As if planning a trip wasn’t stressful enough you now need to figure out the logistics of how you’re going to make everything work. *There’s an app for that*. I’ve rounded up some of my… More
By now you know that the journey matters just as much as the destination itself. After a 36+ hour travel extravaganza I found myself at Travel + Leisure’s number one hotel in the world, Nihiwatu. Located on Sumba Island, Indonesia I was there with British Polo Day. And let me tell you, there is more than meets the eye here. It goes deeper than the treehouse bungalows, horseback riding on the beach at sunset, the delicious cuisine, and the spa safari. It’s about the people. Always, all about the people here. Spending time at Nihiwatu was simply amazing, there is no other way to describe it.
Sumba is an hour and a half to two-hour flight by way of Ngurah Rai International Airport with Garuda Indonesia. On the Edge of Wildness. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll deplane on the tarmac and immediately feel that hot Sumba heat. I wasn’t there yet though. I still had about an hour drive from the airport. The island is the size of Jamaica after all. Filled with bumps, twists and turns. The roads are winding, some paved and some dirt. But the views, they are magnificent and filled with the ocean, mountains and children running beside our vehicle through the villages. I nearly forgot about the plummeting drop offs beside me.
The remoteness of Nihiwatu, and Sumba in general, makes for an even greater experience. I really was on the Edge of Wildness.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the BPD team and a delicious fruit infused beverage, icy cold just the way I like it. We quickly made our way to our bungalow. Yep, that’s right our very own, standalone bungalow. I called Kanatar 1 home for a little less than a week and it did not disappoint. This one bedroom, two story villa is fully equipped with an open air living room, infinity pool and endless views of the lush gardens and Indian Ocean. Let the pictures do the talking:
I had to literally force myself to leave Kanatar. And after I finally ventured out I discovered so much. There are endless amounts of activities at Nihiwatu. As I mentioned previously the horseback riding, this is a must. Especially at sunset. If you’re the adventurous type I recommend surfing/surf lessons and Wanukaka & Blue. A waterfall so blue you’ll think you’re staring at a screensaver. It is a 45-minute drive and about a 90 minute hike into a valley. Unfortunately, while I was there the lagoon was dried up so we didn’t get to experience its beauty. I guess that means I have to go back! I did however get to experience Nihi Oka Spa. Arrive by car or by hike on the Spa Safari where you’ll walk through local villages and really get to experience the terrain of Sumba. All of the “rooms” have views of the ocean. At this point you should realize sea views are inescapable at Nihiwatu. Once you rest your head down on the massage table you’ll notice there is a mirror below reflecting the ocean. Choose to watch the waves crash or close your eyes and listen to them. Both are good options. Oh, go with the signature massage- you won’t regret it.
Also, when you’re planning a trip to Nihiwatu try to remember you will live in your swimsuit most of the time. Here is my go to bikini by L*Space. I love it because it’s reversible and super comfy! (Top, Bottom)
And what is a swimsuit collection without a one piece? Here I’m wearing one of my current favs from Orchid Boutique, the Dani Lanikai Monokini. It is Orchid Boutiques own swim label. What I like about this label is that there are so many different styles of swimwear from high waisted bottoms to cut out one pieces and your standard bikinis. This one piece has an open back and ties at the neck. Super flattering and I’m in LOVE with the bright color!
BRITISH POLO DAY
Never underestimate the international language that is Polo. Coming into British Polo Day never having watched a match previously, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But what I can tell you is that watching the vision unfold behind this event was pure magic. Seeing two countries come together, overcoming language barriers amongst people that otherwise would have never met was so humbling. In such a remote part of the world, getting to know the local culture whilst bringing a piece of familiarity from England and Indonesia. Everyone bonded over their appreciation of Polo. I never realized how impactful small things can be. Together we celebrated all things travel, Polo and philanthropy. In one day. Can you imagine what the world would be if we had more events like British Polo Day?
The Sumbanese people were so kind. We couldn’t necessarily communicate verbally but we did exchange smiles, laughs and an appreciation for the sport. We didn’t need words and that is something I’ve never experienced while traveling. It is usually the exact opposite. So thankful I was able to experience British Polo Day and I can’t thank the team enough for including me in such a fun and philanthropic event. Stay up to date with the upcoming events here, http://www.britishpoloday.com/events.
THE SUMBA FOUNDATION
This is a foundation that provides humanitarian aid to the Sumbanese people. Providing things like food, clean drinking water, education and protection against Malaria, a disease that is curable but Sumba has one of the highest occurrences of the disease in all of Asia. I am so lucky I had the chance to interact with the children and serve them lunch. We took so many selfies on Snapchat and exchanged so many laughs and smiles.
Some of these children only get one meal a week. Can you imagine? Only eating one meal in an entire week. It’s nearly impossible to get all of the nutrients needed. On top of that, these children lack clean drinking water daily and have to live in the intense heat of Indonesia. To say this was a humbling experience would be an understatement. It really makes you realize how little we need in this life. While yes there are necessities, many of which the Sumbanese lack, there are also all of those “extras” we could really live without. These children will never know how they’ve impacted my life and the way I travel. I am forever grateful for the Sumba Foundation. Learn more about how you can contribute to and empower the Sumbanese people at sumbafoundation.org
A huge thank you to Dave, Mark, Ed, James the Nihiwatu team, Arafin and everyone else that made our Nihiwatu and British Polo Day experience so special! I can’t wait until all of our paths cross again.
