Discovery Shores, Boracay, Philippines Part 3: Night Life

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Discovery Shores makes sure it has something special on weekend nights.  They remove most of the lounging beds to give the resort a feeling an openness at night. Warmly-lit, and music-filled, the resort’s entrance looks very inviting.IMG_2367

 

 

Facing the beach is an expansive bar.IMG_2372

Discovery Shores serves all sorts of bar chow, like croquettas……
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…….fried spring rolls…..
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……and lamb ribs.

DH and I took advantage of their happy hour offer: buy one, take one on margaritas! We had them frozen, since it was a very warm night.

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Discovery Shores also had a full, international buffet on the beachfront. Such a lavish spread!IMG_2499

And fancy dining tables! All on the beach, so you can eat here bare-footed.IMG_2501
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Roast beef on the beach!
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And paella! IMG_2503On top of all this, there was a really entertaining band that played 3 sets, so it was a great night under the stars, live music, cold drinks and never-ending food. 



Discovery Shores, Boracay, Philippines Part 2: The Room

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What’s a blog about a hotel without pictures of the room? Obviously the room is of great interest!

The room of Discovery Shores was tastefully done, yet not plush or overly luxurious. The bed was wonderful though. Firm, with beautiful sheets (I’m no expert, but it felt like high thread count) and fluffy down-filled pillows. So wonderful to crawl in after a tiring day on the beach.

Discovery Shores treated us to a complimentary foot spa when we arrived. That’s DH’s hairy leg, not mine, BTW.

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The requisite light reading on the beach. We asked to change rooms (our original room was too far from the beach), and I noticed a stack of books in the first room as well. Thankfully they were different titles. I actually picked one up (LA Times). Definitely light reading.IMG_2492

An ipod/iphone dock, to play your own music. However, with the new iPhone 5 using the new charger (and I assume, the next generation of iWhatevers will folllow suit), I suppose they’ll be changing this soon.

IMG_2491Discovery Shores gave us fruits or a native sweet every day. It was a nice way of sharing some local culture with the guests. I didn’t take a picture of the food though).
IMG_2490 And 3 jars of goodies greeted us on our first day, and were refilled every day. The empty one was filled with yummy oatmeal cookies, which I demolished.IMG_2489

Of course, the BATHROOM was very important to me, and here I must admit i was a little disappointed. It was a weird set-up: the toilet and shower inside the bathroom, while the sink was outside in the bedroom. Not something I expected from a world-class hotel. Plus the bathroom was quite spartan (no picture again…..all you’d see would be a tiled wall). The fixtures were nice though.

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And they do make cute towel animals (I mentioned their towel swan in the previous post).

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Here’s a picture of the rest of the room, though the day bed isn’t seen.IMG_2483

Discovery Shores, Boracay, Philippines Part 1

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For our 5th anniversary, DH planned a beach getaway to Boracay, a beautiful island less than an hour away from Manila. As I mentioned in a previous post, there are all levels of hotels in Boracay. We wanted one that was on the quiet side of the island, and one that would pamper us a bit. Discovery Shores was our choice.

Discovery Shores, Boracay, Philippines, was rated #1 Hotel Spa in Asia by Travel and Leisure (see here), one of the Top 5 in Travel and Leisure’s List of 500 Best Hotels in the World and ranked #6 in tripadvisor. And a lot of our friends have stayed there before, so we knew that it would be a great anniversary.

Discovery Shores took care us of the minute we landed in the airport. We were met by gracious and pleasant uniformed employees of the resort, who promptly helped us with our bags, and led us to an air-conditioned van to bring us to the waiting area of the boat (approximately 10 minute ride).

At the waiting area we were given bands to identify us as Discovery Shores guests, though it wasn’t really needed at this time as there weren’t too many people.

IMG_2311But retail is in the detail, so it was a nice branding touch.

We made our way to the boat. Now, 20 years ago the boat that took me to the island was a shaky, dinky, open outrigger. It felt adventurous and exciting, being exposed to the elements, chugging along the waters. 7 years ago it was a little more civilized, with a roof, large enough for more passengers, and LIFE VESTS. Today, Discovery Shores reassures their guests with safety and technology. 
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We were greeted by an attendant who passed out cool, wet towels, a bottle of cold water, and a pack of granola bars. All for a 7 minute ride to Boracay Island. This boat had a crew of about 4 people. Passengers totalled around 10.IMG_2315

Discovery Shores sits on a prime spot on White Beach, the best beach on Boracay. Actually, with such a great address, Discovery Shores can just offer mediocre facilities and services, and they will still be fully booked. Happily, the owners decided to put a world-class hotel and train their people with a “never-say-no” attitude.IMG_2412

The hotel was decorated for Christmas!
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The view from the cafe. This is where breakfast is served. Imagine having your omelet while gazing at this! BTW, there’s a full buffet breakfast every day. It’ll be hard to keep your bathing suit figure here.IMG_2323

It was great to see Discovery Shores take care of their beachfront. A crew of sweepers clean up the beach of any trash every morning, and comb through the sand to make sure no sharp objects (like broken glass or cigarette butts) remain as a potential hazard to bare-footed beach bunnies.
IMG_2322Our favorite spot every day. Gorgeous, isn’t it?IMG_2391

As I mentioned, pampering is Discovery Shores’ strong suit. Without us asking or even lifting a finger, attendants came over to our lounging beds and brought us a carafe of iced water. Ok, so MAYBE that might be a little expected. Serving water in a beach. Ho hum.

