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Friday, September 21, 2012

Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel, Boat Station 2

We arrived in Kalibo, the capital of Aklan Province, and had to make a strenuous 2.5 hour journey to our final destination. During our bus ride to Caticlan, I got the impression that there's nothing much to see in Kalibo. Unless you're visiting around the third week of January during the Ati-Atihan Festival, a colorful week-long feast celebrated in honor of the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus).



The tourism assistance counter inside the Kalibo International Airport.

The heavy city traffic in Kalibo that day only prolonged our agony inside the bus, where the legroom is terrible. Along the road, apart from native homes and hundreds of coconut trees, I noticed that the beach surrounding Kalibo wasn't blessed with the same powdery white sand which made the island of Boracay a famous travel destination.

After our 2-hour bus ride, a personnel of the hotel we booked met us at Caticlan. Wherefrom, we had to endure two more boat rides, a shuttle ride and a 5-minute walk to our hotel situated along Boat Station 2. At this point, I would like to strongly advise my readers against taking this course of travel from Kalibo. All the hassle and stress is not worth being able to ride a more spacious plane flying the Kalibo route. And even though the cost of airfare to Kalibo is a little more affordable, you'll save time and more money flying directly to Caticlan because the land and boat transfers from Kalibo are definitely not going to come cheap.

Inside the boat.
 /
The hardest part about riding a boat. The photo made it look so easy. But crossing a narrow platform with a baby in tow always leaves me shaking in my shoes.

Last year, we had a very relaxing stay at the secluded Shangri-La's Boracay Resort and Spa which has its own private beach, separate from the resort-laden White Beach of Boracay. But this time, we're staying right in the center of all the action.



Boat Station 2 is the busiest place in the island. Hotels, food establishments, bars and commercial kiosks surround the beach front. Along came dozens of local vendors, hawking their native goods to hordes of eager tourists who flock to the island all year round. I have been to several beaches and truly, not one can compare to the wonderful tropical party atmosphere at the heart of White Beach. That's why visitors staying at Boat Stations 1 & 3 and other exclusive resorts should never miss a trip here just to be able to understand the magic that  kept tourists coming back for more.





Along the Boat Station 2 beachfront area is a cozy orange structure called the Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel. The resort is evidently popular among tourists as I noticed several passers-by having their pictures taken beside the hotel signage at the entrance.




Flanking the hotel on the left is the Mandarin Spa and on the right, the Don Vito Ristorante Italiano with its famous gelato booth.




We stayed at a Premier Sea View Room which features its own private veranda with a nice view of the hotel pool. The commodious room has a king-sized and a double bed along with standard hotel amenities. The bathroom offers ample space and has a bathtub/shower area.


Premier Sea View room rates start at Php 8000/night.

3 Days/2 Nights Room and Breakfast Package which includes roundtrip airport transfers (via Caticlan) starts at Php 5150/pax, inclusive of taxes and surcharges. A maximum of 1 kid below 7 years old may stay for free.



Though the room is a little far below standard in comparison with the 5-star luxury of Shangri-La Boracay's deluxe rooms, it provides enough comfort for tourists who prefer the lively ambiance of Station 2 over the ostentatious seclusion of exclusive resorts.

Our room in Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel.

Our room in Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & Spa. 

In fact, Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel rates as one of the best accommodations along the shores of Station 2. This wonderful beachfront property boasts of 52 rooms and suites with facilities that include a swimming pool, its very own spa where guests can indulge in invigorating treatments, a world-class restaurant with a great ambiance, a gelato booth that serves one of the best frozen treats I have ever tasted and a beachside bar where diners are serenaded by live local bands and enthralled by skilled fire dancers juggling and twirling their flaming batons.



The illuminated hotel pool at night.

Inside Don Vito Ristorante Italiano, Boracay Mandarin Hotel's very own restaurant.

Don Vito Gelato. 

Try the combination of Chocolate and Coffee. It's the best.

