Why you’ll love the Shangri-La Boracay
The Shangri-La Boracay is like Tiffany’s! As Audrey Hepburn says in the classic film “It calms (you) down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell.”
“The Shang”, as it is affectionately known to locals, has a reputation for elegance and luxury and we certainly weren’t disappointed! We were welcomed by elegant reception staff who took us to our gorgeous room, complete with private sit out onto a secluded roof garden overlooking the sea, where we completed check-in. I love this idea of checking-in from the comfort of your room as it allows you to relax immediately upon arrival.
The Shangri-La is immense so it took us awhile to orientate ourselves. All the kids activities are located on the same floor as the beach and pool. There is a grove of palms surrounding a cluster of pools which are positioned back from the beach. Cabanas, hammocks and huge circular cushions dot the lawns where families set up base for the day.
We spent the first day lolling around by the pool as our daughter Maya intermittently darted between the Kids Adventure Zone, pool and beach. Our son Gillan was more than happy with a cabana and hammock (much like his Daddy). My husband took himself off to the gym for a couple of hours while I took Gillan for a little play in the Adventure Zone with Maya for the hottest part of the day.
As the sun set behind the sea we were treated to a cultural show on the beach. The bar is right next to the beach so we ordered a couple of cocktails as we were entertained by masked fire dancers and a live band.
Just before the kids bedtime “Beng” the babysitter arrived at our room to settle them down while we enjoyed some couple time at the Sirena restaurant (Beng is a mother herself with 6 years experience of babysitting at The Shang). The babysitting service here is surprisingly reasonable at only 250php per hour ($5.70) with a minimum two hour shift. We were then whisked off by one of the golf buggies that zip around the resort like fireflies in the night taking guests to their restaurant of choice. We dined on Lapu Lapu (local fish) and white wine with views of the moonlit sea – très romantic!
Looking to keep the kids busy in Boracay? Take a look at our top suggestions here!
Why the kids will love the Shangri-La Boracay
The Shangri-La is a kids’ paradise. From the moment the kids wake up they are spoilt for choice from ice cream at breakfast, to the Adventure Zone, Eco Centre, countless organised activities, not to mention the beach and swimming pools.
I would usually be walking on egg shells by taking my kids to a deluxe resort, but not at The Shang. This is a hotel that makes families a priority while still managing to exude their trademark of elegance. The large cushions and cabanas which populate the lawn are perfect for kids to set up base. From there they can enjoy the pools, beach and gardens.
Gillan loved all the little fountains in the pool which spurt out of native style sculptures. He was thrilled to discover the jacuzzi and the many shallow patches of pool where he could sit and splash while taking it all in. Maya wanted to spend most of her time in the Adventure Zone with its 2 huge slides and play area. She made some friends there and they all gathered on the beach in the early evening to watch the cultural show. By that time they were all buddies, sketching doodles together, swapping stories and playing in the gentle waves.
By the morning Maya bounded into the breakfast room to discover an ice cream and candy station. This was followed by a high speed trip in a golf buggy to the ponds where all the kids were invited for fish feeding. Baskets of bread were shared around as giant koi and carp fought for the best chunks.
Our last day at the resort was Chinese New Year. This was celebrated by a procession of dancing Chinese dragons and drummers. Maya was delighted to join the procession with a couple of the Adventure Zone staff and other children. There are so many complimentary activities for the kids we were spoilt for choice. Maya and Gillan were in paradise for a couple of days and there was still the rest of Boracay to discover.
The Shangri La has 219 rooms divided into 186 rooms and 36 villas.
The villas are categorised as Treehouse, Pool, Presidential, Ocean and Beach. If your budget is no issue then the pool villas are best for families since they have their own private pool. Otherwise the rooms are all equally splendid.
We stayed in a deluxe family room which was sophisticatedly designed in dark wood with deep purple satin soft furnishings and papered walls. Native art work decorates the room and adds a tropical touch. There is a large desk positioned next to a private sit out which has two low rise daybeds and a small outside dining table with chairs. The bathroom is very spacious with a bath and drench shower – great for little kids who enjoy long soaks after a day playing in the sand. Colonial style dark wooden floors boards with soft woven floor mats in natural hues tie the look together beautifully. We felt very at home here in our cosy yet palatial retreat.
Best Rooms For Families: All the rooms are great for kids. If you have no budget go for the Pool Villas as they have their own private plunge pool and are gated so the kids can stay enclosed within the little garden.
Firstly, the breakfast is incredible. I think it must be a trademark of the Shangri La as the brekkie at their site in Manila is equally amazing. Like most hotels walk in guests are welcome at the restaurants, so if you are staying elsewhere on the island and want to spoil yourselves this is the place to come to.
