Party and pampering in paradise.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Party and pampering in paradise.

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Boracay used to be a secret beach paradise in the 80s, known only to intrepid backpackers and those who wanted a rustic island life to get away from it all. Early editions of Lonely Planet describe the island as “a great place for just lazing around”, and while that is still a grand option these days, it has since evolved into a popular holiday destination for actionpacked sports, partying and pampering.

Diving, snorkelling, sailing, parasailing, windsurfing, kiteboarding and sightseeing are in demand as daytime preoccupations, while parties take place at beachfront establishments in the evening. In contrast, or rather as a perfect complement, luxury spas pepper the island, a far cry from the itinerant masseuses and US$4 massages of the 80s. Top calibre staff man these contemporary oases, ready to serve the party weary with head-to-toe pampering, offering plenty of heart and island soul.


Nothing compares to the most exclusive address on the island, with its own welcome lounge at Caticlan pier, where guests will be whisked away by private speedboat. This resort is shielded from the rest of the island by hills, with its own secluded beach and a private pier, golf carts at the ready.

Featuring luxurious Asian decor, Chi, The Spa echoes the resort’s privacy and seclusion – a sanctuary within a sanctuary. Treatments and therapies are based on natural healing methods, where a journey of peace, enchantment and well-being begins.

Signature treatments include the Philippine Hilot Massage and Dagdagay Foot Massage. The use of heated banana leaves as a diagnostic tool is fascinating, placed on the back which has been smoothed with coconut oil, the broad leaves ‘stick’ to sore spots and clogged energy pathways. These are areas that your therapist will concentrate on with long healing strokes, downwards to detoxify and upwards to rejuvenate. The ultra-rich extra virgin coconut oil nourishes the skin.

Percussive movements and solid sticks of mahogany wood are used in the Dagdagay Foot Massage. Both the length and ends of the sticks are used to create rhythmic pressure that relieves the pain of tired, aching legs and feet, whether from partying or hiking. Complimentary massage lessons are available for guests, and your therapist will share relaxation techniques so you can bring the spa experience home with you.

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Discerning travellers know Discovery Shores, a family favourite that keeps itself current while reaping awards along the way. Long established at Station 1, its blinding white architecture complements equally powder-fine white beaches where New Year’s Eve parties and countless weddings are held.

Designed for the family, rooms flow through to the central pool, the airy Sands Restaurant and out onto the quiet end of Boracay’s world-famous White Beach. Little ones can play in the The Sandbox Kids’ Room while parents are pampered at Terra Wellness Spa, because even though kids rule at this family-friendly resort, dad and mum are still king and queen. The treatment menu ranges from facials to massages, scrubs and wraps, but the Body & Sole journey remains a most satisfying choice.

The journey begins with a foot ritual using invigorating lemongrass oil. During the massage, the graceful, gliding strokes relieve tension and improve blood circulation, lulling you to sleep, aided by the aromatherapy oil of your choice. An hour later, the focus shifts to your feet during the Ingham Foot Reflexology, where 10 points on the soles are kneaded. Any remaining tension is sure to disappear.


After crossing the Balinese-style gates of Tirta Spa, a meditative state comes over you as you make your way towards the reception pavilion. Perched on a hill that overlooks Crocodile Island and the Sibuyan Sea, Tirta is the confluence of many ancient healing traditions, with a focus of learning and recreating the world’s best wellness treatments.

Beauty and space are par for the course, and the eyes are drawn to luxurious details and expansive views, imbibing serenity, relaxation and renewal, long before your therapist takes you to your lofty Royal Suite Villa. The private space includes two spa beds, a day bed, an outdoor tub, a Vichy shower and koi pond. Strong Thai and Indonesian elements mixed with Filipino, Indian and Middle Eastern details result in a harmonious blend of wellness influences that are pleasing to the senses.

Bells are rung three times to signal the start of your spa journey, and the Boracay Sunrise is a blissful beginning to your time on the island. This treatment was developed for sun worshippers and begins with a salt and honey full-body scrub to ensure a bronzed goddess-like tan. Both lavish and luscious, the salt exfoliates while honey nourishes, revealing supple, smooth skin after a few minutes under the Vichy shower.

