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Only accessible by boat, the lush island of Boracay is located in the secluded corner of the Philippines that sun-worshipers and serenity-seekers alike travel to for its Southeast Asian elegance, relaxation, serenity, and one of the most jaw-dropping sunsets on earth.

Boracay is the white sand, beach island New Yorkers daydream about amidst the concrete jungle and commuting in cramped subways. You know the one – the peaceful seashore with its sugary sand, its enchanting, turquoise water and the rhythmic waves that lap onto the sand like a lullaby. It’s this beach we retreat to when we need a moment of clarity, of fresh air and tranquility. This is Boracay.

While the ride along the Boracay beachfront tempts you with a plethora of its perfectly placed hotels and resorts, there’s one that transcends the others and truly makes the trek around the globe worth every single minute; the Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa.

You first realize you’re about to revel in something remarkable when you’re greeted by beaming staff members at both the airport and then the private dock where you officially begin your Shangri-La Boracay journey. To start, you’re invited to hop aboard an exclusive speedboat that transports you effortlessly from travel mode to luxury in the span of a 5-minute ride.

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As you round the island’s last rock bend, the Shangri-La Boracay comes into sweeping view and the immediate side effect is being rendered speechless. The secluded sanctuary is tucked in between a lush hillside landscape and tempting teal water, and for a split second, you wonder how lucky you have been to find this rare gem of a hideaway in the world. The boat docks and another private brigade of Shangri-La staff is waiting to warmly greet you, take your luggage and escort you directly to your villa, completely bypassing the traditional front desk check-in process. While winding through the dense, emerald green paths towards the villas, you begin to notice how much care and commitment goes into maintaining the eco-friendly property that’s beautifully situated on a nature reserve, complete with 51 different species of notable plants and trees.

In search of optimizing your sunset experience, check-in to the Tanawan Tree house villas located on the highest level of your corner on the island. You’ll see how the charm is in the sum of its parts. Each innovatively designed tree house is a standard duplex that splits the bedroom from the common area, making a pleasant separation between relaxing your mind and a peaceful nights sleep. The automatic blackout curtains certainly assist for a longer, deeper sleep to a grander awakening of blissful each day.

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The zen-influenced common area is curated with furniture and art pieces nostalgic of the Southeast Asian trade routes adding rich texture and circulation of energy. You may also find that the large coffee table can be doubled up as space for a feast as well as a canvas to map out your next big plan. Take the luxurious advantage of placing your complimentary breakfast order the night before and awake to fresh regional favorites served anywhere within your villa – the common area, on your patio or even in the bedroom.

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 Both levels offer the same panoramic ocean view that transforms the sunset sky into a living painting – within minutes, your eyes are feasting on a surreal combination of blues, pinks and purples that come together to show-off one the world’s most magnificent nightfalls.

Extending your reach closer to the sea and sky is an open-air balcony, complete with a set of loungers and a private Jacuzzi, inviting you into a deeper level of R&R. One of the more exclusive experiences you can witness during your stay here is watching the flight of the endangered flying foxes – the world’s largest bats that can only be found on the island of Boracay. Nightly, these rather large, but gentle and well, fox-like, bats fly south across the sun set sky in search of their nightly fruit feast.

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Weaving throughout the spacious sanctuary you’ll happen upon hidden pockets of leisure; isolated hammocks, picturesque infinity pools, finding the perfect spot where time seems to stand still, and the plush green walkways made for romantic strolls. Easily one of the most enchanting traits the Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa has to offer is the ability guests have to completely live in a private paradise without having to leave the property. From fantastic dining options and mouth-watering cocktail bars to fulfilling your need for water adventures and reaching the ultimate state of euphoria, it’s all here under the green secluded canopy of the island’s only deluxe resort.

Whether you’re in the mood for a casual, carefree meal, a poolside snack or looking to dine in a more intimate, treetop setting, a variety of first-class world cuisines await your every desire.

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Overlooking the resort is Rima, the romantic tree house restaurant offering guests creative Italian dishes and a superb wine list. For a laid back dinner with a panoramic view, opt for the deluxe beach buffet where you’ll feast on an endless array of fresh regional seafood, chef-prepared delicacies and one-of-a-kind desserts while taking in the sounds of a live band and the serenade of the waves. Care for a nightcap? Head to the cliff-top Sirena’s bar where you can unwind with delicious craft cocktails in a private open-air cabana, or make your way to the Lobby Lounge for their elegant wine buffet.

If you’re up for venturing outside of the resort to play tourist, the Shangri-La offers guests free shuttle rides to and from D*Mall, an expansive outdoor marketplace full of local businesses where you can shop, dine and experience vibrant Philippine flavors and culture in a fun, celebratory setting.

After you have fully submersed yourself in vacation mode, your adventurous side may be looking to go for a dive as well. Shangri-la Boracay Resort & Spa offers their guests the chance to explore the island from above, in and under the stunning teal water that doubles as your playground. From hopping on a staff-skippered Hobie Cat or coupling up on a kayak to jet skiing or deep sea diving in more than 20 dive sites, you’ll be sure to find at least one water activity to fill your saltwater-loving heart’s desire.

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Ready to fully master the art of relaxation and solitude? Make the scenic journey to CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, a detached spa sanctuary within the resort that is a must for the ultimate personal peace and pampering experience. From the moment you step inside CHI, The Spa, your senses are welcomed with calming aromatics and tranquil, earthy textures such as bamboo, wood-wrapped walls, rock-water gardens and fresh, hot ginger tea offered from the warmest-smiling staff. Opt for the “when in Rome” experience and indulge in the traditional Philippine Hilot massage; a therapeutic treatment based on ancient diagnostic methods from the Philippine culture that uses warm coconut oil, banana leaves and the healing hands of the Hilot to locate your energy imbalances and blockages. Each CHI treatment takes place in a private cabana complete with everything you’ll need to fully succumb to serenity and also includes full use of the Relaxation Pavilion and Spa Pool.

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Once you’ve lived, indulged, relaxed, explored, and enjoyed every element the Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa has to offer, you begin to understand the real cherry on top of your stay has been the especially charming and hospitable staff that make your experience monumental. Around every turn, behind every counter or door and with every outstretched hand, there’s a smiling Shangri-La attendant readily anticipating your every need. The mantra they serve under after all is, “there’s no greater act of hospitality than to embrace a stranger as one’s own”.

Sound like Heaven? This is your slice, attainably located at the Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa.

Written by Kara Hughett + Tomas Delos Reyes
Photographs by Tomas Delos Reyes and Kara Hughett for Socially Superlative
See their video here

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Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa
Barangay Yapak, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, 5608, Philippines
(63 36) 288 4988
Email Shangri-La Boracay
http://www.shangri-la.com/boracay/boracayresort/