Shangri-La Tropical Island Resort Fantasy
04.04.2013 - 07.04.2013 35 °C
Here it is folks - the happy ending. As part of our wedding package we were offered a 3-night stay at any Shangri-La Hotel in the world. We chose the tropical island of Boracay in the Philippines famed for the massive island resort, pristine beaches and magical sunsets.
The welcome into the Shangri-La at Boracay is on another level. We are talking total shameless James Bond.
Minutes after our sea-plane from Manila touches the ground we are on a Shuttle Bus to the Caticlan Boat Jetty Port where we are met in the private Shangri-La Lounge. Long cool drinks and icy wet towels await us. Shortly after we are escorted onto a sleek white speedboat where a crew of 6 attend to our every need. Jetting over what is truly the clearest, cleanest water ever and trying to look as though we do this every day, we arrive at our destination.
As we approach the Borocay Boat Jetty Port, the silhouette of a cigarette slim blonde comes into view, her gold dress shimmers in the sun and her perfectly coiffed chignon ensures that not a hair is out of place. Our French/Russian host escorts us into the open air Lobby. If we thought it was James Bond film clip before, it’s the total movie experience now. Woop!!!
The Shangri-La Resort has its own corner of Boracay complete with private beaches – of course it does! Our Garden Suite is one of 219 villas, suites and tree-houses. Fresh white petals adorn the bed and the sunken bath in our sumptuous Honeymooners suite. A bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, chocolates and a platter of fresh mangoes and banana await us.
A short stroll through the tropical gardens to the maze of pools, spas and the infinity pool, we arrive at Banyugan Beach. The crystal clear water is framed by endless white sand. Wading out into the azure ocean, the sea bottom is perfectly manicured with award winning sand. There is no place for rocks, pebbles or anything else likely to spoil the guests experience at the Shangri-La. The air is indeed rarefied.
Come cocktail hour and we take front row seats for Boracay’s infamous Sunset Action. Everywhere you look there are stunning, gorgeous views of Boracay. It’s dizzying. Solana Bar is built into a cliff and designed to provide a sweeping view of Banyugan beach. We greedily guzzle bottomless glasses of Happy Hour Sangria before moving onto the beach side cabanas. Three glasses and we’re shimmying straight out of our sunset seat and into a sugar-coma-nap.
Desperate to revive ourselves, we swap the isolated experience of Tree Top dining for the buzz of the Open Air Seafood Grill Buffet. We savor the juiciest grilled seafood, mud crabs, giant prawns, black shell clams, whole fresh squid and tuna steaks in the lush outdoor atmosphere. “Try the Lobster!” says the chef as I approach for yet another serve of Tempura Wasabi Prawns. “Oh go on then!” I'm a sucker for the sweet stuff though so after gorging on seafood - it's fluro-colored dollops of mango mousse and sticky coconut pudding that melt in my mouth. Slivers of tropical fruit and coffee finish us off. Yum!!
We can peer out over the Infinity Pools and admire the glossy surface of the sea from our seats;hell we can dive straight into the ocean for a moonlight swim if we fancy it - if it wasn't for the return of the sugar-coma-nap! We struggle to finish our meal. Forget paddling in the ocean we can barely waddle back to our room! We decide the Sangria is drugged. It is the Shangri-La's way of keeping guests in the compound and not having them leave to spend all their cash on the main part of the island. We sleep like beached whales and once we wake, we hotfoot it out of there. The Resort is breathtakingly beautiful, but we want to explore the island - and see how the other half live!
Thanks for the World's Most Romantic Dinner James & Deb
Boracay is said to be THE place for diving and snorkeling and I am freaking out about what to do tomorrow. So many choices and so little time! Time to book our ocean activities. First cab off the rank is the para-sailing. The next day we board a speed boat and hurtle out to sea where we are harnessed to a colorful canopy chute and hoisted up into the air and dragged along faster and faster until we go higher and higher into the air. The views are dizzying. So is the occasional lurch of the rope that pulls us!! We hover up high above the ocean for around fifteen minutes before being lowered gently down.
