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Fantasy Island: Nihiwatu

Indonesia’s Nihiwatu resort takes commitment to get to, but is nothing short of fantasy-fulfilling once there. 

Nihiwatu, a 28-villa property that accommodates a maximum of 80 guests and employs a staff of 280, is located on Sumba Island in Indonesia. It’s a commitment to travel there: You must first get to Bali, then board another plane for a 50-minute flight to Tambolaka airport—and then travel over land 90 minutes to reach the resort.

The draw—besides all the requisite aspects of a tropical island paradise—is a stay free from a preconceived agenda, but full of fantasy-fulfilling options. These include a private swim in a hidden waterfall in the middle of the island; unlimited massages at an outdoor “spa safari” following a morning hike with a guide who climbs trees to fetch coconuts; and riding a water buffalo into the ocean. There are opportunities to tour with the philanthropic organization Sumba Foundation and serve lunch to local schoolchildren. Want to see a movie? The staff will tie a sheet between two trees on the beach, project a fillm onto it, prop you up with pillows and blankets and serve you dinner. For chocolate lovers, there’s an on-site chocolate factory turning local cacao into chocolate bars.

Besides personalized activities, the idea at Nihiwatu is to totally immerse yourself in the local culture while retaining maximum creature comforts. Villas offer the full range of deluxe options—private pools, indoor-outdoor living rooms, tree houses and commanding views of ocean and sea. Billionaire owner Chris Burch’s villa, available to guests when he’s not there, includes a private waterfall with a hidden massage “cave” tucked into its base.

Starting rate: $650 per night
Contact: Lily Dahmayanti, director of sales, lily@nihi.com, 62.812.3929.0789, nihiwatu.com

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