Breakfast: At breakfast there are over a dozen stations serving everything you can imagine, in fact it is probably easier to tell you what they don’t have! I love to watch the cultural swapping of cuisines at breakfast time in Asia and this is a great place to do it. Japanese and Korean guests tuck into bacon and eggs and Europeans swap croissants and toast for sushi and miso soup. Guests are treated to cultural fusions of olives, humous and pita, bread and butter pudding, fresh fruit platters, Chinese dumplings, freshly cooked eggs any style and the infamous candy and ice cream station.
Lunch: Most guests chose to take a light alfresco lunch by the pool as breakfast is such a large affair. There is a wide selection of light bites as well as more substantial meals including burgers, spring rolls and more healthy choices such as avocado and prawn wraps.
Dinner: Dining experiences at the Shang are very memorable. You can organise private candle lit BBQ’s on the beach, indulge in a beachside buffet or slope off to one of the two hill top restaurants for a romantic diner overlooking the sea. We opted for the latter option at the seafood restaurant Sirena where, on our second night, fireworks lit up the sky to mark the eve of Chinese New Year. We ordered a tapas mix of Lapu Lapu ceviche, prosciutto ham and melon and prawn and calamari bites. This was washed down with a couple of well-made cocktails. There is also a vegetarian and kids menu.
For Kids: Kids are well looked after at the Shang and when they’re not getting their fill at the ice cream and candy station (they are on holiday after all!) then a children’s menu is available with kid-friendly staples including spaghetti and chicken fingers.
Activities at the resort include:
- Paddle boarding
- Scuba diving
- Banana boating
- Jet skiing
- Guided snorkelling
- Island excursions
- Fly fishing
- Wake boarding and water skiing
- Kite boarding
- Tai chi
- The Spa
Your kids can choose to hang out as little or as much as they like with their parents as there are billions of activities for them to enjoy at the resort. Activities for kids include all the above plus the following:
- Adventure Zone
- Swimming lessons
- Making fish houses
- Basket weaving with a local tribe member
- Cookie making
- Fish feeding
- Scuba for kids
- Huge games room with video games, table tennis, pool etc..
A/C, babysitting available for an additional charge, common rooms, handful of baby cots available, doctor on call, nearest hospital is 2.5 km away, 1 extra bed permitted in each room, dedicated kids’ club, dedicated kids’ dining facilities, dedicated kids’ pool, laundry, pushchair-friendly, shop, spa, swimming pool, travel desk, WiFi (complimentary and available throughout the property).
Environmental measures and social responsibility: The resort has eco-friendly products in the bathroom, dual toilet flush, solar heated hot water, herb garden, desalination plant for the pool, sewer treatment plan, and activities which engage guests with the environment (such as guided snorkelling). The area of ocean 10m from the shore surrounding the resort is designated a marine protected sanctuary.
The resort also partners with “Friends of the Fruit Bats” who migrate over the resort at dusk. They participate in beach clean ups, support the local school with a scholars programme, send gifted scholars to university and have donated computers to the school library.
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:
Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa is located on a hillside overlooking the ocean at the northern tip of Boracay Island. The secluded resort features 350 metres of immaculate beachfront and 12 hectares of abundant gardens.
There are two ways to access Boracay Island from Manila (MNL). Caticlan or Godofredo P. Ramos Airport (MPH): This is the nearest airport to the island. The carriers servicing this airport are Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air. The hotel provides complimentary land and sea airport transportation to and from Caticlan Airport. Guests are advised to contact the hotel in advance for a seamless journey to and from the resort. Kalibo Airport (KLO): Travellers from Kalibo Airport require a leisurely 1.5-hour transfer by land to reach Caticlan, the jump-off point to access Boracay Island. International flights to Kalibo from Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Busan, Taiwan, Shanghai and Beijing are also available.
1. Book a baby sitter and enjoy some couple time
2. Reserve an outside table for breakfast so the kids can play on the terrace while you indulge in a long lazy breakfast with all the scrumptious food which is on offer
3. Take a free shuttle into Boracay and explore what the rest of the island has to offer. The Shangri-La is a secluded paradise and a world away from the bustle of Boracay. For an authentic experience of the island a trip to town and White Beach is a must. See my top 10 pick of things to do in Boracay with kids here!
*The Shangri-La Boracay kindly offered my family and I one complimentary night’s stay. All other expenses were paid for personally. All opinions in this review are entirely my own and I would happily return to ‘The Shang’, maybe to live there forever.