December is the most festive time to visit the Philippines. An archipelago in Southeast Asia consisting of approximately 1,107 islands, this country exudes the Christmas spirit like no other. It is for this reason that my husband and I chose to make an overdue visit from North America with our two young children, ages 2 and 5. When we landed, we were greeted by extreme heat, crowds and traffic in the bustling capital of Manila. While it was exciting to be back and wonderful to see family, after a week we welcomed an escape from the city for a few days at Discovery Shores Resort on Boracay Island. Boracay Island, part of the Aklan province of the Philippines, is a 45-minute plane ride from Manila and then a 7-minute boat ride from the Caticlan jetty port. Within a couple hours of leaving the capital city, we were sprawled out on the lounge chairs of Discovery Shores, which is located in Station 1 of Boracay’s famous White Beach. A locally owned resort brand and part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, Discovery Shores has redefined luxury in the Philippines and has once again captured the #1 Hotel Spa in Asia in Travel + Leisure’s (T+L) coveted 17th annual World’s Best Awards for 2012. T+L has also ranked Discovery Shores Boracay Island as the #5 hotel on the Top 100 Hotels list and #2 in Asia. The property offers a serviced apartment concept, with a Junior Suite being the lowest level category of its 88 units and then moving up to 1 and 2 bedroom suite options, all featuring plenty of natural light, large glass walls and furnishings exemplifying local décor and resources. The resort is perfect for families with young children, family reunions, as well as wedding parties or newlyweds. What are a few things that sets Discovery Shores Boracay Island apart? Ground transportation: from the moment visitors set foot on the runway at Caticlan Airport, a representative is there to greet guests at the airport doors and to the transfers for the jetty port, where a Discovery Shores ferry goes across to Boracay Island in 7 minutes. An air-conditioned van will then take travelers for the short ride to the resort. Throughout the quick journey, there is no shortage of bottled water, cold towels or wondrous tropical views. Check-in process: Upon arrival at the resort, guests are welcomed with homemade Pandan Water (water boiled with pandan leaves and syrup), brought to an assigned room, and offered a foot soak and massage. The platter of Filipino-inspired snacks, jars of dried mango, cookies and peanut brittle, as well as an additional carafe of Pandan Water is presented upon check-in to satisfy every craving from the journey. There are no check-in lines as everything is done in the suite! If your suite is not ready upon arrival, a temporary room (Junior Suite) will be provided, so there are no delays in hitting the pool or beach. The best part is these treats are replenished each day during turn-down service. Kid-friendly: if the little ones need a break from the sun, a kiddie lounge is available with a TV, DVDs and toys galore for ages 0-10 years of age. In addition, a daily activity is offered at 4:00pm, allowing parents at least 30 minutes to grab a cocktail at the pool bar. During the Christmas season, kids can enjoy craft activities such as creating Angel Ornaments and Yarn Candy Canes. If children choose to stick by the pool or beach, there is no shortage of complimentary sand toys and pool floats, so just ask one of the pool/beach butlers, who are also there to fold your towels, clean your sunglasses and refill your water carafe throughout the day. Special touches, such as the bubble machine by the pool and the Wish Stone, where kids may write a wish with a wet paintbrush on the stone, are also huge hits! Island shuttle: If guests want to check out a restaurant or go shopping, a complimentary shuttle is available for drop-off and pick-up, anytime between 6:00am and 12:00 midnight. Aside from its location on the unspoiled shores of Boracay’s White Beach, 24-hour amenities, dining facilities, award-winning spa and luxurious accommodations, it is the service that keeps guests returning. Staff members of Discovery Shores greet each visitor with a warm smile and the palm of their hand on their heart, which is an accurate reflection of their mantra of “Service That’s All Heart”.
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