I haven’t been to Boracay but after reading this article and noting all the foreigners enjoying being there, I would let to experience the attraction of the place.
From BusinessWorld Philippines
January 02, 2012
After my last visit six years ago, I was surprised at the many changes that have happened in Boracay which made our family vacation last week in Microtel Boracay a rediscovery trip.
I had actually preferred Palawan or the new destination — Camarines Sur — for our annual New Year family reunion. But my children and nephews were all excited about a trip to Boracay. Last year, we had gone to Club Paradise in Palawan which, by the way, I highly recommend as a world-class vacation resort. This time I gave in to the younger generation and the trip became a rediscovery because of the many surprising changes.
Boracay itself is much cleaner especially the famous White Beach and D’Mall is now cemented and the shops have glass fronts. The main pathway has become a more pleasant walk with plants and benches all along the way.
The biggest surprise came on my first walk on the White Beach. I observed that the majority of visitors were foreigners and Filipinos were now a minority. This observation was confirmed by a number of restaurant owners and hotel supervisors. In fact, one popular restaurant owner/manager said that last year a surprising half of their customers were non-Filipinos. But this Christmas holidays, up to 70% of her patrons were foreigners.
On New Year’s Day, I had breakfast, together with my wife and daughter Aina, at the very popular Lemoni Cafe. The owner told me that in the past, people started coming in on New Year’s Day, after the evening revelry, at noontime. This year she said they were already full by 9 a.m. It was 10 a.m. when we sat down and we noticed that 14 tables were occupied. Of these, only three (including us) were occupied by Filipinos . I decided to go table-hopping and checked on the nationality of each group.
The first table I talked to was a young couple from England who was here for the first time. There was a table of four Koreans in their 20s and 30s who were from Seoul. There was another table of two Korean girls, also from Seoul. There was a solitary French guy, waiting for his girlfriend, who said he was from Nice, France. He preferred to come here because, according to him, the Boracay beach was better than the beaches of southern France.
There were six Chinese girls who had flown in the direct flight from Shanghai, China. Also, there was a lone Japanese who works in Shanghai and had arrived on the same flight.
There was an Australian couple from Sydney and another couple from the Gold Coast, Australia’s world famous beach. However they said this was their second visit, because Boracay was better than the Gold Coast. There was a Russian couple who said they had come with a large group of Russians and were planning to come regularly. A hotel owner told me that she had witnessed an increased influx of tourists from Russia in the last few years. Now she was seeing some from Kazakhstan.
I only met one American that morning and he was with another Russian girl. One Filipino couple were actually balikbayans from California who had brought along their children. Finally, I met a German couple who had come to Boracay after visiting the girl’s father who had decided to settle down in Borongan, Eastern Samar.
There were many new luxury hotels built over the last six years — Microtel, Shangri-la, Discovery, Estacio Uno, Ambassador and Regency. But the grand old names are still there — Nami, Sur, Fridays, Seawind and Soleil.
Many of the chain restaurants have set up branches in Boracay. But fortunately my favorite restaurants from past visits are still there and still packed with people.
Lemoni (lemon in Italian) Cafe was started in 2005 by an Australian Sarah La’Brooy and her Swedish business partner. Sarah had arrived in the Philippines in 1996 with her husband who came to manage a hotel. Today Sarah and Etienne La’Brooy have set up a hotel and club management company. Among the institutions they manage is Tower Club.
Lemoni serves all day meals but my favorite are their breakfast and salad dishes. Their coffee is one of the best in the Philippines. My wife loves it because it is so “cheerful” and my daughter considers it a “must” destination during each of her nine visits to the island.
“Jonah’s” now has three branches and remains the best place for fresh fruit shakes. It is open 24 hours a day and their Filipino breakfast is actually an all day meal.
“Real Coffee: Where Great Minds Meet” is still the same rustic, bamboo and nipa structure since it was opened in 1996 by a mother and daughter team Nadine and Lee Rosaia. According to Nadine, her mother was a world traveller who decided to settle down in the Philippines in 1984 and subsequently in Boracay a few years later. Their calamansi muffin is still their best seller.
“True Food” with their Sri Lankan chef is still one of the best Indian restaurants in the Philippines. Happily the place remains exactly the same as it did six years. Try their nan bread, vegetarian dumplings, chicken tandoori and my personal favorite, the lamb curry. Make sure you know how to sit on the floor for your meal but the pillows are huge and comfortable.
If you just want to sit and watch the world literally walking by, the place is still Cafe del Sol strategically located at the corner of D’Mall and White Beach. The place is owned by Juan Elizalde one of the sons of Freddie Elizalde. It is the place for rubbing elbows with Filipino movie stars, socialites, politicians and other celebrities.
Aquatic sports is, of course, another major attraction. My son Roel and his cousin Chris who studies in New York, recommend helmet diving for those who want to go diving without the necessity of taking lessons. My nephew, Norman who works in Shanghai enjoyed kite surfing which you have to see for yourself.
It was one of the best vacations I have ever had and it is with pride that I can confidently agree with a recent travel survey that the second best beach destination in the world for 2011 is Boracay in the Philippines.
Dr. Elfren S. Cruz is a professor of Strategic Management at the MBA Program, Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. Please send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org