COMO Shambhala Estate - A Ritzy Staycation

Wild and wonderful with Bali's mystique staying power, celebrating the island’s rituals, serene landscape, cascading rice terraces and famed beaches is always surprising when travelling to exotic locations in Bali, as pictures do not do justice to the real thing and while most of the time you are cocooned in a secluded luxury hotel or resort, what if you had the opportunity to stay within an estate especially when you are on a ritzy staycation to charm your companion in a haven of tranquility. mylifestylenews writes.

Entering to the mystical forest within Ubud in Bali means surprises are aplenty and the  journey to get to COMO Shambhala Estate is all part of the element of astonishment, as you are not only enveloped in the enchanting embrace of the lifestyle that is truly exclusive and extraordinary, but you get to discover and further explore the alluring wellness lifestyle staycation.

Located in Begawan Village - a 15-minute drive from Ubud town centre - our arrival is totally unexpected, as you drive up the valley through the narrow streets and laneways through different local desa (small villages), your transport suddenly approaches the entrance and what unfolds is truly spectacular.

COMO Shambhala Estate is an award-winning wellness resort, but unlike so many others, this is a vast estate situated at the edge of the Ayung riverbank, with grounds featuring numerous state-of-the-art wellness facilities, as well as adventures within the estate for making the most of the outdoors.

A hidden sanctuary as such with a picture-postcard view immaculately well facilitated resort from a luxury lifestyle and wellness brand are trending again with a flurry of fashion-forward new properties vying for attention.

But let’s start at the beginning of our experience with the arrival pavillion, which sits at the apex of the estate. Naturally, it is open to the gentle breeze with a vast lush view of the entire compound and surroundings. Our host, Zara was rather engaging and waiting for our arrival. There is the ubiquitous scented cold towel and citrusy welcome drink which is always refreshing, but then we are shown the estate map and it seems that a night or two will not do us justice.

As we are going through the pleasantries, we gaze out at the reflecting ponds, great expanses of green lawn, lush landscaping and other pavillions that house restaurants, a spa, lookout vantage point to the valley and much more to discover.

With 21 rooms and suites, housed in five element-themed and shared residences as well as five Retreat Pool Villas and four one and three-bedroom tranquil Private Villas designed by Malaysian born architect Cheong Yew Kuan together with Japanese interior designer Koichiro Ikebuchi, together they have created this wellness estate with conspicuous respect for the environment and indigenous styles for building.

Serene pool deck

Their vision comprises of local stone, wood and traditional alang-alang roofing in sophisticated spaces that simplify contemporary aesthetic and thoroughly traditional.

Zara and her front of the house team ensured we were well rested while the check-in protocol processed fluently. The 23 acres estate of serene land is gigantic and you surely need an escorted direction to your room or villa before you are on your own, Zara escorted us with a short walk away down a vertiginous set of stairs to our upgraded Saundarya Shantivana (beautiful peaceful forest) two bedroom Private Pool Villa nestled on the side of a steep incline.

We were bowled over by how much space and privacy this encompassed and the serenity of the surrounding forest. At some 300sqm and sleeps 5-guests, you seriously could not need so much space for a party of two, but it certainly makes you want to completely switch off and just enjoy the sights and be as close to nature as you can.

You walk into a large partly roofed open wooden pool deck lounge area with an infinity private pool looking across the valley to the jungle with its own minibar and entertaining area. 

This segues into the king bedroom with a four-poster bed and minibar once more, with a very high-pitched ceiling, which in itself is already more than enough space decorated in authentic feel with a lavish aspect within a luxury resort.

From here you walk into a large open plan walk-in wardrobe and double vanity area that looks out to the pool and adjacent is a large sunken bath, toilet and shower that also doubles as a steam room. 

To explore further, you can then walk out the rare door of this bath area to another wooden deck with a secluded outdoor shower. Truly a haven to relax and embrace the nature!

The second ensuite bedroom that also serves as a guest room is a flight of stairs down below from the main entrance, so that also gives complete privacy. 

