Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa is a travel destination in its own right, the kind of hotel at which you could happily spend several days and nights without having to leave the property - and without getting bored!
The grounds are spacious, there are nine food and beverage outlets, and there is a sumptuous spa.
There is live entertainment, there are DJs spinning discs, there is a private beach with all manner of equipment that can be borrowed or rented.
You can go jogging, you can go jet-skiing, you can play tennis.
There is even a marine park where you can get up close and personal with tropical fish during daily snorkeling safaris!
Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa has a total of 530 rooms in two wings: the Main Wing and the Ocean Wing.
With 354 rooms and suites, the Main Wing was recently refurbished with an ocean to shore theme, which features a gold and turquoise colour scheme reminiscent of the sand and sea that many of the rooms overlook.
Interior design elements include coral, seashells, teak, and fretwork created by Philippine craftsmen.
Deluxe rooms are 34 square metres (365 square feet) and can accommodate up to two adults and two children or three adults and one child. They have balconies with views of the garden.
Deluxe sea view rooms are similar, except they have balconies facing the Mactan Channel.
A bit larger, deluxe family rooms measure 45 to 61 square metres (482 to 583 square feet) and can accommodate the same number of people. They have balconies with garden views.
Mactan suites have separate living rooms and bedrooms. They can accommodate up to three adults and two children.
Veranda suites have 30 metre corner terraces with views of the swimming pool or garden. They can accommodate up to three adults and two children.
Shangri-la Suites have a living room, a dining area, a pantry, and two bedrooms. They can accommodate up to three adults and two children. Their balconies have sweeping ocean views.
I was housed in room 3005 of the Ocean Wing, which offers what the hotel calls “an enhanced level of comfort”.
Premier rooms are similar to deluxe rooms in the Main Wing, and panorama rooms are similar to deluxe sea view rooms in the Main Wing.
The Presidential Suite measures 216 square metres (2,325 square feet) and can accommodate up to three adults and two children.
All room in both of the hotel’s two wings have marble bathrooms with both showers and bathtubs. They also have balconies with at least two chairs and a table and either ocean or garden views or both.
Room rates include complimentary buffet breakfasts and Wi-Fi and broadband Internet access.
Guests staying in suites in the Main Wing and all rooms and suites in the Ocean Wing have access to the Ocean Club, the hotel’s version of an executive lounge.
The club serves buffet breakfasts, all day beverages and snacks, and cocktails from 4.30 to 8.30 pm. Children are allowed during cocktail hour during the first two hours. From 6.30 to 8.30 pm, the club becomes an adults only venue.
Hotel guest staying in Ocean Club rooms have additional privileges such as exclusive access to the Ocean Wing swimming pool, access to the Water Pavillion at Chi, the Spa, and unlimited use of snorkel sets and kayaks.
The resort has several food and beverage outlets, each with its own personality, from cool sophistication to beach-side informality.
Acqua – overlooking the Ocean Wing’s swimming pool, this casual eatery is an all-day dining restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
There is an extensive international buffet at breakfast and an Italian a la carte menu at lunch and dinner.
There are appetizers, soups, red and white pizzas, family style Italian dishes to be shared, rissoti, several pasta dishes, and main courses running from seafood to chops to grilled meat.
My lunch started with bread fresh out of the oven and three yummy dips.
For soup, I ordered the Zuppa di Minestrone, which the menu described as a “traditional clear vegetables soup”, but it was hardly a broth, as the menu suggested. It was, in fact, thick and hardy, and it was accompanied by a thick slice of country style bread fresh out of the oven.
It was difficult to choose from the yummy sounding dishes on the menu. My heart was screaming for the pork tenderloin wrapped with bacon and saffron mashed potatoes or the beef tenderloin in gorgonzola cheese sauce, served with roasted potatoes and caramelized shallots.
My brain – which seemed to have my heart’s best interest at heart – was advising me to order seafood. My brain won, and I settled for the grilled salmon fillet with mustard and honey sauce served with sautéed parmesan spinach and chips potatoes.
OMG! The salmon was perfectly cooked, the spinach was delicious, and those thinly sliced pieces of fried potatoes added a sinful touch to my otherwise healthy choice.
Cheese or dessert? I ordered the tiramisu, and I was not disappointed.
Cowrie Cove – dine on mouth-watering seafood al fresco on the beach with a view of the sea. Dinner only.
Tea of Spring – a fine dining Chinese restaurant featuring Cantonese cuisine. With a wide selection of loose-leaf Chinese teas, the eatery features dim sum at lunch. Open for lunch and dinner.
