With COMO Hotels and Resorts in the midst of its 25-year anniversary celebrations, ANTHIA CHNG checks in to one of the group’s renowned properties. This Bali resort offers a very welcome escape from city life.
The word Paradise is no overstatement in relation to COMO Shambhala Estate Bali, a private retreat located 15 minutes’ drive from Ubud. The secluded getaway is set in jungle-covered gardens above the Ayung River, so you’re literally surrounded by lush greenery.
The resort lobby greets you with pristine white walls and modern wooden furniture, a design theme that continues throughout the property. Attention to detail is definitely not lacking here; you’ll be offered a refreshing wet towel on many occasions, such as on arrival and before meals. And you’ll get to know the signature COMO Shambhala scent, a calming blend of essential oils with an aroma that will never fail to put you at ease.
I stayed in a suite in one of the resort’s five residences, Wanakasa. The name means “forest in the mist” and is entirely appropriate; Wanakasa is set among trees and looks down on the river 100 metres below. Each residence comprises four or five suites, with spacious living areas, and a large infinity-like swimming pool offering more of that stunning scenery. While wood is a dominant feature in the room interiors, what really stole the show for me was the impressive marble bathtub right in the centre of my suite – I utilised it well, every night!
Service here is top-notch; every suite has a personal assistant who’ll make your stay that extra bit special. Mine was Dayu, a lovely local lady who was warm, friendly, professional, and fluent in English. She drove me back and forth between the residence and the reception whenever required, and each ride was a comfortable journey with friendly conversation.
Things to do
If you thought this charming oasis was only for passionate yogis, think again. During my short stay here I spotted a pair of newly-weds who seemed to be constantly out and about, cycling through the forest terrain with “just married” stickers plastered to the backs of their shirts – the cutest couple in biking attire I’ve ever seen!
Fitness junkies and novices alike will love the activities offered at COMO Shambhala Estate, including aqua-therapy (a must-try), hatha yoga, Pilates mat classes and meditation sessions. While some activities are chargeable for those not under a wellness programme, many others are complimentary for all guests. And if you’re gripped with wanderlust, you can (like the aforementioned sporty newly-weds) go cycling or try out the activities offered beyond the estate – that’s if you can bring yourself to leave your amazing residence!
Of course, no resort experience is complete without a spa session. Don’t leave without indulging in a COMO Shambhala Signature Massage, which felt like 60 minutes of heaven. My masseuse’s magical hands kneaded away those tight knots in an ultra-smooth and connected fashion, leaving me feeling refreshed and recharged.
Food-wise, this wellness resort offers a mix of the healthful and the naughty. For those on one of the wellness programmes, most meals are held at the contemporary, open-sided dining venue, Glow. The menu features nutritious, flavourful cuisine such as light salads and energising juices, and most of it is raw. Who said healthy food couldn’t be delicious?
If you prefer something with local flair, dine at Kudus House, an intimate Indonesian restaurant occupying a picturesque, 150-year-old former Javanese residence. I recommend having breakfast here – you’ll be treated to a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the forest!
Who is it for?
Perfect for honeymooners, solo travellers, yoga enthusiasts and anyone who wishes to get their health back on track. There are specific fitness and detox programmes, and the in-house doctors and specialists can tailor these to suit your needs. You can also go as an independent guest without signing up for a programme.
How do I get there?
The flight from Changi to Denpasar takes around three hours and it’s a 90-minute drive to the estate. A COMO transfer costs US$75 one way, but you can easily catch a cab right outside the airport to go straight to the hotel.
For more information or to book a stay, visit comohotels.com.
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