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The other side of Boracay is made for ‘workcation’

By SCOTT & THERESE GARCEAU Published Jun 04, 2022 7:22 am

Imagine discovering a different side of Boracay — one of the world’s best beach islands — and finding it’s also a self-contained community where you can live, play, work, shop and sustainably enjoy the wonders of nature — away from the crowds and noise of White Beach.

Your own private paradise, in other words, with a hidden beach to escape to, another beach with strong WiFi and charging stations for you to work in, and an option to buy your very own slice of this tropical getaway.

That’s Boracay Newcoast in a nutshell. This 150-hectare integrated tourism development, developed by Megaworld subsidiary Global-Estate Resorts, Inc. (GERI), is situated on the eastern side of Boracay Island facing the Sibuyan Sea.

Newcoast night: Boracay Newcoast is a 150-hectare township that includes three coves, three hotels, a convention center, condos, condotels, lots for boutique hotels and shophouses, retails spaces, and a golf course — all on the east side of Boracay island. 

Comprising 12 percent of Boracay, it’s the first master-planned tourism township on the entire island. With three interconnected hotels (including the Savoy, the Belmont, and a third — the Chancellor — still under construction) offering 1,500 rooms, a promenade of retail shops, a convention center that will soon hold 1,200 pax, a stretch of boutique hotels and a Shophouse District facing the sea, plus residential villages and its own surrounding golf course (the Fairways & Bluewater Resort greens), Boracay Newcoast is Megaworld’s most ambitious venture into integrated tourism — a place people can go not only to “workcation,” but also live.

“This is a different experience in Boracay: the first-ever master-planned tourism township on the entire Boracay island,” says Harold Geronimo, Megaworld’s head of public relations. “Hopefully, this will become a model development for Boracay and elsewhere.”

Modeled after Singapore’s business residences: A model shophouse in Newcoast’s Shophouse District

Not an inch of Boracay Newcoast’s 10-year development has been left to chance: all of it was planned and mapped out in advance.

Taking its lifestyle inspiration from the world’s best beach destinations, like Miami Beach and Santorini, Boracay Newcoast captures “the essence of an exhilarating address in no less than the world’s best island paradise.”

And did we mention it’s the only place on Boracay where you can still purchase titled land?

“Boracay Newcoast offers the only titled residential village in the entire island, which means you can actually buy a property here — a village lot — with a title,” says Geronimo. “So even in 2022, it’s still possible to own a piece of paradise.”

Where to workcation

But what the Megaworld team wanted to make clear on this visit, where media guests stayed at Belmont Hotel, a short walk from the beachfront, is that Boracay Newcoast offers not only a perfect vacation destination — but also one that addresses the increasingly popular “workcation” trend.

View from your office: Boracay Newcoast's beachfront "workcation" space is an idea for the times. Plug into the 50 charging stations set up next to beach chairs and chaises and get to work with free WiFi in a paradisiacal setting.

As Savoy Hotel Boracay general manager Elmar Lina noted in a beachside briefing (with a screen set up behind him showing a Zoomable bookshelf background), many people opt to stay for longer periods, away from the city-based office. That’s why hotels here are offering special rates for those staying for a week, even a month at a time, with the availability of plentiful charging stations and beach loungers down at the beach as well as free WiFi (yes, free and available even if you’re out on a yacht within the shoreline, as we were on arrival night).

As we move from our WFH environment during lockdown to one in which the office can literally be anywhere, the “workcation” is an idea whose time has come. “WiFi is available not just to guests, but visitors as well,” says Geronimo. “We’re increasing the number of charging stations; we think guests will need more of these.”

The “workcation” beach features kiosks where you can get drinks like milk tea, snacks and other essentials.

The beachfront is now set up with at least 50 charging stations, most next to the beach chairs and chaises set up surrounding the beachfront. Of course, we tested the “workcation” concept on our own, setting up our laptops near the beach while reclining to do some online work. Verdict: great WiFi, relaxing setting, though you may be distracted by all the beach activities.

Because — come on, people — it’s a beach. There’s a volleyball and Frisbee area set up near the surf, plus guests (and day visitors to the beachfront, for now) are free to use the paddleboats and kayaks. For early risers there’s a Sunrise Tour offering a spectacular view of the property. Yoga and Aqua Zumba classes are also scheduled on the beach, and e-bike tours are available around the Newcoast property.

Above the beach workcation area is a boardwalk deck with plenty of merchants, including Sugba de Boracay, Samalamig, Samalamig!, Sizzling 99, Avocado Locco, Tiger Sugar, Anya’s Grocer and D&J Souvenir Shop.

Nearby within sight is The Keyhole — the east island’s iconic and very ’Grammable rock formation — where the Bike+Brew kiosk offers bikers and selfie takers a welcome selection of iced coffee drinks and Filipino breads (also available in the hotels).

The Keyhole is a ’Grammable rock formation that visitors can't help taking selfies next to. (It also supposedly grants wishes.) 

