Adam's Review of Como Shambhala Estate
- 29 May 2013 29 May 2013
Como Shambhala Estate is a stunning world-class and extraordinary wellness resort located in the heart of Bali near Ubud that attracts well-known celebrities for its growing prestigious class and exclusivity, known throughout Bali as the best on the island. Its 9 hectares of land covers the most beautiful part of the jungle surrounded by terraced rice fields, lying on a gradient which heads down towards the sacred Ayung River.
Visually, Como Shambhala is the most impressive place I have ever been to. Its variation between modern and Balinese décor is clean and appealing. Located 1hr 30mins from Denpasar by car, the short transfer was interesting with a switch between the hustle of the city-life to the culturally rich drive through Ubud.
A view of the jungle from the spring water pools
The accommodation at Como Shambhala Estate is comprised of 5 different residences representing and themed around earth, fire, water, forest and wind, each consisting of Garden, Terrace and Como Suites. Each residence has between 4 and 5 suites that share a pool and communal lounge areas. I stayed in one of the magnificent private villas that are separate from the residencies with its own private pool, and on my arrival I'm introduced to my Personal Assistant, Wiwiek, who helped unpack my luggage and settle me in. The villa was spectacular and spacious, with large sliding solid wooden doors, dimmable lights and a large four-poster king-size bed that emanated quality. Wiwiek presented me with my schedule for the week and I began my initial consultation with my programme coordinator, Mark, who shared his recommendations with my preferences in mind. For the whole stay Wiwiek ensured every day I was kept up-to-date with my programme schedule and I was happy and enjoying myself. There are different wellness programmes to choose from, and I selected the Fitness programme.
One of the best aspects of the Fitness programme is the choice of special guided challenges including hikes or mountain bike rides that take place outside the estate, making it a fitness holiday to remember. One of the hikes I chose was to Mount Abang, the third highest peak in Bali at 2,151m. After enduring the challenging 3 hour hike up and 2 hours back down, I felt amazing. The route up the mountain was seldom explored and I was accompanied with a Como Shambhala activities coordinator and a local guide who frequently climbed all the mountains in Bali, both were joyful and spirited making my journey a breeze! Along the way we paid respect to the Balinese tradition with offerings at three temples, and celebrated with some deserved breakfast at the top after an early morning start. Bali is a culturally rich country, where the majority of the population adhere to the Balinese Hinduism, and throughout the country I saw temples of all shapes and sizes.
The third-highest peak in Bali, Mt Abang, enjoying stunning views of Bali's most active volcano, Batur
There are two restaurants, Glow and Kudus, offering delicious and healthy international and Indonesian cuisine of the highest quality, part of the healthy living and lifestyle philosophy that's at the heart of the Estate. The juices and smoothies are of course freshly made and extremely healthy; carefully selected for taste and purpose, listing the health benefits of each one in the menu. If you have any kind of dietary requirements, the whole menu can be tailored and adjusted with comments that are guiding and informative. From the waiters to activity coordinators, all of the staff were welcoming and made a genuine effort to look after me.
It's hard to say which aspect was my favourite as there was so much to enjoy for its perfection in everything that it has to offer. However, nature is something that pervades equanimity in me, and the fresh spring pools down by the river with meandering stones through the lush green vegetation is so beautiful that I didn't want to leave (see a video of the spring pool area here). I seized the opportunity to enjoy a picnic at lunchtime and spent my time relaxing in the water and bale with the sound of nature all around.
The facilities are first class with multiple yoga studios, a Pilates studio, tennis court, hydrotherapy pool, lap swimming pool, steam, sauna and everything else you'd expect from a five-star property. The Pilates studio is the most beautiful, suspended on the steep cliff overlooking the Ayung River; I would only be able to dream of my local gym having a studio like it.
A morning walk through the grounds at the Como Shambhala Estate
The wellness programmes offer complete flexibility; my fitness programme included a number of spa treatments to soothe my tired muscles, after a physically active schedule. The spa too is incredible, having won many awards including Best Destination Spa by Condé Nast Traveller. I highly recommend the Taksu massage, a local Balinese invigorating massage designed to increase circulation and transference of energy between two people. After the treatment it was hard not to catch me smile the rest of the day!
The spa is made up of 9 immaculate and tranquil treatment rooms offering a range of local and international treatments whose therapists are trained to the highest standard. Attention to detail was superb, with the softest towels and a relaxing environment. For greater privacy and a touch of magic I recommend requesting one of the private treatment pavilions located towards the spring pools with their own outdoor shower and hot tub; a place where you could spend an entire afternoon pre and post treatment.
All my personal training sessions were held with Amy, the resident Pilates and PT instructor, in either the well-equipped indoor gym or the outdoor jungle gym. The jungle gym was brilliant; including wooden apparatus and outdoor TRX, it involved a training regime that was original and challenging. Watch a video of just one of the circuits I did here. Amy was enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable on the body, focusing on aspects that helped my postural alignment and on my weak areas where my tendons were tight. I really enjoyed my sessions with Amy - they were fun and effective.
Every day there were at least two or three complimentary group classes, from aqua therapy to Pilates and Tai Chi to circuit training. I thoroughly enjoyed the yoga and even more the rock climbing that was held down by the jungle gym. It was the first time I'd ever done rock climbing (see my rock climbing video here) and the experience and enthusiasm from Mark who instructed the class made it very exciting for me.
A daily estate walk is held to introduce the estate to everybody who's just arrived, something I highly recommend to get your bearings and be introduced to some of the history behind the Como Shambhala Estate, but also if you love an early morning walk! On the walk I began to appreciate the scale and grand nature of the property. I was keen to see some of the Balinese culture, and the local bike ride held during the week provided just that, with a glimpse of the local village and rice paddies. Here's a video I took during the hour ride.
The beautiful grounds at Como Shambhala
I was so impressed with Como Shambhala Estate. I knew from the architectural brilliance and visual appeal in the photos I'd seen that it looked magnificent, but real life put it into a new perspective of its own league that's held firmly as a memory I'll never forget. My experience of the fitness programme all the way down to the food and interactions with everybody made it a healthy holiday that opened up horizons and my expectations of a true wellness destination to enjoy.
If you're looking for a world-class destination spa surrounded by nature and the opportunity to be adventurous, then Bali and the Como Shambhala Estate is the place for you.
How to Book
To request a quote or for more information visit our Como Shambhala Estate page
Talk to one of our Travel Specialists on 0203 397 8891 or contact us here to discuss tailor-making your perfect wellness holiday.