Como Shambhala in Ubud, Bali (Awesome hardware, software still in beta)
Awesome hardware, software still in beta
We'd been to Como many a time for treatments but never to stay. We decided on a one night visit as we were curious about the resort. The facilities and location are some of the most beautiful we have seen anywhere in the world. Spectacular is an understatement. When during our last treatment we found out about the massage pavillions in the jungle overlooking the Agung river, and the spring pools, hidden away in the trees, and so sublimely private and gorgoues, we were sold. We booked an entry level room and were upgraded to a Terrace Suite (the next category up). These are located in 'residences' with four rooms that share a large open-plan living space and a beautiful infinity pool. The 'rooms' (really half-villas) are splendidly beautiful and the treetop views breath-taking. At $350++ per night this to us represented very good value.
Como is well-known as a wellness retreat and they do offer many activities and treatments, and have an in-house ayurvedic doctor, a nurse, a dietitian, and they offer very good quality healthy food. As such it is a destination in its own right. the quality of the treatments we have had here over the years has been consistently very good.
Our stay was less successful, however. There were two main reasons for this - the lack of (for want of a better description) a personal touch, and the many sloppy service lapses. Admittedly during a one night stay it is perhaps difficult to achieve the former, but considering we had been to the resort 7 times in 10 days for treatments, more could be expected.
The resort - to us - did not feel like a personal home. At Amandari (which - shock/horror - another guest at Como referred to as 'dated') we have always felt part of the family. The staff are mostly locals who have been with Aman for many year. The resort feels intimate and friendly. At Como this was not the case. It showed in rather clueless staff, and in many other, sometimes small ways. For example, there is no realy library like in Amans but there are books - these are kept behind locked doors. Really? You have to traipse to reception to request the book you want and - half an hour later - it is delivered to your room. Of course, after Aman, having to sign your bill for every meal, being constantly asked what room you are staying in and what your name is, is disappointing. The worst was having finished a delightful massage in the jungle pavillion, only to be given a computer printout to sign with the ginger tea immediately afterwards. And then to realise that Como has fewer rooms than Amandari for example...
There were also many service lapses.
All staff are friendly but many are clueless and don't even know the answers to basic questions. This applies in particular to the front desk staff. Well-intentioned, poorly executed. Each residence has a 'personal assistant', but ours (although very friendly) never answered his dedicated phone number. Instead we would invariably be connected to the front desk who would, also invariably, transfer our call to yet someone else. A number of minor mistakes were made: we had requested to join a class but on arrival were told it was full. Apparently our assistant had not organised the booking. We had booked a water massage only to find there was a class in the pool at the same time. The spa kindly allowed us to join the class for free but as there are only 2 group classes per week in the pool our booking should not have been made at the same time. Staff in the restaurant (in particular the Indonesian restaurant) were friendly but, shall we say, not exactly sophisticated in their service. When paying more for the food than in most upmarket central London restaurants the expectations are a bit higher. At one point we called room service and asked for 2 wine glasses and a bottle opener. After another call and 20 minutes the opener arrived but still no glasses. After dinner We asked for our left over drinks to be taken to our room but this did not happen. We organised a picnic by the river. The gentleman taking us there got lost and bascially did not know whewre the picnic bale was. Gate staff are very unfriendly to legitimate visitors - it is understandable that they wish to keep sightseers out but they need to find a way to do so in a polite and friendly manner.
A few other annoyances:
- Internet in the room was slow.
- I know it's Indonesia but GBP13 for a glass of Jacob's Creek, really? And a chocolate bar from the mnibar is about 9 pounds!
- There is no shuttle service to Ubud! If you want to go you have to hire a car at $36 for the return trip. This is ridiculous as it is only 15 minutes away. At least they should offer a few dropoff and pickup times throughout the day.
Our room, though gorgeous, was not perfect. When people in the room upstairs walked around we could hear this, and very loudly so.This woke me up at 07:00 when I wanted to sleep in. The layout of the room was awkward with no way to the outside bale than through the toilet. Sadly, as in almost every hotel, the lighting was poor. The telepone (not portable) sits behind the bed and can only be reached by crawling onto the mattress.
Having said all this, the resort is one of the most beautiful we have ever stayed in. It is spectacular and the wellness options are very good indeed. At $350++ we still consider this very good value, despite the flaws. We, however, will probably continue to visit for the treatments and stay elsewhere.