If you read my last post, you know that there are a few islands that make up Malta. For the first night in this country we stayed on Gozo (one of the islands). After a long day of exploring the island we took the ferry over to Malta where we were whisked away to Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa. From my experience, where you stay in a new destination is just as important as the destination itself. And this is no exception.
Centrally located in Malta, it’s the perfect hub for exploration. With the San Anton Gardens right across the street and the Presidents residential palace just moments away, you’ll want to venture beyond the wall (yes, that is a Game of Thrones reference) as soon as you check in. What I like most about the location of the Corinthia Palace Hotel and Spa is that it is just a short drive from cultural sites and villages like Mdina and Valletta. Malta is a country known for its deeply rooted history with archaeological treasures left behind from the Sicilians, Phoenicians, Romans, and the British so being centrally located is a must.
First things first, each room has its own balcony. Yes, you read that correctly: balcony. Depending on the room, you’ll either overlook the gardens, the pool area or the surrounding homes. There is no bad view in this place.
Let’s just say I’m very picky about my rooms when I travel. Anything too big isn’t comfortable and anything too small is too compact. I like to spread out, unpack a little bit, hang things up and situate myself for the next few days. It is important to have my belongings easily accessible just in case there are any tweaks in my schedule. Let me tell you, I had the perfect amount of space here.
The Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa is a foodie paradise. With four restaurants and one bar the choice is yours. You could opt for Asian fusion cuisine at Rickshaw or dine al fresco over Western cuisine at The Summer Kitchen. MY favorite you ask? The Villa Corinthia.
The Villa Corinthia is a dining experience all on its own located in the original villa that first made up the hotel, over a century old. Chef Stefan, executive chef, has prepared meals for the likes of Queen Elizabeth so you know you’re taken care of here. What to expect: cheese, bread, tomatoes, rabbit, freshly caught fish and delectable macarons and after dinner digestives. With Malta being an island country, all of the vegetables, fish and meats are locally sourced and full of authentic flavor. Also worth noting: the British afternoon tea every Sunday. Don’t ask questions, just go.
Total relaxation is at the core of this hotel. The Athenaeum Spa is dedicated to a holistic approach to rejuvenation. With some of the top aesthetic physicians, cosmetic aestheticians and personal trainers on the island you’ll be in the best hands. One of the most interesting spa packages available is the Zodiac/Horoscope package. You can choose from a couple of different options picked specifically for your astrological sign depending on the element it falls under, Earth, Air, Fire, or Water. So cool, right?
With the Corinthia as your hub of exploration the opportunities are endless. When you’re done at the spa or sipping wine on the outdoor patio, here are a few of my must-sees while visiting.
Where the Mediterranean meets the sky. On a hazy day your eyes will play tricks on you and you’ll have to really fight to see the separation of the two. Located on the Western coast, the cliffs act as the highest point of the Maltese islands at 253 metres above sea-level. Tip: pack a lunch or some late afternoon snacks and wine and enjoy the view.
Dress: Hemant & Nandita
A mixture of medieval and baroque architecture, this was once the capital city of Malta. A rich history dating back some 4,000 years you can almost hear the whispers of people past. I loved navigating through the twists and turns that are the streets of Mdina. Be sure to pick up a souvenir or two, I recommend the Mdina glass.
Named the European Capital of Culture 2018, Valletta is the capital of Malta and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. A living, breathing, open air museum of Maltese culture. I found myself walking through the streets running my hands along the wall as I went. Every scratch, indent, nook and cranny of the walls was like touching a piece of history. Dotted with quaint cafes, wine bars and shops, this is a city with a little something for everyone.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better view of Malta, let’s just put it that way. With the Grand Harbour at the forefront and the Three Cities as its background the views are awe inspiring. These gardens date back to 1661 when it was the garden of the Italian Knights. It wasn’t until 1824 that the gardens were opened up to the public.
This is the set of the 1980 cult classic film, Popeye. Today it’s a tourist attraction where you can have a wedding, play mini golf, swim in the Mediterranean or just admire from above all in the same day.
THE MALTA EXPERIENCE
Whether you’re a traveler that likes to relax under the tree canopied pool or explore the UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered across the island (as highlighted above) or you’re a foodie that geeks out over perfectly crafted dishes, the Corinthia Palace Hotel and Spa is the place to be. With a knowledgeable staff that can speak eight different languages you’ll feel right at home on the Island of Sunshine and History. Give them some of your must-sees and they’ll steer you in the right direction whether they tell you to nix one location for another or provide a tip for the best time to be there.
The people of Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa made my first Maltese experience the experience so special. There is no other place I would rather call “home” while in Malta. I will be back!
The Sunny Side of Things was a welcomed guest of Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa, as always our opinions are our own.