My favorite stretch of White Beach on Boracay is Station 1 – it’s the widest stretch of soft sand and the quietest. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive beach, with upscale hotels like the original island hotel, Friday’s. During a recent visit, I wanted to find a cheaper alternative in walking distance from Station 1 – and found a great value option with the Strand Boracay.
Location: The Strand is located on the very Northern End of Station 1, a 5 minute walk from the beach down a little road through a local village. Along the beach, it’s a 20 minute walk to D’Mall at the center of White Beach (or 5 minutes by tricycle) and you have easy access to all the restaurants, bars and shops on Boracay. The trip from Caticlan airport by boat and van takes about 45 minutes. I personally didn’t mind the short walk down the village road, but you’ll see the village life that’s a little less blissful than your resort experience – with locals doing the laundry, chicken running around and kids playing.
Service; I was greeted at the gate to the Strand resort by the friendly guard and the reception had me checked in and shown to my room quickly. I got a quick tour of the resort and all the information I needed about breakfast and anything else. Just like at most hotels in the Philippines, staff was very friendly and attentive. The same was true for the restaurant staff in the morning, who’d take my orders and deliver the food quickly and with a smile. Housekeeping did a good job every day, leaving the room clean and well made up. The staff also gave me a quick tour of the other room categories, explaining all the options. The main difference to the staff at more expensive hotels is the training – if you expect your food to be served expertly following Parisian rules of etiquette, you might be disappointed.
Room: The rooms are all located around the courtyard and pool and my standard room was on the upper level, with access from an exterior corridor. The large room has windows to the front and back, making it very bright. The white wall paint helps, too, and contrasts with the dark wood furniture. There is a queen-size bed with a firm mattress and basic sheets and pillows, a small desk and chair and a small, open wardrobe. All of it was in good shape, clean and functional. The complete lack of any decoration or art work made it feel rather austere. A simple poster or colored bed throw would have added a needed splash of color. The bathroom is comparatively small, with a toilet, sink and shower with curtain. It’s equally basic, but clean. Towels were clean, yet thin and provided soap and shampoo most basic.
I also looked at the much larger family rooms. They have an open-air sitting area with a little kitchen as well as a large bedroom and bathroom. All of it is nicely decorated, making it feel more upscale than the standard rooms.
Amenities/Restaurant: The grounds of the hotel are one lush garden, with the pool at the center and loungers on its side. The restaurant is next to and slightly above the pool. The tables are under a roof, but open air, surrounded by trees and it makes for a pleasant setting for breakfast.
The breakfast is served a-la-carte and you order by filling out a little form, choosing fruit, pastries, egg or local hot dishes, as well as coffee and juice. The first morning, I misunderstood the menu and picked a whole list of items (not realizing it was an either-or). The staff didn’t even blink and brought out a table full of food, enough to feed an army. The food was – you guessed it – basic, but good and perfectly filling to start your day.
Bottomline: At a price of only $43/night, the Strand costs roughly 15% of the upscale Friday’s – and that’s great value. You’ll be on the same, beautiful Station 1 beach in a few minutes walk. Sure, the room is basic, but it’s big and clean. The grounds are beautiful and you get a free & filling breakfast. If you are planning your honeymoon, this is probably not the best choice. But if you want great value on the best beach of Boracay, the Strand is your best bet! You can check the current rates here!