I cannot believe it has been more than two years since I last visited Boracay. There were a number of us on that trip as well, most of them friends from a company that I previously worked for. It was a weekend of epic parties, sailing, making friends, and soaking up the sun.

This time, the visit is to celebrate H’s birthday, as she hits a new milestone. Eighteen of us flew in by AirAsia-Zest from the old Manila Domestic Airport (now “Terminal 4”) at 06:50 and took the two-hour road trip from Kalibo to Caticlan. After nearly a half-hour of getting ferry tickets and settling environmental fees at Caticlan, we took a “proper” ferry going to the jetty port, from where I hailed a tricycle to go to my hotel. The rest of the crew took a van going to their hotel, since they made a separate booking (I booked accommodations differently and ahead of everyone). Since I had been in transit for nearly six hours, it was safe to say that all I wanted was to collapse in the comforts of a hotel room.

What a shame that the hotel that I booked via Agoda.com did not live up to its promise. In fact, what I saw on the booking sites that I visited and its own homepage was starkly different from what I had actually expected. This is the second time that a hotel I booked on Agoda turned out to be horrid. The other one was at The Inn at Temple Street in Singapore.
First, the whole place has seen better days and is surely in desperate need maintenance.  I was initially assigned to a room that obviously had not been cleaned for weeks, and until I decided to ask for a transfer to another room, I would have had to endure dusty sheets and curtains, cobwebs, and a bathroom that needed cleaning; not to mention that there were boards hanging on parts of the ceiling to cover God knows what.

Boracay Ocean Bay Hotel
This room is either in the middle of getting repairs or it’s just that dilapidated. Mind the live wires!

Boracay Ocean Bay Hotel
Paint job, much? And what’s the deal with the hanging board?

Boracay Ocean Bay Hotel
While it’s located just a minute’s walk to the beach from on Station 1, it sits along the busy main road.

Second, the so-called cafe is just a suggestion, as they don’t even serve food there. The sadder part is they don’t even have hot water in case you need to prepare your own coffee or tea, or have a  cup noodle in case you get hungry in the middle of the night.

As I requested for a room transfer, I was lucky to get a more decent one when the previous occupant checked out just as I arrived at the hotel. The queen bed was comfortable enough, and new sheets and a towel were provided. Note: they did not replace my towel with a clean one the following day.

The cable TV was okay, although the remote’s battery needed replacing. The room had a working mini-ref and air-con, while the small bathroom was clean enough and had its own water heater. About the heater, if you are not used to these things common only across Asia or in places where having warm running water is a privilege and not a right, you might find it a little daunting that the shower at this hotel only had one temperature setting. You’d have first to find the heater and fix the knob to a higher setting.

Boracay Ocean Bay Hotel
Yup, that thing under the sink *is* the water heater. 

Boracay Ocean Bay Hotel
At least the bathroom was clean and had warm water. 

Boracay Ocean Bay Hotel
Now THIS is much better than the first room that they gave me. A trick I learned from a friend was to keep the TV and the lights switched on to give the impression that there was someone in the room, each time you have to leave. Too much waste of energy, I know, but it’s better than losing your stuff to akyat-bahay.
Boracay Ocean Bay Hotel
A percolator or thermos to heat water would have been really great. 

Anyway, I think I learned a few good lessons from the experience: Don’t trust Agoda because it buries negative reviews; shell out juuuust a liiiittle more and you can find a much better place. Also, don’t panic just because it’s Valentine weekend.

There are so many hotels in Boracay, one could just walk in without prior reservation and get a decent room at a convenient location. Walking on Station 1 beach front, it hurt a little each time I saw a “Rooms Available” sign.