Tides – with open kitchens, this lively buffet restaurant has stations featuring dishes from around the world, with everything from raw foods to steamed and grilled seafoods and meats.
I didn’t have the opportunity to at Tides, but I did stumble across the venue one evening when staff were dancing through the dining room to the amusement of patrons. What more proof does anyone need that it really IS more fun in the Philippines?
Bars and Lounges
Five bars and lounges serving snacks and drinks in casual surroundings are scattered around the property.
Breeze is situated right on the beach. It serves cold drinks and yummy bites.
Buko Bar overlooks the main swimming pool, serving sandwiches, pizza, and refreshments. There is a Filipino buffet and cultural show on selected evenings.
In addition to live entertainment, a DJ spins the discs at Waves Bar from 8.30 pm to midnight.
Lobby Lounge offers live entertainment nightly.
Take a break from the computer games, video games, billiards, tabletop soccer, and karaoke with a light snack or refreshing drink at the E-Zone Snack Bar.
Chi, The Spa, is housed in a secluded section of the hotel’s sprawling grounds, away from the rooms, food and beverage outlets, and other facilities.
I knew this was no ordinary spa when I walked through the gate and saw the dramatic …
The spa has its own lobby with a cathedral ceiling and gift shop.
The spa offers a full menu of wellness massages running from body therapies such a scrubs and wraps to Swedish and Thai massages, chi hot stone treatments, foot reflexology, and rescue release therapies.
I was advised to arrive one hour early so that I could take full advantage of the facilities. In addition to the indoor steam room and sauna was an outdoor garden with a large, walk-in Hydrotherapy pool.
I was offered a complimentary one-hour Thai massage, and it was sublime. Sorry I can’t give more details. I quickly fell asleep and slept through it, awakening rejuvenated and refreshed.
The hotel has two large swimming pools. The pool situated near the Main Wing is the larger of the two swimming pools. The free-form pool has an aquaplay area for children and a water slide.
The swimming pool adjoining the Ocean Wing is for the exclusive use of Ocean Wing guests. This is where I did laps during my hosted, three-night stay.
The hotel overlooks a private beach facing a cove and a marine sanctuary, and if the hotel has a Unique Selling Proposition, the marine sanctuary is it.
Thanks to the hotel’s on-going programme to restore the coral reefs fronting the property, tropical fish proliferate in the waters.
I remember opening my eyes as I went for a swim to an offshore pontoon during a previous stay at the hotel and feeling as though I were swimming in a tropical fish tank.
Other facilities include a well-equipped gym, an adventure zone, an e-zone, a chapel, a clinic, complete facilities for meetings, events, and weddings, an aquaplay and a children’s pool, and a toddlers zone for kids.
The hotel offers a full schedule of activities seven days of the week, with six activities scheduled each day. Included are twice-weekly jogging sessions taking fitness junkies off the property and into the surrounding community.
Other activities include supervised gym sessions, golf tournaments, snorkeling safaris, tennis challenges, tennis clinics, circuit training, swim and run sessions, swimming clinics, volleyball, billiards tournaments, yoga, garden tours, personal training, Zumba, table tennis tournaments, social tennis, putting competitions, and chess lessons.
A Filipino cultural show and banquet is put one at the Buko Bar next to the main swimming on selected evenings.
Location, Location, Location
Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa is located on the island of Mactan in Lapu Lapu City, one of six cities and several towns that comprise Metro Cebu.
Many of Cebu's top resorts are, in fact, located along the beaches of Mactan Island.
The City of Cebu is the capital of the province of Cebu, an island in Central Visayas and the second largest city in the Philippines after Manila.
Cebu was the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines and the country's oldest city. It was also the country's first capital.
Mactan is an island located across the Mactan Channel from the City of Cebu. Mactan-Cebu International Airport is also located on the island.
How to Get There
One of the advantages of vacationing in Cebu over other islands in the Philippines is that it has its own international airport.
This means not having to change planes at Manila International Airport.
Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the second busiest airport in the Philippines after Manila International Airport, which - if you ask me - is a big advantage.
Serving Metro Cebu and Central Central Visayas, the airport is a hub for Cebu Pacific Air, PAL Express, Philippine Airlines, and Philippines AirAsia.
The airport is served by several Chinese, Korean, Singaporean, and Taiwanese airlines as well as Cathay Pacific Airways of Hong Kong and Emirates Airline of the United Arab Emirates.
Travelers can connect at Emirates' hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport to and from numerous travel destinations in Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East.