I've stayed at the Como Shambhala Estate, Bali, which is located near the town of Ubud in Bali, twice now, spending four nights there on the first visit and three nights on the second.
With just a handful a rooms spread amid very spacious grounds, Como Shambhala is about as close to paradise on earth as most of us are ever going to get.
As I was being golf-carted from my bungalow to my lecture on holistic health on my first visit, an Irish woman sharing my cart asked if I would mind pinching her.
“I just want to make sure that I haven't died and gone to heaven,” she said.
“I was wondering the same thing,” I replied.
Atop a Bend in the River
Como Shambhala Estate, Bali, is situated atop a cliff in the bend of the River Ayung, whose raging waters provide a distant yet calming murmur in the background. As you breakfast in the morning, you can occasionally hear the excited screams of river rafters negotiating the rapids hundreds of feet below.
It doesn't get much better than this.
All of the rooms and suites have one bedroom except for the Royal Suite, which has two. They are clustered into five compounds, each with a different theme. These share a common swimming pool, an outdoor covered living space, and other facilities, such as an office with sofas and a computer.
There are two food and beverage outlets, and they serve cuisine that is innovative, healthy, and delicious. In addition to the nutritious food, there are various activities and facilities to promote holistic health, ranging from the physical to the emotional to the spiritual.
Facilities include a pilates studio, a spa, a yoga pavilion, tennis courts, a lap pool, treatment rooms, and a hydrotherapy pool.
This is a destination resort where you could easily lose track of time. You can go mountain biking, meditate, take a walk through the rice paddies, attend lectures, read – the list goes on.
Because of the way the units are clustered into compounds, each with a separate entrance and common facilities, Como Shambhala would make an excellent choice for corporate getaways or large family reunions.
The open air yoga and pilates pavilions are a delight, and the teachers are excellent. It rained most of the time I was there, and listening to the raindrops falling upon vegetation outside during sessions added to the sense of relaxation.
The fitness centre, however, is a bit of a disappointment as its a bit drab and dank, and it doesn't have much equipment. It seems almost an afterthought, which is surprising given the property's commitment to holistic health.
The somewhat isolated location is either a blessing or a curse, depending on what type of holiday you are after.
If it's solitude you're looking for, it couldn't be better. This is a place to relax, let your hair down, and forget your cares. There is certainly enough to do here to keep you busy without leaving the property.
If you plan on spending your time exploring Ubud, however, Uma Ubud, the resort's sister property, would be a better option.
A boutique hotel, it is located on the outskirts of town and within walking distance of restaurants and cafes, bars and pubs, day spas and musuems, bookstores and boutiques.
Or do what I did on my first trip to Ubud: spend a few days at each! I liked both, but for different reasons.