The design may not adorn with the chicest touch or new, but eleborated with the classic elements like solid dark timbers, mottled light brown stone floors in the bathrooms and dark wooden floorboards in the bedrooms. As always, the signature COMO wellness amenities that the brand is renown for are simply irresistible to indulge in such unrestrained luxury.

Despite there is another villa next door, you wouldn’t know another soul existed, as it was so quiet and with complete privacy. With the tropical glare and heat, the perfect materials to retire indoors to cool down the senses and chill further with a sundown swim in the private villa pool is rather special.

Soak up all the romantic and luxurious moments over the magic hours in a warm evening with glowing lanterns lit around the terrace in peace.

There was so much more to discover after we had settled in. The design and maturity of the estate means that everything is ‘large’: multiple pavillions, water features, lawns, coconut trees together with many vantage points to gaze at the scenery or find a quiet space in the outdoors to have some peaceful contemplation.

While the resort prides itself on its holistic concept and nurturing approach, the large estate is full of excitement and surprises, especially when it comes to nature, and exploring on foot is the best way to discover the facilities for guests to enjoy.

A blissful short walk back to the main building and across another building is the resort’s main spa and wellness center, which offers more than 20 Asian-inspired and Western holistic therapies.

The spacious large spa pavillion not only offers a great zen-like design space, it also has nine treatment rooms, four consultation rooms and an outdoor hydrotherapy pool adjacent to the resort main 25-meter swimming pool designed and inspired by the terraced rice fields positioned to afford views down the estate and across to the valley hills, as well as steam and sauna facilities.

Three of their outdoor treatment pavillions by the cliff foresty river are among the popular requests and the estate's own springs together with three natural spring water pools just above the River Ayung.

Speaking of wellness, the spa will not fail to look after your mind and body without having to consider their wellness programmes which are pretty extensive. From detoxification, stress and weight management, to skin revitalization and more bespoke programmes and curated mindful eating to embrace a healthy approach to nutritious food using organic and locally sourced produce without scarifying flavour or taste.

Let the resident experts guide you through their one-of-a-kind wellness programmes and activities to inspire and  to improve and sustain your wellbeing.

Other wellness facilities consist of yoga pavillions, pilates and yoga studio, an indoor gym, a jungle gym and a climbing wall. Shambhala translates “peace” in Sanskrit and alludes to the pursuit or balance. The essence of these approaches to holistic wellness, combining modern science with ancient practices, will feed your mind, body and soul.

Someone once said : “A good sleep is the ultimate luxury.” After a restful night sleep and before heading to breakfast, a morning estate walk is another highlight to explore the magnificent estate forest.

This sprawling estate has so many hidden paths, but the guided walk is the perfect way to understand the highs and lows of the estate, as it gives you a sense of the estate boundaries. 

The nearly two kilometre secluded, shielded bales of dotted long trails of stone pavers and steps around the hills of the estate create vantage points 
from which you can enjoy views of the gardens, river and local flora and fauna.

You may choose to mediate in one of the of pavillions by the riverbank with the sound of the nature to clear your overworked mind or dive into three of the waterfall natural “paradiso” spring pools to enter into a blissful state at the secluded water garden.

They say it is three hundred steps from the spring pools back up to the top, but is surprisingly an easy walk as you are stopping and starting all the time to admire the surroundings and takes place with a guide as you tend to go slowly to enjoy the scenery, so do not be put off by this declaration of the details.

Spring blessings over a little shrine in the foresty estate can also be organized to cleanse your spirit, with your heart open to embrace the unspoiled nature and it will talk back. Such a fresh start to the day even before breakfast just after the sun is up and this is an absolute must and simply breathtaking.

Breakfast served in the intimate 150-year old former Javanese residence Kudus House is definitely something to look forward to, as the food is absolutely spot on, whether you are partaking in traditional Indonesian favorites or something more Western.

From Indonesian Bakso, Nasi Goreng to Smoked Salmon and Eggs Benedict, it was a joy to behold, while soaking up the vista looking across the peaceful valley to the hills on the other side on a bright sunny morning, which is such a joy.

