Budget Range: Php 450-1000 per person per night
Location: Station 2, near Station 3 but close enough to D’ Mall.
Selling point: Bargain-ability, and a free night!!!
Proximity to the Beach: A few steps to the beach, but no dedicated beachfront lounge area, also with a newer annex building further back
I like my accommodation to be no-frills, beachfront or relatively close to the beach, and most importantly, cheap in comparison to everything else around it. That’s the only time I’ll feel good about having spent money on lodging. I’m also often never in the room anyway, and who would stay in their room when they’re in Boracay?
Tan’s Guesthouse is one of my favorite group-accommodation places. It is literally about 50 steps from White Beach, is close to D’mall, and D’Talipapa at the back, and the rip-off beach buffets at night. I stayed here with 9 other friends for the cheapest deal ever, anywhere in Station 2, during super peak season: 450/person/night with breakfast? Well, sign me up!
This here now is a bit of a unique story, because I got in touch with a person named Cris, who was managing Net Sacapano’s (the owner) email, about 5 months before the planned April trip, requesting to reserve the Family room with Kitchen and veranda for 10 pax (with the virtual equivalent of batting eyelashes and respectfully hazarding a bargain). It costs around Php7,000/night, if I remember correctly, but since this room had already been booked by other early birds like myself, Cris offered me the 2 smaller family rooms (1 family room with veranda + kitchen good for 4, and another plain family room good for 4 double-sharing) combined for the same price as the big family room, with breakfast for 10. Sweet! immediately rallied up the folks and deposited the 50% downpayment via BDO. Communication with Cris was swift and easy, and all my small nitty-gritty questions were answered. I’m always looking for this flexible, personal touch, whenever I choose my lodging.
Here’s the important part of the bargain-story: On our second day in Boracay, the front desk contacted me to tell me that there had been a problem with my booking. It turns out that Cris made a mistake in calculating, as he had only charged us 4 nights instead of the 5 that we agreed upon. The problem was, I told them, that none of us had prepared the extra budget to adjust for the mistake. The front desk called up what I guessed was the owner, and just under 30 seconds of quick Aklanon/Ilonggo-sounding conversation, poof! The extra night was given to us for free. I didn’t even ask for it specifically, not in a direct way. But it seems that the rules here at Tan’s Guesthouse are very flexible, which is something I love about them.
Now, the rooms: the first impression was that the room looked better than the pictures. It was a bit of a hassle walking to Tan’s via the shady back dirt-roads where the multicab dropped us, which led to some apprehension about how the place would look like. When we got, there, though, its proximity to the beach was an instant comfort. The room with the veranda was spacey and its kitchen looked to be recently refurbished. The floor was clean, white tile, and the bathroom was spartan but with a water heater (that never worked, but we got a free night). It had a safety deposit box (which didn’t lock, but again, we got a free night!), and housekeeping throughout the 6 days of our stay never came despite reminding them daily that we needed some serious help getting sand off of, well, everywhere (but considering we got a free night, I mind it less than I should). The internet never worked, too, but I’d have easily kicked anyone surfing the net when Boracay’s famous White Beach was just a few steps outside, anyway, so it was the least of my concerns. At least the cable television was working, but who cares? The refrigerator was also working, and we could keep our stash of Gatorade and water in it, and the stove was working enough for us to cook our ungodly supplies of Pancit Canton and luncheon meat for intermittent snacks instead of going out for merienda. Yay for thrift-subsisting travelers.
Upon getting there I also requested two extra mattresses because our deal was that each room would sleep 5 persons instead of the room’s normal capacity of 4, so they immediately gave us 2 more double-sized mattresses and beddings to fit on the floors of each room, and extra towels for each and every one of us. Free of charge! In actuality, the bigger room could have easily housed 6 sleeping side-by-side, no problem. Sweet deal.
The veranda was a nice touch, as it brought sunlight into the bigger room, but the smaller room was a terrible closed space that looked dark (even with the choice of paint), and a bit cramped. Don’t expect magnificent beach views or anything, as all verandas face the next door hotels and your neighbors. It’s a good spot to dry bikinis and towels, as well as to play cards or drink with friends during the lazy hours. The daily breakfast was standard fare longganisa, tocino, hotdogs, silogs, with coffee, but served as meager portions if you’re a guy or a hearty pig-like-eater like me. They’re enough to keep the morning hunger at bay, though, so I never once complained. Also, another nice bonus was that you could contact stores outside to deliver a 5-gallon water dispenser to your room, in order to re-hydrate cheaply, without burning cash on bottled water. Remember that sun exposure is dehydration’s best friend, so this was a particularly huge plus for me. I’m alarmed by how much people can neglect proper hydration while on the beach, so I made it a point to arrange for this dispenser early on.
Bonus trivia: One night, I stepped out of Tan’s Guesthouse, waiting for my hand-designed name-keychain souvenirs to be finished, and ran into Sarah Meier, who I happen to have a lot of respect for. So yay! Gathered up my courage and asked for a picture with the 6-foot-plus hot MTV VJ-model-momma! Hahaha. She was very nice about it, too.
Until the next time, Tan’s folks! I sincerely recommend your place, although if you hadn’t given us the extra night, there would have been things to complain about. I like that you leave your guests mostly alone. I hate the feeling when other hotel front desks/housekeepers have the vibe of watching YOU and your every move instead of watching out for or over you. So I enjoyed Tan’s in that regard. Also, if the pathway at the back could be fixed, it would be less shady and enjoyable to walk on. That’s all!