Collaborations Honeymoon Destinations Hotels Indonesia Recent Discoveries

What It’s Like to Stay at The Best Hotel in the World

Thursday, March 21, 2019
What It’s Like to Stay at The Best Hotel in the WorldLike0

So what’s it like to stay the “best hotel in the world” for two years in a row?

By George Rishan

 

But that’s the wrong question. Nihi Sumbais not just a hotel. It’s a state of mind. It’s a dream. It’s a story where you’re the narrator and the hero. This is by far the most difficult review I had to write because where do you find words to describe an incredible experience like this.

My trip to Nihi Sumba started at Denpasar Airport in Bali where Nihi Sumbastaff will meet you and literally whisk you through customs and security. Even your boarding pass will be ready by the time you are at the priority check in desk. It was the fastest check in process in all my years of travel and it took me about 5 minutes from setting foot at the airport to being at the gate to wait for my flight. You know you’re into something good when a hotel has staff to help you at the airport you’re flying from not just the one you’re arriving in.

A short one hour flight from Bali landed us at Tambokala Airport in Sumba where again you’ll be met by Nihi Sumba staff to escort you immediately to your car. Don’t worry about having to wait your luggage at the belt because the hotel staff will handle that for you while you’re on the way to the resort.

Another hint into how amazing this experience is was the transportation from the airport — a spacious open air safari Jeep to ensure you get full and real experience as you make your way to the hotel.

Sumba is raw. It’s cleaner than Bali and Lombok. It’s fresh. It’s green. And it’s friendly. In the 1.5 hour drive from the airport to the hotel we were greeted by countless and priceless smiles and waves of young and old locals on the sides of the road.

On arrival you are met by a welcoming committee led by the general manager who personally greets and sees off all guests at the hotel. He manages the hotel with his wife (#teamgoals) and the entire place is run by what feels like a family rather than a corporation with hierarchy.

 

View this post on Instagram

Ever since I saw a picture of @nihisumba, I knew this is a place I wanted to visit, thinking this will be another great luxury hotel experience. But i was wrong. It was more than that. @nihisumba is a life experience. It’s a story. It’s a dream. It’s time standing still and time going fast. It’s about finding yourself and losing yourself. No words can describe how profoundly moving this experience is, and no pictures can capture the happiness, beauty, and excitement that every new day at this place brings. Save up, and give yourself the gift of @nihisumba at least once in your life. 1: The healing hand of Sumba 💆🏻‍♂️ 2, 3 & 5: the reception area 🧜🏻‍♂️ 4: my private swimming pool 🏊🏻‍♂️ 6: @nihisumba’s organic garden 🌱 7: new friends and lovebirds @leighroid and @mrstaniathomas who let me crash their honeymoon ☠️ 8 & 9: incredible swimming with the horses experience 10: one of the adorable Sumbawese kids whose meals are sponsored by @nihisumba’s @sumbafoundation #ontheedgeofwildness #nihigram #nihi2019

A post shared by George Rishan (@gmr83) on

 

What makes Nihi Sumbaspecial?

The first thing I did when I got to my room was open Google Maps to see where I was exactly on a larger scale, and if you zoom out a bit you’ll soon realize you’re at the edge of the world, or, as the hotel dubs it, the edge of wilderness. The hotel is located in the southern part of Sumba, facing the westernmost part of Australia and then it’s nothing and no one until the end of the world. This feeling of solitude is incredible especially as you take a deep breath of fresh air from your private patio which overlooks the ocean.

Staying at Nihi Sumba can never be boring. I could have stayed a month and still found something to do. The hotel arranges a large number of activities from waterfall treks to cycling to nearby villages to standup paddling in a river or the ocean. However, the star of the show has to be swimming with the horses.

 

Nihi Sumba is home to a stable of gentle and majestic Sumbawese horses that the hotel staff guide to the ocean for a swim everyday. This activity is open to everyone and you do not need any experience being on a horse (it was my third time only). I rode my horse and the staff led it to the ocean. I got off the horse then and bathed it! The horses are very friendly and playful, and they enjoy being petted. Almost all the horses eventually got in the water while the others were rolling in their backs in the sand. It was a surreal experience which you’ll really appreciate when later in the day you’re looking at the pictures you took.

Spa Safari — these two words popped up next to each other in my itinerary, which left me puzzled at first. I know of spas and I know of safaris but what’s a spa safari? Nihi Sumba’s spa is located outside the hotel itself on a secluded beach surrounded by coconut trees and virtually isolated from the rest of the island. To get there, a guide from the hotel escorted me through rice fields, a small jungle, and beautiful hills on a 90 minute trekking journey to reach the spa.

 

 

Guests can also opt for a car to take them there but I can not recommend walking there enough! I am not really an outdoorsy person but I do not think I ever enjoyed walking as much as I did on this trek. Although I was drenched in sweat by the time I reached the spa, I felt like I have finally earned the relaxing experience I was about to get. Shoutout to my guide, Tiger, who’s not only the funniest but also quite possibly the fastest coconut tree climber on the island.

Upon arrival at the spa, you are greeted with fresh and cold coconut water and a small, delicious breakfast to recharge. After that, I was asked to choose not one but THREE different treatments! The massage rooms are open air and directly overlook the ocean. No need for an elevator music soundtrack here because the waves are all the tunes I ever needed. As you’re receiving your treatment, the spa staff would be washing the dirty clothes you arrived in — it’s always the smallest things that make all the difference. The spa also has a swimming pool and direct beach access should you decide to take a break between treatments.

