Lovely self contained resort that would benefit from a wider menu choice.
Most people know that you can’t really go wrong with a Shangri-La hotel, and the resort in Boracay is really no exception.
First off, if you are from the Philippines or are heading there on vacation, then someone somewhere will have told you about the pristine beaches of Boracay. Unfortunately, a little too many people have been told about Boracay and it is about the most touristy and commercial holiday destination you can get. Absolutely great for an 18 to 30’s holiday, not so much if you want to relax a little.
Thankfully, the Boracay Shangri-La has us covered. The resort is set off to one corner of the island and is separated from the main white beach from a large rock formation jutting out. To get to Boracay from Manila, you either fly to Caticlan or Kalibo, both of which is a 45 minute flight time. From Caticlan, you will need to take a 15-minute boat ride from the ferry port (5 minutes from the airport) to get to Boracay Island itself. If you landed in Kalibo, you would need to take the same boat ride, but it would be about a 45-minute journey from the airport to the ferry port. Since you have spent all that money staying at the Shang, they offer a private speed boat to ferry you directly to the resort, which saves a ton of time waiting around and is much more comfortable.
Once you get to the resort, you get the standard welcome drinks and cold towel, and check in is nice and quick due to the many counters available. From there, you hop into a six-seater golf buggy which will drive you to your room/villa. I actually stayed in a Villa back in 2010, and whilst exquisite, I did find that they are a little too far away from the main pool/bar area of the resort. This time, I stayed in the premier sea view rooms which sit right on top of the large beach. We found it a little easier to get around as it meant we could walk, as opposed to having to wait for a buggy to pick us up each time.
The rooms are nice and spacious with a large bathroom. The rooms have a bathtub and a rainfall shower. Unfortunately, the pressure in the shower wasn’t too great and there seemed to be very little difference between dialing in hot and cold. The rooms also have a nice balcony (veranda) which has two beds you can lay out on. The main bed is firm but comfortable and housekeeping provides four large bottles of water to your room each day.
The problem I have with the room is that the curtains do not fit all the way across, so it leaves a gap of about 6 inches for the sunlight to wake you up at 5:30 am, pretty uncharacteristic of a Shangri-La hotel, along with us having an issue with our key card and room lock.
The main pool area is nicely laid out with its accompanying beach. You can find a poolside bed to lay on and camp out there all day without worrying about much else other than relaxing. The pool is nice and large, has a Jacuzzi, and is kept warm by the sun. The beach sand isn’t quite a talcum powder as the main white beach on the island, but you’ll not be complaining due to the exclusivity of it.
There are really only three restaurants in the resort and two bars (discounting the games room as a bar). The pool bar closes at 10 pm, with a few people commenting that they would like to sit around the pool and have a drink much later than that. There is, however, another bar that is open until 1 am, but it doesn’t quite have the relaxing charm of sitting near the pool, despite a large open fire to keep you warm in 30 °C heat — it does look nice though. Both bars offer the usual bar type snacks and are of good quality. I recommend the Kofte Wrap!
The fine-dining restaurants are Italian and basically seafood restaurants. Both had limited menus, as far as I am concerned, and whilst the food was nice, the portions were quite small. The third restaurant houses the breakfast buffet and offers a more homely selection of dishes, but I still felt a little limited by the choices available. There is also quite a limited beer menu from all the bars and restaurants, which isn’t necessarily odd for the Philippines. But I would like to see the Shang offer a little more than the standard San Miguel pale and light. Checkout can be a bit of a pain with the boat only leaving each hour, however, once you get to the Caticlan ferry port, you can sit and wait all you like in the private Shangri La area before you are transported to the airport.
We were there in July for a wedding which was organized very well. I would expect us to return to this resort despite not having much love left for the island of Boracay itself.