Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Luckiest girl ever! Linna, age 2.5 years, at Shangri-La Boracay.
Living in Singapore has many perks. One of them being the ability to travel to some of the most beautiful islands, beaches, and cities in the world... many of which are just a short plane ride from Singapore. In February, our little family of three had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines, and stay on the most amazing island I have ever laid eyes on. Our trip to Boracay was simply unreal, and I don't know how we're ever going to "top" this experience.

We stayed at the Shangri-La Boracay, and our entire visit was like something out of a magazine. The beaches, the pool, the accommodations, the food, and the people were all simply perfection. Our family has never experienced the type of service and hospitality at the level that we found at Shangri-La Boracay. If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Boracay, do yourself a favor and stay at the Shangri-La. It's unbeatable.

Papa Saigh and I decided to take this trip as a Christmas and Valentine's Day gift to each other. It was everything we could have asked for and more. Let me break it down for you...

Linna and her bestie "Snugs" (her blanket), buried in the sand.

My loves.

Getting There:

We flew Tiger Airlines (budget airline) from Singapore's Changi Airport, to Kalibo Airport in the Philippines, which was a 3.5-hour flight. When we walked off the plane in Kalibo, our private Shangri-La van was waiting for us with cool towels and water, and took us on a gorgeous 1.5-hour air-conditioned drive through the jungles of the Philippines (our van also had wi-fi... wooohoooo!). Linna slept in the van, and I don't think my husband and I said three words to each other during the entire drive, as we were in awe of the scenery. We literally drove on very curvy roads, surrounded by spectacular green jungles, where people lived and worked. It was incredible seeing how some of the people in the Philippines live. Little kids ran up and down the roads barefoot, playing with whatever they could find to entertain themselves. These people simply live off their land, and use what they have to survive. We were driving through a third-world country, and while we were both shocked by the living conditions and lifestyles of these people, we realized how simply they live. It's something you hear and read about, but seeing these people's way of life, put our incredibly privileged life into perspective.

Our drive to the Caticlan, to get on the boat to Boracay Island.

Driving to the Caticlan: These are people of the Philippines, and they live right on this river.

Once we arrived at Caticlan (the jump-off point to Boracay Island), we were welcomed by the Shangri-La staff with cold drinks and cool towels. We sat in the air-conditioned lounge for about 10 minutes, and then hopped on a speedboat for a 10-minute ride to the resort. It was dark when we arrived, but this boat ride was amazing on the way back, as it was daylight and we could see the gorgeous beaches and turquoise waters.

Linna and Mama Saigh on the beach at Shangri-La Boracay.

The Resort:

We had to wait until morning to actually see this gorgeous resort, and from the moment we opened the curtains in our room at the Shangri-La... we thought we had died and gone to heaven. The view of the water from our room's balcony was heavenly, and we couldn't help but fall into complete "vacation mode". Linna LOVED the elephant towels on our bed that the staff had made, and we all enjoyed the fresh fruit in our room after our "long" trip. We had the hotel set up a crib in our room for Linna, but she mostly slept with us in our big comfy bed.

She loved the elephant towels in our room.

Checking out our room's HUGE bathroom.

Everywhere we went, the resort staff gave us a friendly "good morning ma'am/sir", and many of them knew Linna's name when they saw her face, after our first day. We spent almost all of our time in Boracay on the beautiful beaches and at the pool, because we had never seen anything like it. The weather was perfect, and it only rained on the first night during dinner. Every inch of this resort is perfectly manicured, and there was always a buggy waiting to take us to our next meal, or back to our room for a rest (because we ARE fat, lazy Americans, right?!). We never had to leave the resort. Our five days never became "boring" or repetitive, because we were literally in paradise.

The view from our room's balcony.

Pictures don't do this place justice.

Another photo from our room.
This was how we spent most of our vacation. Rough life!

Our little island babe.

The Food:

We ate very well in Boracay. We usually ordered lunch on the beach, because it was easy and affordable. Linna would usually eat fish and chips, and AJ and I would share a pizza. Life doesn't get much better than being on a tropical island, while having people bring you your food and cocktails!


Grilled seafood.

Yummy yummy desert.

The breakfast buffet was included in our room booking, and we enjoyed every second of our morning feasts. The food options didn't change much over the five days we were at the resort, but there was so much to choose from, that it didn't really matter. They have sushi, omelets, pancakes, Indian food, salads, pasta, smoothies, freshly-squeezed juices, coffee, and fantastic pastries (and lots more). This was a great way to start our days!

