Boracay, Philippines (March 2015)
To jumpstart the summer season, we took a trip down to the beautiful island of Boracay and chose Shangri-La as our home on the island. The whole trip was outstanding in every aspect.
Prior to this trip, the first and last time I went to Boracay was ten years back and choosing Shangri-La made our holiday absolutely fantastic. Given that the experience we had in Shangri-La was sheer perfection, I’ll do my best to share all my experiences from this year-round paradise.
Upon arriving in Caticlan airport, a representative from Shangri-La was there to welcome us with the biggest smile. He confirmed the name our reservation was under and immediately took our bags to make sure we were hassle-free. He even asked if we had any bags checked-in, so he could get them from the carousel for us. Since we decided not to check anything in, we were led straight to the Shangri-La HiAce, which took us to the exclusive Shangri-La Welcome Lounge by the port, called the Mabuhay Centre.
Again, we were greeted with the sweetest of smiles, together with welcome drinks, resort packages, and brochures for island activities. After less than half an hour, we rode the boat for about twenty minutes going to Shangri-La.
As soon as we caught a glimpse of the resort , we were stunned. Clear waters, blue skies, the manicured beach, beautiful architecture – all of it – completely took my breath away.
“Welcome to Paradise!”
the resort staff exclaimed, welcoming us to this heavenly place. We got on the golf cart and were driven to the main lobby; on the way, we had the chance to see part of this sprawling resort, which made us even more excited.
During check-in, I just filled a couple of forms and gave my credit card for the deposit, then we decided to explore more of the resort, since check-in wasn’t until at 12nn; it was around 9am at that time. While waiting for your room to be available, they keep all your bags, so you won’t have to lug them around prior to having your room. They’ll deliver it right to your doorstep once your room is available.
Free and Reliable Wi-Fi
Not only does the Shangri-La offer free Wi-Fi throughout the whole resort, but it’s incredibly reliable as well. And what impressed us the most was the fact that there was only one network no matter where you are in the whole resort, so you won’t have to worry about reconnecting to another network.
When we finally got to check into our 63sqm Deluxe Room, I took it upon myself to explore what the room had to offer:
- Spacious toilet & bath
- Complete toiletries (even down to a hair scrunchie)
- Flatscreen TV
- A well-stocked refrigerator (you’d have to pay for any items taken though)
- Terrace with a daybed
- A small living area with a couch and a study desk
- Iron and Ironing Board
- Closets with robes, bedroom slip-ons and beach slippers
- In-Room Security Safe
- A welcome fruit basket
- Bottled water (which they replenish daily)
And of course, one of the most comfortable hotel beds I’ve stayed in to date. In terms of the design of the room, I loved how though it had a touch of the modern design, they made it a point to capitalize on the room’s tropical feel with hardwood floor and native island decors.
Our room attendants John, RR and Joy were even lovely enough to leave us a note and a little surprise.
The resort houses four restaurants, namely: Vintana Cafe, Sirena, Rima, and Cielo. While Vintana Cafe is the resort’s main go-to serving both buffet and a la carte, Cielo is the poolside restaurant that gives you a view of Shangri-La’s exclusive beach. Sirena and Rima are the restaurants you’d take your special someone to; both offer spectacular views and the best ambience for small, intimate celebrations. Together with these four restaurants, the resort also has in-room dining. I’ll only be giving a quick recap of the dining services we tried.
Vintana Cafe: Your free daily buffet breakfast will definitely be one of the highlights of your stay, as it is the king of all breakfast buffets. More on that in: Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa: Vintana Cafe.
In-Room Dining / Room Service: If you’re not up to dining in one of the four restaurants inside the resort, then you can opt for their 24/7 room service. Orders are served within a reasonable waiting time: 20 minutes, if I’m not mistaken; and service is, as always, impeccable. Food is up to snuff, with the same quality you’d get if you were dining in Vintana Cafe.
Sirena: Initially, we were planning to dine in Rima, but since we were craving for tapas and wine / cocktails instead of having a full-blown meal, we decided to go to Sirena instead; though you could also have those in Rima, the ambience of Sirena is a tad bit more relaxed than the former.
Sirena is actually known for its signature seafood dishes, which I’ve heard are fantastic, but instead of indulging in seafood, we had cold cuts with wine / cocktails. Their cocktails are fantastic, with to-share options. And might I say, that the service is top-notch. I specifically remember Nicholson, who ensured all our dining needs were met, including asking us if we wanted a particular song to be played (via the sound system) during the later hours of the night.
The best thing about dining in Sirena? This view. During the day, you can lounge around this area, since they don’t open till 6 in the evening.
The Resort and its Facilities
In Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa, one thing you’ll never run out of is things to do: from Chi – the resort’s Spa, complimentary daily activities (kayaking, Tai Chi, etc.), Adventure Zone for kids, and an Entertainment Center that serves refreshments (housing video and arcade games, billiards, table tennis, and karaoke rooms). They also offer island tours / water activities at a certain fee. Surely, guests of all ages will find something to do any time of day.
Our favorite was their Health Club with state-of-the-art gym equipment, group classes, a jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room; they offer complimentary drinks and provide work-out towels.
This sprawling resort is incredible. We were there during the peak season and apparently, the resort was fully-booked, but the place is so huge that not a lot of the guests are in one place at the same time.
Punta Bunga: Shangri-La’s Exclusive Beach
Though the sand is not as white / fine as White Beach’s, it’s the exclusivity of Punta Bunga that’ll leave you dreaming. The water is also pristine, definitely miles better than White Beach.
To add to that, you won’t have to worry about lugging around your own towel, as the resort is very generous with providing their guests with towels – be it poolside or by the beach. They’ll even set up the day beds with towels, so you won’t have to worry about being soaking wet after going for a swim.
Again, the service is top-notch, the resort’s crew will assist you from setting up your daybed to ensuring all your dining-by-the-beach/pool needs are provided for.
The view of the sunset / moonlight from Punta Bunga is just too dreamy for words.
This is Shangri-La’s other beach, though I was told it’s a shared beach with this other resort nearby. Since Punta Bunga was more accessible to us and it was more private, that’s where we were the whole time.
It’s right by the resort’s private dock though, so guests will surely see it upon arrival.
Pools, pool, and more pools
I cannot begin describe how beautiful, well-placed, and fantastic the pools are in this resort, so I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Even little pools were all around the resort (those you couldn’t swim in, of course) adding even more charm to this place.
Just as it is in every other hotel / resort, the service is what makes or breaks one stay, and the service in Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa not only made our stay, but wrapped it in gold paper, sprinkled it with diamonds, and topped it with a satin ribbon. To describe the service of this world-class resort as beyond impeccable is an understatement.
Checking-out of this resort is one of the smoothest ones I’ve experienced. All you have to do is have your bags picked-up upon leaving the room – they seem to be allergic to giving guests the burden of having to carry around their bags -and settle the bill at the check-out area.
The crew will carry your bags to the golf cart, which will drive you to the private dock, where the boat heading out of the island awaits. Resort crew will attend to you from carrying and checking-in your bags when you get to the airport to accompanying you to the exclusive room where Shangri-La guests can wait for their flight.
As we bid farewell to this island abode – Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa, we did so with heavy hearts.
This place is definitely paradise.