At Boracay Garden Resort, specifically, which bills itself as “the only property in the island where guests may take leisurely walks around the breezy, tree-lined property.” That luxury, quite scarce in Boracay where most establishments consist of tightly packed concrete structures, comes courtesy of the resort’s enviable size—some 1.5 hectares of open space big enough to accommodate three swimming pools side by side with landscaped gardens, cabanas, a poolside bar, and wide patches of either grassy or tiled open space for walking around.
“I cannot find a place here as big as this one,” says Henry Chusuey, chairman and CEO of Hennan Resorts, which owns and operates Boracay Gardens, with two other hotels in the island—Boracay Regency Beach Resort and Spa, and Regency Lagoon Resort—and one in Bohol—Hennan Resort in Alona Beach. “Usually, with resorts in this area, 70-80 percent of the property is already built up. At Boracay Garden, the open space is so big—about 60 percent of the property, which is, I think, ideal. Resorts need space; this is not a city hotel.”
That open expanse makes Boracay Garden Resort a choice destination for large groups, from families and tour groups to corporate vacationers. Formerly a Korean-owned resort marked by rather eclectic architecture and interiors, the place has undergone continuous renovation and improvements “so that it reaches Boracay Regency standards,” says Chusuey, referring to the more upscale, 285-room resort and spa adjacent to Boracay Garden.
At currently 201 rooms—set to rise to 257 by next year, overtaking Shangri-La Plaza’s 220-room property in the island—Boracay Garden is marketing itself as a mid-range triple-A destination for the middle class, with affordable rates and flexible room packages to accommodate families, above all.
“We are for family holidays that are reasonably priced,” says Chusuey. “Clean rooms, good service, reasonable price—that’s our main consideration. Everything nice and cheap is good. If the food is worth P500, we charge them P450—that’s how we’d like them to come back. In short, nanalo ka.”
Boracay Garden’s special Christmas package, based on triple sharing, has its deluxe rooms coming in at P7,924 per person, inclusive of four days’ accommodation, daily buffet breakfast and dinner, and round-trip transfers via Caticlan. The savings are substantial for large groups, considering that regular deluxe room rates are P4,800 per night. The promo period is from Dec. 25, 2011 to Jan. 2, 2012—precisely designed for families on the lookout for another way to celebrate Christmas and New Year outside of the city hurly-burly.
The menu, too, has been jazzed up to whet the appetites of those who’d like a more laid-back, beach holiday twist to their traditional Noche Buena festivities.
“We want our guests to feel they never left home by serving them home-cooked Christmas meals,” says Mario Gatmaitan, food and beverage manager. It also spares the harried mom, incidentally, the hassle of long kitchen hours preparing the Noche Buena spread.
Boracay Garden’s Christmas menu consists of an array of traditional Filipino and popular international holiday dishes, among them chicken galantina and embutido, sweet ham, arroz Valenciana, pork morcon, seafood kare-kare, lengua con setas, roasted turkey, horseradish-crusted prime rib, and lemongrass-grilled salmon fillet in green Thai curry sauce.
The Filipino touch extends to sweets and delicacies—bibingka, leche flan, putong makulay, kutsinta, tamales, suman sa ibus, ubeng halaya, maja blanca, and espasol—washed down by holiday drinks such as hot chocolate, peppermint tea, and salabat.
The Christmas Eve set dinner has main entrees of grilled king prawns and traditional osso bucco, along with appetizers, salad, dessert, and petit fours. Guests with more expansive appetites can dive into the Christmas Eve dinner buffet, which focuses on Filipino dishes from beef bulalo to sisig; halabos na hipon, alimasag, tahong at talaba, maya-maya sa mayonisa, rellenong sugpo, braised duck in star anise, balbacua, etc.
The carving station offers more varied fare: Glazed Christmas ham leg in pineapple sauce; roasted turkey with chestnut stuffing, giblet gravy and cranberry sauce; and roasted steamship with au jus, along with grilled vegetables.
New Year’s revelry
The resort has also whipped up similar set dinner and buffet arrangements for New Year’s festivities, now served with wine and highlighting international cuisine.
Appetizers include German cold cuts, nigiri sushi and sashimi, seafood terrine, six kinds of cheese; soup is either lobster chowder with pinot noir wine foam, or green pea and spinach soup with hickory smoked bacon. And the carving station combines the best local and foreign meats: Pinoy-roasted calf-leg, maple-brown sugar-glazed Christmas ham, US turkey roll with prune stuffing and cranberry sauce, and lechon de Carajay with pinakurat sauce.
The New Year’s Eve revelry peaks with Boracay Garden’s own 15-minute fireworks display, which, with the resort’s open space and unimpeded view of sky and horizon, is said to be a truly spectacular, one-of-a-kind experience in Boracay.
Families on Christmas holiday, of course, can always head off to the famed Long Beach if they tire of the resort’s 450-sq m main pool (“That long shoreline is THE main attraction,” says Chusuey, also the chairman of Boracay Foundation, a coalition of Boracay business owners. “You haven’t been to Boracay unless you’ve stayed on Long Beach.”) Boracay Garden has direct access to its own beachfront, a leisurely three-minute walk that allows guests to roam over the property’s gardens, mini-fountains and spacious grounds.
The rooms, meanwhile, are equipped with private terrace, Wi-Fi access, bathtub with separate water area, individually-controlled air-conditioning, cable TV, direct-dial phone, in-room safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities and personal refrigerators. Right outside some premiere rooms is the pool, allowing for easy, intimate water enjoyment. Family rooms can accommodate up to six persons.
And, in case children get bored, the resort staff can be requested to hold games and fun bonding activities for the family, among them “Mix your own Christmas cocktail drink,” “Decorate your own Gingerbread Man,” treasure hunts, and relay games.
All in all, with sand and sea nearby, al fresco dinners under the stars, late-night swimming in the pools, and quiet time in the middle of spacious greenery, a stay at Boracay Garden Resort would be one unique Yuletide holiday, indeed.
Boracay Garden Resort is at Station 2, Balabag, Boracay Island. Tels. 6336+2886672 to 76. E-mail [email protected] Manila booking office tel. 632+3531111, e-mail [email protected] Visit www.boracaygarden.com.ph
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