We also had dinner a couple nights at Sirena. We LOVED the staff at this restaurant. Each time we were there, the servers and hostesses would come up and play with Linna, and they even took her off to the side the first night that we were there, so she could splash in the rain puddles. We ate crab cakes, lobster thermidor, and so much grilled seafood. This restaurant was more on the expensive side, but very tasty. One night, AJ miscalculated the Philippine Peso to US Dollar conversion, and accidentally ordered a $400 (USD) bottle of wine. Oops! We were about as close as you can get to getting stuck with it, but thankfully I caught the mistake, and our server hadn't corked the bottle yet. Wouldn't THIS have been an "interesting story"?!

Valentine's Day BBQ on the Beach at Shangri-La Boracay.

Papa Saigh.

Valentine's Day dinner date.

Mama Saigh on the beach at Shangri-La Boracay.

We also got a babysitter on Valentine's Day evening, so Papa Saigh and I could enjoy dinner on the beach as a couple (something we rarely get to do in Singapore). The resort hosted a BBQ for the resorts' guests, so it wasn't SUPER romantic, but we had a blast listening to the band play our non-stop Bruno Mars requests! I've never had dinner on a beach before, and it was so nice to be able to spend some "alone time" with my husband while Linna played with the babysitter at Resort's Adventure Zone.

For the Kiddo:

Adventure Zone.
Although we were with Linna 90-percent of the time that we were in Boracay, we did book a babysitter through the resort for a few hours on Valentine's Day, as well as one afternoon so we could go snorkeling. It makes me SUPER nervous even thinking about leaving Linna with someone that we just met, but the babysitters at the Shangri-La put my worries to rest. Our two babysitters were wonderful with Linna (we know this because we would sneak into the Adventure Zone and spy on them), and Linna always seemed happy to play with these ladies. Plus, unlike Singapore, where we pay a teenager $15/hour (plus taxi fare home) to sit on our couch while Linna sleeps, babysitters were available at the resort for around $6/hour! Our babysitters were always playing at the Adventure Zone with Linna, so they weren't just watching TV in the hotel room. The Adventure Zone is on the resort grounds, and connected to an Entertainment Center with video games, arcade games, and a cafe... and the best part is that it's FREE! It was never super busy either, so we always felt comfortable leaving Linna there with the babysitter.


The Singapore Saighs in Boracay.

Other than the random photo bomber on the right, this should be an advertisement
for the beautiful Shangri-La Boracay. Right?!

Relaxin' with my favorite girl.

The Chi Spa ("Me Time" for Mama Saigh):

Papa Saigh booked me a two-hour massage at the resort's Chi Spa. This was a slice of "Me Time" heaven! A buggy came to pick me up, and brought me to the gorgeous spa, where I had my own private villa for my service. Who am I?! I have never experienced a two-hour massage before, but I could get used to this life. I felt like royalty from the moment I arrived, and was completely relaxed for the rest of our vaca!

Papa Saigh paddle-boarding.

Outside the Resort:

White Beach.

The Shangri-La has a free shuttle every hour that takes guests to D'Mall, right on White Beach. All three of us went one afternoon, and it was a pretty cool experience. We were a little nervous to leave the resort grounds, but we felt completely safe the entire time. White Beach is a very touristy area, but there's tons of affordable shopping right along the beach, with great food stops along the way. We stopped at a Mexican restaurant for a bite to eat, and got a ton of food and a couple beers for under $15 (USD). White Beach is gorgeous, but I don't think we could have stayed in an accommodation right on the beach (maybe I could sans kiddo). It was very busy, but there was so much for us to see during our three-hour visit. Linna got her hair braided for the first time, for a whopping $5 (USD). She sat still for the half-hour process, and the lady who did her hair was very impressed!

White Beach.

Papa Saigh and Linna.

A 7-year-old kid created this masterpiece behind Linna. Awesome!

Drinking a slushie and getting her hair braided for the first
time ever on White Beach in Boracay!

I'm not sure we'll ever find a place that can beat our Boracay vacation. Every minute was simply amazing, and we were so sad to leave! I told Papa Saigh that he should get a job with Shangri-La in Boracay, so we could live at the resort forever. The ONLY downside to visiting Boracay is the time it takes to get there. We pretty much spent an entire day traveling to the island, but it was SO worth it, and we'd do it again in a heartbeat. The five days we spent in the Philippines was truly unforgettable, and we are all so lucky to have been able to take this trip together as a family!

Until next time Boracay...


  1. Looks like a fabulous vacation!!

  2. Glad you had an awesome experience here in the Philippines. Come back soon and check out other beaches, too! Palawan, Cebu, Davao, just to name a few. :)

  3. this makes you feel proud as a Filipino citizen! tnx much for the awesome experiences you shared with us....i lived in SINGAPORE for 25 years and i know how it feels living in a fantasy island,,,,nevertheless I am proud to be PINOY!!!!

  4. Sirena in Tagalog, the Philippine language, means Mermaid. :) Glad you had fun!