In Boracay, your intention depends a lot on your location, location, location. From the devout yoga practitioner, the watersports diehard, the beach bum, gimmick seeker, to the avid foodie, there’s definitely a place and activity for everyone.
For the holidays, if you’re the type who wants a perfect retreat where everything you’ll need is within reach—including some peace and quiet—then Boracay Garden Resort, the island’s best-kept secret on Station 2 might just be the place for you. Don’t be deceived by the narrow entrance on the beachfront. Once you enter, you’ll discover a spacious 1.6-hectare hideaway complete with lush pocket gardens, three swimming pools, a pool bar, gym, and a central dining hall where the island’s best meals are served.
Things could get busy especially around this time of the year, but you know you’ll be in a good place when you check the room and rates, say for a deluxe room (P4,800++) or family room (P7,700++ per night) and find out that it comes complete with all plush amenities (including a pool right in front of your door in some rooms) and that all-important WiFi access. Or, when you see the resort owner’s own son up and about to personally attend to the operations.
The resort is just one of three luxury resorts of the Hennan Hotels and Resorts group led by businessman Henry Chusuey. His first venture is the 258-room Boracay Regency Beach Resort that he established in 1998, the other is a non-beachfront luxury hotel called Boracay Regency Lagoon. Boracay Garden, on the other hand, is an existing hotel property that has been renovated according to modern resort standards. Call it destiny, Chusuey was able to get all three properties that are beside each other. Another property in Bohol is being developed and is set to open with 400 rooms by early 2012.
The Hennan properties are definitely a far cry from the first accommodations that Chusuey used to stay in when he would visit Boracay in the ‘80s. Back then, the only accommodations would be native huts. He didn’t mind roughing it up, he says, “I liked coming back here. It’s paradise. You cannot see a place like this. I’ve gone to so many places already. Maldives is beautiful but the beaches are not as beautiful as ours. Boracay sand is very fine. And the sunshine is different. Mas mainit ang tama ng sun nila. I stayed in a shanty for three nights but I didn’t want to go home. Everybody was living in a shanty anyway.”
Fifteen years later, Chusuey found himself collaborating with architects and designers on building a luxury resort that suited his personal standards but, as he still underscores today, “with value for money. That’s why we came up with the ‘luxury without compromise’ slogan for Boracay Garden.”
His son Alfonso, a hotel and restaurant management graduate, ensures that his father’s vision is fulfilled as he remains on top of operations. “More like troubleshooting when needed,” says the young Chusuey.
Boracay Garden has 200 rooms to date and will have 50 more rooms by next year. The resort is slowly going through renovations since most of the previous infrastructures have been changed, including renovating a deep swimming pool and turning it into a lap pool for safer swimming.
For Christmas, Boracay Gardens, along with its sister resorts, is offering the perfect holiday break: easy, comfortable, and with a good noche buena spread to be enjoyed by families and friends.
Executive Chef Dario Roxas and his team are preparing a buffet feast that includes traditional favorites like morcon, maya-maya sa mayonisa, roast beef, and glazed ham, to name a few. Foreign guests yearning for certain dishes can also request Chef Roxas to create it for them as the team can also prepare Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and other international fare.
New Year’s Eve, on the other hand, will be more festive as the three resorts unite for a grand buffet at the beach. The celebration becomes even grander with a fireworks display. “It’s our gift to the public,” says Chusuey.
Around this time, Boracay island is as alive as ever as various establishments attract travelers with a frenzy of gimmicks, from loud beach parties, band music, poi fire dancers, to all kinds of bar promos.
But it’s comforting to know, you’ve got a quiet hideaway afterwards where you can bury your head under the softest pillows, rest your party weary body on a good bed, and have room service for your New Year breakfast the next day—just the way Mr. Chusuey wants it.
• Boracay Garden Resort is located on Station 2, Balabag in Boracay. For details, contact (+6336) 288-6672 to 76.