEOPLE”
Review of Nihi Sumba

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Nihi Sumba
Ranked #1 of 14 Hotels in Sumba
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 16, 2012

My wife and I continue to return to Nihiwatu Resort every year. Not only is it a spectacular destination resort, but we've realized that we love returning because of the "people." Due to the remote location of the resort, the majority of the staff at Nihiwatu live there full time. We have become friends with not only the local staff members, but the onsite guest relations and activities directors as well. In particular, Christian & Ka'ale Sea are amazing! They truly embody the spirit of Nihiwatu and always have a positive attitude. Week after week, Christian and Ka'ale make sure each and every guest is getting the most out of their vacation. Between these two, they teach surfing lessons, diving, snorkeling, yoga, spear fishing, tow surfing, hiking, mountain biking, and Stand Up paddling. Ka'ale also organizes cultural tours to the villages, local markets, schools, clinics, etc. They are always encouraging their guests to experience the best of what Nihiwatu and Sumba have to offer. Daniel and Ben help support all of these activities creating a confident, reliable, and friendly team. Nihiwatu without the amazing "people" is just another beautiful place in the world...the "people" make it the EXPERIENCE that my wife and I will never forget!

Room Tip: Pick a villa with a view of the wave out front.
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank HeppaT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 14, 2012

Take that step!

an unforgettable journey, a journey that we will mostly take again next year with our kids.
low key luxury, amazing staff, outstanding service, fantastic surfing, great mountain biking, best Asian massages... and yoga classes you would not want to miss...
I had basic surf knowledge and i spent most of my time in the water with Christian and Daniel who looks after all the water activities. They made me feel I was born to ride, They are outstanding teachers and leaders.
Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain... so go surfing.

Christian took us also on the mountain bike tour and this was not only a sport activity it was also a great experience to discover what a magic place Nihiwatu is and hopefully will remain.
His knowledge about the culture, the people and the way of life in Nihiwatu are simply amazing .

There is not enough time to share all of our feelings about Nihiwatu but it is clearly a must for people who like to travel to hidden and unspoiled places. The GM and the owner were out of the island during our stay however Christian took over that role and made us feel that things were running as is. But the all staff made our stay there magical because this kind of journey is before all about people.


Rumi wrote:"Travel brings power and love back into your life.” it is absolutely true if you discover Nihiwatu

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Jpleloup1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 13, 2012

I coudn't have imagined a more perfect honeymoon! George and his staff went above and beyond to make our stay as memorable as possible!

Nihiwatu is great for surfers and non-surfers alike with a wide range of activities and cultural adventures to explore. It is the ultimate relaxation escape with a spectacular backdrop!

The trip exceeded all our expectations and it was great to be part of the Nihiwatu family for a week. We will definitely be back!!

A huge thank you to George, Dan and the crew! Carolyn and Hamish

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Carolyn M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 27, 2012

A huge thankyou to the staff at Nihiwatu, particularly Dan and Ben for their water expertise and George for his extra efforts to make our honeymoon at Sumba a fantastic experience. We have many special memories and have plans to return,
Phil and Sonja

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank 961stocko
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2012

I can't imagine being able to top Nihiwatu - the resort is amazing . George and the staff made our honeymoon a very memorable one with a few romantic surprises along the way. 'Surf widows' don't worry there is plenty to see and do

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank SonjaSep12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2012

My husband and I visited Nihiwatu in September 2012 and it lived up to our expectations - low key luxury, good surf, great service, and very relaxing.
My husband loves surfing so i was a little nervous I would be bored and ignored. But I ended up enjoying the holiday as much as he did. It was a perfect combination of relaxation and activity. We went mountain biking, snorkelling and trekking as well as lying around doing nothing much but enjoying the view and drinking another fresh coconut.
I particularly enjoyed the yoga every day. The usual yoga teacher was away but Daniel, the Australian surf guide, took the yoga classes each day and they were fantastic. He also looked after both the expert surfers and the strugglers like me on the waves. He was extremely professional but very relaxed. Created a great vibe.
The massages were so good that I booked one every day.
The new villas were an absolute highlight - incredibly luxurious and we really enjoyed the infinity pool attached to the villa as well as the giant open air bathroom. It was amazing to be able to lie in bed reading a book and glance up to watch the surfers catching waves out the front.
I loved not having to wear shoes all week. All the paths are sand, as are the floors in the restaurant and bar.
The local staff are very good and make a mean cocktail. They even joined us for some fun bar-top dancing one evening.
Every sunset was spent at the beach bar with the other guests enjoying a chat as the sun went down.
We made a lot of new friends, indulged in a lot of relaxation and felt very refreshed at the end of our week away - in fact we extended by a couple of days.
Nihiwatu is a place to get away from the real world for a while. No TVs or shopping, just a low key holiday vibe with a great mix of relaxation and fun. You don't have to be a surfer to enjoy it.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank LeeTown
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 31, 2012

