COMO Shambhala Retreat, COMO Cocoa Island

5 mins read

COMO Shambhala is not just an experience, it’s a journey. I have caught a glimpse of it on COMO Cocoa Island, at the COMO Shambhala Retreat which takes up half the land on the small resort. The area is also home to a steam room and specialised pool for hydrotherapy.  

I’m here for the COMO Shambhala Signature Massage, an hour-long indulgence for your body and soul. 

Earlier in the day, I met with the general manager Benjamin Kreuz who told me how central wellness was at COMO properties. Their wellness regimes, which spans days, consist not only of therapies and yoga but extends to nutrition, providing a holistic experience.  

“There are lots of guests who come here precisely for our ‘COMO Shambhala paths’,” he said. “These journeys are treatment blocks that lasts over several days. In these, we incorporate different treatments according to guest needs, based on consultation. The guests’ dietary regimes are personalised as well so they get a holistic wellness experience while here.” 

These journeys are the brainchildren of the COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali, Indonesia, where a centralised team of experts conceptualise next-gen spa experiences and train therapists. 

After some paperwork at the spa’s airy reception (which also houses a library) my Balinese therapist Tari guides me to one of its four cottages. All around us is silence, the spa is a sanctuary keeping distracting noises at bay. You’re here for one thing: wellbeing. Everything else has been filtered out.  

Inside, there’s some light music in the air, and the pleasant scent of some herbal concoction.  

My session begins with the bathing and scrubbing of the feet; Tari is gentle but her hands are knowledgeable; though young, she’s been in the industry for several years.  

The foot scrub is like an entrée before the main event. I’m given a whiff of the massaging oil, which is lavender based and pleasantly floral, ideal for the sense of calm that Tari wants to instil in me. I soon lie prone. Tari presses on my back, shoulders and feet before she starts the massage.  

It starts from my left and she works her way up from my feet to the top of my neck.  

There are moments of pure bliss as she rocks me back and forth; this is part of the special Shambhala ritual. There are also flashes of pain as Tari grinds her elbows along the side of my spine, releasing tension in knotted muscles. Stretching relieves the last of the stiffness.  The same process is then repeated on the right.  

When I flip over, my legs and arms receive a thorough workout that goes down to individual fingers and toes. It finally ends with a hot compress on my neck, chest and feet. It’s hard to believe that an hour has elapsed, time is fleeting when your body (and by extension, mind) are in the care of an expert. 

Though there are spots of soreness in my back, on the whole, I feel almost like I’ve been recast, reborn. It’s not just a body thing, my mind feels calmer, more alert. 

As I sip some delicious ginger tea in the library, I meet the spa manager Dianne April Dayagbil.  

“COMO Shambhala is not just about the body,” she tells me. “It’s also about the mind and soul. We’re in the business of connecting these three. So, we offer a range of activities and guides, to achieve balance. It’s not only massages and yoga. We offer our Shambhala cuisine because you are also what you eat. So, everything is connected.” 

I have had this question in the back of my mind that I wanted to ask her.  

“Shambhala means a place of bliss in Sanskrit,” she replies. A fitting name.