Take a tour of the world’s best hotel, a 5-star resort built by fashion mogul Chris Burch on a remote Indonesian island

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You can stay in Chris Burch’s private house for $14,000 a night.
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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

Nihi Sumba Island (formerly known as Nihiwatu) was voted the best hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure for the second year in a row.

The luxury island resort in Indonesia even beat the Brando, Obama’s recent vacation spot.

Nihi was created by Chris Burch, best known for founding or cofounding several internationally known retail brands – C. Wonder and Tory Burch – and investing in several others.

Burch, together with hotelier James McBride, bought a beach hostel on the Indonesian island of Sumba in 2012. The duo spent $30 million renovating the hostel, then reopened it as a five-star resort in 2015.

In an interview with Business Jet Traveler in 2015, Burch said, “I bought it for my children and as a piece of something that I hope we can preserve and give back to the community. When you’re in a place where the palette is so beautiful, you can do things that you can’t do in other places: build a spa under a waterfall, go to places where no others have been, have a butler in every room.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Burch splits his time between Miami, the Hamptons, and his resort in Indonesia. Nihi has 27 private villas, including Raja Mendaka, Burch’s private home. That particular section has a main house and four additional villas, each with its own private plunge pool.


Nihi is on the west coast of Sumba, a remote Indonesian island.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

The name means “mortar stone,” and the beach was originally named after a rock formation on the tide.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

In 2012, Chris Burch and hotelier friend James McBride bought what was then a beach hostel owned by a couple from New Jersey.

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Chris Burch
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Matthew Eisman / Stringer


Burch and McBride redeveloped the land and opened it as Nihiwatu in 2015, though they have since changed its name to Nihi.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

It has become the largest local employer on the island. A portion of the hotel’s profits are also given to the Sumba Foundation, an organization that funds projects to help the local community.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

It has 27 private villas with plunge pools.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

Raja Mendaka, Chris Burch’s private home, is also available to guests. It has a main house and four additional villas.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

Its plunge pool has views over Nihi Beach and across the Indian Ocean.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

It also has a large indoor-outdoor entertaining area.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

There are two, two-story tree houses on the resort. Connected by a bamboo bridge, both villas have a bedroom, a bathroom, and a balcony. The main treehouse also has a living area and private infinity pool.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

Traditional Sumbanese antiques, local wood, and Ikat prints are featured throughout.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

There is a beach spa available, but treatments can also be done in your own room.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

The wellness center offers daily group yoga sessions. Instructors can also hold private classes that are tailored to an individual’s needs.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

The beach has always been considered a surfer’s paradise.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

The resort has a rule that no more than 10 surfers are allowed in the water at a time. Surf lessons are also available and cost $250 per person. The sessions are tailored to the amount of experience each person has.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

You can book excursions to nearby waterfalls through the resort. One trip includes a 90-minute trek to a blue lagoon where guests can jump off the rocks and swim. The trip costs $175 per person.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu


Guests can also travel by Safari jeep or boat to neighboring bays with less advanced surfing spots.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

There are riding stables with a team of guides to take guests out on sunrise and sunset horseback-riding trips along the beach, or up into the hills and past rice fields and the rain forest.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

Prices for a one-bedroom villa start at $750 a night during the low season. Burch’s five-bedroom private estate costs around $14,000 a night throughout the year.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu

Burch and his partner McBride are also looking to expand and build resorts in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. They want to create resorts that are more accessible to the millennial traveler.

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Courtesy of Nihiwatu