When you think luxury resort, images of Como Hotels & Resorts’ most iconic properties will probably come to mind. The brand’s newest retreat, Como Uma Canggu, recently opened on Bali’s southern coast. Grace Brewer checks in with beach-side bliss expectations.
Hotels use brands to manage guests’ expectations before they reach the check-in desk. We become familiar with brands – we know what we like and what we don’t and stay loyal accordingly. Comophiles might find the new Como Canggu retreat a dramatic departure from the Como norm.
Full disclosure, this was my first time staying in a Como resort, and my first time visiting Bali. Excited and eager, I arrived having done extensive research into the Como brand. With 14 properties including urban hotels like the Metropolitan in London and The Treasury in Perth, and wellness resorts and spa retreats like the flagship Como Shambhala Estate in Ubud, expectations were, as you can imagine, quite high.
With a late arrival, my first impressions were forged in the comfort of my hotel room, one of 34 one-bedroom residences, a spacious suite with a master bedroom and a living room that opens onto a large private balcony. The resort consists of 119 contemporary rooms and suites, across eight categories including studios, residences, and three-bedroom duplex penthouses featuring individual rooftop pools.
While my suite, with its fully-equipped kitchenette, five-fixture bathroom, and balcony overlooking the main swimming pool, was elegant and spacious, it was quite a contrast from the impressions I’d forged during my research. Many of those 119 rooms don’t have a balcony, let alone the outdoor shower and Instagrammable suspended day bed found in the 13 garden patio rooms and plastered across the web. In fact, the vast majority of rooms are far more stock standard than I would have expected from a brand at the forefront of luxury.
Clearly, Como Uma Canggu, which is located on a pristine strip of coast in one of the most popular emerging destinations on Bali, has been designed for a new demographic; think trendy, young millennials and families, rather than cashed-up holistic recluses.
This was especially evident at Como Beach Club, which sits just back from the beach, offering views of surfers tackling the waves of Echo Beach. The Beach Club has a rather misleading name; Bali is known for its ‘beach clubs’, which include the likes of Potato Head and Kudata. In essence, The Beach Club is less club and more all-day eatery. The resort’s sole restaurant (guests looking for a coffee or freshly squeezed juice can also go to the Glow Café) serves breakfast (a la carte and buffet), lunch, and dinner. Using locally-sourced ingredients from across the island, with a focus on ‘New World Cuisine’, the menu ranges from charcoal grilled meat and seafood to healthy Como Shambhala cuisine favourites, like the colourful Big Raw Salad.
Unlike the rooms and the dining, the resort’s seven-room spa is more in keeping with the Como ethos and offers a range of products and services, including the signature Como Shambhala full body massage. Each treatment uses the resort’s signature blended massage oil, which can also be found in oil burners, subtly releasing aromatherapy, around the property. Daily yoga and Pilates classes are available for hotel guests and the local community alike in three smart movement studios, nestled around the fully-equipped gym.
If, like me, you’re prone to cabin fever, Como Uma Canggu also provides cultural experiences as a cure. Along with tours to Tanah Lot Temple and excursions to Ubud, the resort’s partnership with luxury surf pioneers Tropicsurf attracts families and young children, with surf lessons taught in the main pool, while veteran surfers will be satisfied with the breaks found off Echo Beach.
Although this may not be the Como you expect, this new take on Bali may open up the brand to a whole new generation of travellers, giving those with a lower budget the chance to experience a slice of Como’s coveted hospitality.
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