Fit for royalty

It’s just before dawn on the coastline of Nusa Dua, Bali. A fisherman in a conical straw hat is waist-high in the water, casting his net across the steel blue ocean gently swaying under the early morning grey light. A handful of hotel guests have gathered on the soft, dewy lawn and sands to catch the sunrise. There’s laughter, iPhones, zoom lenses and the odd selfie happening – but the scene is peaceful and inviting. Then, as if on cue, a lone kayaker cuts through the waters with consistent strokes of the paddle, crossing the outline of the rising sun and puffy, billowing clouds at just the right moment to form a striking silhouette against the orange hues emerging on the horizon. The only sounds now are the birds chirping and the soft shutters of cameras as the small crowd stands still in awe. Welcome to another beautiful day in Bali. 

I’m out the front of Ayodya Resort Bali where I’m staying as a guest at the Ayodya Palace – the exclusive “retreat within a resort” which provides guests with an intimate, club-style getaway. Built in the style of a traditional Balinese water palace, with its own entrance away from the larger, main resort that has 462 rooms, the Ayodya Palace has an exclusive and private feel. All guests in the 57 Ayodya Palace rooms and 22 suites have access to the Ayodya Palace guest lounge.

On arrival, the friendly staff escort me to my room, the Mandavi Suite on the ground floor. The first things I notice include the huge, four-poster bed; my own private plunge pool and terrace area; and the large tray of assorted chocolates and flowers awaiting me on the coffee table –  and not necessarily in that order. There’s just enough time for me to settle in and take a quick dip in the plunge pool and soak up the calming atmosphere on the teak deck chairs, before heading out to the complimentary afternoon tea in the Ayodya Palace Lounge.

The common lounge area overlooks the palace pool with a water fountain and timber pool coping, flanked by pretty, fragrant frangipani trees. The Palace Lounge is rather grand and stately, with an enormous and ornate ceiling. Guests have a choice of eating indoors or outdoors on the sandstone verandah overlooking the pool and the beach. Through a seemingly secret little garden gate, Ayodya Palace guests can shuffle a few brief footsteps out to the beach and their exclusive deck-chair area with sun-umbrellas which are positioned away from the main area of the resort.

Guests can be as involved with or as removed from the main resort area as they wish. It’s a short walk back to the main resort or a driver can transport you between the two main entrances. The Japanese restaurant  called Senji at the main resort, for example, is well worth making the short trip – with a teppanyaki plate and food made fresh before your eyes, it offers healthy, authentic and fresh cuisine in a theatrical setting.

It’s tempting to stay-put in my Mandavi Suite – with its comfy lounges, pillow menu, espresso machine, huge bathroom with double bath and a totally separate dressing room – but after the sunrise I head off for a brisk walk along the beachfront. Working up a sweat, I traverse across the soft, smooth grass to the gate that leads me back to my cool, and refreshing private plunge pool – with this suite allowing guests direct outdoor access without having to move throughout the main areas of the Palace.

The Nusa Dua area is a fairly pristine part of Bali, with a gated entrance and the Bali Collection shopping mall close by with several Indonesian and Western-brand boutiques and stores. But wander out through the gates and you can still get a taste of traditional Bali – with dusty street stalls offering all manner of trinkets and neck and shoulder massages. I don’t leave without buying some flowing, cotton dresses and some hand-carved little wooden statues.

Ayodya embodies the ancient Hindu love story of King Rami and his queen Sita who fought a war and lived in exile in order to return to Ayodya and rule with happiness, peace and prosperity. On leaving my Mandavi Suite, fit for a princess, and after a most attentive and peaceful stay connecting with nature and water, I leave here restored, refreshed and renewed by the positive, feel-good atmosphere that envelopes you in the modern-day kingdom of Ayodya.

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