Review by Philippa Langrish
Why you’ll love Discovery Shores
After the short flight from Manila to Caticlan, even the most flustered mother will be soothed into a yoga-stoned state of dreamy smiles and little sighs by the Discovery Shores Boracay staff who whisk you away along with your luggage to a speed boat (cutting the boat transfer time to just 5 minutes, compared to the longer local Bangka boat shuttle). Don’t expect to carry another suitcase until you are back home! The pampering does not stop there either. Once settled into our room I was treated to a complimentary soothing foot wash while my husband re-fuelled from the Nespresso machine and our kids tucked into chocolate treats, which the hotel had made especially for them. We have visited Boracay a number of times as a family now and Station 1 is by far the best location on White Beach. Discovery Shores, nestled right at the top has bagged a prime spot – for us there is no going back to the hustle and bustle of resorts closer to Station 2.
The resort pulls out all the stops when it comes to creating a truly family friendly experience; toy diggers, a huge box of beach toys and inflatables are all provided to make sure the kids are entertained. There is a games room, activity centre, flavoured slushy drinks, high chairs, cribs, and even a couple of cuddly toy bears in the room. We forgot Gillan’s (1.5 years) arm bands – two seconds later and the life guard miraculously appeared with a spare pair of Sponge Bob Square Pants arm bands available for us to use for the length for our stay.
I often think it is a good idea to go out for dinner with our gorgeous toddler and five year old and then instantly regret it as I am yo-yoing around trying to control the carnage. Therefore when we go on holiday as a family a babysitting service has now become essential and Discovery Shores boasts a brilliant service. We were spoilt with two friendly and professional ladies to look after the kids from 7pm-10pm in our room. Our daughter loves to meet new people and although our son wasn’t as impressed at being left with two ladies he had never met before, he only complained for 10 minutes before he settled down on the sofa with bottle of milk and his favourite teddy bear to snuggle.
Terra Wellness Spa
Having dinner as a couple at the end of a sun drenched day is a great way to rejuvenate ready for an early start in the morning. We often sneak in a massage before-hand to make the most of the evening. The in-house Terra Wellness Spa offers a fantastic couples massage service, which is a blissful treat every parent deserves.
The highlight of our trip was sunset Paraw sailing with the whole family. On previous visits we have tried island hoping on a Bangka boat which I found really noisy. Paraw sailing is the complete opposite! You sit in nets like a catamaran on either side of the sail and lounge back as the boat glides alongside the beach and the sun sets behind the ocean. It is memorable, magical and a great way to soak up the island vibe.
One of the best things for me about Discovery Shores is the food and the Terra Wellness Spa. Luckily I don’t need to miss it too much since the resort’s sister property in Manila has an equally delicious menu and totally blissful spa at Discovery Primea in Makati of which we are now regulars for lazy Sunday lunches.
Take a look at our Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Boracay!
Why the kids will love Discovery Shores
Soft white sandy beach + shallow clear crystal waters + beach toys + kids activities + child friendly swimming pool + smiley staff = happy kids! Gillan (1.5 years) and Maya (5 years) love a bit of space to express themselves and Discovery Shores has lovely spacious rooms as well as oodles of space around the property for the kids to bound around – from beach to pool with games and activity zones to keep them busy.
The sand is perfect for making sandcastles and the beach toys provided are plentiful. Our two literally spent hours on their constructions while we made the most of the beachside buffet breakfast. There are even friendly security guards on the beach who will help you keep an eye on wayward toddlers.
I think the highlight for the children is simply the freedom they have to run on the soft sand and feel totally unencumbered. The distance from the beach loungers to the sea is about 200m. Once the kids reach the water’s edge the sea doesn’t get deep for at least another 50m so there is no need to hover over the kids. They can safely find a tranquil spot to play by the water’s edge enjoying a little autonomy. Once the kids have had enough of sea, sun and sand there is a wonderful shaded pool which includes a warm bubbly Jacuzzi. This was a big hit with our tropical born son, who is not a fan of cold water.
Once the children start to fade at 4pm there are free activities hosted by the resort. Maya enjoyed going to these by herself and spent an hour making puppets at the arts and crafts session. If we had more time I am sure she would have loved to have taken part in the life size snakes and ladders.
Discovery Shores Boracay is just nine years old and has 87 rooms in total divided into the following categories:
- 65 Junior Suites
- 12 One-Bedroom Premier (Loft) Suites with private Jacuzzi
- 3 Two-Bedroom Suites
- 2 Two-Bedroom Premier Suites
- 5 One-Bedroom Suites
We stayed in a One Bedroom Suite which was huge. The kids were equipped with a cot and a little sofa bed which was ideal.