 

Very frequently, I take pictures of my food at restaurants and hotels using my phone. The food at Nihi Sumba was so delicious that I started and finished eating before I realized that I should take a picture. The menu is strongly based on the fruits of the sea, with Asian, international, and vegetarian options. The hotel also hosts “white nights” where guests are asked to wear white and partake in an open buffet of every kind of seafood you can think of grilled fresh before you. I wish I had more days just to try everything on the breakfast menu which looked amazing. The chia pudding, mango smoothie bowl, and the huevos rancheros were particularly a highlight. Don’t miss the fresh juices especially anything with ginger because it’s the best that I have ever tasted.

Being located in one of the economically poorer and underdeveloped islands of Indonesia has given Nihi Sumba two options: either to ignore its surroundings and focus solely on the pleasure of the guests or help the community improve its current life conditions and its prospects.

 

And I’m so glad Nihi Sumba chose the second option by establishing the Sumba Foundation which helps provide clean water, adequate nutrition and medication, and proper education to the children of Sumba. Nihi Sumba arranged for us to visit a malaria clinic that was established by the foundation and the donations of guests who stayed at the hotel.

 

The clinic continues to provide free malaria tests and medicine to the locals. We also visited a school where the Sumba Foundation provides meals to the young students. Between all the conversations, smiles, laughs, and high fives we exchanged with the young children, it was easy to see the remarkable impact that Nihi Sumba and its foundation are making in the community. The foundation has a lot of ways for guests to help if they wish to do so. Even the smallest donations can help change not only one person’s life for the better but an entire village maybe. If you donate money to fund the education of a nurse, you should remember that the nurse will be helping other people as well.

Last but certainly not least, the staff at Nihi Sumba make the place what it is. Everyone from the general manager, Julien, to the inaptly-named Anggri (because she’s all smiles and laughs!), who was my captain during my stay, to my spa safari guide, Tiger, to everyone else I came across have an incredible and contagious Sumba Island energy which you will feel from the moment you set foot on the island.

Nihi Sumba is not just a hotel. It’s an energy and it’s an experience that drives hundreds and thousands of guests — and hopefully me — who stayed there to come back again.

Leave a Reply

Follow @ traveljunkiediary
  • Last couple of days at work before heading back home 🇱🇧. What are your summer plans? Anything exciting?
  • Your memory feels like home to me.
So whenever my mind wanders, it always finds its way back to you 💫
  • Someone at work asked me the other day what my goals were... I told them to be happy. To be really really really F**** happy. What’s yours?
  • How much time do you spend planning for a trip? I still can’t get over the beautiful sunsets I’ve been lucky to experience on the island. I’ve also written two blog posts on guides to Menorca and what to watch out for prior booking. 
I do usually spend a lot of time on research for my trips, months in advance and, for this specific trip, it was a little challenging finding a place to stay that matched what I was exactly looking for. 
The search engine that worked well for me was @wegoarabia - as for flights, I didn’t have too many options from Barcelona but it worked out well. I mixed it between hotel stay and private villa stay for my 10 nights. Booked a car and took it really easy at the end!
  • I’m aware that I posted this photo before, but... there are no rules here... the Arctic has quickly become my comfort zone. 
Our business and being an entrepreneur in today’s world on @travelwithtjd was featured in an incredible article on @entmagazineme (link in bio to read the full story) written by the incredible @thisisaby on how I started @tjdhospitality , my goals, my passion and dedication to what I truly believed in... and nothing stood in my way... It continues beautifully on the chapter how @dennisstever and I created our mini series to launch @travelwithtjd and the future... and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. 
One day it will just click. You realize what's important and what isn't, you learn to care less about what other people think of you and care more about what you think of yourself. You realize how far you have come and remember thinking that things were in such a mess they'd never recover.. and then you smile. You smile because you are truest proud of yourself and the person you have fought to become. 
Never forget who has helped you in the past or who kept believing in you when you stopped. 💫
  • I’m not into small talk... so show me your soul. Let’s our minds connect, let’s us just be who we really are and say how it is... or, just say nothing at all.
  • A small town in Menorca, a 30 minute drive into this beautiful town. Long sandy beaches and little houses built around the sides of the bay overlooking the sea. I had to stop the car every minute and step out and appreciate the empty beaches and how incredibly happy I was deciding to visit this beautiful island despite taking a long time on my research! 
Thank you to @hertz.uae for always making it so easy to rent a car and for adding my skywards miles while booking with you 😊
  • One of the most beautiful beach strip in Menorca. I definitely love quiet beaches, and here tends to be crowded and popular, but it was still so comfortable and an exciting vibe to it.
  • There is a legend of Cova d’en Xoroi, a story of a pirate name Xoroi, who abandoned his ship, discovered this cave and found refuge here. 
Xoroi then abducted a woman from the village, fell in love and married her and had kids. 
One day, in winter, the island was covered with unexpected snow, and armed men found footprints into the cave and found the women with her 3 sons. 
Xoroi was surrounded and powerless and jumped into the water from the cliff, and his eldest son followed him and his wife returned to the village. 
What happened after that is a mystery...
  • What are your road trips tips!? For me, I always love keeping strawberries and blueberries & a playlist that has to include Ben Howard.
It’s been a crazy 2 weeks on the road, first in Finland with over 16 hours road trips and now in Menorca doing the same on a much smaller scale, exploring the island in our family van that we rented from @hertz.uae And earn Skywards Miles 😊
What are your smooth road trip tips?
  • Cala Galdana is definitely one of my favorite beaches. They told me that this tiny island of Menorca has more beaches that Ibiza and Mallorca put together. 
Do you have a favorite beach in Spain?
  • I’ve left Finland a week ago, flew directly to Spain from there and landed in this beautiful island of Menorca. The neighboring island of Mallorca and Ibiza. Decided to stay couple of days in @meliacalagaldana to get these views and visit the beaches to the south and then moved further North of the island into a private villa for the rest of my trip. Have you been to Menorca before?