COMO Shambhala (formerly Begawan Giri) is about 20 minutes from Ubud proper. Transfers are available and its rather removed position proves a bonus for its sense of tranquillity and plunging hill-terrace views. Stay in one of five huge residences with infinity-edge private pools (rent an individual suite or take the whole for a house party) or villas with names as appealing as House of Flowers or Bamboo Whispering.
Singapore-based Como Hotels took over the sloped 8ha property a few years ago but has retained the vision of the former owner, conservationist Bradley Gardner. New to the property is a superb health retreat with nine treatment rooms, hydrotherapy pool, yoga and Pilates studios; the resort holds regular residential yoga workshops and wellness retreats with guest instructors.
Como Shambhala’s Indonesian-style Kudis restaurant is superb; it’s set in a recreated village house and offers dishes as delectable as Irian Jaya mudcrab with sour fruit, tamarind and ginger. I can’t stress enough what an exquisite hideaway this is but such luxurious seclusion doesn’t come cheap (from $US495 or $554 a night plus 21 per cent taxes). A sister hotel, Uma Ubud, next to the Neka Museum in Ubud, offers a pared-down and budget-friendly experience that could be dubbed ‘‘ Como lite’’. From $US185 plus taxes. Susan Kurosawa www.comoshambhala.bz www.theumaubud.com