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4:48pm Tuesday 8th May 2012 in Leisure
By Wesley Johnson
Stretched out on the upper deck of my two-storey tree-top villa in the Philippines, watching the sun set over the turquoise sea, lazing about in the sun has never been so much fun.
It’s an idyllic end to an afternoon of pure indulgence and relaxation — and the perfect start to an evening under the stars.
Set amid palm trees on a lush hillside within an eco-resort, Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa excels in luxury.
From the moment we were greeted with a cooling cocktail at the tiny island’s Caticlan airport, to the second we left to continue our travels, friendly and attentive staff left us in no doubt that their aim was for us to put our feet up and leave any troubles behind.
After a speedboat transfer to the hotel’s jetty, the only way to reach the resort, waiting golf buggies whisked us up the climbing roads to my private villa and Suzette, who would be my butler while I was on the island.
I’ve been lucky enough to stay in some luxurious five-star hotels, but the Shangri-La at Boracay was something else.
Ideal for couples on a romantic break, the secluded villas perched on the hillside also offered some practical home comforts.
But our tour of the Philippines would not have been complete without seeing the altogether livelier, bustling and oft-chaotic capital, Manila, 200 miles north on the main island.
Brightly-coloured jeepneys, hand-painted trucks which can be flagged down, have navigate the shambles to become the most popular form of public transport.
Relatively few British tourists travel to the Philippines, but its character, natural wonders and welcoming embrace ensured I’ll have no doubts about going back.