Most people would probably know Uma by COMO in Paro, Bhutan because of the high-profile wedding of Hong Kong celebrities, Tony Leung and Carina Lau. The celebrity couple got married in this luxurious hotel in 2008. Since then, the rich and famous have been flocking to this gorgeous resort in Paro, Bhutan.
I’ve booked my tour with Amala Destinations, a Singapore-based tour agency that specialises in bespoke holiday experiences. And they were the ones who planned my Bhutan itinerary and all the magnificent accommodations for this entire trip. Without them, my stay in Bhutan wouldn’t be half as good and enjoyable.
The main building of Uma by COMO, Paro
Cart wheels in the property's compound
My driver had to drive past the woods covered with tall pine trees before we arrived at the main building of the hotel. The short drive from the gate to the main building was rather romantic. But I guess the feeling was a result of the environment and anticipation.
The beautiful scenery at Uma Paro
One thing that I noticed about the architecture of the hotels and resorts in Bhutan is that the exterior of the buildings tend to be rather understated. The architects prefer to let the buildings blend into the surroundings and let the interiors have all the attention. Likewise at Uma Paro, the main building is a simple whitewashed structure. However, when you step into the lobby, the interior speaks volume.
The elegant lobby of Uma by COMO, Paro
The resident dog at Uma Paro.
The lobby at Uma Paro has this quiet elegance. It is very beautiful and sophisticated. On the left of the lobby is the reception and gift shop, and on the right, there is a handsome portrait of the benevolent King, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
The check-in procedure was seamless because we had an efficient butler, Ms Yashoda. She was assigned to take care of our needs while we stayed in one of the exclusive villas within the hotel.
The lounge area next to the lobby
Most of the facilities are located within the main building. There is a reasonable size and well-equipped gym. Frankly, with all the hiking that I was doing, the gym was the last thing on my mind. Nevertheless, for the gym rats, they probably would like to torture themselves there. For me, I rather relax myself in the hotel’s steam room.
Th reasonably sized but well equipped gym
There is a medium-sized indoor lap pool at the basement and that is an excellent place to relax your aching body after a challenging hike up the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Unfortunately, it is not a heated pool and I found it a tad too cold for me to have a leisure swim. For those who prefer to have someone help released all the tension and pressure that have accumulated in your body, there is the signature COMO Shambhala Retreat. The two treatment rooms at Paro are slightly bigger than the ones at Punakha. Unlike the one at Punakha where only one of the rooms has a traditional Bhutanese hotstone bath, these two treatment rooms have their individual hotstone bath.
the pool at the basement... looks great but tad too cold for me
One of the luxurious treatment rooms at COMO Shambhala Resort
What amazes me is the huge yoga studio. From the size of the studio, you can be assured of the hotel’s commitment to wellness. Before we ended the tour around the gorgeous property and hopped on to a waiting buggy, Ms Yashoda showed us the petite courtyard in the centre of the main hotel building.
There are only nine exclusive villas within the compound of the property. But the hotel has another 20 rooms in the main building. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the villa. The villa is so humongous that it seems a bit too extravagant for my partner and I.
My lovely villa... Humongous Villa
First, there is a nice patio where we could sit and enjoy the breathtaking view of the Paro Valley. Even though there is a heater lamp outside, I found it too chilly to stay outside and of course, the temptation of the fireplace in the villa was too inviting.
The living room
The living room is huge. There is a seductive fireplace in the middle of the living room that separates lounge and dining areas. There is a well-equipped kitchenette at side of the living room, which I personally found no use for it since you have a butler at your call anytime of the day.
It seems that size does matter in the villa. Without having to say much, the bedroom is another spacious area with its own TV and lounge area. But wait till you see the bathroom, the size of the bathroom is bigger than most hotel rooms. The wardrobe is on one side while the sexy bathtub is on another side. There are his and hers vanity areas. The shower room and WC are located in the inner part of the bathroom.
The cosy bedroom
The huge and luxurious bathroom
Just when I thought I couldn’t be more surprised, guess what? The villa comes with its own massage treatment room! Hello, which other villa comes with attached treatment room? And mind you, the size of the treatment room is equivalent to any standard hotel room. There is aqueen-sized bed in the treatment room in addition to the massage bed. By the way, there’s also another fireplace here. By then, I was lost for words and I couldn’t think of any other synonyms to describe huge.
I'm ready for my massage... who can imagine having a treatment room in your own villa
The Bukhari restaurant is the main dining area within the property. Although the food was generally good, I found that it lacked the kind of intimacy which I got at Uma Punakha. Somehow, I felt that the food was rather mass produced and it was missing some affection. Maybe it’s because the hotel was experiencing high volume. But I guess the real reason is that I had such great experience at Uma Punakha that I couldn’t help comparing the other restaurants with it. Having said that, the service was excellent especially it was our lovable butler, Ms Yashoda, who was serving us.
Love this squid ink pasta... simply gorgeous
Ms Yashoda was always there to attend to our every need. And there were times my partner and I deliberately wanted her to have more rest instead at our becks and calls. For example, we departed the hotel for the Tiger’s Nest Monastery one early morning before the breakfast service even started. She actually prepared breakfast for us! Should we have not told her that we didn’t want anything too fanciful, I bet she would have prepared a full course breakfast for us.
don't you love the pretty dessert
The Uma Bar is just next to the Bukhari restaurant. The bar serves all-day dining menu that incorporates healthful COMO Shambhala cuisine. Since we were out most of the day, I don’t really know if guests visit the bar. For all I know, the bar is usually empty in the evenings and guests prefer to hang out in the restaurant.
If you’re keen to do some shopping, the gift shop sells a range of well-curated items made by the locals. It feels good when you buy something that you know that will benefits the local directly.
Although the villa is beautiful, I would have preferred to stay in one of the rooms in the main building during winter. This is because it would have been easier for me to access to the hotel facilities in the winter instead of having to walk from the villa to the building in the cold weather. Of course, there is always the option of getting our butler to come with a buggy but that is just not our style, troubling people.
Another lounge area within the property. Great for some me-time.
Uma Paro is another fantastic property. If I have the chance, I would definitely return in the summer and immerse myself in a totally different experience. And also, for those travelling in a 3s or 4s, the villa provides really good value since the treatment room can be doubled up as another bedroom. For a couple, my advice is that a regular room would be sufficient.
Uma by COMO Paro Bhutan
PO Box 222
Paro, The Kingdom of Bhutan
Tel + 975 8 271597