Two incredible days at Sumba’s new Hotel SchoolDec 02, 2016
A visit to the island’s exciting new hotel school in November was a revelation
By Petty Elliott
A couple of days off from my chef’s duties at Nihiwatu gave me a chance to pay a visit to the students and staff of the new hotel school built and operated by the Sumba Hospitality Foundation. The school, in its first year of operation since opening in July 29, 2016, is a heartwarming and inspiring venture.
The intent of the school’s founder, Inge De Lathauwer, is to teach skills and provide careers in the hospitality sector for young people from underprivileged backgrounds across Sumba and in a remarkably short time this vision is already being realized – a credit to everyone involved.
In recent years improved flight services and infrastructure investment has helped to stimulate rising numbers of visitors to this beautiful, fragile island and its amazing animist culture. But Sumba needs investment and skills to ensure its people – about 700,000 of them – can participate in the benefits of economic development as tourism grows. Inge and supporters are intent on minimizing the environmental impact that development will bring and are leading by example.
The school is already self sufficient for electricity through solar power, is growing its own food organically, filtering drinking water and recycling wastewater to the organic farm with delicious results, despite the arid climate of north Sumba. The school buildings are true to the sustainability theme, built with specially treated bamboo in outstanding architectural design of Elora Hardy, founder of Ibuku. The complex of guest rooms, student and teacher accommodation, classrooms, dining and an impressive Sumba-style hotel reception are both aesthetically delightful and very effective in being energy and resource efficient.
I had the chance to meet the staff, led by Lauren Bruggemans, Thomas Lerch, Deputy Director of the Foundation and Italian Chef Alex who runs a wonderful modern kitchen, where we had much fun creating ideas for their menu.
The opportunity get to know and share with the 40 students working hard at the school was a pleasure and I look forward to keeping up to date with the astonishing progress they continue to make. Thanks to all students, to school operational and teaching staff and volunteers for making our stay such a wonderful experience.
The SHF Hotel School is in Desa Karuni, only 20 minutes from Tambaloka airport. Please visit and support this incredible venture that promises so much good for the island and its people. I will certainly be back!