It is hard not to fall in love with Nihiwatu. The location is absolutely idyllic: a true deserted tropical island with extensive white sands and turquoise waters and not a single building or light along the coast-line. Not only that, but it has a meaningful story, with its’ Founders having discovered the beautiful spot about 20 years ago and lived in tents on the beach while they got to know the local villagers and gained their trust. They have also established the ‘Sumba Foundation’ to help the local communities to improve their health and wellbeing. For example the Sumba Foundation has provided wells which bring clean water to villages, they have built schools and clinics, provided mosquito nets and educated locals on malaria, resulting in a significant reduction in deaths due to this disease. They have substantially improved the lives of the locals who live here.

The locals are a huge part of the charm of Nihiwatu, and make up 97% of their staff. They are always smiling and happy and just seem totally genuine and eager to please. A trip to the village is well worth doing- it is like going back in time to a Medieval village (except they have motorbikes!). A mountain bike ride is also an absolute must. We took the ‘mellow’ route and it was such a great insight into the Sumbanese culture and environment.

I stayed at Nihiwatu for my honeymoon and so approach my review from this stance. Our room was absolutely stunning, built in the local Sumbanese style and decorated beautifully using a famous designer from Bali (..I wanted to take home all the furniture!). The room had beautiful views of the sea and beach below: a truly romantic spot.

On our second night, Nihiwatu laid on a lovely honeymoon dinner for us, which included a mixed fish and meat grill, served in a romantic setting which they had decorated beautifully with flowers for us. No effort was spared!

However, there are a few areas where we feel Nihiwatu could improve, particularly in terms of how it caters for couples seeking a romantic break. A holiday at Nihiwatu is very communal which is far removed from the privacy that couples often seek on holiday. Breakfast and lunch are on long tables with other guests and, while at dinner they do lay up two tables for couples, one feels extremely anti-social not being amongst the other diners (and, indeed, this was commented on in our case). While such a communal environment can be great fun and a lovely way to make new friends, it is not what we wanted from our honeymoon and is not something I see myself wanting from any holiday in future (..unless our relationship and conversation deteriorates dramatically). We personally find it so difficult to spend quality and relaxing time in each others’ company at home, with all the jobs and commitments of everyday life and a holiday, for us, is an opportunity to get away and enjoy ‘together time’. Further, the communal aspect of Nihiwatu means that the extent to which you enjoy your holiday, very much depends on the group you are with. In our case, we got really lucky, but, when spending this much on holiday, one does not want to leave such things to luck. Nihiwatu needs to work on catering for couples and their desire for peace and privacy a little bit more.

Further, the surf at Nihiwatu is incredible, and so the resort attracts a lot of very keen/ fanatical surfers. This means that surfing completely dominates the topic of conversation at meal times and is not something I know anything about. This is something I would bear in mind as a non-surfer considering Nihiwatu at this time. Further, if you are a couple, and one of you surfs, do not expect to come to Nihiwatu and spend time with your partner. We encountered a lot of wives left behind and barely spending any time with their other half whose surfing dominated the holiday.