Back on the spa bed, your therapist instructs you to inhale your massage oil of choice, a ylang-ylang blend that is delicate, flowery and sensuous all at once. Said to be beneficial for hypertension, tachycardia and sleeplessness, ylang-ylang brings a deep calm after the Tirta Signature Massage commences. While your therapist ministers the combination strokes of Swedish massage, lymphatic drainage and reflexology, you are likely to give into sleep.

The finale is focused on your face which is cleansed and prepped before a fine, neroli-scented scrub is applied to slough away dead skin and reveal soft, smoothness. With eyes closed, your sense of smell is heightened, and every product creates an indulgent mini-journey, as even the cleansing pads are soaked in scented lavender water. When the bells ring to signal the end of your treatment, you open your eyes feeling refreshed, nurtured and serene.

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THIS PAGE: The Spa Wellness Boracay takes a stylish approach to relaxation; a top-notch coastal playground, The Lind Boracay is one of the newest luxury hotels in the country. OPPOSITE PAGE: Boracay Sunrise is a signature treatment at Tirta Spa.

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The newest player in Philippines’ high-end scene, The Lind Boracay is masterfully designed and astoundingly modern. It isn’t just a luxury hotel, but a coastal playground. Attracting young jetsetters with as much time as they have money to burn, The Spa Wellness Boracay provides a stylish approach to relaxation, bringing its signature five-star treatments from Manila to Boracay. Ask to enjoy a stellar massage on the jaw-droppingly beautiful infinity deck to with the famous sunset as your backdrop, set several floors above the beach level with the treetops.

When the sun sinks below the horizon, the noise level lowers as well, so you can appreciate the muscle-soothing Combination Massage, as firm strokes will remove soreness and unwanted tension. Face up, watch the sky change colour as evenly timed pressure rebalances the flow of qi. Your massage ends as darkness finally takes over and the first stars appear in the sky, leaving you feeling on top of the world.


For the multitasking millennial, The District Boracay has everything at its doorstep. Located on White Beach Path at Station 2 and in the heart of the action, it’s a stone’s throw from D’Mall’s shopping, entertainment and restaurants. Chic and conveniently located, The District Boracay features luxury facilities and is committed to sustainable practices. This 48-room boutique hotel and its Upperhouse Spa suites are geared for party-goers and late risers, with brunch on until 1pm and the last spa booking available at 10pm. Another bonus is the 30- to 60-minute massage sampler that comes with every room booking, to ease the stress of travel.

At Upperhouse Spa, treatments range from 45 minutes to two hours – enough to refresh and recharge in preparation for sports or late-night partying. Their bestselling Upperhouse Signature Massage is a well-executed combination of Hawaiian lomi-lomi strokes and Thai stretching. The criss-crossing palms and use of forearms in long, satisfying strokes relaxes sore back and calf muscles, while the Thai stretching releases the spine and tight arms. The full body pampering ends with a neck, head and face massage.


Mandala Spa pioneered wellness on the island, offering spa rituals, yoga classes, detox retreats and healthy meals, long before other establishments settled in. With a long list of international accolades, it provides legendary and consistently outstanding service.

Try the award-winning Philippine Heritage Package, a 165-minute celebration of Filipino healing rituals based on hot and cold therapies with nature as a vital anchor point. It begins with a floral footbath, hexagonal spa pavilion into a sacred place. The scrub of grated coconut and organic rice is invigorating in contrast to the warm coconut milk bath that follows. The latter is extravagant: a bath with fresh flowers, a coconut shake, icy cucumber eye patches and a chilled face spritzer. Twenty minutes of this stylish solitude takes you on an inward journey.

Back on the massage bed, your therapist spreads coconut oil on the back before laying down heated banana leaves to diagnose hot and cold spots as part of the Hilot Trilogy. Next bentosa cups are applied, the vacuum believed to draw out the cold from muscles. Any pain is then addressed by the therapist’s firm, masterful strokes using virgin coconut oil. The therapeutically percussive Dagdagay foot massage comes last to boost the immune system and ease tired feet. Finish with ginger tea on your private terrace to ease you back into reality, in harmony with nature and in tune with yourself.

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CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Yoga classes are part of Mandala Spa & Resort Villas’s holistic well-being approach; relax in a bath while taking in the delightful views at Mandala Spa & Resort Villas; opt for a pool villa overlooking the South China Sea for your wellness holiday; Upperhouse Spa’s Singature Massage is a must-try.

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