MANILA, Philippines – It seems like everyone’s heading to Boracay again, and for good reason – one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations is back! The beautiful, pristine, white sand beach and some of its best restaurants, bars, water activities, and resorts have been offering local and foreign tourists a fun and laid-back tropical getaway since its post-lockdown reopening in 2021.
And that includes me! Last June, I took my first domestic trip since March 2020, and chose Boracay for some much-needed sun, sand, and R&R. An island close to my heart since I was a child, I was excited to see it again after I was last there in 2015. Considering it was Alert Level 1, I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a lot of vacationers on the island, but also a bit wary – I appreciated the action after years in lockdown, but the noise and large crowds could get overwhelming.
If you’re also the kind of traveler who enjoys the bustle of the beach but also the privacy, there are two resorts you can choose from, depending on you and your companions’ current vacay needs (location, experience, and budget included). Here are two Station 1 resorts you might consider booking at, next time you’re Boracay-bound with friends, family, (or even just yourself)!
Location is key at Zuzuni Boutique Hotel in Station 1
Small boutique hotel Zuzuni has been around for years, catering to couples, individuals, and small families who want to be at the cusp of the quieter Station 1 and the busy Station 2. Location-wise, Zuzuni is ideal – it’s a short walk away from food and shopping haven D’Mall and also a leisurely stroll away from the higher-end resorts and restos of Station 1.
It’s in a very convenient and commercial location as well – right beside Zuzuni are a few 24/7 convenience stores, as well as chains like Army Navy, Yellow Cab, All FlipFlops, Gerry’s Grill, and Starbucks. Plus points that it’s got Master Siomai, Jonah’s Shakes, and Potato Corner nearby, too!
It’s a quaint 3-star hotel with a beachfront view that is more than enough. Just a few steps from the entrance is Boracay’s shores and crystal-clear waters, with enough sand space for you to lay down your beach mat and soak up some rays before taking a dip. Big bonus that Zuzuni lets you borrow banig beach mats and towels for the day!
Heads-up, though: the location isn’t very private and quiet – it’s a populated and public area, with many passers-by and vendors around, especially in the late afternoon. At this time, before sunset, many boats also park by the shore, so your beachfront view can get obstructed. But the sunset will still steal the show!
Zuzuni’s view is a lovely sight to wake up to, since the area isn’t so congested yet in the morning, so it’s highly recommended to book Zuzuni’s premier beachfront room on the second floor. The room’s balcony comes with a table and chairs, so you can people-watch and soak up the view while enjoying your breakfast from above.
Room-wise, it’s a steal, especially for its reasonable prices ranging from P2,000 to P4,000+ a night. You get a clean, bright, and spacious room; a big, cozy bed (double, queen, or king); hypoallergenic pillows; cable TV; WiFi; attentive staff; closet space; a large bench; private balcony; basic CR amenities; complimentary water, regular room cleaning and sanitation; and a medical-grade Air Intellipure Air Purifier with DFS Technology that’s 40x more effective than HEPA filters. In this “wellness hotel” room, you’ll definitely breathe easy (literally).
The CR is a bit small in size, but it’s modern and clean. And since it’s a boutique hotel with no fuss and no frills, don’t expect 24/7 room service, on-the-clock concierge, telephone, a fully-stocked mini bar, key card, or other fancy hotel perks. Since there’s no elevator, be ready to climb a flight of stairs or two to get to your room, but it’s not that high.
Hungry? Thankfully, the hotel houses Latin American bar and resto Muchos downstairs, which offers seven breakfast options to choose from, available from 7 am to 11 am with free brewed coffee or iced tea.
I had a full and filling plate of Bacon, Beans, and Eggs (P250) with crispy bacon, baked beans in tomato sauce, and two sunny-side up eggs with crisp, buttery bread (you can choose your kind of eggs). The next morning, I was looking for something lighter, and so the Yogurt and Muesli (P250) sufficed, featuring thick, tangy homemade yogurt, mixed muesli, and fresh fruit.
The Bacon and Vegetable Omelette (P250), which I had without bacon and with baked bread, also satisfied. On my last morning was my favorite Arroz Caldo (P250), a Latin American fusion winner of thick Filipino rice porridge that’s extra savory, made with different spices and served with crunchy garlic, spring onion, and soft-boiled eggs. You can have it with grilled chicken, but you can also request for a vegan option. They were all big servings!
If you’re looking for a simple and straightforward boutique hotel to stay in while you explore the rest of Boracay (with clean, comfortable, and airy rooms), Zuzuni is a great budget-friendly option to consider, especially if you’re after its prime, convenient location; beachfront view and access; and if you don’t mind the occasional hustle and bustle of Boracay.
