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Trip Report Some reflections on Como Shambhala

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Someone asked for comments on Como Shambhala. We spent three nights there in September. We stayed in the Tirta Ening / Clear Water residence in #2 which falls in the Terrace Room category. This room didn't actually have a terrace but it had access (downstairs) to a beautifully situated bale (pavilion). The drawback was that the shower was also downstairs. My husband didn't mind this and in fact found the shower extraordinary, but I found it exceedingly annoying. In this complex #1 or #3 appeared to be the best rooms. #4 was quite dark.

We looked at several of the other residences and would say in general that the rooms all have their quirks -- good points and weak points. After Tirta Ening we liked Wanakasa / Forest.

Sharing the residence public areas – pool, living/dining area, computer/library room -- with several other guests was less of an issue than I thought it would be. Three of the four rooms were occupied, but we rarely saw anyone. The resort attracts a quiet and sophisticated clientele.

I took advantage of several of the complimentary activities – yoga, palates, water therapy. I loved the yoga and will go back for more. All the facilities are set in beautiful surroundings and the instructors are quite good. I didn’t attend any of the talks or personal counseling. My husband used the gym every day.

I walked down to the sacred spring. Going down is fine, but climbing up involves a LOT of very demanding steps. The old spa is about half way down (there’s another, larger spa on the main level) and the path then continues down, down, down to the river where there are several naturalistic rock swimming pools. The resort doesn’t really encourage visits and I was rather dismayed that I wasn’t advised that one of the pools was under renovation. But it’s an astonishingly beautiful and scenic spot.

The new spa and main pool with water therapy is more clinical (dare I say Singaporean). It’s functional but certainly lacks the charm of the old Begawan Giri. The choice of treatments offered in the old spa is limited but the environment is heavenly.

Because the resort is quite spread out, getting from one place to another involves either an uphill/downhill slog or a ride in one of those silly little electric carts.

We had all our meals at the resort, some in the dining room of our suite, some in the restaurant. A word on the Living Cuisine developed by Diana von Cranach. We had just come from Puri Ganesha Villas which is owned by Diana von Cranach and is where she pioneered her raw food menu. At Puri Ganesha it was wonderful – fresh, enticing, well seasoned. At Como it was bland, cold and well, just raw. Something was definitely lost in the translation. After a few disasters – raw lasagna, don’t ask! – we learned that the kitchen will prepare anything, anyway your heart desires. Overall the food was good, the fish excellent. Everything was very pricy though.

A major caveat: When we made our reservation we were told that the road leading to Como was under repair and that we should be aware that we’d have to take an alternative route. What they didn’t tell us is that the “alternative route” was actually a very, very rough road that adds about an HOUR on to the travel time. Upon arrival we received what I thought was a cheeky note from the manager – whom we never actually saw – advising us that we shouldn’t attempt to use the road after dark. So once you’re there, you’re really captive. For us, this wasn’t a problem, since our objective was to take advantage of the resort’s facilities but if you’re thinking of combining a visit with some Ubud area sightseeing, you should wait until the road’s repaired.

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