Annette Sordoni

Encino, California Travel Agent

On the Edge of Wildness in Indonesia

Nihi Sumba Resort in Indonesia is unique in the world. I felt thrown into something wonderful that I could never have dreamt of.

The resort is on Sumba Island, which I am told, is like Bali was thirty years ago. You have to be a certain kind of traveler to go. It is nearly a two-hour drive in a safari vehicle from Sumba airport. As my husband and I rode through villages, I felt like a rose queen because kids were running after our car smiling and waving in greeting and we were waving back. But looking at their simple homes, I began worrying about what I had gotten us into. 

Then we drove up to the resort, and I knew it was going to be wonderful. The resort’s 27 suites have private plunge pools and glorious views of the Indian Ocean and the service and food are amazing. There is even a fantastic sommelier who creates food and wine pairings, and the mini-bar has handmade chocolates. 

The owner is entrepreneur Chris Burch, who contributed to the rise of Tory Burch and other luxury brands. He has turned the resort into the island’s largest employer. It’s a philanthropic project too, so you can feel good about staying there, knowing that the resort is helping to build schools, bring running water to the villages and provide jobs. 

This property attracts an eclectic mix of guests from around the world, and you develop a sense of camaraderie because you all are discovering this incredibly isolated wonderful place. For example, they had a white night, where people were invited to dress in white. They strung tiny lights in the trees to make it feel special, and after dinner, we went to the bar and soon people from France, Brazil, Australia, and Japan were all dancing together. It was like a United National of people, all having an incredible time together.

One day, a guide led us on a hike to a waterfall. We felt like explorers, not tourists because we saw no other people the whole time. We hiked down a steep mountain to an incredibly powerful waterfall. At the base was a pool of the most intense turquoise color. Another day, we wend paddle-boarding down a river past primitive villages and ending up at the ocean. 

The resort also offers what they call a spa safari. You walk to a small treatment villa that sits on a cliff overlooking the ocean. There’s a pool, and they bring you lunch. Best of all, nothing needs to be pre-booked. There was a team of three therapists just for my husband and me, and we were free to have whatever treatments we wanted throughout the day at our own time.

One evening, local boys came to race their horses at sunset, and the guests bet on the races, with the money going to a local charity. Another evening, we saw water buffalo being herded along the beach by a farmer. 

We felt like we had entered a world of pure nature. In all my travels, it is unlike anything I have ever experienced.