Yes, This is Boracay

July 20, 2017

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LOCATED off the northwest corner of Panay Island is an island, one of the 7,107 that the Philippines has (depending on whether it’s low tide or high, if you want to get very beauty pageanty about it), that many have been calling a stretch of  “heaven on earth” since the 2000s, this for the powdery white sand and crystal-clear azure waters that surround it, although inveterate nomads will insist it was already that—heaven—well before it became the tourism magnet it now is.

We are, of course, referring to Boracay in the province of Aklan, which in 2012 was named by Travel+Leisure Magazine as “the best island in the world”. It was an honor echoed by another esteemed international magazine, Conde Nast Travel, in 2014, with the publication returning to the well again calling it one of the “Top 10 Destinations to Watch in 2016”.

Needless to say, all that international attention, along with reams of local coverage, have spurred rapid development in Boracay, particularly the westward facing stretch of white sand popularly known as White Beach, where exists a melange of hotels and resorts, restaurants, bars, cafes, spas (massage salons really), retail outlets, tattoo parlors and then some. It’s an insane mix which, to be sure, has a legion of fans among the millions that pack Boracay annually, though there are critics who wax poetic about the unspoiled Boracay of the past as they complain about obvious lack of planning in the development of that strip.

We can’t hanker for that pristine Boracay of the past because the helter-skelter destination that exists today is all that we’ve known, which isn’t to say we’ve not been yearning for Boracay that’s all dressed and ready to party for local and foreign tourists, minus the schizophrenia and with its bucolic beauty intact.

As it turns out, we may not have to yearn anymore.

Leading real-estate developer Megaworld Corp., through its subsidiary Global-Estate Resorts Inc. (Geri), is leading the charge to bring to reality a Boracay that provides all the lovely creature comforts expected in the 21st century, as it develops a 150-hectare masterplanned integrated urban township in the north eastern part of the island—yes, far from the maddening hurly-burly of White Beach.

The township is called Boracay Newcoast, and development is ongoing at a steady clip. More important, the development of this part of the island has been designed so as not to impact the natural splendor of the island and its rich environment. The township will include a district of boutique hotels, a strip of shophouses, a cluster of condominiums (there are already two finished mid-rise towers, called Oceanway Residences), a residential village offering lots of up to 375 square meter, a pocket of hotels and a commercial/retail hub, plus the acclaimed Fairways & Bluewater Golf Course.

According to Boracay Newcoast Vice President for Sales and Marketing Jennifer Palmares-Fong, the township is being developed to ensure not only the commercial viability of the various property offerings (“It’s only here that you can finally own a piece of Boracay with your own title,” she says), but also the sustainability of the environment. “We have partnered with the local government to realize our efforts toward sustainable development,” Palmares-Fong said.

“We have put in place our own sewage treatment plant and our own siltation tanks; we use LED products for the lighting of our streets and our own commercial properties; and we have designed the entire property so that all electrical lines are underground, which not only helps in providing guests and residents an unobstructed view, but also ensures their safety during natural incidents, such as storms and typhoons.”

The centerpiece of the Boracay Newcoast development is Savoy Hotel, the latest hotel brand of Geri/Megaworld that sits rights at the heart of the property. While it has no relation to The Savoy, the famed luxury hotel in central London, this Savoy is a four-star, 599-room affair that endeavors to provide the kind of coastal luxuries expected of such a destination. There are 173 deluxe queen rooms, 20 executive rooms, 19 corner deluxe twin rooms and 36 premium deluxe rooms. Moreover, there are eight rooms for persons with disabilities (PWDs) with a layout that is stripped of physical obstructions, making it easier for PWDs to go about their way. There’s also a grand ballroom that can be sectioned into three separate rooms, plus three conference rooms.

Hotel room inclusions and amenities include complimentary breakfast for two, wireless Internet access in room and public areas, use of recreational facilities (the gym and nonmotorized water sports activities), free shuttle service to D’Mall, tea and coffee-making facilities, huge LED TV, in-room personal safe, personal refrigerator and so on. Like the rest of the hotel, the rooms have a modern coastal aesthetic with pops of in-your-face colors, like aqua blue, magenta, chartreuse and purple.

The food and beverage options include the Vienne Lobby Lounge and Bar, which offers the expected bar fare, like tapas, plus refreshing nonalcoholic drinks, cocktails and whatever stronger spirit of your choosing. Have one of the hotel’s sinfully good mojitos, while whiling away the late afternoon in an egg-shaped pod suspended in the air—there are eight in all—and you’ll get into a tropical lesiurely groove soon enough. There’s also the Chambery Pool Bar for dining right smack in the middle of the hotel’s pavilion pool (there’s also a so-called party pool with a performance platform for events and whatnot). And then, there’s the Savoy Cafe, which offers scrumptious international delights.

According to Adie Gallares, the hotel’s general manager who has honed his hotelier skills in top hotels and resorts throughout the country, Savoy’s aesthetic offers something different, something new, “which is a quality that appeals to the robust market of millennials, although we also have a growing clientele of business individuals and families. And with Fairways being part of the property, we’re also getting golf aficionados.”

Hotel occupancy has been rising steadily since the hotel opened in April, and when we visited the property in late June, Savoy in the high 30s in percentage of hotel occupancy, according to Gallares. And, he added, this “without concerted effort toward marketing the hotel to foreign and local tourists. There will be a bigger push when the commercial/retail center at the foot of the hotel is finished, which should be in a few months.”

No doubt that will draw in more foot traffic when completed, the thought of which may cause a mild panic attack among those who have enjoyed this breathtaking, peaceful pocket of Boracay. Well, better to have masterplanned chaos than gaudy, garish insanity.

Source: Business Mirror

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