After founding or cofounding several internationally known retail brands — C. Wonder and Tory Burch — and investing in several others, Chris Burch is taking his entrepreneurial eye to a new industry: hospitality.
Burch, together with hotelier James McBride, bought a beach hostel on the Indonesian island of Sumba in 2012. The duo spent $A39.21 million renovating the hostel, then reopened it as a five-star resort called Nihiwatu in 2015.
Nihiwatu was voted the best hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2016.
In an interview with Business Jet Traveller 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.”
“Nihiwatu has turned into more than I expected, which is rare because most times things turn into less.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Burch splits his time between Miami, the Hamptons, and his resort in Indonesia. Nihiwatu has 27 private villas, including Raja Mendaka, Chris Burch’s private home. That particular section has a main house and four additional villas, each with its own private plunge pool.
Nicknamed 'The Edge of Wilderness,' Nihiwatu is on the west coast of Sumba, a remote Indonesian island.
The name means 'mortar stone,' and the beach was originally named after a rock formation on the tide.
In 2012, Chris Burch and hotelier friend James McBride bought what was then a beach hostel owned by a couple from New Jersey.
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 organisation that funds projects to help the local community.
Raja Mendaka, Chris Burch's private home, is also available to guests. It has a main house and four additional villas.
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.
The wellness center offers daily group yoga sessions. Instructors can also hold private classes that are tailored to an individual's needs.
The beach has always been considered a surfer's paradise. According to Nihiwatu's website, 'Swells generated by the Southern Ocean storms travel thousands of kilometers across the Indian Ocean to meet our shores.'
The resort has a rule that no more than 10 surfers are allowed in the water at a time, and a surf slot costs $A164 per person in the high season. Surf lessons are also available and cost $A327 per person. The sessions are tailored to the amount of experience each person has.
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 $A229 per person.
A neighbouring bay called Coconut Grove offers guests a calmer place to learn how to surf. The resort transfers guests by Safari jeep or boat.
There are riding stables with a team of guides to take guests out on sunset beach horseback-riding trips. A resident horse whisperer also coaches guests how to connect with horses.
Prices for a one-bedroom villa start at $A980 a night during the low season. Burch's five-bedroom private estate costs around $A18,300 a night in the high season.
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