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Como Shambala Estate at Begawan Giri, Ubud

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As close to Eden as it gets...

Posted on: November 25, 2008 at 10:58AM

By Guest

Begawan Giri is a magical place. Anyone who enjoys architecture, gardens and landscapes, peace and quiet, good food, and a nice spa will sincerely enjoy this place. Go there to forget about the rest of the world and take full advantage of the spa and the grounds. Having been to Bali and Ubud numerous times, Begawan Giri is my personal favorite with a delicate balance of luxury and local color. The place is generally broken up into groups of bungalows organized around private pools. Each set of bungalows is architecturally unique and delivers a subtle blend of modern design and traditional materials and craft. My personal favorite group of bungalows is Tirta Ening which has a water theme. We stayed in the COMO Shambhala Suite there which has a private water garden with outdoor shower and bath, pool, waterfall, and hot tub – it just does not get any better. I have also stayed in Tejasuara and Umabona and enjoyed those bungalows as well. The landscaping and gardens are spectacular. Be sure to walk down the steep hillside and discover what can be best called ‘Eden’ - a series of hidden pools, lush foliage, cabanas and terraces near the river. If you choose to lay out there or pause, don’t be surprised if someone comes to offer you a cool towel or a beverage. Past the pools, you can continue on the trail and wrap around the property. The complete circuit takes about 45 minutes or so. The food at Begawan Giri is very good, although a bit more variety would be appreciated if staying there for a week. That said, we organized dinner and lunches at other hotels and ate in Ubud form time to time. If you are a ‘foodie’, ask your butler to arrange a dinner at Mosaic (an upscale restaurant in Ubud). Service on the whole is exactly what you would expect from a property of this caliber and everyone is very kind and full of smiles. Compared with the other top hotels, Begawan Giri is my favorite. I would say that Amandari is truly wonderful, but felt a bit formal for my taste (great place for lunch or dinner). The Four Seasons at Sayan is formulaic and the architecture of the main building resembles a UFO that just landed. Without doubt, though, both Amandari and the Four Seasons are very nice and cater well to their guests. While the 'insider's take' suggests that you will be marooned once you arrive at Begawan Giri, I have few reactions to that notion: (i) being locked in a fabulous tropical paradise is hardly a problem, sit back and enjoy it, (ii) Ubud is only 20 minutes away and the drive through the country side gives you an outlook on local life, (iii) with 20 acres of spectacular property, a wonderful spa, and beautiful pools, you have plenty to keep you ‘busy’ relaxing. The separation between Begawan Giri and the outside is not a bad thing - it is precisely why you choose to go there. One downside to Begawan Giri might be the number of stairs, given that it is on a hillside. That said a golf cart is always on call to take you from your bungalow to the reception area.

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