International Travel: Chris Burch’s Nihiwatu Hotel (Sumba Island, Indonesia)
Imagine a vacation that also happened to save the world.
Too much? You’re right, of course; obviously, no vacation could mean so much. But still…how about just a little part of the world? That much, at least, is an attainable goal – for guests of Nihiwatu Hotel, a pristine piece of Indonesia’s unspoiled Sumba Island, which is owned by Billionaire Chris Burch.
The Sumba Foundation–dedicated to alleviating poverty, improving basic health, and increasing education for the inhabitants of Sumba Island–receives a portion of all hotel profits. Gauging its impact on the island is not difficult. For starters, school lunches for local children are funded by proceeds from the resort – over two thousand lunches, every week, all year long. The Foundation’s other projects represent a diverse and holistic approach to caring for their host island. From efforts to improve access to clean water all the way to educational projects designed to teach the island’s inhabitants new ways to generate and preserve income, each project undertaken by the Foundation is intended to ensure the local community sees lasting benefit from the hotel’s presence.
Thanks to this profit-sharing arrangement between the hotel and the foundation, guests of Nihiwatu can simultaneously enjoy both the serenity of a week in paradise and the knowledge that their vacation dollars make a difference in the lives of the locals–even beyond the wages they earn at the hotel. And what could make vacation more enjoyable than the knowledge that your leisure also has positive social impact?
Evidently, this approach is working. The hotel was named Travel and Leisure Magazine’s #1 Hotel in the World for 2016. In addition to the standard resort amenities, Nihiwatu offers spearfishing and surfing lessons, short hikes to local waterfalls, equestrian activities, and yoga. If local culture is an attraction for you, the hotel offers treks to multiple locations across the island, as well as cooking classes using locally grown ingredients.
Rates range from $650 to $12,000 per night, meaning that Nihiwatu accomplishes its goal of being simultaneously affordable enough for most and exclusive enough for the truly elite.