The Lind is your new Boracay go-to
A storm was brewing, and we've been held up inside the plane for half an hour. Never mind the 45-minute boarding delay earlier; it's the uncertainty of whether we'll be flying or not, all while trapped inside a cramped, stationary aircraft, that was unsettling.
Our small group of three was bound for Caticlan and then to the world-famous Boracay Island. There, we were to experience what a newcomer five-star luxury and lifestyle hotel called The Lind Boracay had to offer. Only we weren't so certain we’d make it. The pilot, who had surely seen the scenario play out one too many times, casually cited "bad weather" and "low visibility" for the holdup.
But 15 minutes later and the plane was finally taxing. With spirits high, we could relax. A work-ation, after all, was waiting for us.
The terrace next to the infinity pool is a gorgeous space for any celebration.
A look at the property
Just a few days before our trip, The Lind, only a year old, topped TripAdvisor's list of hotels in Boracay, a feat they take pride in, being a newcomer on the island and in the hotel business. From the same group behind The Spa Wellness and BonChon in the Philippines, The Lind is out to compete with the island's Goliaths.
"Being new, I believe, is always an advantage because most people now look for something new and better. It's a disadvantage because they criticize you straight away. But as you can see, in just one year, we've become number one on TripAdvisor, and that's a milestone already. It's an achievement that most resorts, even the big brands, cannot achieve in one location," The Lind Boracay Assistant Executive Manager for Food and Beverage Randolph Velasco tells us.
The hotel is located toward the end of White Beach's Station 1. It’s away from the noise but not too far to make you feel you’re missing out on all the fun. There, the sand is whiter and finer. And when the sun’s out, the sea is a mesmerizing blue gradient. It’s from this vantage point that you can forget about just how congested the island paradise has become. Those who have fallen out of love might just have a change of heart.
From the outside, The Lind appears modest with its no-frills beachfront setup. Inside, however, we see what the hype is about. The sprawling property sports a modern boutique aesthetic. The interiors, designed by Manny Samson, looks straight out of a magazine editorial with its quirky accents, dainty ornaments, playful patterns, and touches of teal (the hotel's official color).
The are 119 rooms, some of which have their own private pools, three restaurants, a spacious ballroom, and several pools, including an infinity pool that overlooks the beach from three levels high and has an unobstructed view of the sunset. There's also a gym, a kids' playroom, a meeting room, and their own branch of The Spa Wellness.
While staying at the hotel provides too much comfort that it's almost tempting not to head out, Boracay will always be a destination worth exploring. Old and new restaurants are usually packed, and the cramped bars and clubs prove the party culture is still very much alive. For sojourns outside the hotel, shuttle services to and from D'Mall are in operation throughout the day.
The Garden Room
Taking hospitality seriously
The Lind has the amenities down pat, but these alone are just one part of the equation. To stay on top of the game, a noteworthy experience must be created. In that department, people play a crucial role.
The Lind hospitality begins the minute you land. At the airport, a cheery fellow named Brian, who was all smiles despite the overcast weather, welcomed us. He, along with a few other equally perky hotel personnel, assisted us through our land and sea transfers.
At the hotel, the staff, clad in their crisp Francis Libiran-designed uniforms, is ever pleasant. There's no skimping on smiles and pleasantries, and a quick trip from your room to the pool might have you saying "hello" more than you usually do in a day. The staff knows what you want or need even before you realize it. It's part of their training, we were told, to anticipate the guests' needs. Considering their high-paying clientele, it's a necessary skill to master.
Guests are mostly foreigners, but The Lind hopes to attract more Filipino travelers. One of their efforts is a promotion for local residents called Beach Break, which features an affordable three-days, two-nights package valid until March 2017.
A scene from the breakfast buffet
The goal: be a dining destination
The Lind is dreaming big, indeed, even setting its eyes on becoming a culinary destination on the island. Various cuisines, cooked using both traditional and modern techniques, are on offer across the three food outlets. And aside from the a la carte menu items, degustation and banquet menus are available at the guest's request.
Tartine, the hotel's all-day dining restaurant, features Southeast Asian and Western flavors. The highlight, of course, is the French open-faced sandwich after which the outlet is named. The Hummus Tartine, in particular, comes highly recommended for its intense smoky profile and delicate spread of hummus, eggplant, feta, and mint over grilled ciabatta.
Tartine also hosts the hotel's breakfast buffet (P1,586++ net per person) from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. The selections, from breakfast staples to delectable desserts, provide much variety. It’s the baked goods section that’s quite a pleasant surprise. Among the wide array of freshly baked breads, pastries, and desserts, the flaky croissants and moist banana bread have become guest favorites.
Over at the beach bar and cafe called Crust, pizza, pasta, and roasted meats take the spotlight. The Brown Butter, Pangrattato, Poached Egg, Mushroom, and Grana Padano pasta is a crowd-pleaser for its smooth blend of subtle flavors and fun showcase of contrasting textures. The Seafood Skewers (Prawn, Fish, and Calamari), Chili and Garlic are worth a mention, too. Each skewer, generously coated with Romesco sauce, mixes smoky and spicy hints. The pizzas are a must-try, naturally. The homemade dough is lovingly baked in their brick oven, making it crispy and doughy where necessary.
+36, named after Boracay's area code, is a short walk from the infinity pool and ideal for sunset sessions. Guests may order from both the Tartine and Crust menus while trying out signature cocktails. Our first night at the hotel saw us trying Tartine's Southeast Asian specialties and then tasting Filipino-inspired cocktails at +36.
A few dishes stood out, like the Mixed Satay, a selection of skewered beef, chicken, and fish with extra nutty peanut sauce. The curries are a good choice, too, with their rich, thick sauce and heat that's never overwhelming. We suggest the Rendang with tender coconut-braised beef short ribs or the Seafood Curry featuring a medley of fish fillet, calamari, and fish dumplings. But the favorite of the evening was our very own. The Annatto Adobo (chicken and pork), indulgently oily and slightly sweet with deep-fried hardboiled eggs, just felt like home.
The latest lineup of drinks, crafted by Velasco himself, highlights local ingredients to add a Filipino touch to every glass. Take, for example, the Sampalok Mule, a tangy mixture of Bacardi White rum, tamarind puree, lime juice Southern Comfort, and bitters. The Malunggay Mojito is a subtler choice with its light combo of Bacardi White rum, malunggay leaves, calamansi, calvados, soda water, and sugar.
Velasco also stresses their aim to create an experiential dining experience at The Lind, especially with their events. He shares, "Our goal is to be a culinary destination, but aside from that, we also want create memories, especially with our banquet events. This is also our focus – to make each event memorable. We try to have the full package."
The Lind definitely has a wide-eyed newbie's enthusiasm, and it's apparent in each meal, each service, and especially each staff member. They all aim to please until the very end, all the way to the airport gates. On the day of our departure, the weather was its best. The bright sky matched Brian's vigor as he again assisted us through our transfers. Unlike our tense experience going to the island, leaving was a breeze. And it was a fitting way to end a trip that lived up to expectations.
The Lind Boracay is located at Station 1, Barangay Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan. For more information, contact 835-8888 or visit www.thelindhotels.com.