It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and try some exclusive activities that will change your outlook on life, build new skills and provide a wealth of precious memories. Carrier speaks to experts from COMO Hotels and Resorts to find out what the natural world has to offer. Words: Marianne Dick
While summer in Tuscany is splendid, autumn is when this Italian region really blooms. Quintessential Tuscan flavours are in their prime and an atmospheric mist rolls across the hilly, evergreen landscape. At COMO Castello Del Nero, a converted 12th-century castle, La Torre boasts a Michelin star; you can accompany a truffle hunter and, crucially, a truffle hunter dog in their search to unearth the rich and precious fungus before gorging on dishes abundant with some of the freshest ingredients you’re likely to ever taste.
“The perfect truffle season is the end of October and the whole of November, and the truffle in question is the prized white one. As both white and black truffles are amongst the most coveted food ingredients and are highly seasonal, they come with high demand and a high price which ranges from €2,500 to €3,500 per kilogram.”
One of the most serene aquatic activities, paddle boarding, is hardly a new phenomenon, however the topography of COMO’s private island resort in the Turks and Caicos, COMO Parrot Cay, means that guests can marvel at some wondrous wildlife. Embark on a private two-hour tour to catch a glimpse of turtles, rays, herons and pelicans, while navigating between leafy mangroves.
“Exploring the mangroves of North Caicos is like going on a water safari because of the wildlife you see while paddle boarding. Along the way, with one of the COMO property’s experienced guides, you will spot sealife, including small local fish and conch, as well as starfish. If lucky, you might also see some pink flamingos – none of which are endangered but are thriving in their natural surroundings.”
Indonesia, and Bali in particular, is in prime position to receive waves that roll in from storms deep in the Indian Ocean, making it a fantastic (and warm) surfing spot all year round. COMO Uma Canggu is perched on the southern shore and the area’s chilled out beach vibe can be felt throughout the hotel – think fresh, grilled seafood and tangy fruit cocktails. A ‘Surf and Stay’ experience here includes daily surf lessons and group activities such as yoga or pilates, plus one deep tissue massage per stay. This is one of the best ways – and locations – for surfing beginners, too.
“If you don’t try it, you’ll never know what you’re missing out on. Surfing is an amazing way to explore and experience the powers of nature, plus it can be a source for learning more about oneself. If all people would learn how to surf, the world would become an even happier place.”
At COMO Uma Ubud, a halcyon resort settled amongst lush paddy fields, a visit to a 1,000-year-old temple is made even more spiritual with the addition of a traditional water purification ceremony. Take four hours out of your day to submerge your body in the local healing waters. Water purification (locally known as “Melukat”), is a ritual process that uses holy water to achieve self-purification and the cleansing of both the body and the soul. This includes purifying the aura and karma from past lives, aligning and clearing the chakras, and removing disease.
“Usually, this ritual is performed on auspicious days such as Kajeng Kliwon, which is a point in the Balinese calendar that is believed to have magical powers, thus inspiring people to remove any negativity. It’s also a common practice when there is a full moon – called Purnama – or a new moon – Tilem.”
COMO Maalifushi is an idyllic private Maldivian island that is surrounded by the bubblegum blue waters and china white sands synonymous with this part of the world. While close to paradise, the area’s native whale sharks are now endangered. In light of this, COMO Maalifushi has teamed up with ECOCEAN: a not-for-profit research organisation that aims to conserve the whale shark population. You can choose to watch from a boat as these gentle giants feed, or jump in and snorkel in between them.
“Seeing whale sharks feeding under the boats in Thaa Atoll at night is an incredible experience. We hope our research will tell us more about their behaviour in Thaa Atoll, and ultimately contribute to global knowledge and conservation of the species.”