Having dropped off our things and made a survey of our accommodations at Boracay Terraces Resort, we then decided to check out a property named Sol Marina, which was even more "remote" than the Terraces. This was pretty much unscheduled on my part - you will recall it was Arthur who made the travel arrangements and I was only too happy to be unburdened with the stress of picking at the nitty-gritty details of travel preparations.
(See http://theguywithablog.blogspot.com/2012/05/boracay-less-traveled.html for the details of how this trip came to be, and the rest of the first part of my post for this trip.)
Sol Marina has undergone a series of name changes, but that's because it has undergone a change in ownership: this is the now defunct Club Panoly, which, even for Boracay-unfettered me, managed to be eked into my consciousness, which speaks well of Panoly's marketing efforts. The new owners had renamed the property Boracay Zest, which was transformed into Splendor. It is currently sporting the name Sol Marina, which may change in the future again; however, I rather like the current name it identifies itself, as it conjures up overlapping visions of sun and sea.
The property is located beside the prestigious Boracay Shangri-la Resort, so it gives you an idea of the neighborhood it is situated in.
The structure that greets you is one that never lets you forget that you are on a summer vacation: airy, well ventilated and lighted by natural sources, with large fans and a white facade in clean lines. While the building was welcoming, the staff that greets you surpasses this with their warmth and eagerness. The eagerness seemed a little over the top, but it turns out, there was an explanation for it.
It was eerie and surreal, but in the best possible way: the resort had a cancellation of a large Chinese entourage, who cancelled on account of the current diplomatic row between the Philippines and China over Scarborough Shoal (as if the conflict itself wasn't bad enough, now it has spillover effects on local tourism), so the staff was ready and willing to give their brand of service, with no one to give it to. Luckily, we became the stand-in beneficiaries, much to our delight.
(Full disclosure: Joyce is related to the owners, which would account for the first-name basis she was on with the staff. While it helps with getting a warm welcome, the staff was not aware that I was going to blog about the experience.)
The beachfront directly framing the property was so empty that it felt like you were all alone on that strip.
I never thought there would be a place in Boracay like this, seeing recent pictures of friends who came to the island on Holy Week, which seemed to have more party revelers than grains of white sand. I don't know if Sol Marina and Shangri-la will be able to keep their "turf" this way, but this was definitely paradise compared to the flurry of activities that characterizes the fun characteristic of the party island.
We wasted no time setting up our spots on this side of uncluttered Boracay.
Our resident guide and host, Edwin, would later take us on a tour of the property: it had suites, "regular" rooms as well as cabanas. It also has a tennis court (which I hope gets repainted before they go full blast in their operations, it is currently on soft opening, to use industry speak) as well as a swimming pool with a pool bar should you be the type to be saltwater-phobic. By the way, be prepared to work your quads: The property, as it goes "deeper" (inward from the beachfront), is situated on an incline, which translates to lots of stair climbing. Just think of it as a way to work off the excellent seafood you will ingest on the trip.
Edwin also arranged a tour of the high point of Boracay, another thing I never heard from people who "usually" party here. (This is another "workout" activity - you have to huff and puff to get to the top, but the view is worth it.)
Just when I thought there was nothing new to see or do in Boracay (which I had already equated with decadent debauchery), this trip changed my mind in an unexpected way.
More discoveries on the next post.