When paradise is already perfect, what other character could be added to make it more heavenly? At Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa, paradise has reached a higher level with its Gourmet Holiday package, an ultimate, indulgent escape featuring food, wine and leisure in one of the best beaches in the world.
Finding an opening between all my travels, my hubby Dennis and I snuck off to beautiful Boracay for a much-needed break from city life. We joined the three-day gustatory affair, Reservations in Paradise, for its third cycle.
In partnership with Bacchus International, the exclusive gourmet weekend event was a highly organized festival with cocktails and dinner parties for an intimate 50 guests. The ultimate indulgence for epicures and wine connoisseurs showcased an incredible food, wine and leisure experience in Shang’s luxury setting.
Set against the famed Boracay sunset, the culinary journey commenced Friday afternoon in the hotel’s Lobby Lounge with cocktails and wine aperitif from JM Cazes. These were followed by a formal seaside dinner at the resort’s exclusive beachfront.
As we walked into the venue, crystal chandeliers and rows of candles by the shore lit up our barefoot luxury experience. The private beachfront was converted into a beautiful setting inspired by the French chateaux.
Executive chef Scott Brands and Italian chef Marco Ghezzi staged the five-course menu paired with wines from Château Lynch Bages, represented by its managing director Jean Baptiste Cheylac.
Just for the evening’s affair, a satellite outdoor kitchen was transported to the beach where guests could witness the creations of Shang’s winning culinary team. Chef Scott oversaw every single detail, such as arranging the caviar on the plates and torching the chocolate fondues with gold-leaf sheets.
The evening continued with cigars and pralines, a nightcap under the stars. What made the evening even more special was the sunken lounge next to the dining area. They dug lounge sofas into the sand and created the coolest setup for the intimate affair.
Dennis and I enjoyed our private villa with its own pool and garden before heading to the champagne brunch on Saturday morning. It was quite difficult to leave the spacious villa with its huge living area and bedroom. Our ever-accommodating butler Julius Suerte arranged for a buggy to head to all the dining venues.
Alex and Clifford Lichaytoo, the Bacchus brothers, had overflowing Bollinger Champagne to match the wide selection of breakfast and midday favorites at Sirena Restaurant. The cliff-side view was a lovely complement to the refreshing brunch.
Cool restaurateur Elbert Cuenca and his stylish wife Liza enjoyed grilled lobsters while sipping their Mimosa cocktails made with Bollinger Champagne. Executive sous chef Azlan Juri cooked delicious Malaysian noodles that got two thumbs-up from the pair.
The international media group was then invited to meet Amit Oberoi, GM of Shangri-La Boracay, and his team to get more information about the wonderful packages the resort has to offer.
Although Reservations in Paradise is an exclusive invitational affair, the resort offers Gourmet Paradise for couples, family members and friends. Each package is custom-made and tailored to the guests’ requests.
Between all the gastronomical feasts, Tatler editor Anton San Diego and I swam and jogged along the white sandy beach before we hit the well-equipped gym. Dennis arranged a relaxing scuba dive with Scotty’s Dive Center.
The dive spot called Balinghai is just a short boat ride from the resort’s dock. On our dive, we spotted two turtles, a school of squid and lots of other colorful creatures.
The rest of the group focused on Chi, The Spa, which is one of the best massage places on the island. Others tried sailing lessons, took in a round of golf, or joined a special cooking class hosted by chef Marco, which introduced basic Italian cooking including making pasta from scratch.
The grand finale, inspired by Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa’s five Culinary Masters headed by chef Scott, was paired with Bordeaux wines from Château Smith Haut Lafitte represented by David Ornon, directeur commercial. The gourmet, family-style dinner was arranged at Alon Garden, the lush grounds adjoining the beach. I was amazed that the resort WiFi remained strong and seamless anywhere on the property.
Fire dancers and Ati-Atihan performers presented the wine collection just before dinner was served. After dinner, the widest chocolate buffet was set up by the beach for dessert, and all enjoyed the port wines and cigars on offer. Fireworks spectacularly capped the evening.
On Sunday morning, the gourmet retreat concluded with a farewell breakfast at Rima Italian restaurant nestled on the treetops, amid the property’s lush greenery. By this time, everyone was a few good pounds heavier, for sure.
I was amazed at the flexibility of the Shang Boracay management in tailoring their packages to whatever a guest wants. The Gourmet Holiday package starts off with a basic two-night stay in a Deluxe Seaview Room. This includes speedboat transfers from Caticlan airport.
From there, enhancements can be added, including an upgrade to the One-Bedroom Pool Villa, luxury dining with special menus and wine pairings, romantic venues on the resort’s private beach or at the treetop Rima Italian restaurant, and more.
For inquiries on packages, call tel. 036-2884988 or visit www.shangri-la.com.
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