Glow is the contemporary styled all-day-dining venue that features the nourishing dishes of COMO Shambhala cuisine, with seemingly ancient stone steps leading you to more wonders of the estate and then you realize that you have to take things slowly to let the estate unfold its delights.

A not-to-be-missed gourmet picnic lunch at the water garden is rather special to enjoy on the banks of the Ayung River on the spring pool deck where the natural water spring flows into a waterfall that feeds three rock natural swimming pools and one is up to two metres deep, so you can have a bit of fun jumping in or just floating and looking up to the forest treetops. The water is so fresh and cool, which is the perfect way to cool down in the humid and hot weather.

The picnic setting is laid out on a low table at a time of your choosing and you just sit back and have a slow lunch, served in individual bites in a banana palm leaf, covering fruits, meat skewers, salad, spring rolls and other Indonesian delicacies. It was more than we expected with fabolous food and presentation that is not only alluring but deliciously prepared.

You will see and hear the screaming sound from the white water rafting groups float by intermittently and just enjoy the peace and quiet of the forest otherwise while soaking up the atmosphere on a covered day bed. As it was low season, we pretty much had this area to ourselves, which was another bonus which we chose to spend most of the afternoon there for a serene atmosphere that you will want to prolong.

After that, book a spa treatment to further indulge in this paradise on earth, with a signature 90-minute massage in the outdoor spa pavillion, which is another pampering pursuit take place on the upward journey back to the main part of the resort, but is not directly on the path. Once you arrive, you feel cocooned in your own private space away from everything and is part of the wellness journey that is totally unforgettable.

We were greeted warmly by our therapists and after changing, we walked into the covered outdoor ‘room’ and were presented once again with the magnificent forest view, everything was with direct contact with nature to embrace the sounds, the smells and the sights. Our treatment embodied the traditional Balinese techniques with long flowing strokes and the ability to sense every knotted muscle you have, so by the end of the massage you are in nirvana heaven, not wanting to move, nor wanting to leave this magical space. The therapists understand the wariness of your body and our bodies felt completely renewed.

The way to the Lost Paradise

An estate of this magnitude deserves more than just a night or two, as it is the prefect atmosphere in which to unwind, re-calibrate and be at one with nature. It sounds like an easy thing to do, but takes some effort to eschew the multi-media devices and obsession with keeping in touch with the bustling outside world while on holiday, because this is what COMO Shambala Estate is all about and trust us, once bitten with the wellness bug on this estate you will not look back.

The hospitality team embodies the philosophy of knowing how much information to impart while ensuring the guests are allowed to chill out and relax, so the less-is-more philosophy, which we love. If exercise and activities are your thing, then there is an abundance of choices, but if privacy and solitude is your goal during your stay, then you can completely switch off.

Our stay would not have been as memorable without the efforts of the hospitality given and there are too many to mention, but Zara, Mega and Dudik from the Front Office team are simply amazing and make our stay effortlessly restful.

While the estate is vast, it will never feel overcrowded, as all the accommodation is spread out and many guests choose the seclusion of their villas, as the amenities within are so fabulous and spacious, plus once outside the villas, every guest seemingly has a different space they want to partake in.

Travelling always ignites the senses and you find you come back with lots of different ideas from the one-of-a-kind experience. The experience must be sublime and memorable without being in any way pronounced or obvious. The “scene of the crime” - unspoiled nature wellness estate winds between the levels of the extension with a quiet quality of its own. Explore and navigate the new travel landscape in the soulful, sybaritic and secluded COMO Shambhala Estate, where you can then simply enjoy your wellness staycation the Balinese hygge way.

Tried & Tested:
Location: 5/5
Design & Decor: 4.5/5
Room Amenities: 4.5/5
Housekeeping: 4/5
Food & Beverages: 4.5/5
Service: 5/5
Value For Money: 4.5/5
Experience: 5/5
COMO Shambhala Estate
 Banjar Begawan, Desa Melinggih Kelod, 
Payangan, Gianyar,
Bali, Indonesia
Tel: +62 3619 7888
Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.

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