The in­ti­mate COMO Lux­ury Reso s have a new sib­ling in Uma Canggu

AugustMan (Malaysia) - - Con­tents - WORDS BY DAR­REN HO PHO­TOS BY COMO

COMO Uma Canggu in Bali is where healthy life-seek­ing Mil­len­ni­als would look to spend their hard-earned money

SIT­TING ON THE beach front of COMO Uma Canggu at 5am and watch­ing the stars drift across the night sky, I re­call the first time I vis­ited Bali, over a decade ago. Back then, at 5am, I was still hop­ping around the dance floor of Dou­ble Six, in­hal­ing cheap gin, stum­bling out wasted, and head­ing to the near­est cafe in search of some grub to soak up the al­co­hol.

Bali and I have come a long way since that time. Five years ago, Canggu was barely on the radar of tourists visit­ing Bali. I’d only been once for din­ner and drinks. Seminyak was where the ac­tion was. From Po­ta­to­head to the long-stand­ing La Luc­ci­ola, cu­rio shops and fine re­sorts like Sa­maya, it was where peo­ple ven­tured for a less crowded and wild night out. Kuta was for those con­sumed by party fever, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu were for the posh. Seminyak was hip.

Now, Seminyak is crowded. Healthy lifestyle-seek­ing Mil­len­ni­als look­ing to spend some of their hard-earned money go to Canggu where yoga teach­ers and quinoa-cen­tric din­ing abound. It’s young and so­phis­ti­cated, and 30-some­thing cou­ples and lum­ber­sex­u­als oc­cupy din­ing ta­bles at bou­tique res­tau­rants on ev­ery street.

It makes sense that the COMO ho­tel group came to Canggu, though it was a project that took longer than ex­pected. The orig­i­nal prop­erty was ac­quired some five years ago, and de­bate en­sued on whether it would be a COMO or HPL prop­erty (both are owned by the Ong fam­ily). When they set­tled on the for­mer, the next ques­tion was what sort of a prop­erty it would be.

The Evo­lu­tion­ary Tree

COMO con­stantly tries to adapt it­self to the au­di­ence of each prop­erty. This means each re­sort can be vastly dif­fer­ent from an­other. Maal­i­fushi is a wa­ter­front atoll ex­pe­ri­ence, Yamu and Co­coa Is­land and Shamb­hala Es­tate all of­fer wildly dif­fer­ent touches. Uma Canggu is the first spot where the brand has added a much larger vol­ume of rooms with a high value propo­si­tion com­pared with its sib­ling prop­er­ties.

When fully ready, it will host 119 rooms, a large num­ber of them con­fig­ured as one- and two-bed­room suites and 12 pent­houses that cost up­wards of USD1,500 per night. The reg­u­lar-sized ho­tel rooms are avail­able from USD215 a night. If played right (and we’re sure it will) Uma Canggu will serve as an en­try point for many look­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the COMO lifestyle. It’ll hook fu­ture re­peat clients who will ven­ture to its other spots for new dis­cov­er­ies.

The com­pany in­vited ar­chi­tect Koichiro Ike­buchi (he de­signed COMO Shamb­hala Es­tate) and Paola Navone (she did the in­te­ri­ors for COMO Yamu) back to re­fresh the brand, and they have.

COMO’s plat­forms are di­vided into the main brand, the ex­pe­ri­en­tial Uma line and the ur­banised, hip Metropoli­tan range. But Uma Canggu takes this a step fur­ther and more en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. We sus­pect this is in part the ac­tive in­volve­ment of Melissa Ong, the daugh­ter of Mrs Christina Ong (the founder of the brand). Not only does the space of­fer pub­lic ac­cess to COMO Shamb­hala’s leg­endary spa treat­ments, it also hosts a café of­fer­ing Shamb­hala food and bev­er­ages.

The beach­front prop­erty hosts a beach club, which dou­bles up as the ho­tel’s din­ing space and wel­comes walk-in guests. The food there is Moroc­can-in­spired, but with an Asian twist, and a lo­cal band called Manja per­forms there on week­ends. There’s a DJ as well for week­end af­ter­noon ses­sions, but don’t ex­pect the thumpin’ sets you might ex­pe­ri­ence at Po­ta­to­head Beach Club or Ku De Ta on Sun­days. It’s more re­laxed ‒ the fo­cus of the club re­mains its ser­vice, ex­pe­ri­ence, qual­ity of food and drink, and the seren­ity of a COMO prop­erty.

