No matter what year it is, a sunset wedding on the shores of Boracay is very romantic. I was lucky to witness one on my recent trip there.
I watched from the beach pavilion of Crimson Boracay. It’s a spot where there is a vantage view of the villas, the main infinity pool and the Punta Bunga beach. This is also how I got to watch a couple get married without any guests. It was beautiful.
Even from a distance, I could tell that the entire event was stress-free. The couple looked relaxed and unhurried while they stared at each other, talked, and enjoyed their dinner under the stars.
The only telltale sign that there was a pandemic was that the couple sometimes waved to their phones every once in a while. They had no event coordinators, but the Crimson staff assisted them the entire day as part of their Elopement Package.
I took a sip of Amihan, the resort’s signature cocktail, and thought then that I had something in common with them. I felt safe from COVID-19 as I enjoyed the resort’s expansive 3,000-square-meter property.
Inside this bubble, my newfound friends and I were able to breathe without our masks on.
This confidence began even before we boarded AirTrav PH’s Cessna Grand Caravan 208.
Manila was already under alert level 2 when we left. Therefore, Aklan’s local government only required a vaccination certificate (vaxcert.doh.gov.ph) from tourists.
We were able to receive our Tourist Boracay QR code in time for our flight. But sales and marketing director Cecille May Kimpo said that Crimson has a desk that assists their guests when they have trouble acquiring their QR codes.
Being on a chartered flight meant that we didn’t have to go through the airport checkpoint. I waited inside our car at the gate of PAL Satellite Cargo. We were only allowed in when our escort vehicle arrived. Even this short trip from the gate to AirTrav PH’s hangar is an adventure.
We drove on the runway thus we saw a lot of parked commercial planes up close. Anyone with an interest in aviation will enjoy the two-minute drive.
We only stayed at the hangar for five minutes before we were asked to board our comfortable eight-seater seaplane. The trip took one-and-a-half hours. The aircraft was not pressurized and could only fly low at 8,000 to 10,000 altitude. I wished I had earplugs because the low whirring sound of the engine bothered me.
The flight gave us a picturesque view of the islands below. Our mobile data was working for most of it. We were able to post stories on Facebook and keep track of our location via Google Maps.
We were lucky that the weather cooperated, giving us a water landing. The sea really makes an exciting change from concrete runways. We disembarked on the ocean and straight to a speed boat. It was a very James Bond moment as we waved goodbye to our pilot and his first officer.
AirTrav sent our QR codes to the local government and paid all the other fees in advance. That’s why when we got off on Station 1 pontoon, we only had to walk a few meters to get to our van. We skipped the jetty port transfers and the long drive to Crimson.
Sealed for safety
My Seaview suite room in the Indigo wing opens to the pool because it was on the same level. It overlooks the Punta Bunga Beach or Station 0. Every high-contact amenity inside was wrapped and sealed in plastic—remote controls, phones, glasses, mugs, and utensils. The seals ensure that they were sanitized and cleaned before my arrival.
It took 15 minutes since I got inside my room for my luggage to arrive. The delay wasn’t an issue because all bags are sanitized upon checkin. All these extra steps were comforting.
I was also welcomed with a gift basket and a hand-written note from Crimson general manager (GM) Patrick Manthe.
AirTrav only allows 10 kilograms of baggage allowance per passenger. So guests need to decide on their outfits ahead of time. If anything was forgotten, chances are, the resort will be able to provide it. They have beautiful black and white yukata robes that guests can use during their stay. Flip-flops, hats and canvas bags are also provided.
I went to Aum Spa after I freshened up. I was made to choose my massage oils before I was directed to my own room. For the first time in two years, I was able to enjoy a massage. It was bliss.
I also discovered that incoming and outgoing guests never cross paths. They are guided by attendants on where to go to avoid running into each other. Masseuses and other resort staff regularly take antigen tests.
The property has four pools that all resort guests have access to. All the villas have their private plunge pools. Perhaps this is why it never became crowded in any area at any given time.
It was nice to take a dip in them after a swim in the ocean. Crimson is one of the few resorts on the island that still have daybeds by the beach.
Dining was also an event by itself. I stayed for four days in the property and no meal was ever the same. There was an assisted buffet every morning at the Saffron Cafe. There were hot stations for eggs, meat, waffles and pancakes and noodles.
On our first night, a long table was set up for outdoor dining. The Azure Beach Club had international dishes on the menu including Indian, Thai, Filipino, and American. They also display the fresh seafood that you can order paluto style.
There was also a night wherein we food-crawled in the property. We had our starters at the Beach Pavilion, soup at the Presidential Villa, main course at Mosaic Latin American Grill and dessert by the Indigo pool.
One morning, breakfast on water was served at the Presidential Villa. Trays filled with food were made to float on its private dipping pool. We fine-dined and had wine at the Mosaic one night while live music was played while their resident artist Eric Egualada painted.
There are so many art activities being offered at the resort. It reflects the personality of its GM who is also an artist. One of the changes he made was converting one room into an art gallery where lessons for children are offered. The works of local young artists are also on display in this room.
Art and wine
We attended the sip and paint lessons conducted by Manthe held at Azure Beach Club. Materials were provided including the canvas, acrylic paint, brushes and unlimited wine. You’ll notice how participants go from conservative to wild with their paintings as they get more drunk. Waiters can be a little enthusiastic and liberal when they pour those vino.
“In any place you go, you probably have a spot where you keep going back to, right? Sometimes you don’t even know why. It might not have the best food or best coffee, but it has the best energy. I think the future of hospitality is if you can manipulate [the energy] in a good way,” Manthe said.
This is why promoting local art is something he is passionate about. He wants to transform Crimson into an art hub where locals and guests can go and express their feelings through art. His touch also explains the creativity of the packages offered by the resort.
The sky was dark and it was raining on the day we checked out. It made the water takeoff impossible. We had to go to the Caticlan airport to depart. But even with these changes, Crimson managed to keep us inside our bubble.
We went to the jetty port and had an exclusive fast boat. There was no need for us to go through jetty port in Caticlan because a Crimson van was waiting for us. We still didn’t have to check-in at the airport. An airport bus took us from our van and to our plane directly.
This is why the Station Zero Bubble commands higher rates. Because during this pandemic, there is nothing more premium than health and peace of mind.