Zuzuni can also plan out your land-and-sea transfer services, courtesy of Southwest Travel and Tours. You’ll be taken care of via private boat and van shuttle – from arriving at Caticlan Airport, to transferring to the boat port, and being dropped off at the main road by Zuzuni (you’ll just need to take a short walk).
Unwind and splurge at The Lind in Station 1
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more private, exclusive, and quiet location; high-end amenities; and the complete 5-star hotel experience; you deserve to splurge on luxury beachfront resort The Lind, one of Boracay’s best and a recent recipient of Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice Award, part of the Top 10% of Hotels Worldwide.
If you’re in dire need of some R&R and want to steer clear from the island’s busy (and sometimes rowdy) areas, The Lind is ideal – it’s located beside Discovery Shores, so it’s at the farthest part of Station 1. If you’re worrying that it’s a bit secluded, don’t – you’re just a beach stroll away from Station 1’s other restos (Jonah’s, Two Seasons, and Percy’s Seafood are nearby), and The Lind makes it very possible to just stay inside the resort the whole day. You can milk your stay here without getting bored.
The multi-level, high-end resort is big, breezy, spacious, and modern, and looks extra pretty at night. You’re greeted by a welcoming concierge and a complimentary refresher at the open, high-ceiling lobby, with comfy sofas to wait in while the staff prepares everything for your check-in.
The bright lobby extends to an outdoor roof deck that houses +36, a café that’s a few steps away from the beautiful, IG-worthy infinity pool that overlooks a stunning view of Boracay’s skyline, sunset, ocean, and shores.
By the infinity pool are chaise lounges with umbrellas, side tables for your poolside grub, and free beach towels. This is the best place to watch Boracay’s sunsets from (and take amazing photo ops in while you’re at it)!
There’s also a bigger, family-friendly pool at the ground floor of the resort, equipped with a bubbly jacuzzi. Why not cap off your relaxing dip with a visit to The Spa? You can choose to enjoy your massage in your room, by the pool/beach, or at the spa itself (I recommend the latter, to get the complete premium experience).
The room itself is spacious, modern, and organized, and comes with a huge queen bed, TV, WiFi, sofa, office desk, and (very) welcome pastries and drinks. There’s a mini-fridge, safe, water pitchers, large closet space, electric kettle, and a tea and coffee station, too.
The CR (with a rain shower) is also cool, clean, and big, with high-quality in-room toiletries in reusable containers (environmentally-friendly bonus)!
The best part of the room is the wide balcony (with a drying rack, table, and beach chairs) that offers a great and breezy view of the pool, restaurant, and roof deck.
The room rates may be a bit steep for the average traveler, especially during peak season (ranges from P11,000 to P21,000+ per night), but you’re getting 5-star hotel treatment here – 24/7 room service, concierge care, in-house restaurants, pools, a spa, shopping outlets, a gym, a beachside lounge area, privacy, A+ views, breakfast buffet, and a luxurious location (the concierge can also conveniently call a trike for you while you wait in the lobby, any time of day).
The breakfast buffet is held at Tartine from 7 am to 10:30 am, where the usual hotel fare is served, plus some extras – bacon, eggs, Filipino ulam, rice, kakanin, champorado, fresh fruits, yogurt, fresh juice, cheeses, deli cuts, salmon gravlax, breads, jams, soups, salad, and the rest of the works.
Feeling different cuisines for dinner? The Lind’s Crust restaurant serves a variety of hearty dishes to from around the globe to choose from.
A few of my personal favorites: the plant-based Mezze Platter for sharing with crunchy falafel balls, hummus, feta, marinated olives, artichokes, veggies, pita bread, and dips; and the flavorful Grilled Octopus – a sophisticated medley of tender, char-grilled octopus atop a smoky, savory, and tangy romesco sauce with sautéed marble potatoes, drizzled with squid ink.
Filipino fare never disappoints, and the Corned US Beef Sinigang hits all the sour spots – asim-kilig tamarind broth is served with all the crisp veggies of a good sinigang, plus fork-tender chunks of real corned beef.
Other items on the menu include the Italian options of thin wood-fired pizza (I tried the creamy 6-cheese) and shrimp aglio olio. There’s also simple, crispy French fries, which made for a good midnight room service snack.
Crust also has an al fresco beachside dining set-up, plus a cocktail bar at the center.
Whether you’re in need of a luxurious, 5-star, beachfront getaway that’s not too far from civilization, or would be happy with a simple yet comfortable boutique hotel in a convenient, commercial location, both resorts definitely won’t disappoint – your Boracay stay will thank you! – Rappler.com