Defin­ing Canggu, COMO style

There are other ex­tras apart from the yoga, pi­lates and other health and fit­ness op­tions one gets at ev­ery COMO prop­erty. Tropic Surf, a part­ner of the brand at its Mal­dives prop­erty, is present here as well, given the pop­u­lar­ity of the sport and the qual­ity of breaks along the Echo Beach coast­line. CJ, who heads the Surf Shack, brings en­thu­si­asts out to the pool for be­gin­ner ses­sions, or


out to the sea to catch waves. Tropic Surf’s stan­dard is again leg­endary; guests are al­ready book­ing the prop­erty be­cause of Tropic Surf, and there are plans to form a deeper part­ner­ship with the Shamb­hala ser­vices. Surf in the morn­ing. Get back for

break­fast. Head on to the spa for re­cov­ery. Then hit the yoga or pi­lates classes to strengthen the core for the next surf ses­sion.

In an odd re­ver­sal, it’s al­most as if you could take the ho­tel side of the prop­erty out of the pic­ture and have the Beach Club, Shamb­hala Spa and Fit­ness, and the Surf Shack on their own as a co­he­sive prod­uct, and you could en­joy it on its own. But it wouldn’t be quite the same mi­nus the Uma Canggu ho­tel, with its three-bed­room, two­s­torey pent­houses fea­tur­ing in­fin­ity pools that over­look Echo Beach’s marvel­lous breaks. If you’re look­ing to dis­cover the Shamb­hala ex­pe­ri­ence for the first time, you couldn’t find a bet­ter place to do it.

Canggu’s Hid­den Trea­sures

Canggu is, in many ways, the Cal­i­for­nia of Bali. There are surfers ev­ery­where. And if you work there, you’re as likely to be the pro­pri­etor of a cof­fee shop or a Crossfit trainer, or pos­si­bly a fash­ion de­signer. It has this mix of hip­ster cool with­out the eye­rolling at­ti­tudes of Cal­i­for­nia’s finest.

Ok, I ad­mit, when I ven­tured out one night to bar hop and chat­ted with some ex­pa­tri­ates and tourists, I did have a few men­tal eye-roll mo­ments. But most peo­ple will be more than happy to point you the right way or give you some travel sug­ges­tions, and I spent an hour de­bat­ing with a fel­low trav­eller on the in­tel­li­gence of dol­phins and bees over ex­cel­lent cock­tails at the Ji Ter­race bar.

If you’re some­one who’s more se­date in travel pref­er­ences and less in­clined to­wards pump­ing mu­sic and other en­ter­tain­ment, The Slow takes things, well, slowly. The bar on the rooftop of­fers a bet­ter view while the bar on the street has a much more chummy ap­peal. But if you also need to get some work on in be­tween surf­ing and drink­ing, the Dojo is a co-work­ing space that of­fers high-speed con­nec­tiv­ity, all the mod­ern of­fice tech fa­cil­i­ties that one needs.

For fit­ness en­thu­si­asts, Bali Climb­ing is an out­door sport fa­cil­ity that of­fers boul­der train­ing, mon­key bars and other set­ups sim­i­lar to a Crossfit box. House party lovers should pop by Bot­tle Av­enue for a good se­lec­tion of al­co­hol-fu­elled op­tions, in­clud­ing lo­cal high qual­ity whiskies and arak, Bollinger cham­pagne and Ger­man beers. Oh, and did we for­get to men­tion the clear blue wa­ters? One thing we would rec­om­mend is to get a bike to get around, though you’ll want to watch out for pot­holes. But like ev­ery­thing else in Bali, the im­per­fec­tions are a small price to pay for some time in par­adise. AM

THIS PAGE CLOCK­WISE Paola Navone de­liv­ers pleas­ing in­te­ri­ors that in­vite you to re­lax; get on a bi­cy­cle to take in the sights at your own leisure; or get a guide to ven­ture out to ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture and cul­ture

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