GLOSS THE RECORD By Marbbie Tagabucba (The Philippine Star)
You can’t talk about Boracay, its mesmerising White Beach, a sunset that needs #nofilter, and the party that follows all the way until sunrise without mentioning, to an unfortunate turn, the environmental effects of its lack of any master-planning — and it’s a shame.
What started out as the country’s best kept secret in the ‘70s just clocked in 1.5 million tourists last year, counting in regulars: locals and South Koreans who fly in direct to Caticlan (mostly for golf at Fairways & Bluewater) according to the Department of Tourism. For this year, DOT is targeting 500,000 more. It’s great news for tourism. For the island’s natural setting, not so much.
“Bali, too, is over-developed but it’s about making it sustainable,” points out Megaworld senior assistant vice president and head of public relations and media affairs Harold Geronimo as we made our way north east of the island, a little after Station 1, to Boracay Newcoast.
Boracay Newcoast is Megaworld subsidiary Global-Estates Resort Inc.’s newest township — and its most ambitious yet. It is poised to be what Boracay could have been, had it been done right from the beginning. Here, we see that it is not too late.
Entering the 140-hectare township feels like a world away from the congested Spine Road despite being just off of it. Look up and there are no tangled electronic cables unlike anywhere else in the island, thanks to an underground cabling system. The elevated, gently rolling terrain slopes down to three natural beach coves facing Sibuyan Sea. 60 percent of the develoment is green, open spaces — Boracay Newcoast works with the Department of Natural Resources in preserving endangered tree species — and is strictly alotted as such, even when the township matures. Soon, Boracay Newcoast will have its own jetty port for guests, tourists, and local residents located at the keyhole of its own kilometer-long strip of white beach. This will ease up the congestion on Caticlan Jetty Port.
“Boracay Newcoast is a fusion of the best beaches around the world. We took some of the learnings we could on how they were able to build Santorini, Miami Beach, and Ibiza, and then put everything together to make this side of Boracay really at par with the best islands in the world,” says Boracay Newcoast vice president for sales and marketing Jennifer Palmares - Fong. “We see an opportunity for Boracay to become a truly world-class island and providing these amenities, we want to further put Boracay on the world map.”
At the heart of Newcoast is Ibiza-style pool party hotspot Savoy Hotel with award-winning hotelier Adie Gallares at the helm. The general manager is recognized in the industry for having his heart out for the environment. He has led ASEAN Green Award-winning sustainability-focused initiatives in some of the country’s top resort hotels in Palawan and Bohol for the past nine years.
.Green architecture: Built to draw in natural light and air ventilation, Savoy Hotel is designed with energy efficiency in mind.
“Going green is a mindset. You have to research ways to do it better then actually do it. Awareness to trickle it down will multiply your efforts. For Savoy, the challenge is in the size of the property,” he admits.
Savoy is a 559-room, six-story, four-star hotel sitting on a 1.8-hectare land with a swimming pool and a party pool, a spa and fitness center. There are four, spacious room categories that face either the pool, the adjacent Fairways & Bluewater golf course, or the ocean: deluxe, corner deluxe, premier deluxe and executive suites, which includes 40 connecting rooms and PWD rooms on the ground floor. Savoy has three dining outlets: Vienne Lobby Lounge and Bar serving tapas and drinks, Chambrey Pool Bar, embedded in the main swimming pool, and all-day dining restaurant Savoy Cafe (ask for the best cheesecakes in the island). The property is great for families, groups of friends, and even a company the size of life insurance company AXA Life, which held its company party last month in Savoy’s The party pool, the first concert pool arena in the country. Savoy also hosted one of this year’s Laboracay’s hottest parties, Vibrant Black Lit with 300 people on its first night increasing by 500 on the second night. With this, Savoy is envisioned to be the center of Newcoast Station, a grand plaza leading to a boardwalk that leads to its own white sand beach. (Belmont Hotel and Chancellor Hotel will open by the plaza.)
While Savoy’s architectural design by Singapore-based FB Eye is made for energy efficiency by using natural stones and open-air layouts to keep all areas cool and well-ventilated, the foot traffic — and waste disposal and water and energy use — will only increase for Savoy, and Adie is up for the task.
“We are vying for zero waste in Savoy through recycling and no food waste. We have a composting a project in Savoy,” he says. He is currently testing how they can do away with the hundreds of plastic water bottles they dispose daily.
Adie and GERI are on the same page. GERI has a sustainability program in place to protect Boracay’s beaches and natural environment. The township has its own centralized Materials Recovery Facility to recycle all waste materials collected within the estate and the use of 100% LED and solar LED streetlights. Detention/siltation tanks for storm drainage outfalls to arrest soil sediments and debris from storm runoff prior to disposal are installed. The estate has its own Sewage Treatment Plant, effluent of which can be recycled and used as non-potable water for irrigation and fire reserve, apart from rainwater collection tanks in buildings. E-jeepneys for transportation within the township will be in use. On the livelihood end, Savoy makes good on the government mandate of employing 60 percent of its employees from the region Iloilo, Roxas, Kalibo, and the island itself.
“The paradise that is Boracay will get the beachside community it deserves,” Jennifer agrees.
For those who have fallen for the island and want a quiet slice of paradise to call home, Jennifer has good news: “Boracay Newcoast are the first titled lands in Boracay Island. The rest are rights.”
Off Newcoast’s entrance are four clusters of pre-furnished residential condominium Oceanway Residences overlooking either The Fairways and Bluewater golf course around the Sibuyan Sea. Above a hill is an 8.4 hectare private cluster for a residential village. “Locals are very supportive and the properties are mostly local-owned because they want to be away from the noise of White Beach,” says Jennifer.
Just down the hill will be a six-hectare shophouse district a la Key West Florida and Old Town Ibiza for cafes, restaurants, and major brand as well as independent retail shops and a beachfront 10-hectare boutique hotel district in an art deco/mediterranean/colonial style for local entrepreneurs also offering titled lots. (“So far, we will have the Luxe Marriott-owned The Edition,” Jennifer reveals.) Closest to the beach is six-storey luxury Ocean Garden Villas.
But Newcoast is not competing with White Beach. “We want Savoy and Boracay Newcoast to be a model of sustainable development. The environment is important and we hope to inspire the government. Tourism needs to improve on services. Locally, the private stakeholders like us are doing our part and we can assist, but LGUs need to spruce it up more and provide a high level of service. Our destinations in the Philippines are really nice, but if wala naman public services like port facilities, proper waste disposal, and better roads, it’s not only inconvenient but also puts the environment at risk in the long term,” says Adie.
White Beach, rather, extends to Newcoast. Harold and GERI started an annual Laboracay White Beach cleanup campaign Cause for a New Coast just this year, which rewards responsible partygoers with free drinks for every piece of trash tossed in garbage bins; it’s a win-win, keeping the party going for everybody in the island, in every sense of the word. After all, what’s the point if the island itself is gone?
With hourly shuttle service from Savoy to D’Mall in Station 2, Adie says, “You have to feel the culture of Boracay.” And when you’re done, the peace and comfort of Newcoast await.
To know more about Boracay Newcoast, call us at (036) 500-2699 or 0917-8387363.
Visit our website www.BoracayNewcoastPH.com.