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Then a gracious lady attendant comes over with a bowl of cold Evian spray (or something similar), and offers to spritz our faces. Whoa!! Of course we accept! It was pretty hot by this time, and we were already quite greasy from all the suntan lotion. It felt great!
IMG_2423 Then to top it all off, there’s this guy that goes around offering to clean our sunglasses from all the greasy marks and sand. He’s equipped with a felt cloth and a glass cleaner. Amazing!

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Not pictured: there was another attendant who was going around with slices of chilled cucumbers and oranges for our eyes and cheeks. I felt like a salad. And another attendant that passed around various finger food like frozen grapes, chicken quesadillas, mini pizzas, corn dogs……

Talk about service beyond the call of duty. I even read in the papers that there was an incident where a lady lost her engagement ring on the beach. Urban legend has it that the staff combed through the sand, looking for it AND FOUND IT!!! Bravo, bravo Discovery Shores.

Of course, our own UNBELIEVABLE experience in Discovery Shores is how they move the sunbrella around the lounging beds, just so that we didn’t have to move as the sun moved. We never got burned, and was comfortably under the shade all the time, even as the sun went from east to west.

Discovery Shores also tries to personalize their services. For example, they found out that it was our anniversary, and decorated our room with a banner, rose petals, and towels formed into swans, and a chocolate cake! And we weren’t even honeymooners. My friends’ experience is that the staff actually put in their room framed PHOTOS of their family taken in previous stays in Discovery Shores. Wow.

Definitely a rave.

Island Getaway: Boracay, Philippines

IMG_2331I’ve been to countless of beaches, both local and abroad, famous and unknown, and Boracay has always been my benchmark. I love its dazzling, fine sand, so light that it never gets hot. This is no myth. You can go around barefoot without feeling any discomfort. The sea is so calm and clear: it’s like a giant swimming pool. Nature at its most beautiful, with creature comforts within reach. Bali, the French Riviera, Honolulu…all are more famous, but to me, they can’t hold a candle to Boracay.

To get to Boracay, you must take a domestic flight to either Katiklan or Kalibo. From there you take a local boat or a bangka for 30 minutes to Boracay. My advice to tourists is to land in Katiklan, as landing in Kalibo entails a 1 hour bus ride to get to the Katiklan.

I’ve been going to Boracay for about 20 years already, and was happy to see a modern airport! 20 years ago the Katiklan airport was a shed. Now look at it! IMG_2301With conveyor belts and everything! This was around December, which explains the Christmas tree.

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From the airport we were whisked to another comfortable waiting lounge to wait for the boat to take us to the island. This waiting lounge however, isn’t for everyone. It would depend on what hotel you’re staying. We were going to stay in Discovery Shores (next post).
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It was a gorgeous day!! This was the path to the beach of Katiklan, where we would board our boat.
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Sorry, no pictures of the dock in Boracay, but again, a big improvement from 7 years ago (when I last came here). 

As I said, Boracay’s sand is very fine and light-colored. It’s nice to see that the local government and the resorts take care to keep it that way by combing it every day to remove trash and debris.

IMG_2318White Beach is the famous part of Boracay. It’s a long stretch of this fine, light sand. Hotels are located on the beach, so make sure you ask for a room with a beach view. White Beach is divided into 3 stations (they are called stations because these were the stations where the boats used to dock. Now they all dock in 1 place, far from White Beach).

Station 1 is the best part of White Beach, in my opinion. It has the widest span of beach, and is the quietest part. Station 2 is where all the bars and restaurants (and yes, a STRIP MALL!!), so if you’re the type who wants to be on top of the action, stay here. Station 3 also has some bars and restaurants and is generally noisier than Station 1, but not as frenetic as Station 2.

Here are some shots of the beach in Station 1.This was around mid-morning, so there weren’t too many people walking around yet.
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This is an example of establishments around Station 2. Smaller, and very close together. You can imagine how noisy it gets when they’re fully occupied. Thankfully the local government put a height restriction on the buildings on White Beach, so we won’t be seeing the gargantuan hotels…..IMG_2346

7 years ago the beach was crawling with people selling local shell necklaces and sunglasses, while masseuses would go around offering to give massages for P150 (4USD at today’s rate). Today I didn’t see any of these. Instead I saw many hat vendors, such as the one below.

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Another difference is the presence of all these booths on the beach offering all sorts of water sports. They weren’t on the beach before, but a little at the back. They kind of ruin the beach for me.IMG_2339

Since it was December, some people took the holiday spirit to the beach!IMG_2345Boracay has really evolved. The first time I came here (around the 1990s) there weren’t too many choices of hotels or activities. It was really “just” an impossibly beautiful beach, and I just lazed away the day. Today it has really been developed to attract all kinds of tourists, with hotels of every level, and so many activities (and non-activities). IMG_2358

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