CALM ON IN... THE WATER’S FINE
Relaxing at two distinct como properties in Bali is as easy as a duck taking to water, says Mei Anne Foo
Water, in all of its forms, is undoubtedly therapeutic. Even when your body is unexpectedly breaking its surface with a loud, starfish-shaped splash. I’m learning how to surf. But before I catch the high-tide waves at Bali’s Echo Beach, I’m paddling a squishy, beginner-friendly surf board in an Olympic-sized lagoon-pool at como Uma Canggu, trying my best to stand and sail through the “rough” waters, stimulated by my instructor, CJ. After each push, I get up to assume a surfer’s stance – legs often wobbly, mind overthinking it. Yet, falling a few times actually helps. Being soaked surely invigorates the senses and the man-made ripples cheer me on to try again.
At t he end of t he hour-long lesson and a handful of successful attempts to get upright, CJ gives me a high five before it’s time to hang ten – not on a surf board, but on a swing bed at the hotel’s como Beach Club. The Surf Shack, which houses the hotel’s partner and renowned surfing company Tropicsurf, is to my left, where I left CJ and the squishy board, while up front is the glorious volcanic black sand of Echo Beach and the Indian Ocean, dotted with sunseekers and their happy pooches, plus pro surfers. One day, I imagine I’ll be able to truly hang ten like them. But for now, I’m content with just being a bum, swinging and sipping on a glass of Culture Shock smoothie – a shockingly good mix of strawberries, bananas, acai berries and plain yoghurt. It could very well be my lunch.
como Uma Canggu, which opened earlier this year, is not too far off from its older, bigger and successful sister, como Shambhala Estate. Born on the same island, they share the same genetics: that of a rejuvenation resort, with full-on wellness offerings. The concept extends to the food and drinks, resulting i n balanced, nutritious and sophisticated tastes – especially true of their juice blends, which were that close to making me stick to a liquid diet.
If you need the discipline and advise to better your health, como Shambhala Estate has a leg up on its sister
by virtue of having a pool of resident world-class experts in holistic health who will design programmes tailored to your length of stay and purpose – be it physical healing, stress management or fitness.
“Shambhala” means a place of peace in Sanskrit and como Shambhala Estate, the como group’s flagship property, definitely lives up to its name. A 20-minute drive from the bustling town centre of Ubud, the hideaway is set in a clearing that spans nearly 10ha, high above another soothing water feature: the Ayung river. Hiking in the jungle gorges surrounding the Estate affords wondrous views of the gushing stream, often carrying excited white-water rafters along with it by day. During the trek, you’ll also come across natural spring water pools perfect for chemical-free dips in the afternoon. The water theme continues in the resort, which has an outdoor hydrotherapy area with a mineralised vitality pool by the main treatment area, and too many infinity pools to count.
While many – including celebrity power couple Chrissy Teigen and John Legend – have been flocking to como Shambhala Estate for much-needed custom wellness retreats since its opening in 2005, it’s worth noting that como Uma Canggu, too, has its own piece of shambhala to offer: the como Shambhala Retreat, which has almost all the facilities and therapies the Estate has. Favourite signature treatments include the made-in-Bali Taksu Massage, which improves blood circulation and relieves tight muscles, and the como Shambhala Massage, which fuses Eastern wisdom with contemporary blends of massage oils to completely calm the mind while gently rejuvenating the body.
It helps that como Uma Canggu, located roughly 10km north of boisterous Kuta, has a relaxed, beach-town vibe, so even before you pop by its wellness centre for one (or more) of its relaxing treatments, the sea air, coupled with a few refreshing cocktails, would have already transported you to a place of peace.
Top: como Shambhala Estate is hidden away in a clearing set high above the riverAyung Right: como Uma Canggu’s como Shambhala Retreat offers treatmentsdesigned to nourish the mind as well as the body
The beachfront como Uma Canggu is the third and newest of the comogroup’s hotels in Bali