With a stunning design on a huge expanse of property, Shangri-La Boracay is an impressive, well-run luxury resort for your tropical island getaway on the most popular vacation island in the Philippines.
Until the Lind Hotel came along last year, the Shangri-La was miles above any and all of the competition on Boracay Island and attracted a high percentage of the high-end guests. It’s still more private and secluded than most, for guests looking to find an exclusive experience. The property sits on two of its own bays that are separated by mountains from the other beaches, so there are no vendors trying to sell you trinkets and there’s plenty of space to call your own.
If you don’t come on a charter flight, you’ll fly less than an hour from Manila to Caticlan and then get into the Shangri-la’s shuttle boat to come directly to the property.
Water is the clear theme at this resort, with fountains all over the property doing their best to bring down your stress level. They’re in the lobby, in the hallways, and at the pools, with spouts coming out of various sculpture’s mouths.
The complex of interlinking swimming pools is the real centerpiece, where guests lounge under the swaying palm trees while looking out at the aqua water. There are varying views and depths, with one infinity section overlooking one of the two beaches.
Seven restaurants and bars are scattered around the property, with a wide mix of cuisines to suit guests who often come here to unwind for a whole week. There’s a cocktail bar with the view you see at the top, a poolside bar, and a sedate one off the lobby. The breakfast buffet is an elaborate affair that caters to guests coming from all over the world, with dishes to please Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, U.S., and European guests.
Romantic Rima is perched high on a hillside, with breezes flowing through, and it looks out at the ocean as the sun is giving up its light. The seafood restaurant Sirena also has a view of the water from a closer vantage point, while Cielo focuses more on Italian dishes and is near the pool.
Is this Shangri-la resort kid-friendly? Well, that donut wall photo from the breakfast buffet is a good clue, but there’s also a full-fledged kids club on site. Staffers also arrange regular activities such as bracelet making, sandcastle making, and fish feeding.
There’s also plenty for teens and adults to do besides lounge around. There are tournaments for billiards and ping-pong, kayaks and a gym for self-directed exercise, or instructor-led classes in tai chi, zumba, dragonboat races, and more.
The spa Chi is one of the best in the country, with more than 5,700 square meters of space including its own sizable pool in the middle. It draws some of best-trained masseuses in the region and puts a stream of guests in a state of bliss. Cabanas are set up for couples’ massages, hydrotherapy, scrubs, and nail treatments.
Some of the 219 rooms at this resort are like conventional ones in the main buildings. Many others are individual villas with their own entrance and more space. None are ho-hum, however, and even the lowest category standards (“deluxe”) are spacious and filled with luxurious amenities. These don’t have a view, but have a spacious terrace, DVD player, a double vanity, separate rain shower and tub, robes, and a nice array of good toiletries. There are some nice local touches, such as accent lighting made of capiz shells.
The categories go up from there, with apartment-sized suites and villas that are like small island houses with vaulted ceilings. There are nine different versions of the villas, from “loft villas” that are one floor of a building with several to sprawling three-bedroom ones that are tropical mansions. Most of them have their own pool and garden area, plus a butler assigned to take care of your needs.
Every year the Shangri-la Boracay Resort & Spa wins a slew of new awards as one of the best hotels in Asia. Rates start at $350 outside of high season and go up well past $1,000 per night, but there’s a lot included in those rates and the service throughout is at a very high standard befitting one of the world’s most respected luxury hotel groups.