It’s been some years since Christina Ong – the Singapore-based chief executive of COMO Resorts and all-around arbitrix of sleek-boutique exotic hotel style – put her talents to a new project. A groundswell of buzz in the Travelista firmament indicates that’s all about to change: in addition to the imminent opening of Uma Punakha in Bhutan, there are murmurings of new properties in Thailand and New York.
Meanwhile, the current task at hand: reviving the glamour factor at one of her flagship London properties, the Metropolitan (ww.como.bz, doubles from £260). The Met Bar, having undergone a total renovation, has now re-opened to the general public (in its previous life it was a members-only drinking establishment, and in its early noughties heyday quite the scene). By day a restaurant serving British classics, in the evening hours it reverts to dim, sexy lounge, plying expert cocktails and a select menu of vintage champagnes.
But the real news happens on October 16, when the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape debuts on the hotel’s second floor (right above Nobu, for those angling to righteously indulge after they smooth down and bliss out upstairs). The programmes combine Asian-inspired therapies and specialist consultants. The Escape will consist of six treatment rooms, and along with Como’s own Purify line there will be New York-based cult favourite Dr Perricone – making the Urban Escape the only spa in the UK to offer it. The space will be a no-nonsense, urban environment (white walls, oak floors, clean lines, simple materials) fortuitously linked to the hotel’s top-notch members’ gym and personal training studio – so it will be a destination for residents, it’s hoped, as well as hotel guests.