The Ayodya Resort Beach Hotel and Spa Bali opened in 1990 as a Hilton.
A few years later it was re-christened Ayodya, which was the name of an ancient Balinese kingdom. With architecture in the style of the Ramayana Dynasty, this is one of those hotels with an undeniable sense of place. There is no mistaking it for a hotel in Hawai'i or Phuket or the South of France.
The Ayodya is a sprawling low rise hotel set amid landscaped tropical gardens. There are six food and beverage outlets, from a sports bar to fine dining to Japanese to international.
The large free form swimming pool has basketballs and hoops. There is a sumptuous spa with a full menu of spa treatments. The 541 rooms and suites all have large balconies.
When you approach the Ayodya, you feel a bit like you are arriving at the ruins of an ancient temple that has been renovated. Is this really a five star resort?
We were housed in the Ayodya Palace, which is sort of like a resort within a resort. Like the executive floor in a business hotel, it has a lounge that was a bit like a private club. There was a yummy buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cocktails with appetizers.
But what set this lounge apart from any other that I have had access to was a private swimming pool and a private lawn overlooking the beach.
Many of beaches in Bali are not suitable for swimming. An exception is Nusa Dua, where the Ayodya is situated. A German couple that has been spending several months of the year there for more than 10 years now told me that they favoured this particular hotel because it had the best swimming beach in Bali.
Five star resorts are much of a muchness. They try to wow you with wow factor, but it's the details that really set them apart. So these are a few of the things at the Ayodya that impressed – or annoyed – me.
The balcony in our room was spacious – a bit like a small outdoor living room. If I ever build my own house, I want an alfresco space like this.
The toiletries were truly exceptional – assuming, of course, that you like cinnamon, which I do. The deep red bars of soap, the deep red shampoo, the deep red shower gel – all of them worked up a rich lather and smelled absolutely fantastic. I hate to admit it, but I was tempted to take a swig of the shampoo it smelled so good!
I've often tried the waffles at hotel breakfast buffets in Asia, and – after one bite – left them uneaten. Why waste calories on something that is both cold and mediocre?
The waffles at the Ayodya Palace were an exception. Each morning they had a different spin. One morning they came with a wonderful creamy sauce with hints of orange – wow! Another morning they looked like torn hotcakes with raisins.
If I have any criticisms, it's this. There was a two hour Happy Hour, and you were entitled to two cocktails within that two hour time frame.
I find rules like this a bit annoying. Some people don't want any. And some would like three.
Guests pay a premium to gain access to a club like this, and limiting the number of cocktails or glasses of wine that they can consume seems a bit petty.