Dinner at the Buco Bar and Grill., the hotel's alfresco dining option which showcases scrumptious grilled food and plenty of entertainment.


Fresh seafood cooked to your preference.

A live band entertains the crowd before the main event.

The highlight of the show is a captivating fire dance which left the crowd breathless with excitement.


The island of Boracay was unfortunately hit by a storm when we were there. For three straight days, it was raining non-stop. And because we're trapped inside our hotel room with nowhere else to go, food is the kind of comfort that first came to mind. It's a good thing we didn't need to go far to feast on sumptuous Italian cuisine and dessert. The Don Vito Ristorante Italiano serves gastronomic delights in a charming and cozy setting that almost feels like you're in some sort of a cabin on top of a mountain. It provides a nice contrast against the background of an elusive stormy beach just outside the restaurant's glass walls. I will write a separate post featuring the delicious offerings of Don Vito's very soon.


Breakfast buffet at Don Vito Ristorante Italiano.

Salad Bar.

Soup and Bread.

An assortment of Filipino and intercontinental breakfast favorites.

The hearty breakfast was pretty good. And they change the array of food they serve daily. The next day, a very different but just as satisfying set filled us to the brim.

Perfectly cooked omelette.

The endless rain also provided me with lots of idle time that gave me an excuse to indulge in some spa pampering. My hubby had no choice but to take care of our tiny toddler, who's too busy playing with his tablet to be a bother anyway.:)

The Mandarin Spa is right along the beachfront, near the hotel pool where excited kids are jumping into the cold water despite the tempestuous weather. I was immediately shown a menu of spa treatments at the counter. They were only offering two kinds of full body massage and I decided to choose the Traditional Filipino "Hilot" Massage over the Aroma Hot Stone Therapy.

1.5-hour Traditional Filipino "Hilot" Massage: Php 2200 

I was tempted to prolong my spa escape when I saw the empty sauna in the changing room. The sauna facility, although tiny, is kempt and well maintained. After 15 minutes of relaxation bliss in the heat and a quick shower, I was assisted to a private room. The treatment began with a 3-minute foot soak and a light shoulder kneading which led to a 90-minute head to toe massage designed to rejuvenate blood circulation and balance the body's energies. The finger pressure of the therapist is just perfect to bring me to a slumber-like state of tranquility. I emerged from the spa feeling 100% better, as always.:)

The bad weather continued until our last day in Boracay. The only time we were able to frolic in the sand was when the torrent of rain took a short break for about two hours. Still, it's an ample respite that opened a window of opportunity for us to experience the beautiful beach of Boracay once more.




Chilling out by the hotel pool.

The Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel is truly in a class of its own compared to the other accommodations sprawled along Boat Station 2. I certainly wouldn't mind getting stuck there again the next time another storm decides to crash my Boracay vacation. I'm sure my son will agree too.:)



Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel
Beachfront, Station 2,
Boracay Island, Aklan
Philippines
Tel +63 36 288 4999
      +63 36 288 5999

Related Articles:
Don Vito Ristorante Italiano, Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel
Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & Spa

6 comments:

diana jane cervantes said...

Wow Cheryl, you have a very luxurious trip and Boracay accommodations. I envy you so much haha. A very nice bonding with your family. Hope to also have a great trip next month in Boracay. Cheers! :)

Cheryl Ann Lei Reyes said...

@Diane Jane-Safe travels!

Anonymous said...

Was the noise from the nearby restos and bars heard inside your hotel room?

Cheryl Ann Lei Reyes said...

Our room was situated on the side of the hotel farthest from the beach. It was a bit of a walk, around 5-6 minutes, each time we want to go to shore. But we didn't have a problem with noise during our entire stay.

Melo Smith said...

Great! Thank you for sharing your experiences as well as your photos. Do you also consider to look for affordable boracay house apart from hotels?

Cheryl Ann Lei Reyes said...

@Melo-Haven't considered that as staying in a hotel gives you an easier access to the beach.

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