Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

COMO Shambhala Estate

Indonesia

A place where Heaven meets Earth

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COMO Shambhala Estate

Location

Central Ubud, nestled deep within the forest

Travel Information

Fly into Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International. COMO Shambhala is only a 20 minute transfer from the airport.

Top Tips

COMO Shambhala offers different programs to allow you to experience its healing abilities and it's worth taking your time to go through all of them to find just what you need

5-Star X-Factors

COMO Shambhala programs

COMO Shambhala Estate

COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali is the COMO Group's flagship Wellness Retreat in their entire global collection. It is the world's first full-service residential health retreat. A place where Heaven meets Earth, where the beauty of all that we call natural has come together in perfect harmony: plants, water, color, sound, energy. An adventure not just for the body, but for the mind as well. True wellness is just that; a combination of mind, body and spiritual awakening, restoration and regeneration. It was a true privilege to have had the opportunity to be there.

My stay began with the General Manager, taking me from the COMO's stylish, hip and wonderfully located hotel in central Ubud, Uma Ubud, to the 'Estate', as they refer to it. I asked him what I should focus on during my stay, what aspect would he like me to reveal, and he replied simply, "You'll see".

Slightly confused, we arrived just as the sun came through a cloud and streamed rays down to my feet. I looked through the lobby's open frame and saw a picture of wonderment. "Oh my, it's beautiful here," I said to the GM, but he had disappeared, as swiftly as Peter at the Gates, he brought me to a slice of heaven and left me to simply see, for myself.

There are five residences on this 23-acre jungle covered riverbank, each themed around a different element - clear water, fire, windsong, forest in the mist, House of the Earth Son - and each containing separate suites that share a communal pool, library, dining pavilion. I saw all of them during my stay and would choose any of them. Totally gorgeous, you can't go wrong.

There are also a few separate villas, and I stayed in the most luxurious two-bedroom retreat villa at the top of the Estate, which is located at the top of a hill. It faces the jungle, as all the residences do, above the Ayung River, so instantly the feeling is that of being at one with your surroundings. I was eye level with the tops of the trees and therefore felt a part of the intoxicating jungle. Every dawn and dusk, little birds drank from my L-shaped pool whilst I lay watching from one of my many loungers. My deck was extensive, decorated with hand-made teak furniture, and seemingly spilled, like my infinity pool, into the jungle and the green rice fields beyond.

It was shortly after I arrived whilst swinging gently on the wooden swing over my pool, that Wijawa came to my room. He was my Personal Assistant, a service every client receives, and I must say it made all the difference. When I arrive somewhere, anywhere, it takes days to relax, let go and unwind. Most of us are over-programmed and that pace travels with us. But having a PA explain the programs to me in detail, what's on offer and create a schedule to maximize my stay at the retreat, was the quickest and most efficient way for this city-dweller to allow this place to do its magic. I didn't want to miss out, but I didn't want to over-schedule, and Wijawa was well trained to deal with people like me.

COMO Shambhala offers different programs to allow you to experience its healing abilities and it's worth taking your time to go through all of them to find just what you need.

There is the Bespoke Program which is tailor-made to fulfill specific client requirements including prescribed meal plans, wellness consultations from a nutritionist and/or an Ayurvedic doctor, massages and participation in the Estate's daily scheduled activities. These activities include Pilates, yoga, fitness training, Vitality pool sessions and outdoor pursuits and anyone can participate. There is also mountain bike riding with a guide or white water rafting.

The Cleansing Program is a powerful but safe detox allowing you to cleanse your body of toxins. Working on the premise that the lymphatic system, liver, bowels, kidney and skin must work optimally for effective natural detoxification, the consultants combine prescriptions for daily exercise, nutrition and elimination.

The Stress Management Program does just that. It takes a close look at how stress depletes mineral levels in the body causing mood swings, fatigue and disrupted sleep cycles. The consultants implement mind and body techniques based on the concepts of Yoga, Qi Gong and Tai Chi. They put together a plan comprising relaxing therapies, outdoor activities and wellbeing lectures and meditation. The focus is achieving a more balanced self.

The Get Fit Program is designed to get you in shape and enjoying a new sense of fitness and good health. A personal trainer will inspire your workouts and may introduce you to Yoga and Pilates, or go deeper into your existing practice, to help tone both the body and the mind. There are out-door as well as indoor training sessions, along with the lap pool and a vitality pool. A nutritionist will concentrate on giving you techniques and an understanding to your own habits and help you learn how to eat healthily.

The Rejuvenation Program combines the beneficial effects of beauty and spa treatments with the healthy eating and positive thinking to help you reclaim your youth. COMO Shambhala is at the forefront in using the latest techniques involving bespoke plant based extracts and methods of enhanced penetration to restore the skin's natural beauty. The nutritionist will provide solutions for weight, energy and skin and allergy problems as well as hormonal and digestive health issues.

