Have you seen a Boracay sunset in hues of purple and orange? It’s surreal, magical, bewitching. But it’s not something you see very often. You’d be lucky to get one during a short stay on the island.
Color us lucky. We were treated to one such sunset on the second day of our four-day coverage there in early March. That it came at the end of a fantastically relaxing 45-minute paraw sailing ride made it even more of an enchanting experience. As we headed back to shore and saw the beach bathed in those soft hues it felt like we had been transported to a dreamland.
How apt, I thought, that we were staying in Hue Hotel and Resort at Station X. The façade of the resort prominently features a huge industrial mural made up of a series of thin vertical metal beams on which is painted a stylized rendition of this exact scene of a purple-orange-hued sunset—complete with a big yellow sun, light blue sea, and a flock of birds. It was thrilling to see the illustration come to life and precious for us to be part of it.
It wasn’t the first thrill we had during the trip. Neither was it the last. Since checking in, Hue gave us one thrill after another.
The thrill of discovering a sexy boutique 4-star hotel in Boracay. The thrill of experiencing a funky lifestyle hub unlike anything on the island. The thrill of enjoying mouth-watering artisanal food and beverages that aren’t available anywhere else.
Let’s start with the sexy.
There’s an allure to Hue that’s all its own. Much of it has to do with its oval shape that’s unusual not only for Boracay but for most beach tourist destinations in the country.
You’ll see soft curves everywhere— the lounge by the main entrance on the ground floor, the hallway in any of the hotel’s five levels, the floor-to-ceiling glass window of a deluxe room overlooking the swimming pool.
That pool is a central figure in Hue. Sitting right smack in the middle of the property and looking upwards to the sky through the roofless atrium, it follows the building’s contour and is one of the biggest, most prominent features of the hotel.
It might make you think it was the first item to have been drawn on the architectural plan for the project and the rest of the structure was designed around it. It certainly does not look like an afterthought the way most resort swimming pools in Boracay do. It’s an attraction and a destination by itself.
The Hue pool has a regal emerald color that becomes even more seductive at night with the different hues of all the evening lights. It also has a big beverage bar, called Prisma, that’s directly attached to it. You can sip cocktails from the bar while half-dipped in the pool as a curtain of water flows behind you from the mezzanine lounge above the bar. Pools in Boracay don’t get any more cosmopolitan, luxurious, and Insta-worthy than this.
There are even more grammables in Station X, the resort’s cool urban lifestyle hub that wouldn’t look and feel out of place in Rockwell. You might actually forget that you’re in Boracay.
“You’ll be able to fill up your content,” beams Hue general manager Sheryl Cham. That’s not an empty brag. It’s a promise. You can take loads of snaps from throughout Station X and it won’t look like you’re in just one place.
A selfie with your mouth-watering vegan rice meal at Nonie’s would look like you’re in a chic garden restaurant. A short video of you pouring your artisanal coffee from a glass flask to a cup filled with ice balls in Little Wave might get people guessing that you’re in a retro-modern cafe in Europe. A candid shot of you energetically trying to down your opponent at the foosball table in the Station X lounge will probably mislead friends into thinking that you’re in a newly-opened activity area of a high-end mall somewhere in BGC.
And that’s just in the morning. In the afternoon you can be devouring a pair of huge fluffy pancakes in a bright and clean space designed with cool geometric patterns at The Sunny Side Cafe and shopping for postcards, shirts, and other exclusve Boracay merchandise in Local Color. In the evening you can indulge in a plateful or two of Pinoy regional dishes at the cozy La-ud under its basket-like huge lighting fixtures.
Your social media pages are sure to pop and get tons of thumbs up, wow, and heart reactions.
Not that Station X was designed to appeal specifically to the young, creative, vibrant digital-savvy crowd. In fact the name has quite a literal reference.
The property sits smack in the middle of the boundary between Stations 2 and 3, the boundary being the road between the Station X restaurant Nonie’s and the resort Boracay Tropics. It’s at “the cross road of the boundary,” Sheryl notes. Cross road. X.
“We actually did not have a target market in mind when we were conceptualizing the space,” notes Dexter Lee, one of Hue’s two co-owners.
The other owner is his brother, Dennis. Both are millennials themselves—38 and 36, respectively. And both are travelers. Little wonder then that their forward thinking, globalist sensibility permeated the entire project, from vision down to the actual look of the place.
Hue and Station X were inspired in particular by the resorts of Bali that the siblings frequent. The goal was to give guests and visitors of all ages cosmopolitan experiences with a variety of hip retail and dining options.
“The design and details of the space just followed naturally in keeping with the advocacy at the forefront of the concept,” Dexter says. “We want to give family and friends and the community more options to enjoy the fresh air, the scenery, and the openness of the space for gatherings.”
In fact, only 40% of the five-storey building is used for its 126 rooms. The rest is open spaces where guests can sit, lounge, and relax at any point during the day—enjoy a book after breakfast, have a little chat with friends mid-afternoon, stargaze with a special someone at night.
And it’s not just guests checked in at the hotel who can freely enjoy the resort. Walk-in visitors are very much welcome too. This is actually the more important aspect of Hue’s concept of openness, its heart if you will.
“We intentionally designed this space to be open to the public,” Dexter notes. “We envisioned an inclusive space where backpacking tourists, tourists staying in luxury resorts, local and foreign residents, and the community as a whole can all interact with one another.“
That vision was achieved soon after the hotel opened in October 2017. Station X became a bustling hub for hotel guests and visitors alike, local and foreign travelers alike, Boracay residents and tourists alike. And indeed Hue and Station X attracted mostly the millennial crowd, marking it as an actual spot for Gens X, Y, and Z vacationing in the island.
But the merriment was cut short six months later when the island was closed for rehabilitation in April 2018. It bounced back quickly, as did the rest of the island, when it reopened six months later.
The whole of 2019 proved very, well, full of hues of success as Hue achieved an occupancy rate of as much as 87%. That’s high for a hotel only in its second year of operations.
And then the pandemic hit. Station X, as with the rest of Boracay, again became one big Station Zzzzzz.
Hue opened its doors again last December. Three months in, activity in the whole island remains very far from pre-pandemic levels. But that hasn’t diminished the Hue peeps’ optimism for things to pick up again in the coming months even as the pandemic continues to drag.
On the contrary, Station X has been busy since reopening. In mid-March Boracay icon The Sunny Side Café opened a summer pop-up store to serve its classic all-day breakfast meals and specialty bread, coffee, and pastries including its big, fluffy pancakes a year after the lockdown closed its main store down temporarily. Burger station Supermagic has also reopened to continue serving what some have described as the “best burgers in town.”
The series of community events such as arts and crafts workshops that started in January will also continue, still free for everyone, as will the Zumba classes for in-house guests every weekend. Plans are also being drawn to revive the old Street Market, this time to include and showcase small and medium enterprises that wish to launch their brands in Station X, with priority to be given to Boracay locals.
Clearly, despite the setbacks, Hue is not about to give up its spot as the most IG-worthy, forward-thinking hotel destination in Boracay.
Now that you’ve heard about Station X, it’s time you experienced it for yourself…health and safety protocols firmly in place, of course.