There aren’t many scenarios where I would find myself staying at a hotel in Caticlan, or so I thought. In fact, Caticlan is a little industrial town on the island of Aklan whose only purpose in life seemingly was as the one and only access point to Boracay, which is one of the world’s most popular islands. For that reason, Caticlan is like the ugly little sister with bad breath compared to the beauty queen of Boracay – but still necessary if you wanted to get to know her. Each year, millions of tourists stream into Caticlan’s airport and then walk or take a van to the nearby ferry terminal, where they stayed only long enough to buy a ticket and get their asses across on a 15-minute ride to Boracay. When their vacation was over, they did it in reverse, with the express goal to spend AS LITTLE time as possible on Caticlan.
Sure, Caticlan has its hotels, but they’re little guesthouses with Filipino standards, for those who get in too early or too late to make the ferry to Boracay, can’t afford to stay over there, or business people who prefer to avoid the tourism craziness.
So, I never ever ever thought I’d stay for three days in Caticlan no less, until Boracay was closed down recently due to environmental concerns. Shut down for a period of at least six months after the Philippines President Duterte called it “a cesspool,” the island is closed to ALL tourism, guarded by the military as they rip it up and (hopefully) solve the sewage problem and improve the infrastructure.
Luckily, I was able to get a media credential (SCORE!) so I can come and go and visit Boracay any time I want during the closure (and at first glance, my presence freaks some people out there – believe me!).
Which brings me back to Caticlan. My media credential allows me to visit Boracay to report and fact-find, but NOT to stay there overnight because technically, all hotels are supposed to be shut down. Hence my need to find a hotel in Caticlan.
A little disappointed and not expecting much, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Candice Lucy Hotel, which was recommended by my local friend and tour guide, Hayden Fernando. While it’s surroundings aren’t much (it literally sits in a dirt trucker parking lot near the industrial port), the hotel itself is fantastic for a budget accommodation.
First off, it’s spotlessly clean, which is essential. But one of the best parts of the Candice Lucy is also its coffee shop in the lobby, where they have an impressive espresso bar (feed me iced coffees all day long, please!) and a restaurant that has a small but high-quality and well-thought-out menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The staff are also super friendly, helpful, and just delightful to be around, and there are only three or four people working at a time because it’s so small. They have rooms with no Wi-Fi and bunk beds that are a little cheaper and suited to Filipino families or budget travelers, or I got a room with WiFi (It works! It works!), cable TV, a nice double bed, frosty aircon, and a standard bathroom all for 1,500 Pesos a night – or $30. I can even walk right over to the ferry terminal every morning or evening to and from Boracay.
The Candice Lucy is all I need and then some, and now I know where to stay if and when I’m in Caticlan again!