From the waterlogged rice paddies to the countless infinity pools and ancient moss-covered, fern fringed stone archways, every photo taken during your stay at Como Shambhala Estate will look as if you’ve slapped an Instagram filter on it. We’re talking greens so saturated they look almost fake. Located 15 minutes’ drive from Ubud town, skirted by a village and Bali’s famous Ayung River, the setting is the star here. a close second is the staff, with Como hotel founder Christine Ong having assembled some of the world’s leading wellness experts to work here. My first appointment is with ayurvedic consultant/ naturopath/yogi Dr Prasanth, who intensely monitors my pulse to determine my dosha, then scrutinises what feels like every muscle in my body (marma diagnosis) to prescribe what he believes will be the most effective treatments. these turn out to be intense deep-tissue massages and colonics — which, I might add, are the most dignified I have ever experienced. (And “colonic” and “dignity” aren’t often used in the same sentence.) He emails the spa and kitchen my treatment plan, and we’re off …
Guests can choose from one of six programs: Ayurveda and Oriental Medicine are popular with those seeking dramatic changes or recovering from illness; while Cleanse, Be Active, Stress Management and Rejuvenation are generally favoured by the burnt-out workaholics in their thirties to fifties who flock here seeking serious R&R.
My personal assistant (a necessity, otherwise you’ll zonk out beside your infinity pool the entire stay) manages my timetable, which isn’t overly scheduled — something I appreciate as I’m simply exhausted and need downtime. My day starts with a long black (big tick for the fact caffeine isn’t contraband), followed by a 7.30am hourlong estate walk, which raises a serious sweat thanks to stairs, stairs and more stairs. (On other days, a two-hour trek around the rice fields is offered; expect to encounter temples, shrine after shrine, countless dogs, squealing pigs, flocks of ducks and locals manning their rice plots en route.) Breakfast is at Kudus House restaurant, which is of a seriously slick five-star standard, the menu’s focus being about energy and flavour rather than calorie counting. Being a creature of habit, I immediately become obsessed with the quinoa, pear and dried cranberry porridge with almond milk, and the avocado ‘toast’ made from almonds, sunflower- and flaxseeds. I’m still finding it hard to comprehend the fact that pancakes and waffles can be healthy, although my waitress tries to convince me.
The first serious exercise class of the day is at 9am, a flex-and roll session with US Pilates guru Amy Buck, followed 90 minutes later by a spell in Como’s heated hydrotherapy pool, where special jets pummel each muscle in your body to speed up toxin removal.
You might wander off to your villa’s private pool next. Or join one of the trainers down by one of the property’s waterfalls for a bout of rock climbing (amazing for arms and core). your call. If that’s not endorphin-pumping enough, mountain-bike tours and dawn treks up nearby Mount Batur can also be arranged, or enlist a personal trainer to put you through your paces at the property’s state-of-the-art gym.
Exertion needs to be rewarded, so make sure you lunch at Como’s Glow restaurant, which offers both raw (low-temperature culinary techniques such as dehydrating, soaking, sprouting and cold-pressed juicing are utilised) and cooked options. Sure, you could sign up for one of Como’s juice cleanses, but the flavours of the food and quality of the produce makes it seriously hard to resist. close your eyes, take a bite of the butternut pumpkin and macadamia ‘pizza’ with avocado, mango and basil, and you’ll convince yourself you’re eating the real fatty-boombalada version. Ingredients — rice, nuts, spices, fruits and vegetables — are sourced from local family farms and happily highlight the fact bad-quality produce can’t hide in salads.
While away the rest of the day in the spa, which has nine treatment rooms offering everything from massages to reflexology to acupuncture and facials. Forget glitz and glamour — the vibe here is understated luxury. Potted orchids, stone floors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and countless other Zen-ed out women like you, unashamedly wearing bathrobes, sipping cup after cup of Como’s delicious ginger tea. we’ll be back. – EK
A Retreat Pool Villa at Como Shambhala Estate. Below: Glow restaurant.