Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Seven Stones that make up a Home (Boracay, Philippines)

Published by AsianTraveler Magazine, 2009

The season of Habagat -when the prevailing winds from the west came with a force that shook the palm trees and the beach huts, rattling them from their base - was the time when we arrived on the shores of Boracay, supposedly a sunny tropical paradise at the Northwest tip of Northern Panay in the Philippines. The sun abandoned us on the day we docked, and the wet winds soaked our flimsy clothes. But there it stood, the 7 Stones Boracay Suites, strong and unfazed amidst the tempest, promising us shelter and so much more - the 7 stones that the resort is known for.  

Don't rain on my paradise.

Upon arrival, I immediately picked up the first stone, the stone of impeccable service. Several attendants in shorts immediately came with umbrellas, sheltering us uselessly from the torrent of water. At the receiving area, they were apologetic, as if the gloomy clouds were of their own doing, as if the sun had never forsaken them before. They fussed about and ushered us in our rooms and closed the drenched world behind us. Suddenly there was great stillness, warmth, and comfort.

Why, hello, sun! I'm so glad you finally showed up.

What is a strong foundation for a successful establishment? What is it that made this hotel stand resilient in the midst of a storm? For a luxury boutique hotel situated along a secluded beach in Bulabog, the strong foundation consists of 7 stones. It is from this concept of a strong foundation that the 7 Stones Boracay Suites got its name from.

 General manager Danny A. reveals the Seven Stones secrets.

In Inuit cultures, the man made stone landmark, also known as the inukshuk, is used as a point of reference, a navigation device, a marker for hunting grounds, and even as a food cache. From this idea 7 Stones was built by the beach as a landmark of luxury and more importantly, as a sign of home. The 7 Stones stands upright, much like a lighthouse, guiding travellers to its open doorway, welcoming them home. The inukshuk, several stones piled high, looking much like a figure of a standing man, comes from the word inuk, meaning “person” and suk meaning “substitute”. In a way, 7 Stones Boracay Suites stands as a substitute family for the traveller who is temporarily away from home. “The totem shows you your way home,” says Dani Aliaga, resort manager.

7 Stones was to be my temporary home in a season of unforgiving weather.  In the few days that I stayed in the resort, I was able to gather the remaining stones, one by one, that made up 7 Stones Boracay Suites. The second stone was green.

It's fun to go on assignment with a good photographer friend (Don Oco).

Nestled in what seemed like a fishing village along the Bulabog Beach, 7 Stones cannot ignore its neighbours. It recognizes its responsibility to the environment and to its community through its daily operations, evident even in my bathroom sink where coasters brandish the reminder “green initiative”. It was a subtle suggestion for me to be mindful of my water consumption and usage of amenities. If I needed my towels and sheets changed every day, they would. But through discreet and courteous notes, I was encouraged to reuse and therefore contribute in their “green initiative.”

The second stone that I collected was a representation of how traditional Filipino elements meld harmoniously with the modern in this boutique resort. The stunning suites are contemporary and spacious with a Zen like appeal. Each room is accentuated by Filipino handcrafted art from mixed media paintings made by local artists from Mariit Artworks. In my room the canvass paintings are simple – a goldfish in one, a hull of a boat in another – yet powerful, evoking the stillness of the sea currently ravaged by the Habagat wind.

Healing hands in paradise -with a beach side masseuse before the therapy.
On a rare moment when the wind abated and the sun coyly took a peek, I took a walk outside, out to the beach where I picked up the next stone, a gift from nature itself: the beauty of the sea which opens out in great magnificence at the entrance of 7 Stones. Here is a private cove, visited only by fishermen in their boats, away from the mad revelry of the White Beach where all the resorts and commercial establishments are. Here, I was protected from the hateful Habagat wind. Here the water was calm and inviting. Without hesitation, I took a dive.

 After my dip, I lounged on the cushy deck chair that faced the shore, taking in all the splendour about me. The sky, hanging low, was a weak blue, still mourning the sun’s absence. It brought about a serene feeling in the air, the calm before the storm. I breathed in and closed my eyes. This was the stone of indulgence. The fifth stone. I held it close to me like a child holding a precious marble and allowed the soft sea breeze to cuddle me to sleep.

I could live here.

After my nap, I headed back to my room, but along the way, I couldn’t ignore the call of the crisp 
water in the pool. It was a 25 meter lagoon type swimming pool with a Jacuzzi at one end. At the other end was a sunken bar where I was able to soak in crystal coolness while I refreshed myself with a tall cocktail. This was the stone of luxury, the sixth pillar to 7 Stones’ strong foundation.
Soon the sky became jealous again and opened up a drizzle of rain. I started to shiver and ran back to my room, a cozy shelter. The discreet beep of the sensor-controlled locks welcomed my arrival and automatically turned on the power. I took a shower, patted dry, and burrowed under the softest covers. While listening to Ian Wright traipse through Bolivia through my LCD flat screen TV, I slowly drifted off to sleep. But before I completely succumbed to oblivion, I thought, this was home, my temporary home, the seventh stone.


We are not on white beach, so if you want to stay right in the middle of the action, i completely understand and there are plenty of hotel rooms there. White beach is awesome, but personally i choose to live in cohiba and just go down there when i want. We are just a 15 minute walk away or 5 minutes in our 24hr shuttle van from all the action.
Boracay apartments

I dont usually stay in the same place every time, so I just might wander through your area soon, especially if the price is right! Thanks for the tip!

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