Enjoy Asia’s most memorable spa experience on this remote island
Start by lacing up your walking shoes.
Words by Ute Junker
Originally published in Traveller
A spa session usually starts with you slipping your shoes off. Instead, as I get ready for Nihi’s Spa Safari, I’m lacing up my walking shoes. That’s because this particular spa experience starts with a 90-minute hike.
In most resorts, the spa is only a short walk away from the rooms. Not at Nihi. This isolated resort – the only luxury resort on the island of Sumba, an hour’s flight from Bali – is known for doing things differently, and has a swag of awards to prove it.
Among its left-field choices is the decision to locate its NihiOka spa on the coast, on the far side of the island. While guests can arrange a car transfer to the spa, the recommended option is to rise shortly after dawn and start with the cross-country hike.
I pack a small backpack with a few essentials to take with me but our guide frowns when he sees it. He suggests I keep my phone with me to take photographs. Everything else, he assures me, will be sent ahead and will be waiting when we arrive at the spa. He carries the drinking water; our job is just to walk.
The hike is easygoing. We stride over gentle rises, skirting rice fields and villages. Usually we would stop at one of the villages to meet locals. As we’re in the middle of a holy period, however, the villagers aren’t welcoming visitors. Instead, our guides entertain us with insights into the local culture and the area’s plants and wildlife. By the time we reach the far side of the island and head down the slope to the clifftop spa, the tropical heat is making itself felt.