14.08.2010 30 °C
Planning a holiday is always a great activity, because even though it can become a bit stressful (making flight plans and travel arrangements, deciding what to bring and trying to pack all your stuff into a small suitcase or backpack, asking for that 4-day to 3-week vacation leave, making sure that your house or apartment doesn’t burn to the ground or get ransacked while you are away, among others), the end result is always exhilarating.
The mere idea of a holiday is enough to make people excited and giddy, and all the more when it’s to a terrific place like Boracay. The island of Boracay, located in the Visayas region, is probably the most beautiful stretch of sand in the planet. It has all the conveniences of city life without the traffic and pollution, and what’s more, you can spend a lot of time (and I mean a lot) just soaking up the sun’s rays, wading in the clear waters, eating your heart out, or drinking til you drop.
But first, let’s be realistic. Where do you stay? Since there are so many Boracay hotels and resorts in the island, it can become confusing, especially for first-time travelers. In order to maximize your time and give you a better idea of the island’s accommodations, here’s an overview of what to look for when it comes to resting your head.
Depending on what you want (the utmost in luxurious accommodations or the very basic electric fan room) – the essential thing to look for is cleanliness. While doing your research, whether through the Internet or through word-of-mouth, ask one question: are the hotel/resort’s facilities relatively clean and well-maintained? I’ve experienced staying in a first-rate beachfront hotel AND a native cottage 10 minutes away from the beach, and even though the accommodations are extremely different, I was satisfied in one thing – both places were quite clean, and the bathrooms were not mildewy or smelly.
What kind of activities are you planning to do? Are you going to be a lazy bum and just relax under an umbrella all day at the beachfront, or you are planning on doing some water sports or a whole bunch of shopping, or indulge in nightly clubbing and dancing? If you are planning to just relax and be peaceful in your own little paradise, look for a hotel in Station I or even on the north side of the island. These places are a lot more secluded, and there are lots of resorts here too – such as Fairways and Bluewater, and Alta Vista de Boracay. If you are planning to do an extravagant bit of shopping, then it’s better to stay in Station 3 or 2. This is where most of the open-air markets are, including D’Mall, Boracay’s own version of SM. (By the way, SM is the biggest shopping mall in Manila). The hotels in this area are also less expensive than the hotels in Station I. Another bonus? You are closer to the nightlife and do not have to stumble towards the nearest tricycle waiting area, or worse, find no tricycles at all.
Ask yourself this: what do you want your accommodations to look like? I personally prefer a more traditional, native style of accommodations, although I know some people who are truly into the modern look. Some hotels have the traditional native materials-look down pat, such as Nirvana Resort, which has old-style bamboo huts, and Waling-Waling Beach Hotel, which has Thai-inspired rooms. Other resorts with more modern accommodations include Discovery Shores Boracay, with its white-terraced buildings and iron railings, and Club Panoly, whose rooms look like a modern hotel in Manila. The design of where you are staying is important because it will really accentuate your feeling of relaxation during your vacation.
Before making your reservations, never be afraid to do some research. Don’t just check out the actual website of the hotel, check out the reviews about the hotel you are eyeing. These reviews are particularly helpful, because you can read about other guests’ experiences – good or bad. Needless to say, if a hotel has bad reviews all around, then it’s not a good idea to stay there.
If you have children, it might also be wise to check out the hotel’s activities and amenities. Some hotels have game rooms for children and recreational facilities such as basketball and voleyball courts, table tennis, and darts, while other resorts have none of these. If you want your children to be occupied while you laze around on the beach, it might be a good idea to do research on hotel facilities.
Check out the hotel’s freebies. For example, some hotels do not offer free Internet access in all rooms. Internet access might be restricted only to certain VIP rooms or the lobby, and if you’re an Internet junkie or just really need to check it for work from time to time, then this is really an inconvenience. Some Boracay hotels also provide beach towels for free, while others do not. Some hotels also offer free buckets of ice, while some do not. Sometimes it’s the little details that really add up to a great vacation.