Filipino hospitality makes Boracay hotel one of the world’s bestBy Anne A. Jambora |Philippine Daily Inquirer
When you tap into the Filipino’s exuberant hospitality, put an international standard to it, and allow the Filipinos to do their thing, you get a unique signature known the world over.
For Discovery Shores Boracay Island, it’s the personal, luxury service that got them this year’s No. 1 spot as Asia’s Best Hotel Spa, and ranked them No. 5 on the list of Top 100 Hotels in the World. And this just made them the only Filipino company in the Top 50 Hotels in the World.
“The Filipino brand has arrived. Service is not a new thing. It’s something that has always been with us,” declared Leeds Trompeta, resident manager of Discovery Shores Boracay Island.
We all know that culture—when we serve the best lechon cuts to guests, when we share that bottle of excellent wine we’ve been saving for special occasion, when we even give up our beds if they can’t find an available room in town. Indeed, Filipinos’ fervent desire to entertain and please guests can sometimes border on the uncomfortable. But put a standard on it and, well, we’re apparently golden.
The 17th annual award given by the US-based magazine Travel + Leisure (T+L), voted by readers worldwide, is one of the most recognized and prestigious awards in the industry. It also ranked Boracay no. 1 as the World’s Best Island, dislodging Santorini, Greece from the coveted spot. The winners were announced on the American morning television show “Today,” on NBC.
Discovery Shores Boracay Island has been consistently on the list of T+L’s World’s Best Awards for three years now, each year ranking higher than the last. The no. 1 citation, though, said Trompeta, came as a surprise.
“It’s all about the experience. We are intimate and personalized. Luxury is about the little things. What do you want your vacation to become? You give us three days of your lives. If we can make a difference in your life, that makes our jobs more fulfilling,” said Trompeta.
The hotel spa has a total of 88 rooms and 250 staff. The ratio, said Trompeta, has always been service-driven from the start. Just how far does the staff go for their guests?
A guest one day, who was traveling with his Nike China executive sister, lost a four-piece ring. He left it on the beach bed when he went swimming. After swimming he went for one last dip in the pool when he noticed, now panic-stricken, that he had forgotten his ring on the beach bed.
The staff searched and, after a long while, the guest gave up, called the search off and went back to his suite. The staff, however, wasn’t finished yet. For another three hours, recalled Trompeta, without anyone giving them orders to search, two hotel staff kept at it, sifting through the fine sand of Boracay with a strainer, covering the area one square foot at time until they found the ring—all four pieces.
Close to tears
The guest and his sister, recalled Trompeta, were so touched when they learned of the story they were close to tears. When they went back to the suite, there was a cake in the shape of a Nike shoe waiting for them at the table, compliments of the hotel.
“That’s how we do service. We don’t just go out of our way to give you genuine, first-rate service, but we finish it off with our personal touch,” he said.
Five years ago, when Discovery Shores Boracay Island first opened, it received a digital lashing in online travel forums when people started calling it “that white, hospital-like structure on the beach.” The hotel spa stood out in a crowd of nipa huts. Most beachfront accommodations at that time were nipa huts.
Trompeta explained that what the people didn’t get at that time was the culture component of the property. And it is that component that gave it a character and attitude that took them all the way to the no. 1 spot.
When they first included beach butlers in its service, eyebrows were raised, he said. Who needed one? Today, practically all resorts on the island have beach butlers. Then they purchased air-conditioned boats to ferry their guests, and small, air-conditioned vehicles to drive their guests to different destinations in the island. All were met with cynicism at the start. At the end of the day, however, Trompeta said the well-trained staff makes the Discovery Shores experience memorable.
“It’s really the software that counts, not the hardware. We are pushing not just the Filipino brand but also the country. If it makes the Filipinos proud, then we’re okay. It’s the culture that the owners have started in Discovery—a culture of oneness that’s very focused. It makes sure the employees are taken cared of, and the associates are respected. That empowers them to deliver a service that’s unique,” he said.
This lean season of July has the hotel spa already at 85 percent occupancy. Right now, Trompeta said they are looking into enhancing their services, for ways to keep on surprising their returning guests, and introduce more innovations to keep the property fresh.
Discovery Shores Boracay Island is offering “Pure Beach Bliss” package, a three-day, two-night package for only P14,555 nett per person in a Junior Suite (minimum of two persons required). Call +6327208888 or (6336) 2884500, or visit discoveryshoresboracay.com for info and reservations.