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FAIRWAYS & BLUEWATER RESORT, NEW COAST
The island's largest upmarket hotel, this vast 80-hectare, 700-room property occupies 10 per cent of Boracay. Each room/suite/villa is spread around its 18 hole, par 72 championship, Graham Marsh-designed golf course. More of a self-contained holiday resort than a hotel, many guests never leave the property (despite the free shuttles). Apart from six swimming pools and 19 restaurants/cafes/bars, the resort includes a gym, two spas, helmet diving, horse riding, zipline, outrigger sailing, parasailing and a children's night safari. Plus Paradise Cove Beach with its own jetty for other excursions. For Filipino dishes, choose Veranda, but night owls should experience We Chill, a gastropub/disco overlooking the Sibuyan sea that parties on until …well, midnight.
MOVENPICK RESORT BORACAY, STATION ZERO
Why name a hotel after an ice cream brand? In fact, Swiss founder Ueli Prager was a restaurateur inspired in 1948 by gulls ("move" in German) to think humans might also want to pick at nutritious, inexpensive fast food. As of 2018, Movenpick became a luxury, eco-friendly addendum to Accor. Today, Movenpick boasts a beautiful spa (a big selling point in the Philippines) and direct access to a secluded beach (all Boracay beaches are open to everyone, locals and tourists alike, but access to the hotel is limited by the security guards). It also boasts the largest swimming pool in Boracay, and three good restaurants: The Market, Breeze (Italian) and Ssam (Japanese).
DISCOVERY SHORES BORACAY, STATION 1
Stations 3, 2 and 1 used to refer to actual ferry drop-offs on the island's famously fine-sanded, 4 kilometre long White Beach. Today, the higher the Station number, the less salubrious the hotel is likely to be (with most luxury hotels concentrated within Station Zero). Yet many younger visitors prefer Station 1, in the heart of shopping and nightlife action.This award-winning, 99 suite/room hotel has won major prizes putting it among Asia's top resort hotels (particularly for its Terra Wellness Spa). There are three excellent restaurants including the fine dining Indigo, and Sandbar, which specialises in local seafood. With blissful sunsets, White Beach access, kids club and pool, Discovery Shores rates highly as a family destination. A short walk along the sand takes you to d'mall, Boracay's open air shopping bazaar full of cheap souvenirs and ice creams.
CRIMSON BORACAY, STATION ZERO
Opened in March 2018 (just before Boracay was closed for six months by order of Filipino President Duterte for a massive clean-up), this is the newest luxury hotel on the island. And it will be for some time, now there's a development ban until essential island infrastructure works are completed. The 169 guest rooms and 23 villas (all with private plunge pools) are elegant and light-filled. Though there are three pools, the main attraction is its secluded beach, sandwiched between two rock islands. The Filipino-owned hotel boasts three restaurants: Mosaic Latin American Grill, Saffron Cafe (specialising in seafood), and Azure Beach Club (Asian). Alum Spa is one of the largest on the island, and suitably soundproofed from the Crimzone Kids Club next door.
THE LIND BORACAY, STATION 1
With 119 suites/rooms (each with a balcony), The Lind's main restaurant is the French-influenced Tartine (plus an Italian and a beach bar). But, to be honest, if you book a hotel in Station 1, you'll probably want to eat out most nights (especially with kids) in one of the many restaurants along White Beach. Opened in 2016, The Lind has possibly the best infinity pool overlooking the Sulu Sea on Boracay. Like Discovery Shores, it is superbly positioned if you want to be in the heart of the island action. And guess what? The Lind boasts not just a luxury spa but one operated by The Spa Wellness, which claims to be "the country's leading wellness brand".
SHANGRI-LA BORACAY, STATION ZERO
Set in 12 hectares of tropical forest and focused on Banyugan beach, this is the yardstick other Boracay hotels judge themselves by. It has its own boat jetty, helicopter transfer service to Caticlan airport, and Filipino-inspired architecture featuring superb hard wood (most notable in the grand lobby). Of its 219 rooms and villas, check out the 11 Tree House Villas (with butler service and private jacuzzis). Yes, there's a spa (CHI), a world class children's club, and daily adult activities (bat watching? herb garden tours? snorkelling safaris?). Each of its four restaurants is distinctive with the clifftop Sirena best known for its seafood/sunset experience. But if you have chance, sample the exquisite fare at Rima, the multi-award winning treetop restaurant.
Steve Meacham was a guest of Philippine Airlines and Philippine Department of Tourism.