Rooms are neutrally decorated with contemporary soft furnishings in beige, cream, white and brown. Headboards are tastefully upholstered in cream, framing the humungous beds dressed with top grade white linen. Fresh flowers, native style side lamps and well-chosen books decorate the room giving a homely touch.
There is a private sit-out balcony area which wraps around the lounge area and bedroom. We needed to keep a watchful eye on Gillan in this space just in case he climbed through a wrung.
There are TV’s in each room. Sliding doors maximise space, offer privacy and contain the noise (perfect for the kids who have different bed times).
Great attention to detail has been made in the interior right down to the ambient lighting, wooden naughts and crosses game and miniature waffle slippers for the children.
Best Rooms for Families: All the rooms are great for kids. If you are splashing out the best room for families is the Two Bedroom Premier Suit.
The Discovery Group is a distinctly Filipino brand. They employ just one foreigner over their five properties across the Philippines. Unlike other resorts they have kept their local flavour by staying uniquely Filipino. This is beautifully exemplified by the cuisine on offer. This is not to say that the Western portion of the menu is not equally well crafted. However, if you are new to the Philippines and want to experience what every Filipino holds close to their heart (a great cook-up) then you won’t be disappointed.
I am an adventurous foody and was pleasantly surprised that my keenness to experiment with the local cuisine did not send me furiously back peddling. As explained by our articulate chef, each Filipino dish should always be accompanied by a couple of complimentary sauces or dips. We feasted on Tinola (sour chicken soup), Lechon Kawali (roasted pork), Adobo (fried chicken or pork in vinegar, garlic and soya sauce) and Caldereta (beef stew). These dishes were accompanied by Atchara (pickled mango and papaya), chicken liver gravy and chilli and calamansi soya dip.
We arrived on the Friday night and were welcomed with a sumptuous buffet of Filipino, Western and Chinese food – amongst the non-Filipino fare was Beef Sechzun, Orange Chicken and BBQ Pork along with Fresh Seafood (crab claw, catch of the day and squid) complimented by an array of spicy, sour and sweet dipping sauces.
A buffet breakfast was waiting for us in the morning with a great variety of cereals, breads, rice, adobo, any style eggs, crispy bacon, hash browns, tropical fruit, yoghurts, refreshing juices and fresh tea and coffee. The great thing about having young children is you profit from the breakfast buffet before anyone else has woken up!
The resort has two restaurants, Sands and Indigo. Sands is the main restaurant, while Indigo offers more intimate experience. We lunched at Indigo on our last day and were impressed by the generous portions. We both had a hearty western style lunch to set us up for the journey back to Manila which included lobster bisque, steak and frites, Lapu Lapu (catch of the day) and a very naughty chocolate mousse cake. The children had pizza, pasta and french fries.
The hotel is very accommodating with the diets of their guests and will custom make dishes to individual tastes as well as offering a kids menu and vegetarian food.
Activities for Families Include:
- Jet skiing
- Island excursions
- Paraw Sailing
- The resort can also organise any of the island activities such as banana boating, scuba diving etc…
- Games room with table pool
- Activity Centre with little tykes scooters, puzzles, kids t.v, toys and games
- Beach toy box with diggers, water wheels, giant spades, buckets and sand moulds.
- Daily kids activities at 4pm Swimming
A/C, babysitting, baby cots, nearest doctor’s clinic is less than 15 minutes away, extra beds available for 3,660php, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ activities organised, kids’ swimming pool, laundry service, pets not allowed, pushchair friendly, hotel shop, Terra Wellness Spa, swimming pool, travel desk & excursions, wheelchair access, WiFi.
Environmental measures and social responsibility: The island of Boracay has a no smoking and no littering policy on the beach. They are fairly strict about this and impose fines. Discovery Shores collects rainwater for the plants and has a waste management system of segregation for recycling. The resort supports the local Ati tribe who were the first settlers of Boracay. The resort takes part in medical missions, offers free medical checks and feeding programmes. They also are involved in teaching and an employment programme.
When to go:
The best time to visit the Philippines is between December and February in the cooler months. The wet season is from June onwards. Be careful travelling in the months from September to December as this is when the typhoon season is. Temperatures range from 27 – 40+. Avoid travelling in the busy holy weeks of Easter and Christmas.
Location & Travel:
Discovery Shores is located on White Beach, Station 1, near the top of the island of Boracay. For international travel fly to Manila or Cebu and take an internal flight to Caticlan or Kalibo. Discovery Shores van and speedboat take care of the rest.
- Book a baby sitter and enjoy a massage at the Terra Wellness Spa
- Try the hotels signature Mojito at Sands Restaurant; the lychee flavour is delicious.
- Go Paraw Sailing with the whole family. This is now one of my favourite things to do in the Philippines.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary two-night stay with my family at Discovery Shores Boracay, however all opinion are, as always, my own.