Its Own Paradise: Aqua Boracay Merges Luxurious Living With Youthful Expression
In an interview with Aqua Boracay's EVP Carlo Co, we discussed how the resort's design and construction through the inclusion of homegrown veterans in the industry made it the newest hotspot for summer excitement and tropical tranquility
January 10, 2020
Written by Kristoff Sison
Photography by Floyd Jhocson of Studio 100
Located by the serene Bulabog Beach of Boracay, Aqua Boracay is the newest vacation hotspot that aspires to elevate its Mediterranean and tropical deco foundation with local flair while intertwining the island’s natural wonders.
There is more to these white walls
“The first thing that came into my mind [upon looking at the entire property] was that it felt like a luxury resort in Miami or Ibiza. Once we got Chef Chele Gonzales to partner with us for our food and beverages, he mentioned how the place felt like a resort in Bali. First Miami, then Ibiza, and now Bali–we had to define who we are,” said Carlo Co, Executive Vice President of Aqua Boracay. The end goal for the resort was pretty straightforward: to not fall in line with western resort trends, but tread their own line of luxury.
With Principal Architect Jason Buensalido at the helm of the resort’s build, the team took inspiration from the shape of seashells for the guest building’s elliptical shapes. These seven white-clad structures are distributed along the lot’s lateral boundaries. Each building is like a stack of wide, parallel concrete slabs with glass panes along the gaps in between, making visible the 138 guest rooms and opening the guest’s view of the surrounding beauty.
The rest of the development was finalized and designed by APL Architects. With their principal, Architect Philip Lu, and his team of international and local consultants, the introduction of the more linear structures, starting from the main building (reception) and facilities building (gym spa and the admin offices), to the rectilinear swimming pools and the clubhouse facing the beach materialized. The design intent was to contrast the curves of Buensalido’s towers.
A pool runs through the center of the resort, split right down the middle by a footpath. Aqua Boracay’s pioneer dining concepts The Day Club and sea.food by Chele situated at its far end welcome guests for daytime parties and intimate nighttime dining respectively. The entire property is virtually a mirror image if itself when cut along its median, and all lines guide sights towards the beachfront–definitely a can’t-miss for vacationists.
Modern tropical by the masters
But in order to inject a sense of the locale in a space that intertwines many foreign influences, Co turned to two industry bigshots: Architect Ed Calma and Vito Selma. Influenced by the architectural and interior design prowess of his father Lor Calma, Ed Calma has paved his own path to be regarded as one of the leading creatives in Philippine modernism today. “Architect Ed Calma is well-known for his modern, minimalist design and his work fits the overall concept that we had in mind,” says Co.
It’s safe to say that any design choice one might see at Aqua Boracay was a part of Ed Calma’s plan of bringing a modern tropical aura to the place. “When we got to the property, everything was bare, and he planned almost everything: the furniture placement, material selection, wall mounts, color palettes–he had a touch in almost everything,” Co adds.
Vito Selma, on the other hand, lent his expertise on locally-sourced materials and woodcraft to give Aqua Boracay nature’s touch. Co explains, “When you see most parts of the property, it’s not your typical Filipino build. But once you enter the guest rooms and see that every piece of furniture is by Vito Selma, you get to feel that Filipino touch. It’s all in the subtleties.”
Selma’s works prove to be crucial in grounding the resort to its location that has gained worldwide fame for its natural beauty. “People go to Aqua Boracay to experience not only the beauty of the property, but definitely the nature that surrounds it. I believe that every visual choice matters in creating a balance between the two: furniture, use of space, and the combination of them all,” adds Co.
A refreshed experience
To stand out from the bustling hospitality scene on the island, Co had to position Aqua Boracay to cater to a rather untapped market: the young partygoers. A number of luxury resorts in Boracay tend to embody the “old-fashioned” way of luxury–lavish decors, overabundant experiences, exquisite everything. But for Co, his vision for Aqua Boracay is to bring forth an experience that’s a merger of luxury and youthful expression: “Luxury, in most people’s minds, is all in the excess. We like to keep our experiences filling, but not overwhelming.”
It is through this “just right” mindset where hopefully, through their ongoing soft launch, guests can experience tropical tranquility and grab the occasional drink whenever they feel like letting loose–that is the Aqua Boracay experience.