For The Second Year in A Row: Nihiwatu Voted #1 Hotel in The World

Philanthropic-Driven Resort Changes the Way Travelers Experience Cultural Discovery; Guests Feel Deeply Connected, Cause-Inspired, and Satisfy a Journey for Curiosity at “The Edge of Wildness”

Nihi Sumba Island (Nihiwatu) in Indonesia is the number one hotel in the world for the second year in a row, voted by Travel + Leisure readers globally for its annual World’s Best Awards, the magazine announced on 11th July 2017. This reoccurring recognition acknowledges the power of hospitality-centric humanitarian efforts to bring attention to a bygone era, centuries of rituals, a lush unspoiled landscape, and unlimited freedom to explore. With philanthropy at the core of our business model, the Nihi legacy stands for more than just a destination. It stands for goodwill, and an investment in the preservation of the communities it abides.  

“Our guests are looking for more than just a vacation,” said Nihi Hotels owner Chris Burch. “They want to feel connected and useful, to give back and be a part of something larger than themselves. Through highly customized activities and personal itineraries, our guests experience compelling moments that inspire, and ultimately create a charitable impact.”      

“Nihi Sumba Island is the premiere property in our expanding Nihi Hotels portfolio as we actively seek growth opportunities grounded in our doctrine, “The Edge of Wildness,” said Nihi Hotels Managing Partner James McBride. “Current destinations of interest include the South Pacific and Central America, two areas that present environments not entirely influenced by modern conveniences therefore benefitting from natural exploration, education, and philanthropic aid of a Nihi Hotel.”  

A Nihi Hotel is not merely a hotel. It is away of life. Through the resource sand benefits of a luxury resort, Nihi continues to create awareness for the issues faced by local communities, at the same time providing jobs and services that grow incomes and families, and support basic needs such as health clinics, school lunches for children, and access to clean water. Many guests become benefactors of the Sumba Foundation, creating a connection to the island’s pure culture, while promoting the health and welfare of its society.  

Recent additions to Nihi Sumba Island’s memorable and engaging features are:  

  • An on site chocolate factory tour where guests learn how to make a variety of candy bars with Sumba’s locally sourced cocoa beans, complete with a sample tasting. Additionally, an open-air yoga session among the factory’s lush outdoors, with the sweet fragrance of chocolate may be followed by a raw cocoa and oil massage from the healing hands of the award-winning spa staff.
  • The latest discovery, Lake Weekuri, nature’s saltwater pool separated from the ocean by a rugged cliff, for a most magical swim and lakeside picnic. The clear blue water with varying depths is surrounded by lush trees and beautiful rocks for both sun and shade, and leisurely bathing or a refreshing plunge.
  • Wellness retreats with world-class gurus that combine the physical benefits of yoga with mediation, movement, and flexibility designed to take you on a therapeutic journey for a balanced mind, body, and soul.

“We are honored that our guests value our efforts enough to grant us this award,” added Burch. “The enthusiasm of our return guests and the emotional delight of our first time guests are worth the smiles and quality of life we behold from the local Sumbanese in return.”  

Additionally, has been revived with visual storytelling, video, and irresistible details, transforming viewers from their everyday lives to a new territory of possibility. For more information, get lost in our world @nihiwatu on Facebook or Instagram.    


Re-imagined and re-opened in 2015, Nihi Sumba Island has quickly captivated travelers from all corners of the world. On a remote island in southeastern Indonesia—the size of the state of Massachusetts and only a 50-minute flight from Bali—the once cult surf destination with its own popular, private wave was acquired by entrepreneur and investor Chris Burch in association with hotelier James McBride in 2012 and developed into a culturally immersive enclave of equal parts active adventure, barefoot luxury, and charitable giving, in an exotic and authentic setting. Nihi Hotels is planning expansion of the brand to further realize opportunities grounded in its doctrine, “The Edge of Wildness.” Current destinations of interest include the South Pacific and Central America.  


Maintaining its deep-rooted philosophy, and through the generosity of Chris Burch, a portion of Nihiwatu’s profits are now repatriated into the Sumba Foundation established by Nihiwatu founder Claude Graves, and Sean Downs 2001. With the enthusiastic support of hotel guests, Nihiwatu is a philanthropic vehicle dedicated to fostering community-based projects.

During their stay, guests are introduced to the Foundation’s efforts through an impactful presentation and short film. The result is a rare collaboration between a resort and its local community that today co-exist with compelling interdependence: the resort has become the biggest employer on the island and the Sumba Foundation gives back to the local communities.

Over the last fourteen years, the Foundation has set up four medical clinics, and has developed over 100 water well sand waterstations. The Foundation currently feeds young children in a malnutrition program, and has refurbished and supported 15 primary schools and provides lunch for over 1,000 schoolchildren five days a week.  


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