Garden swim-up: Over a dozen rooms in the new wing allow you to connect directly with the sparkling blue pool.

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 9, 2013 (PHILSTAR) CITY SENSE By Paulo Alcazaren - Boracay has changed a whole lot since the 1970s when it was first “discovered” by backpackers.

The island then had no accommodations, regular electricity or amenities to complement its beaches and lush nooks. Over the decades, the number of hotels and resorts had grown; although many in small lots, haphazardly and with uneven standards of design.

Today, that aspect of Boracay’s development is changing for the better. We spent a great weekend recently at a new development, which is part of a larger group of integrated facilities run by the Hennan Group of Resorts. This was the Grand Wing of the Boracay Garden Resort located at Station 2, right in the heart of White Beach.


Four years ago, the Henann Group took over an older facility, which had been built in a dated architectural style with frumpy furniture and less-than ideal outdoor amenities. The property was large but not well laid out. I had passed it a number of times in the past and thought it would be a nice fix-up.

The Henann Group did just that, with extensive renovations to the rooms, restaurants, landscape and pools. It reopened as the Boracay Garden Resort, part of a trio of resorts the company has integrated and runs in the area, including the Boracay Regency and Regency Lagoon.

The new wing is the latest in Henann’s transformation of the property. We stayed in one of the 52 new Grand Rooms with a great view of the resort’s four new swimming pools. You could also choose one of three Grand Suites or select a room with direct pool access. Here, you could just step out of your balcony and into the well-designed infinity-edge pool. You won’t run out of choices though, the resort now has 273 rooms in total.

Our room passed our bunso Chocho’s test of comfort a large LCD TV (with the cartoon channels) and his favorite amenity, a bathtub. Twink always scolds him for spending more time in resort tubs compared to the outdoor swimming pools or the beach. We did both, of course, while enjoying our stay, along with a spa treatment and friendly service.

The peak season in Boracay starts from December and continues till April. You can head out in the sun easily for all the exciting and adventurous activities on the beach. It is well advised that if you do visit the Islands during the Christmas as you may have trouble finding accommodation, so make advance bookings. The months between May and June get very hot whereas July to November make the best months to visit the Islands if you are looking for something cheaper. Since Boracay is popular for its romantic sunsets, October and November make the ideal time to witness the lovely sunsets!

The first evening we attended the new wing’s inauguration. It was hosted by fellow STAR columnist Johnny Litton. We also met with the chairman of Henann resorts, Henry Chusuey, who told me that the new wing actually catered to a market looking for more economical accommodations at Station 2. Despite this, I said that it did not look like a budget resort, what with the commodious rooms and good landscape design.

At the ribbon cutting, I found out why it was well designed. I met two of the supremely competent consultants involved with the Henann Group Jun Palafox, master planner and consummate architect, and another friend, Efren Aurelio, an excellent landscape architect. Jun confided that he was planning a world-class exclusive island resort for Henann a short boat ride away from Boracay. Efren and I traded industry news over cocktails, noting the good number of resort projects that are now opting to use competent Filipino consultants and not overpriced and overhyped foreign ones.

 Photos of White Beach - Attraction Images
This photo of White Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The next two days, Twink, Chocho and I enjoyed early morning jogs along White Beach, massages and meals at the resort and in the multitude of options along the entire stretch of Boracay. The second evening, we were treated to a beachside dinner to celebrate Henann’s 15th anniversary. At the dinner, Chosuey announced their expansion plans. It’s good to see our local Filipino hotel and resort brands optimistic and aggressive in addressing what appears to be a good trend in tourism expansion in the country.

The event was capped with a show by Pops Fernandez and a dazzling fireworks display, which Twink declared was the best she’d seen anywhere in the world. I agreed. I also agreed with Chosuey’s declaration that the Boracay Gardens compares well with European or Mediterranean resorts. Standards here have come up or surpassed international expectations.

All this is good as tourism numbers have indeed climbed up, thanks to the DOT and Secretary Mon Jimenez’s unrelenting marketing of the Philippines as more fun. Boracay, indeed, has been ranked among the best beach destinations in the world. With the efforts of companies like Henann consolidating, integrating and upgrading the rest of Boracay can only follow suit.

The emphasis on good landscape architectural design, architecture and interiors is the way to go. With resorts focusing on greening both inside and out, we may yet see the island covered with lusher vegetation to complement its already lush nightlife.

Eating Out in Boracay Island: Delight yourself with excellent lip smacking Filipino, Austrian, German and Swiss cuisine in Boracay Islands! The Starfire in Angol is known for its inexpensive food items. Melinda's Garden Restaurant serves Filipino and European dishes. Jolly sailor is the ultimate fruit salad and fruit juice joint in the Boracay. The Sundown Restaurant offers dinner buffet for all seafood lovers. The Swiss Inn and Bamboo Restaurant offer exclusive Swiss food. The Thai dlent food in the Sulu Thu Thai Restaurant is excellent. For Filipino and Greek food, Honey Bee Restraunt, Nene Ball Food's House and Zorbas are descent enough. Chez De Paris has the perfect ambience for French food. Try out the Victoria Bar & Restaurant and Zur kleinen Kneipe for fine German cuisine along with seafood from the grill. For amazing French cuisine visit the La Reserve and for Spanish food El Toro Restaurant is the best one on the Islands. If you have some energy left after the beach activities then keep it intact for the night at the Inso Disc. There’s music, dance, food and lots of energy and excitement. The opening hours- 8:00 p.m. till 2:00 am.

* * *

Feedback is welcome. Please e-mail the writer at paulo.alcazaren@gmial.com. For more information on Henann Resorts log on to www.boracaygrden.com.ph or www.henann.com.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
All rights reserved