We are helped back into the speedboat but I'm not happy. I want to Parasail again!! The driver moves out of the driver’s seat and gets Ed to drive back into the bay, I close my eyes but it’s a hoot!
Next we are taken out to sea to a Dive Platform where we don bizarre space-snorkel helmets. We are about to take the Boracay Marine Walk. Fitted with a 25k oxygen filled helmet that allow us to stay under water for fifteen minutes, we are lowered into the turquoise waters where we find ourselves surrounded by tropical fluro-colored fish which we encourage by hand-feeding bread. Our diving guide uses his knife to cut some sort of breadfruit that grows on the coral reef. He peels it and breaks it into segments and then feeds us under our helmets. It is a weird chewy texture. I imagine it’s some kind of breadfruit but Ed suspects that we’ve just eaten an amoeba which has been skinned alive. Oh dear!
Thanks for the experience Andy & Zoe
Afterwards we wade out to the Mother Mary Grotto lodged into a great rock in the sea for some happy snaps before walking to the other end of White Beach to check out some local accommodation options (for our next visit). We stroll down to Diniwid beach to Spider House famous for its Tree Top bungalows. We make friends with the manager over a Sunset Cocktail and snag the front row sunset seats.
We always said our Honeymoon wouldn’t be complete without horse-riding along the beach but unfortunately they don’t let the horses ride along the beach in Boracay – and the idea of galloping along the dirt roads alongside ATV’s, Tuk Tuk’s and Shuttle Buses doesn’t really appeal. Instead we hire out a couple of ATV’s and hoon along the windy dirt road that leads up to Boracay’s highest lookout vista where we get a 360 degree view of the island. And much more.
Thanks for the ace ride Deb and James!
Back on the ground, we have lunch on the beach at the Pineapple Hut, a tropical place which features tropical inspired meals with ribs and grills on the menu. I’m happy! Come sunset we are back at the Resort perched up in the hills overlooking the ocean. I am having my Champagne Sunset and I am very happy about that. Afterwards we head back into town. It's Saturday night. We take a seat at a waterfront bar where people-watching is an endless and fascinating past-time. A local band starts up and moves from reggae to rock and back again. Ed's happy!
Thanks for the Champagne sunset Ange and Mel!
Later that night we stumble back to the resort. Ambling through the late night deserted Shangri-La we breathe in the rarefied air and as we leave the main Lobby and head into the covered hallway Ed shrieks: "Look, it's a crab." I look and sure enough, there is a giant Pincer Crab which could be plastic except that Ed saw it put up its dooks in defense when it saw us coming! I didn't believe it is real until after eye-balling it for about five minutes and it moves ever so slightly. This is too hilarious. We fancy that this is the outcome of those who come to the Shangri-La and drank to much Sangria - they are turned into crabs!! We wander off in a daze, wondering if this little crab escaped from Friday night's dinner table - and our chopsticks.
Every morning we look forward to leaping out of bed and getting down to the beach - forget breakfast, there's no time!! Plus we've eaten so much this trip, we're trying to take it easy now. Any excess food we eat will surely travel home with us. On the final day we are like kids as we leap into the ocean and jump for joy. It's 7.00am. The beach is deserted, the water is warm, the endorphins are pumping. It’s a heady experience.
These few days at Boracay have showed us more jaw-dropping awesome-ness than anything we’ve ever seen in our lives. We’ve been well and truly spoilt and we loved every second of it. The hardest thing is leaving. Poor Ed has to drag me out kicking and screaming. Luckily we've made a promise to come back for our first Wedding anniversary. Not having this amount of hedonism in our lives is criminal!
Boracay the shining star of our Honeymoon has been a spectacular success. Did I mention that it was Ed's recommendation? I am very happy with his choice! Very happy with him actually.
Happy Honeymoon everyone!