By REGINA G. POSADAS

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Boracay, after the six-month cleanup ordered by the government, is definitely hopping again.

Ay, oo! Okay na ulit lahat at marami nang pumupunta ulit dito (Yes, everything is back to normal and a lot of people are visiting the island again)” said a beaming John “Jun” Ramirez, a paddleboard instructor I met on the main beach, when asked if work is good and how the island is faring since it reopened in October 2018. On that cloudy and sun-less day, Mang Jun also offered to teach me how to paddleboard for six hundred pesos an hour, while tourists of varied ages and nationalities ambled around us to wade in the water, swim, play on the sand, dive, ride a boat, take pictures or just find a restful spot.

It’s wonderful and welcome news of course for the country’s tourism and economy that Boracay is thriving. But the constant crowds it draws and the ever-buzzing businesses near the shore will likely ruin the trip of a bakasyonista hankering for a relaxing and peaceful break.

If you’re one of those travelers keen on treating yourself and having a heavenly Boracay holiday far away from it all, head to the northern end of the island, to the world-class Mövenpick Resort and Spa. For three glorious days that commenced on Valentine’s Day, I, together with a select group of journalists, got to stay in this tropical paradise in Western Visayas and savor its sumptuous offerings, amid lush gardens, the bluest skies and seas, and naturally stunning vistas.

Swimming Pool 02 - Boracay Bliss

Relatively new (it opened in January 2018, closed in April for the cleanup, and reopened in October last year), Mövenpick Boracay entices with its first-rate features such as a secluded 200- meter white sand beach, 312 ritzy rooms with garden or sea views, a 3,300- square meter multilevel swimming pool unmatched in size in the entire island, a serene wellness center and, spa, and a children’s club and play area. There’s free WiFi for all visitors, as well as a convenient shuttle service to nearby malls. Ensconced in my elegant and spacious third-floor junior suite, whose glass doors opened up to a balcony with superb scenery any time of the day (don’t miss the spectacular sunset), I felt like a pampered and privileged princess.

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Ensconced in my elegant and spacious third floor junior suite, whose glass doors opened up to a balcony with superb scenery any time of the day (don’t miss the spectacular sunset), I felt like a pampered and privileged princess.

Guests will be spoiled by the splendid and diverse selection of food and drinks from the resort’s seven restaurants and bars and the many ways to relish it–indoors, al fresco, via room service, by the beach or poolside. Executive chef Ameer Al-Ali and his team served our group a veritable feast every mealtime, like the oishii (that means delicious!) Japanese spread of sushi, salads, and tempura we had at Ssäm when we arrived, pizzas cooked in less than 90 seconds and pasta from Brezza Ristorante, and the colorfully appetizing sliders, sandwiches, and other filling finger food we shared at the cheery Fun Pub, punctuated by an entertaining karaoke session that lasted until midnight. Easily the most impressive, scrumptious, and belly-busting of the feasts served with free-flowing fine wines was the eight-course Valentine’s Day dinner that started with mango prosciutto and ended with a platter of sweets. My favorite here was the seventh dish, Surf and Turf, as the steak, shrimp, and veggies were all perfectly cooked, and oh so tender and juicy.

The Market - Boracay Bliss

Couples with children will be glad to know that Mövenpick Boracay is not just a romantic and deluxe destination; it is family-friendly too, with food, facilities, and activities for guests of all ages. Everyone is invited to the daily chocolate hour from four to five p.m., where you can dip fruits and other bite-sized treats in a divine chocolate fountain to your heart’s content. For picky kids, there is a Power Bites Menu that offers familiar fare such as spaghetti and meatballs, chicken tenders, cheesy macaroni, and mini burgers. Date nights are definitely doable as babysitting services are available for children up to 12 years old. Young guests will also be kept busy in the vibrant Little Birds Club that has scheduled activities to come rain or shine. Last Valentine’s Day, for instance, there were morning and afternoon sessions for making Valentine cards, paper roses, sand castles, and cookies. The well-equipped gym is open 24 hours. As an alternative to swimming, families can converge at the beach to play Frisbee, volleyball, and football, or join the seaside Zumba sessions offered six times a week, suggested Darwin, the resort’s recreation specialist.

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For relaxing and rejuvenating rubdowns and treatments, head to Sagay Spa. I liked the subtle intensity of the spa’s signature massage, the 90-minute Sagay Regenerating Ritual, that lulled me to sleep and seemed to melt away the knots and kinks in my back, arms, and legs via the unique combination of heated shells and firm yet soothing strokes.

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Ameer Al-Ali and André Brulhart

André Brulhart, Mövenpick Resort and Spa Boracay’s gracious general manager, invites one and all to make memorable moments at Mövenpick and to make it their preferred destination for vacations and special occasions. The resort, he said, is primed not only for discriminating travelers, but also for fastidious celebrants who might want a fabulous island party or a dreamy wedding by the beach.

Mövenpick Resort and Spa Boracay is at Punta Bunga Cove, Barangay Yapak, Boracay Island, Malay Aklan. Call +63 36 288 2256, email hotel.boracay.reservations@ movenpick.com or visit www.movenpick. com/boracay

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