Sustainable ways of living

What good is a master-planned tourism township if you can’t sustain it? Megaworld likes to think ahead.

“We really put infrastructure here,” assures Geronimo. “The problems before of having floods on the island — this is a flood-free area. There are suction tanks that prevent dirty water from floating to the beach. We have put in place all these sustainability features to ensure that we’ll be taking care of the environment.”

Warm welcome: Our room in the Belmont Hotel greets us with treats like a towel dog and macarons.

Sixty percent of Boracay Newcoast is dedicated to open space, and rainwater is collected via cistern and drainage inlets so the water in the hotel bathrooms is potable and can be drunk. 

Boracay Newcoast prides itself on its waste-management solutions. “This is the first development — even before President Duterte called the island a ‘cesspool’ way back — that already had its own sewage treatment plant in Boracay,” says Geronimo. “And of course we strictly follow the ‘25+5’ meter distance from the beach when we develop our commercial projects. There are a lot of things that we have installed here to make this tourism function sustainable.”

And most of this sustainable infrastructure is built underground so they’re not detracting from the breathtaking sea views.

Green lighting (all the lampposts here are solar and LED) and transport options (from the electric-charge trikes for guests to e-bikes by local Cykel Bikes for rental) are also built into the concept.

Beyond a resort complex

Touring Boracay Newcoast’s 150 hectares with JR Abustan, senior assistant VP at Megaworld Corporation, you start to realize how far-reaching their concept is. One stretch near the Chancellor Hotel construction is graded terrain with bigger lot cuts reserved for those who want to build their own boutique hotel (these lots are already mostly pre-sold); above it on the hill is the Shophouse District. Modeled after the quaint shophouses of Singapore, entrepreneurs can buy a lot, open whatever business they like, whether restaurant, retail or spa on the ground floor, then live upstairs on the upper floors.

Nearby is a 2,370-sqm MICE convention center tent that will open mid-June, providing seating capacity for 700 — larger than any competing space on the island. Not only will this serve the growing business market expected to flock to Newcoast’s three hotels for industry meetings and incentive getaways, it’s also an ideal venue for expos, weddings and events, according to Cleofe Albiso, managing director of Megaworld Hotels & Resorts. “In June we’ll already be having a leadership summit,” she notes.

Isle icon: The Keyhole has become a landmark for Boracay Newcoast and the east side of the island.

High above, the surrounding hills are already teeming with residential complexes facing the Sibuyan Sea. The Oceanway Residences, four clusters of upscale condominiums, was one of the first residential developments in Boracay Newcoast, and two of the clusters are already sold out. Meanwhile, the Ocean Garden villas will open this year.

The condotels are managed by the hotels but you still hold your own title, so “the setup is perfect for OFWs who don’t want to manage the condos themselves,” according to Abustan. 

Newcoast Village consists of residential lots that are already sold out, so Megaworld is launching an expansion this year, with more private lots — some with a sea view.

“We did well during the pandemic in terms of selling because

we’re on the best island,” Abustan says. “Boracay is always ranking in Travel & Leisure. Before, clients didn’t want to have property near their workplace. Now they can have meetings anywhere, so why not on the beach? They can enjoy, swim, bike around, and be healthier.” 

“People already use the beach background on Zoom, so why not make it real?” Geronimo adds. 

More plans are in the works for an arrival plaza, a supermarket, school, and medical center. “We’re building a mini sustainable city inside Boracay Newcoast,” Harold says.

Great food and service

The restaurants within the hotels serve excellent, creative food courtesy of executive chef Victor Barangan. Every morning at the Belmont Café we’d have an extensive breakfast buffet with all the breads, meats, fish, fruit and omelets you could ask for. Therese loved the champorado, in particular. Freshly made, you could add chocolate chips, milk powder and condensed milk to an already delicious bowl.

Sign of the times: Boracay restaurants like Sugba provide an incredible spread of seafood.

At the Savoy Café Barangan serves twists on local favorites like adlai clam chowder, compressed watermelon salad, and a Pavlova topped by a meringue disc melted by warm chocolate sauce.

On the beach you can set up a romantic dinner with a spread of the seafood Boracay is famous for Aklan oysters, crabs, clams, scallops, mussels, and fish. Dessert was a Fettucine Crepe with “pasta” cut from multicolored and flavored crepes, topped by “dirty” ice cream — a unique treat.

Chef Vic Barangan’s compressed watermelon salad at the Savoy Café

But what completes the whole Newcoast experience and makes it even more memorable is the warm, extremely attentive service from people like Herbson, who made sure our every need was taken care of — from yacht to hotel to beach; Issa, who said the sunrise is worth waking up at 5 a.m. for because it’s as spectacular as the Boracay sunset; and Manny, who told us about the monkeys that live in the trees above and how walking through the Keyhole might grant your fondest wish.

Our fondest wish would be to go back to Boracay Newcoast with the whole family very soon.

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