Loosen all those tightness at COMO Shambhala.

Here is a reminder: It’s 2024 and there is absolutely no reason why a regular self-care day isn’t already a part of your routine. It’s so easy to get caught up in the constant chase for success that we sometimes forget that our bodies, minds and spirits need to be rejuvenated every so often. As much as we feel like well-oiled machines after years of stress-inducing hard work to get to where we are now, let’s face it: the stress never ends. Self-care is a necessity.

Much like how one’s idea of success is personal and varied, the choice of self-care is individual and multifarious. Getting my body pummelled and cracked into submission by a professional makes for the perfect therapy for me. It’s the reason I go for an osteopathy session almost monthly. It’s a way of preventing muscle injury from running, as well as loosening up the accumulated tension in my neck and back. I leave feeling like a new person after every session. My entire posture feels more open, and everything feels lighter. And such results are typically what I look for when trying out new massage experiences. Granted that osteopathy and massage therapies aren’t the same, there still ought to be a noticeable change in how one feels after going for either one. They aren’t effects you’d only be able to notice after multiple sessions; they are not facial treatments.

I have heard glowing reviews of the COMO Shambhala Signature Massage from several lifestyle editors who’ve tried it. And so when COMO Shambhala Singapore offered one as part of a tour of its new flagship, I jumped at the opportunity. Scheduled for the third day of 2024, sandwiched between a couple of nights of New Year’s Eve shenanigans and a two-week sojourn in Milan and Paris for Fashion Week Men’s, the timing couldn’t be better. Yeah, I definitely needed a good massage.

The new COMO Shambhala Singapore flagship is located on the fourth level of COMO Orchard, which is a self-care hub in itself, with Cédric Grolet’s Singapore outpost located on the ground floor, next to multi-label boutique Club 21, and COMO Cuisine on the second level. Stepping out of the elevators and into COMO Shambhala Singapore, however, one gets a sense of how it has been consciously and intently designed to be a wellness oasis despite being at the centre of one of the busiest spots in the city.

Wes Anderson immediately came to mind as I am greeted by tiles in a familiar shade of calming blue. The interiors were however designed by Milan-based designer and architect Paola Navone of OTTO Studio (she’s also behind the designs of other COMO projects), with the colour choice meant to reflect healing waters. The pastel hue is complemented by the use of greys and everything appears to be symmetrically aligned.

The pilates studio at COMO Shambhala Singapore. (COMO SHAMBHALA)
COMO Shambhala's well-equipped gym. (COMO SHAMBHALA)

COMO Shambhala Singapore takes up an entire floor, spanning 9,000 square feet, with 1,500 square feet dedicated to a well-equipped gym to the right of the lounge and retail space. I was ushered into a private room towards the left, a small flight of stairs up past the yoga and pilates studios. The facial and massage rooms are all located down this corridor, including rooms designed for couples to enjoy treatments together.

I was informed that Master Song, the lead therapist and trainer, has been with COMO Shambhala for about five years. Before that, he had been practising traditional Thai massage since the late ‘90s. I was assured I would be in the best hands. I settled facedown under the covers—the bed was very plush and comfortable—and Master Song got to work.

I have noticed that the kinds of massages that leave me in unexplored states of bliss tend to be the ones that are specifically targeted. Sure, the strength of pressure applied counts, but getting them applied to spots that would do nothing but inflict pain seems counterintuitive. That was certainly not the case with Master Song. I was asked if I had any specific areas that I would like to work on. “Neck, shoulders and legs, please,” I responded, enumerating the three areas I struggle with the most.

Master Song’s expertise came into play from the very first touch. He knew the right points to concentrate on—which is surprising given that this was our first session together—and had me melting into the bed within a minute. He checked in after a few minutes of me stifling any guttural moans (it was that good), asking if the pressure was sufficient. I could only muster out an “uh-huh” as he continued to work on my neck. It was at this point that I felt certain I astral projected out of my body for a good 30 seconds. I’m not even embarrassed to say that I might have teared up a bit at the release of tension in my neck.

Every move was precisely targeted. For someone who is used to hard-pressure massages (at my request) this felt even more satisfying because I left the session without any aching from over-exertion on unnecessary spots. I didn’t want the hour-long session to end.

A wellness oasis right along one of Singapore's busiest streets.

Given the level of expertise as well as the facilities—the changing rooms where the washrooms are located are immaculate—the COMO Shambhala Singapore experience is a luxury that’s reflected in its price point. A 60-minute COMO Shambhala Massage costs SGD220 and SGD330 for a 90-minute session. But if luxury is what you need and deserve to rejuvenate, there aren’t many out there that’ll be as life-changing as what you’ll experience at COMO Shambhala Singapore. Like I said, self-care is necessary.