Mandarin Bay Resort and Spa

Station 2, Boracay

Rates start at P13,200

At a Glance

Room: Spacious and well-appointed, with tastefully done Filipino touches

Food and drink: La Fiesta does regional and continental food great justice

Staff: Genuinely happy to help, proud of their hotel

Why you should stay: Get the best of both Boracays, the wild party nights and exclusive-staycation feels

( Boracay never gets old. And we mean that quite literally, what with the rate of change that happens on the island paradise. Just take a walk along Station 2, which now has a slew of brand new upscale establishments—even a five-star resort and spa, arguably a first in the area. Introducing Mandarin Bay.

Mandarin Bay is the latest property to open under the Mandarin Premier group. The family-run company opened their first hotel, Mandarin Island, way back in 2008. You might have stayed or at least dined at this Station 2 mainstay thanks to Italian restaurant Don Vito, one of the highest-rated for that cuisine on the island. All that goes to show that they know what the place is about. They've got a total of four establishments in Station 2: the Bay, the Nest (a new four-star one), the Island, and the Island Inn. There's also the Mandarin White Sand in Station 3.

We'd like to shine the light on the up and coming five-star establishment. The Bay opened their doors in November, and while not yet officially launched, we can already tell it's set to be a favorite in the area. 

What you need to know about Mandarin Bay Resort and Spa Boracay:

At first glance, the beachfront entrance of the Bay may seem narrow, but walk inside and you'll be greeted by an expansive property. Spot the waterfall fixture on the front that feeds into a small pool, use that water as youre guide, watching it snake further down into the area, before finally opening up into a big open atrium with buildings around, and the wide pool right in the center. This is arguably the star of the show at Mandarin Bay: the massive pool right in the middle of it all, and going through the property. 

When we stayed, the hotel was still at soft opening. That means that out of the 365 planned guest rooms, only a small fraction was ready for occupancy; building A was mostly set, with building B still being finished. Still, nothing could dampen our stay. 

Within the 365 rooms, there are three Presidential Suites (yes, three! serving different types of needs and wants) and 45 suite rooms. While these types are extra spacious, their deluxe rooms have more than enough space. They've even got family rooms with direct pool access! Imagine waking up and having the choice of going straight to the pool or traipse on over to Boracay's white sands.

The deluxe room had enough space for a king-sized bed, a sitting area, a desk that could double as a vanity thanks to the large mirror, and your own balcony. Mine overlooked the massive pool. And in case the pool or the beach weren't enough choices, you could also soak in your own tub. While the room itself was already stunningly complete, what made it extra special were the little treats and notes staff would leave daily; there was even a turn-down service with little chocolates when you returned to the room in the evening.

The personal touches were felt throughout my stay, especially when chatting with the staff. Whether or not I was in need of anything, they were very open to just having a chat with me about anything under the sun; it was clear they were happy to be part of the hotel, and you could feel that joy transferring over to you, too.

What to do

Pool. Pool, pool, pool. The Mandarin Bay has a massive pool that reaches, in sections, from end-to-end of their property. The best part has to be right in the center, with a large space for lounging and floating around. When we were there, the sections of the pool open went no deeper than four feet, to keep things safe, they explained. Right along the side by the lobby, and yes, a pool bar, was a small jet pool and the coveted chairs half-submerged in water. The perfect place to lounge and sip on a drink. There's even a whirlpool on the other side.

We were told that a spa is set to open in the other building soon enough, alongside an entertainment center in case the parents need somewhere to dump the kiddos-or join them play on the PlayStation. The resort aims to be the type of place a family wouldn't have to leave, while, of course, also giving them the option to explore Boracay thanks to their location right in Station 2.

So if you choose to do the latter, know that right outside the hotel's beachfront doorway are tons of things to do. You're likely familiar with the banana boat, flying fish, parasailing, and the less adrenaline-inducing options of kayaking, or island hopping, even. D'Mall is just a few hundred meters away, too, and you've got all the options for shopping, heck, tattoos, and more right next door.

Where to Eat

La Fiesta is true to its name. Their main dining outlet, this spot is led by Chef Jessie Salazar, who has prepared a very well-executed array of regional and continental fare. We were able to try lunch and breakfast buffets at this spot, and trust us when we say, we didn't know island food could be that diverse.

And don't miss the drinks and snacks by the pool bar either. We've never met a Dry Martini that we liked until our stay here. And we're not just chalking it up to the poolside lounging.

Mandarin Bay has a total of seven more outlets coming: Red Chopsticks (Chinese), Hoshikura (Japanese), La Castella (Spanish), Mamma Mia (Italian), the VIP Lounge and Lobby Lounge for fine dining, and, of course, would this be a Filipino resort without a Karaoke Bar?

And don't forget, you can take a walk along the Boracay strip to try out more restaurants, too. That's the beauty of staying at Mandarin Bay, you get the five-star luxury without being cut off from the rest of Boracay and it's lively shores.

Also read:The Best Things to See and Do in Bacolod in 48 Hours

10 Drool-Worthy Delicacies to Try in Negros Occidental

How to Get There

Mandarin Bay is a van ride, ferry, and another van ride away from the Kalibo International Airport. If you book a stay at the hotel, they will pick you up from the airport and take you across the waters on a private speedboat. 

Mandarin Bay Resort and Spa is in Station 2, Boracay. Rates start at P13,200 (subject to change). For more information, visit Mandarin Bay Resort and Spa Facebook page.

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