For those who have been visiting Boracay for decades, the sight of what looks like an Eastwood City taking over a big chunk of their beloved island needs a bit of adjusting to. Let it sink in. It’s hard to believe in the first few seconds but it is a reality: the 150-hectare Boracay Newcoast is here and its happening. And next week Megaworld, through its subsidiary brand Global-Estate Resorts, Inc. (GERI) will be opening the second of three hotels within the sloping township: Belmont Hotel Boracay. Consisting of 442 rooms spread over three towers (named Ridge, Island, and Shore), the four-star hotel took all of P2.1 billion pesos to complete.
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The entire Newcoast has its own port in the Boracay Newcoast Pontoon or Keyhole port (because its centerpiece is a mound of rock with a huge hole at its center). By speedboat, the whole estate is but a few minutes ride from Caticlan where your plane lands. From the port, Belmont Hotel is almost just a whisper away. Located beside Savoy Hotel Boracay, which is the first hotel in the estate, it is overlooking the island’s eastern beach—which one can reach by a mere seven-minute walk. The hotel looks homey and cozy, qualities one looks for in holiday accommodations. The lobby exudes a welcoming vibe, what with the elements of beach life echoed in the elements of its décor: a group of dancing glass jellyfish hanging from the ceiling, patterns of waves by the reception area, coral figures on the rug, and a flock of birds on the white walls.
The hotel is attached to a garden walkway which is punctuated by a kid’s playground, seating areas and water features. Soon, food and shopping establishments will add life to the surroundings. “Actually, you don't have to stay in Station 1 or Station 2 anymore, everything is here,” says hotel general manager Roland Galano Jr. Like it or not, Galano's suggestion is actually the smart, if not convenient choice, considering it takes a half-hour these days just to drive to D’Mall from the property (a shuttle service brings the so inclined), especially now that the paved roads are still awaiting completion. The drive is really quite stressful, not only because of the distance but because of the bumps and on the road. “Guests can already enjoy the island from here anyway. They can relax, enjoy the food in the restaurant, or they can go to the Promenade area and enjoy the view.”
The first restaurant to open in the hotel is Belmont Café which is open 24/7— a tall task for Chef Gilbert Alan Mathay who is also the executive chef at the nearby Savoy (where the food is as filling as they are inventive and deliciously satisfying—try their sriracha chicken and grilled Norwegian salmon on a bed of beans). Chef Alan's roots include Cena and Masas in Manila, Vikings, and various resort properties in Bohol, Cebu and Mindanao.
For Belmont, he’s created a menu with Asian and Mediterranean influences, a decision he arrived at after considering his audience — which is of different nationalities — as well as his milieu, which is an area surrounded by water.
On our first evening in the island, he prepared a dinner that consisted of appetizers, a soupy dish and two mains, capped by two versions of cheesecake for dessert: one topped with Toblerone and the other with mango bits. His arancini will sure please different palates: it is stuffed with a ball of paella and served with aioli. His kani salad is refreshing and light and textured, what with the fried kani mixing with the softness of mangoes on a bed of lettuce and cucumber and a light dressing. Chef Alan followed this with a prawn sinigang which used batwan as a souring ingredient, making the soup naturally, especially sour. The mains were a ribeye steak and a mackerel fish fillet wrapped in foil packets, baked with olive oil, cherry tomatoes and shallots. The choice of fish comes from the fact that the mackerel is easily sourced from around the area.
The restaurant promises to utilize local and fresh farm produce to support the farmers in Aklan and other nearby provinces. After the café, two more food and drinks spots are expected to open within the hotel: the Trellis Garden located at the landscaped deck connecting two of Belmont’s towers, and the Zabana Pool Bar at the second level deck.
Of the hotel’s 442 rooms, guests can choose from Deluxe Twin or Queen, Premiere Deluxe, and Executive Suites. The Deluxe and Superior rooms are basically of the same size (27 sqm) but the Deluxe rooms include a balcony. The Executive Suite is 52 square meters and include a living area. The hotel also offers special rooms for persons with disability.
The Belmont also features an array of amenities and services that include a swimming pool and in-pool lounge, a courtyard, landscaped gardens, a fitness center, a business center, function halls and meeting rooms, a full-time concierge, 24-hour in-room dining service (order their heftiest burger!), complimentary shuttle services, and a spa. The spa has two single and two couple rooms, and offers a 90-minute signature massage called Ocean Gentle, a relaxing massage that uses mostly the forearms and the palm, especially beneficial for tired muscles after exercise. There is also the Isla Pura hot stone massage which uses lava stone to soften frozen muscles. The stone is said to absorb the body’s negative energies. Clearly, these are created with the exhausted traveler in mind.
The progress of the Boracay Newcoast development is quite impressive, considering it only started in 2011. Looking around the vast property, said to be only 12 percent of the island and which already includes Fairways and Blue Water, one is convinced there is really no need to make the arduous trek to the busy atmosphere of White Beach. One can even make a home at Newcoast. It's a self-contained world slowly approaching completion this side of the country’s favorite beach destination. The only question is if you have the money for it, and if you’re ready to embrace this new face of Boracay.
Photos by Angelica Polinar