The Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa exemplifies a compelling city getaway. A mere 45 minutes drive from bustling Cebu City, the resort’s white sand beaches and translucent waters can impress even the most jaded traveler. The property has been around for over twenty years and through refurbishments over the years, remains highly popular in the region for those seeking a great beach holiday. It was recently voted by CN Traveler as one of the best resorts in the world! The wonderful thing about this resort is that while it is located in a quieter side of Mactan, those yearning for the city life can easily hop on a cab and head to Cebu so you do get the best of both worlds here.
From Singapore, there are several options to get here including via flights from Tigerair. From Mactan Cebu International Airport, the resort is roughly a 15 minute drive away. For this particular stay, we were billeted at the Ocean Wing which is housed in a separate building from the main wing and has its own lobby. Upon getting dropped off at the Ocean Wing driveway, we were immediately escorted to our sleeping quarters for in-room check-in.
People tend to associate Cebu with mangos (for good reason!) and I couldn’t help but think of this fruit when I entered my Panorama room for the first time. Shades of yellow dominated the interiors, from the throw pillow cases to the couch and even the painting on the wall. Traces of Filipino influences were evident such as with the straw patterns on the bed’s headboard and lighting fixtures. You do get a strong resort vibe here as well – the spacious balcony opens up to sublime views of the sea.
My welcome amenities consisted of a fruit basket that included – surprise, surprise – mangos. This was placed by the relatively spacious sitting area which was situated beside the bed. Those familiar with Shangri-la properties around the region would be pleasantly surprised by its uncanny resemblance to the refurbished Garden Wing rooms at the flagship Shangri-La Singapore, sans the color scheme.
Like the Singapore property, the rooms here also have a balcony but with a much nicer view (of the beach). It’s an especially scenic sight to take in the afternoons when the sun faces the other way and shines on the translucent waters around Mactan. The balcony was particularly breezy in the evenings which made sitting here quite a relaxing experience after a long day out.
The bathroom reminded me of the set-up of more mature Shangri-La Hotels with its bathtub and shower in one. Toiletries were from the in-house brand. I love how Shangri-la hotels always give out the complete set of amenities – including combs and razors – so that you don’t need to specifically request for one during your stay.
My stay came with access to Horizon Lounge which was conveniently located in the same wing. The interesting aspect about the lounge at this property is how they hold two sessions of evening cocktails. The first and more family-oriented sitting is held from 5 to 7 in the evenings and guests can spot goodies made for the little ones such as cakes, fried chicken and spaghetti which sit alongside alcohol and canapés for the grown-ups. For those preferring something more exclusive, the Horizon Lounge transforms into an adults-only area from 7pm onwards.
The thing I like the most about the property is its huge expanse. Even though the resort was relatively full during my stay, I could find several corners – whether it be on some lounge chairs by the manicured lawn or a couple of private huts overlooking the beach – where it was entirely possible to separate oneself from the crowd.
The resort is actually large enough to have its own “spa village.” At the far end of the resort, Chi Spa beckons with its treatment rooms housed inside private bungalows. The signature treatment here, like in other Shangri-La properties in the country is the Philippine Hilot which is said to provide welcome relief to body aches and other forms of stress to the physical self.
Food Options at Shangri-la Mactan Resort & Spa
For breakfast, we had the option of having it at a couple of venues throughout the property. This included the all-day dining restaurant, Tides; the Italian restaurant, Acqua and finally at the Horizon Lounge. During my stay, I was able to try all three.
Among the three, I spotted the largest variety at Tides which featured cuisines ranging from Korean to Chinese to Western and of course, Filipino. My attention was of course turned towards the Filipino goodies such as suman (sticky rice) which came nicely with sugar and slices of coconut. Juices were thankfully the fresh variety. Make sure you try the local orange juice here!
Acqua is a quieter option if the weekend crowd gets too overwhelming at Tides. The spread may not be as wide but the ambiance was noticeably more elegant with a really nice view of the pool and the surrounding sea.
While Tides and Acqua serve breakfast in a buffet format, the Horizon Lounge allows for a mixture between a small buffet spread and some really nice ala carte items. Of the three venues, I must say I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the lounge a lot more. The freshly prepared eggs benedict and waffles were also good reasons to have breakfast here.
During my stay at the resort, I also managed to drop by the seafood restaurant, Cowrie Cove, for dinner. Boasting a seafront location, the outlet is helmed by the resort’s executive sous chef, Daniel Quintero, who hails from Argentina. The menu is mostly western but local ingredients such as calamansi, Philippine Red Grouper and Mindanao Blue Crab make occasional appearances.
Guests can try a number of activities while in the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa. Those who love marveling at marine life are in for a treat. The resort’s beach has its own marine sanctuary. The fish are not in the least bit shy about coming close to people.
For those preferring a place that’s farther out, the marine sanctuary in Nalusuan Island offers a wider variety of underwater creatures for one’s ogling pleasure. We took a 45 minute boat ride from the hotel’s pier to the shallow waters surrounding the island. It was a great day and we got quite close to colorful jellyfish, different kinds of fish including the clownfish, lots of corals, sea urchins and even giant clams. More of Nalusuan Island in a separate post!
I normally stay in resorts to enjoy the peace and quiet but if you’re yearning for a bit of urban hustle and bustle, the city of Cebu is around an hour away by cab. We went out on a Saturday afternoon for a quick tour of Cebu City and managed to cover the highlights in a little over two hours. Iconic spots such as Fort San Pedro, Magellan’s Cross and the hilltop Taoist Temple rounded up our quick tour of the Philippines’ second city.
The Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa offers a microcosm of what hotels in the Philippines have to offer. As it is situated firmly within Metro Cebu, it attracts a strong urban crowd and the popularity of its dining venues such as Tides attest to this. At the same time however, those looking for a getaway stand to benefit from the number of leisure activities available in the property. The white sand beach and translucent waters also beckon.
Shangri-la Mactan Resort & Spa
Punta Engaño Road