When I think of Bali, my mind conjures images of the intense sun, pristine beaches and an afternoon packed with adventures. But on a recent trip there, I caught a glimpse of its tranquil side at Como Shambhala Estate.
The 23-acre property situated in Ubud is surrounded by a dense forest, mountains and waterfalls. There are five residences named after the elements, with a total of 30 rooms. I was given the suite at Tita Erning (Sanskirt for clear water). According to regional director Simone Broekhaar, this very same room is a favourite with renowned fashion designer Donna Karan.
The abode is gorgeous with its own private waterfall, jacuzzi and a balcony overlooking rice fields. I could just curl up in bed forever—especially after an early morning flight—but my hungry belly won out and led me on a search for sustenance.
Contemporary restaurant, Glow, is helmed by executive chef Dewa Nyoman Putra Wijaya. The Como Shambhala cuisine is built on owner Christina Ong’s belief that healthy food should also be delicious. The menu is a dizzying array of energising fruit juices and blends alongside holistic recipes made with raw and cooked ingredients, many of which are dishes that have been featured in Ong’s cookbook, The Pleasures of Eating Well.
I began my meal with a refreshing mango, papaya and coconut drink, which instantly soothed me and gave me a burst of energy. A parade of raw dishes followed: Caesar salad with creamy cashew nut dressing, an avocado and nut cheese offering that surprised my palate, and a vegetarian "lasagne" made with strips of zucchini, basil, semi-dried tomatoes and pine nut cheese.
Later on, at a cooking class, Wijaya said that they mostly use organic and locally-sourced produce, both at Glow and at Kudus House, the other dining establishment on the property that serves authentic Indonesian cuisine.
My rejuvenation journey continued with the signature Como Shambhala, a calming and sleep-inducing massage thanks to the sweet scent of oils and the therapist’s gentle strokes. It was followed the next day by an early morning aqua therapy in the vitality pool, filled with mineral-rich water from the springs. It took a while to get used to water jets blasting my back, stomach and legs, but I soon got used to the pressure and sensations. Having loosened up, I was more ready than ever for a full estate tour.
The two-hour trek was definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it was made all worth while when I got a picturesque view of the lush greenery and the Ayung River, busy with river rafting-tourists.
My tour guide, Mudra, shared that guests could customise this experience with activities like an outdoor picnic or even a yoga or pilates session. I opted to take a dip in the rock pool filled with ice cold water from a spring called ‘The Source’, popularly revered for its healing properties. Fun fact: It's also the same water that Como Shambhala uses for its faucets, showers and swimming pools.
By the end of my short retreat, I felt happier, more lifted. When I shared this with Broekhaar, she smiled saying “Our ultimate goal is to encourage guests to make positive lifestyle changes even after their stay.”
Photos courtesy of Como Shambhala Estate