Paul’s Birthday Surprise at Shangri-La Boracay

Ever since Paul and I were together, I try to surprise him in different ways. Last year, I decided to stage a surprise that involved riding an airplane – the first time I did anything that ambitious.  This is the second getaway surprise I’ve done – in 2017, I brought him out of town on a road trip. That time, I didn’t know that Paul had scheduled a meeting which he had to cancel last minute. It really was an oversight on my part, so in 2018, I knew better.  I know my husband is very particular about having set plans and sticking to them, and it really is a challenge to pull of a surprise that requires him to adjust his schedule. Still, I decided to book us a trip to Shangri-La Boracay as my birthday surprise for Paul.  

Even though I already told him in advance that I’m planning a surprise, it was still unexpected for Paul because we left Manila the day before his birthday.  I blindfolded him so he can’t see the way, and he thought I was going to do the same thing I did the year before. However, when he found out we’re going to the airport, he got really stressed.  He started to guess where we were headed, and he expressed concern about having to meet someone. Fortunately, I learned from our 2017 experience. I asked the person Paul was supposed to meet if they can reschedule their meeting to after our trip, and the other person agreed (well, he doesn’t have a choice really)  I told Paul that I had everything covered and his meeting has already been moved. That didn’t keep Paul from getting stressed in the car on the way to the airport, which just made me laugh. I told him how he will forget all his stress once we get to our destination. Between the two of us, my husband is the planner, and I’m the exact opposite.  I placed Paul in a situation where he really had no choice but to follow me, not knowing what’s going to happen. He started asking if I had packed his things properly, enumerating the things he might need – clothes, shorts, etc. I told him I brought everything he would need and he doesn’t need to worry. He kept saying how it was really stressful – he was still thinking about work and the meetings he had the following day.  I reminded him that it was his birthday and he needed to give himself a break. Besides, canceling the meetings isn’t his fault, it would be mine. I tried to get Paul to just enjoy himself on the way.

I chose Shangri-La Boracay because it’s one of our favorite go-to resorts in the Philippines. It’s the perfect place for a family getaway, with their complete and kid-friendly amenities. Plus, Paul super loves the privacy and excellent service. Once our trip started, I knew I made the right choice. No questions in terms of comfort – the hotel staff picked us up from the airport and shuttled us to their private lounge in Caticlan. There, we waited for the private speedboat operated by the Shangri-La to bring us to the resort in Boracay.  The lounge has refreshments and allows you to relax after your flight while you wait to be brought to the resort.

We were able to rest and Kyle got to play with his toys while waiting at the private lounge in Caticlan

Unfortunately, the day we arrived, the wind and the waves were a bit strong, so the boat had to dock further away from the actual resort.  We had to take a short 20-min land transfer, instead of getting off directly near the villas. Check-in and check-out processes at the Shangri-La were easy and seamless, with the staff taking care of everything for us – another reason why we love this place.

Since I booked a villa, we were assigned a personal butler who looked after us during our entire stay.  We had a phone which we can use to call our butler Lee from anywhere in Boracay, in case we wanted him to make arrangements for us while we were out. I really appreciate that high level of service that comes with staying at Shangri-La hotels and resorts.

With our personal butler, Lee.  He took care of all our needs during our stay.  Highly recommended! (thumbs up emoji)

One of the funny parts of this trip was a surprise that didn’t turn out the way I envisioned it.  I ended up being the one surprised when the birthday greeting for Paul came a little too early. I had scheduled a surprise helicopter ride for Paul for the morning of his birthday. When we arrived, I was advised that the weather was not that good, and the helicopter ride might have to be cancelled. Regardless, I planned to take Paul out of the room for the morning, and I requested that when we come back, the staff will set up a surprise in the room.  I don’t know what happened and where things got lost in translation, but we were really taken by surprise with what they did.

The day we arrived, when it was almost midnight, I was soaking in the tub when the doorbell rang.  Paul asked “What’s that?” and I responded, “I don’t know.” Paul had to go open the door since Kyle and the yaya were asleep, and I was in the tub.  It turns out it there were two hotel staff at the door with balloons and a cake. They started to greet him, but Paul got really confused and sort of panicked (nataranta sya).  He asked them to wait and ran to me in the bathroom, telling me what happened. All I could say was “What?!” as I got out of the tub feeling stressed. In my mind, the surprise was supposed to be tomorrow. I couldn’t even take photos of the surprise at that moment because I was taking a bath when they arrived. But since they were already there, I decided to just run with it and talked to the staff. We let them in even though things weren’t planned, and because the surprise was already sprung, I asked them to just redo it that very moment. Paul had to act surprised so I can take snaps and video clips for documentary purposes. (Mommy blogger took over, haha!)  Paul actually felt weird about it, but we didn’t really have any choice because the hotel staff was already there. The execution really wasn’t what I expected – I wanted the room to be decorated and set-up as a surprise, but they decided to give a personal greeting. In the end, I had a good laugh about how things turned out.

Even though the execution was a bit of a failure, I had to recognize that the hotel still put in effort.  I asked the staff, “Isn’t it weird to request for midnight birthday greetings?” The staff did admit that it doesn’t happen often, but there are some guests – a very small percentage – who specifically ask for the surprise to be done at midnight.  I didn’t really complain, but I guess the staff realized their mistake and reported to their manager. Being the Shangri-La, they really pride themselves in customer service, so the manager apologized to us personally for the error and inconvenience.  

The next day, the staff called and said they want to make up for the previous night.  Since the helicopter ride (another surprise I prepared) was cancelled, I informed them that I’ll be taking the boys to the beach.  I mentioned that perhaps they can stage a surprise for Paul there instead. So while Paul and Kyle were playing on the beach, some of the staff approached Paul and began to serenade him.  Nagkaroon ng harana sa beach, with the manager.  They greeted him personally, and Paul was genuinely surprised.  In the end, it really was a happy birthday surprise – the hotel went over and beyond expectations when they left a free bottle of champagne in our room!  Bawing-bawi talaga sila.

Overall, I have to say it was a great trip because we had time to bond as a family and really appreciate each other.  The Shangri-La Boracay was an excellent choice for this surprise, not just because of the service, but also because of the great experience we had while enjoying top-notch facilities and spectacular views!

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