Finally, there is the Ayurvedic Program, which is an ancient healing science for the body and mind. It treats the root cause of ailments by enhancing toxin catabolish and by balancing the five elements of body and mind to bring about a powerful sense of wellness. The resident Ayurvedic Doctor will recommend a holistic, all-natural treatment plan depending on the individual's Prakruti (constitution) and current state of being. The prescribed therapy plan could include a detox, body treatments, special diet, Yoga and meditation. To achieve lasting results, the Doctor will also recommend a follow-up program as well as education about preventative healthcare measures.

All programs include various treatments, training sessions, lessons, consultations, and depending on whether you sign up for a 3 night/5 night/7night stay, they will denote what is included. After reading through all the choices, I thought I could use all of them. Seriously, it all felt necessary. So I chose the 3-day bespoke program in the hopes that the consultants would discover what I really needed to focus on.

And they did. What sets this wellness retreat apart from most is the experienced staff of professionals on offer that combine their expertise to best tailor a wellness program for you. A nutritionist, Ayurvedic Doctor and a psychologist deal with the analysis, a fitness instructor, yoga and Pilates instructors and all the specialist therapists combine to fulfill your body's needs. If you looked at the Estate's advisory panel you'd find world-class experts in holistic health who all influence the running and detail of the programs' content. In the end, you feel well looked after and can trust the advice being given.

The programs, regardless of which you choose, are healing. Being on the Estate in itself is healing. There is a natural spring that runs through it and the water is considered holy. One of the most incredible things I did there was to wander around the Estate's grounds, hiking down the hill to the water's edge. On my way there, I passed the spot where much of the sacred water can be captured. Apparently locals in the village are allowed onto the Estate to collect some of the water, which is revered for its curative properties. Every shower, pool and glass of water in the Estate comes from this holy spring.

Before the grounds hit the river below, there are two swimming pools cut into the rocks, decks to sunbathe and bales to have treatments and Pilates sessions in. The sound of the river, the waterfall and all of nature's family croaking and singing at the same time, along with the shockingly wonderful humidity, all filled my every pore with tenderness and energy. Funnily enough, I got so lost in my emotions on my hike, I got lost. Clearly up is up and that is where I started, but getting there took me on a traversing trip I didn't expect. Just when I took my third breather and fourth wrong turn, Wijawa appeared out of nowhere. "Hello Ms. Jennifer" he said with a warm smile. "I found you. This way." Now, how did he know?? Another magical moment.

I tried a few very different treatments, one being a hydrotherapy pool session in their vitality pool. This was a small-ish warm pool with serious jets all over it. After spending the first part of my day alone, without seeing any other guests, I was then in a pool with 7 other people. Strange how the Estate can make you feel like you're on your own private grounds and then somehow there's a party of people, all of whom felt the same.

The jets are high powered and are used for lymphatic stimulation and drainage. It tickles, well at least I laughed a lot, but it's fantastic. From the top of your neck to the bottom of your feet, you move around the pool of jets and they massage all parts of your body. Loved it.

The other treatment was in the serenely decorated spa, where private rooms open out onto lush terraces housed with showers. The Ayurvedic doctor recommended me to have a hot oil treatment called Pizichili, where a warm herbalised oil continuously flows over my entire body and is combined with a soothing massage. The idea with the heat of the oil was to allow the body's pores to open and let the oil in, whilst getting rid of stress through the massage. It was incredible. I was then given an herbal scrub to shower off with to clear off the toxins left. Basically I was now lubed and clean as a whistle! The retreat has fantastically innovative therapies, mostly Asian-inspired, with a thrilling extensive menu that includes all the cutting edge advances in holistic healthcare. Days could be happily spent just here.

But then one gets hungry. There are two restaurants on the Estate: Glow and Kudus House. Both are architecturally beautiful and overlook the gardens that surround. Glow is more open, spacious and also has a raw menu and food is available all day. Kudus House stands in a 155 year old former Javanese residence and has a more traditional Indonesian menu, offering breakfast and dinner. All food at the Estate is organic, seasonal, fresh from local fields and completely delicious. It makes being a vegetarian really easy with choices like spicy young coconut noodle and vegetable salad with cashew nut dressing, but they equally have fish and meat dishes that are divine. I must say they make it very easy to have tasty, filling, inspiring meals and still be able to lose weight.

The idea here is to make changes to one's life, enhancing the balance and understanding of one's mind, body and spirit. A lasting approach, as it were, to Wellness, so that when you leave you can carry the techniques with you and let the experience you had inspire you. Whatever the program you choose, whatever your needs are to get you there, a stay at the Estate is worth every penny.

Jennifer Hamm
Jennifer Hamm