Nihiwatu also has a small amount of work to do to improve the guest experience. Such very small details are easy to sort out. I am certain they will be improved asap, particularly as the resort is going through a transition period at present. For example, it can be quite disorganised, which has a charm but can also be quite frustrating. We had ordered a breakfast to be delivered to our room for 10am. We were looking forward to a nice lie-in, after all the stress of wedding planning. We were very disappointed therefore to be woken up at 6.30am by someone just “checking” that we still wanted the breakfast! By 7am we were both wide awake and hungry. There is no phone in the room so my husband set about the 15 minute round trip to the restaurant to see if they could deliver our breakfast as soon as possible, instead of the originally planned 10am. They agreed to do this and apologised for waking us up prematurely. Apparently our neighbours, had ordered a 6.30am breakfast and they confused us with them. After an hour and a half of waiting for the breakfast to arrive, my husband, again, made the 15 minute trip to the restaurant, this time to enquire about where the breakfast had got to. He was told that it had been delivered 40minutes ago. My husband then found the breakfast on the other neighbours’ sun beds! As we sat down to enjoy our breakfast in peace, finally, we were then interrupted by a very apologetic (to his credit) member of staff who proceeded to tell us a very long story about how the villas have no numbers on them and so everyone always gets confused about what is going where (it seems everyone but our left neighbours received the breakfast that had been intended for them.. all being woken up at 6.30am in the process!). This would easily be resolved through having a simple numbering system on the villas and also a phone in the bedroom and a more organised room service.

In addition, we had other lie-ins that were completely spoiled because house-keeping would ring the bell, wanting to clean the room. They didn’t speak English and, when we asked them if they could come back later, they came back every ten minutes until eventually we just got up and let them in. This was really irritating and unrelaxing and would be so easily resolved by a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door.

Such events do spoil the holiday experience, particularly those who have travelled a 18hour plane journey to be at Nihiwatu and who are therefore tired and in need of a morning lie-in. At times the resort felt quite captainless as there did not seem to be any manager who spoke sufficiently good English to whom someone could go at a time like this. This was combined by the fact that there are no phones in the room and no way of finding members of staff other than to wander aimlessly around the resort and hope for the best.

Another minor criticism of Nihiwatu is that we order our lunch and dinner (a choice from two options) after breakfast. The result is that dinner is done and dusted in a matter of minutes. There is no leafing through menus, relaxing with wine and enjoying the scenery. Our starter usually arrived before the wine even and, as soon as we had had our last mouthful, our main course was delivered. It felt a bit like being at a ‘drive-through’ as opposed to a relaxing and enjoyable meal on the beach, compounded by the fact that they started clearing one person’s food, while the other person was still eating. This is a very minor thing and, again, easy to resolve, but makes a real difference to how relaxing the experience is.

Nihiwatu has so much potential as one of the most enchanting and romantic spots on the planet. I would recommend Nihiwatu as a truly magical and unique place to stay. It is not everyday that you get to visit an undeveloped tropical island, where the beach is stunning, with virgin white sands and turquoise waters and an undeveloped coastline. The locals are warm and friendly, the rooms are stunning and there are a whole host of activities on offer, from surfing, wakeboarding, diving, snorkelling, kiteboarding and waterfall trips, to horse riding on the beach (be careful of sand flies!), mountain biking and catching the fish that goes on the bbq to make dinner that night. Moreover, a trip to Sumba is an ‘experience’: something completely different and unique.

Nihiwatu has the potential to be the most enchanting place on the planet and it is not very far off achieving that. But I do believe there is some work to be done to make the resort more professionally run (without losing its’ rustic charm) and to cater better for couples. Sharing a plunge pool with our neighbours was a bit awkward and a private pool and more private villa, set in this location, would make this place absolutely unbeatable.

I hope this review was helpful and we greatly look forward to our return trip to Nihiwatu, hopefully as soon as possible and hope that the new management will not alter the charm of the resort.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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12  Thank cconn17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Nihi Sumba

Address: Desa Hobawawi | Kecamatan Wanukaka, Sumba 87272, Indonesia (Formerly Nihiwatu)
Location: Indonesia > East Nusa Tenggara > Sumba
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Sumba
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Sumba
Price Range: $877 - $2,295 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Nihi Sumba 4.5*
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Voted #1 Hotel in the World for two years in a row by Travel & Leisure magazine. An award-winning luxury resort on remote Sumba Island, Indonesia. A wide range of land and ocean-based experiences ensures all tastes are catered to. Attentive service and gourmet meals add to the refined and intimate ambience. A romantic getaway idyll with pristine private beach stretching in excess of 2.5km of length ideal for honeymooners and the unique tribal culture on the island offers guests a glimpse of a bygone era. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Nihiwatu Hotel Sumba
Nihiwatu Hotel Waikabubak
Nihiwatu Resort Waikabubak

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