It has been quite a while since I’ve last been to the beach, but it may be fair to say that the weekend I spent at Shangri-la Boracay made up for it. Last May, I went to Boracay for an event with Real California Milk Philippines. While I already knew it was going to be fun, I hadn’t expected this little getaway to be exactly what I needed at the time. It was a blessedly relaxing escape that prevented a building burnout from settling in.
I haven’t mentioned it much on the blog, but I have been struggling to maintain my work-life balance lately. It was especially so during this time. It’s why I haven’t managed to post as much as I want to despite having so much to share.
This was my first time visiting Shangri-la’s Boracay property, and I have good reason to say it probably won’t be the last. I’m not writing this post as a review of Shangri-la Boracay though. It’s more like little snippets of my favorite (and not so favorite) things about my stay here, with a handful of my favorite pictures to go with them. Fair warning though: the pictures may make you crave for some Vitamin Sea. Not saying it’s because I’m such an amazing photographer, but I didn’t need to do much to make the view look good.
Gosh I could stare at this expanse of blue all day long.
I hadn’t gone to Shangri-la Boracay prepared with the plan to review it. I went there to eat cheese and chill! But as expected, I did take a bunch of photos, and it would be such a waste not to share the memories I’ve attached to them. In the process, I think I can give you a pretty good idea of what it’s like to stay here, if you haven’t. I suppose in that sense it can act as a sort of review too?
In any case, there were 6 major things that stuck to my mind about my stay at Shangri-la Boracay. Let’s dive into them:
1. The view was an amazing welcome.
The first thing that popped into my mind when I arrived to this gorgeous view was, ‘Thank God they fixed it before it got to the point of no return.‘ Remember when the government closed down Boracay to get all those sewage and pollution problems sorted out? A lot of people were disgruntled over it, but it was the right thing to do if it meant getting to keep these clear waters and white sands.
How does one look out at such a sight and not want to get to see it forever?
I spent a lot of time drinking in this view while I was here. Shangri-la Boracay has a private shuttle service and speedboat that will take you from the airport to the resort. While I appreciated this service thoroughly, the ride was hellish for my eyes. But one look at the view when you get to the resort is enough to brighten the spirits. The ethnic-clad, drum-wielding welcome committee adds to the effect.
2. The resort is like a maze, the room like a finish line.
It seems almost impossible for a first time visitor to Shangri-la Boracay to find their own way in this sprawling property. The rooms are located on one area of the resort, while the restaurants and the function rooms are on the opposite side. The lobby sits in the middle of it all.
The lobby is on the fourth floor, so wherever your room is, you have to get to the fourth floor to cross over to the restaurants and the function rooms. Some of the other function rooms are located at certain areas of the resort that are a short walk or buggy ride from the lobby. It’s fair to say you will do a fair amount of walking around here. I don’t mind the walking though. It helped burn all the calories from all the cheese I consumed over this weekend lol.
I had to find someone to escort me to my room, which at first had been a series of confusing elevator rides and turns. I managed to find myself a shortcut later on, after I did a little exploring. I loved my room though. Every time I went inside it was a challenge to go back out again. It feels especially spacious because I had it all to myself. Shangri-la Boracay is a luxury property so of course the rooms are nice, the bathroom is nice, and I even have a balcony to lounge in.
I wish I could say I had two good nights of sleep in this comfy bed, but the cicadas would wake me up in the middle of the night sometimes. They were so loud; as if they were inside the room with me. I had to cover my ears with a pillow to drown out the noise. I don’t know if it’s because my room was on the first floor, but my friend staying at the third floor said he heard no singing crickets and cicadas whilst he was inside his room. On the other hand, the thing I loved most about staying on the first floor was how close I was to the pool and the beachfront. You win some, you lose some.
3. There’s pleasure in simply lounging by the beach.
During a free afternoon where my friend and I decided to do photoshoots by the pool, the sun was scorching. But it’s a heat that makes you incredibly lazy. I went out of my room early and decided to hang out by the beach. In the middle of the afternoon, with the sun boring down, it was unsurprising that there weren’t many people at all. It was so incredibly peaceful I decided to take up a place with the least amount of sun (ha!) and just watch the glittering sea.
Being in a resort with a private beach is such a different experience. As a person who isn’t fond of crowded places, I would say this is exactly where I prefer to be. I can be alone with the sound of the waves and think about nothing at all. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
4. I lived for those quiet mornings at the infinity pool.
We stayed here for three days and two nights, and within those days, I made it a point to get in some exercise at the infinity pool everyday. I woke up at 6AM and walked from my room to the pool area with only the chirping of the birds in my ears. I had my swimsuit on underneath Shangri-la’s gigantic bathrobe, and my goggles waiting around my neck. All was still and quiet, and I was so completely alone walking the halls on those mornings it almost felt like I owned the place.
Nobody wakes up that early for a swim, it seems. (6AM is not so early, is it?) I did laps for almost an hour with only the lifeguards as company. One even kindly gave me some useful swimming pointers. Not that there was anyone for him to watch over or save. There was literally only me in that pool, swimming from one end to the other. I swam until my stomach started growling in hunger.
The pool gets a little more crowded towards the afternoon. The sun is incredibly hot any time from 11AM to 3PM, but apparently I am not the only one who thinks it is only right to take advantage of the pool and the beach while here. The afternoons aren’t as quiet as the mornings, but barring the occasional exaggeratedly whiny guest, I would still call it peaceful.
There is an area by the lap pool where the pool and the sea intersects, and I think it’s such an interesting place to watch the sunset. Granted, everywhere is a good place to watch the sunset over here, but the mirror-image on the pool makes me think of a mirage.
5. No other sunset is better than a sunset over waters.
When I first started photography, I took photos of sunsets so much one of my dad’s friends dubbed me as “the sunset lady”. What’s not to love about sunsets, especially when they happen by the water? Boracay gave me utterly dreamy ones to remember. One I got to see from Shangri-la Boracay’s private beachfront, the other I got to witness at White Beach. Oddly, they evoked very different feelings.
You don’t really get to witness these kinds of marvelous sunsets living in the city. Though the sunsets are still beautiful, buildings don’t give quite the same effect as a wide open sky and a wide open sea do.
6. After a feast for the eyes, it’s the tummy’s turn.
Vintana might just be one of my favorite Shangri-la breakfast spots. Breakfast at HEAT in EDSA Shangri-la is no longer impressive for me, but Vintana is actually pretty good. Eating here is twice more satisfying after a good swim. There is a wide but typical selection of dishes, ranging from Filipino to Chinese to Korean to Japanese. Their Indian roti, made to order, was delicious paired with any of the curries. But my favorite was the Cheese Bibingka. I loved how they placed melty cheese inside their fluffy and delicious bibingka base. I want to replicate it here at home.
There is a slight hiccup with my breakfasts here at Vintana though. On the first morning, when I ordered some brewed coffee, I had to ask four times and it never came. I didn’t have time to wait any longer because I had to go to a meeting. The next morning, I had to ask twice, but at least the coffee arrived. I’m not normally a snarky sort of customer, but it’s a bit ridiculous to have to ask so many times in a place of this caliber. If it had been some other more self-important person, I have no doubt there would’ve been a scene.
In any case, it would’ve been petty to allow a small thing like this to color my good mood. The breakfasts were still great because the food was good and the company was even better. More than that, this surprise trip truly did wonders for my soul. Considering how stressed I was at work and at home, it was a pocket of paradise. How could one ask for more?
Full disclosure: This post is not sponsored by Shangri-la Boracay. All opinions stated are my own.