Barely six months in the business at the time of our visit (the hotel had not even had its grand opening). The district Boracay is the new kid on the beach. Despite this, it has consistently enjoyed almost full occupancy, already reating for itself a loyal following of “repeat guests.” This luxury boutique resort is definitely a happy addition to the many hotels on the multi-award winning holiday destination island of Boracay.
Boracay, touted as the world’s best beach, is located off the northwest corner of Panay Island in the province of Malay, Aklan, in the Philippines’ Western Visayas region. Best known for its gorgeous and pristine White Beach – a four-kilometer stretch of powdery sand – and its thriving island party atmosphere, Boracay is one of the most popular holiday destinations across the globe and one of my personal favorite spots on earth.
We arrived on the island after what seemed like a never-ending string of transfers from the city of Kalibo in Aklan. The day was gray –a result of a departing tropical storm – and my head was dizzy from the many twists and turns of the road. The trip via Caticlan, Boracay’s main seaport of entry, is definitely a much quicker and more convenient way to the island. Nonetheless, a whiff of the sea air and the anticipation of sand soon to be in between my toes made me forget the woes of a weary traveler. Walking down the beach in the passing rain, I caught a glimpse of The District Boracay’s impressive, spanking-new white facade and I knew all would be more than well.
The District Boracay difference
Smiling staff members, right hand held up to their heart, greeted us magandang hapon (good afternoon) warmly as they ushered us into the hotel lobby through large glass doors that provided a perfect view of the sprawling beachfront. Naomi Soriano, The District Boracay’s resident manager, welcomed us with a soft-spoken confidence, lending a glimpse into years of expertise in managing luxury island resorts. I quickly learned that she was plucked out of an early retirement from the industry, putting her hand to the plow with an energy and dedication that is already proving fruitful.
The District Boracay, owned by the Solidnorth Realty Development Corporation and managed by AURA Hotels and Resorts, is committed to your satisfaction. Every effort is made to ensure that each guest leaves with a uniquely gratifying experience; perhaps the vacation of a lifetime, even. No detail is spared, with regular staff inspections conducted daily at 8 AM on the button. Whatever falls short of their exacting standards are ordered repaired, changed, or augmented to meet the no-lessthan- perfect benchmark. For a resort hotel that, at the time of our stay, was on its “soft opening,” the commitment to excellence was absolute.
Staff members are trained to think outside the box, developing a personalized level of service in anticipation of each guest’s individual needs. At every turn, there was someone ready, willing and able to assist me, whether it was for a fresh beach towel, an umbrella for the passing rains, directions to the wet market, or an ice-cold bottle of beer served on the beach. Because nothing says “lush” better than a tattooed writer, I suppose. And I do say that with a smile on my face.
Designed by talented Filipino architect, Anton Mendoza, The District Boracay showcases the finest in contemporary minimalist design. Its white exteriors and monochromatic scheme of neutral colors and dark browns are as elegant and classy as they are refreshing and soothing.
Guests have a choice from four room types: Deluxe, Premier, Deluxe Suites and Premier Suites. Each of the 48 rooms is well-appointed, elegantly designed and spacious, providing all the comforts and amenities of a luxurious home away from home. Rooms on the first floor open up to the hotel’s exquisite pool, giving guests access to a refreshing dip anytime of the day or night. Rooms on the upper floors, on the other hand, offer balconies with a sneak peek of Boracay’s spectacular beachfront. Bigger groups and those with a penchant for high ceilings will definitely enjoy the lovely loft-type premier suites. Take note, though, that these are very limited in number and tend to get booked quickly.
The District Boracay also boasts of the Star Lounge, a rooftop deck which, when fully operational, will have a full bar and grill service. With a capacity of up to 150 people, this is the perfect venue for parties, functions, wedding receptions, and such. I can only imagine what the upcoming holiday season will be like, with big plans for Christmas and New Year’s Eve revelries. In my mind’s eye, I picture the fireworks from this awesome vantage point, and I know that they can only be nothing shortof spectacular.
Location, vacation, perfection One of the biggest plus factors of The District Boracay is undoubtedly its location. Situated right smack in the middle of Boracay’s Station Two, the hotel offers the best of both island worlds: easy accessibility to the shops, restaurants, bars and exciting nightlife, as well as a quiet getaway on the famed beach. D’ Mall, Boracay’s shopping area, is just around the bend from the hotel. Travelers during the Christmas holidays will find this the perfect set-up for last-minute gift shopping, with lots of unique items from the island and neighboring South-East Asian countries. I, in true pre-Christmas spirit, bought myself several fabulous presents that would put Santa to shame.
Night-owls will be thrilled in the beach party scene and can choose to go on a “Pub Crawl” (one of the more unique beach activities) without fear of a long, inebriated walk back to the hotel.
Much to my pleasant surprise, despite its central location, The District Boracay by night remains quiet and peaceful, affording a relaxing nightcap by the pool or on the balcony of your room.
By day, the active beach-lover can take their pick from the many activities on the island: kite-sailing (with a free introductory class for hotel guests), water and air sports (both more sedate and extreme in nature), diving, snorkeling, trips to outer islands and cliffs – all these and more can be arranged by The District Boracay team.
A relaxing massage on the beach is not to be missed, and in the very near future, the hotel will open its own luxury spa.
A taste of Italy at The District Boracay
Any well-seasoned traveler will tell you that the vacation experience is not complete without a well-seasoned meal. The gustatory predator in us is always on the prowl for glorious food. At The District Boracay, you don’t have to look far. Manila-based Dario Gardini has chosen the hotel as a venue for his popular Caruso Ristorante Italiano. Serving delicious, authentic Italian dishes, a meal at Caruso is truly a treat to the palate. We started out with the Misto di affettati Italiani e verdura marinata, a selection of the finest Italian cold-cuts served with tangy marinated veggies. This appetizing starter was followed by the mouth-watering Crostini al funghi-porcini, toasted bread with a delectable porcini mushroom topping, drizzled with white truffle oil. The tender and perfectly seasoned Ossobuco di vitello alla Milanese con risotto al zafferano, veal shank in Milanese-style sauce with saffron rice, almost made me break out in a joyful aria. The meal was far from over, and putting thoughts of gluttony aside, we dug into the Costolette d’agnello, tasty pan-fried lamb chops with a delicate and crispy herb-seasoned breading. The last dish to this splendid meal was the hearty and flavorful Garganelli colorati con salsa di pomodori y gamberi, home-made garganelli pasta with shrimp and tomato sauce. My belly and soul were happy. My bikini, not so much.
Aside from Caruso, The District Boracay will also be opening its own food and beverage outlet Vigan Grill, with a breakfast and bread menu developed by Chef Julia Lervik of Boracay’s renowned Lemoni Cafe, and the expert overall training of Chef Chris Locher of My Kitchen by Chef Chris in Manila. The Ilocos (a city up north of Manila)-inspired fusion menu that the outlet will showcase, as revealed by Food and Beverage Manager Jim Fabula, is definitely something to look forward to.
Definitely, The District Boracay True to its name, The District Boracay is proving itself to be the zone, the in-thing, the status-quo for all things that make an enjoyable, unforgettable holiday. Would I return to The District Boracay if I could? Definitely.