Dec 24, 2014

Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa: The Must-Stay Resort for Families in Cebu

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I must begin by saying that the Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa in Cebu, The Philippines is simply breathtaking. We flew into Cebu, courtesy of Cebu Pacific Air, in the early hours of the morning and after a short drive from the airport, we arrived at the resort. And the moment our transport drove into the lush green compound, I was gazing around in awe.

Frankly, how can one contain his excitement with a view like this? Or this.

Yes, the pools never fail to whip the monkies up in a frenzy but as always, there was still the tiny business of checking into our room. The resort has 2 wings, Main Wing and Ocean Wing, with the latter catering to mainly couples, with a separate driveway and entrance and offering privacy and exclusivity for guests.

The Main Wing is newly refurbished, and is THE place to be for families with children as it is located near to all of the kids-friendly activities. We were kindly hosted in a Mactan Suite, where the sprawling one-bedroom suite came with a separate living and dining area.

The suite was lovely and airy, and set ready with a fruit basket, plus milk and cookies for the monkies. I loved how the room boasted an 'ocean to shore' theme that featured hues reminiscent of warm golden sand and fresh turquoise ocean waters.

For the wifey though, the insane amount of space in the bathroom was always going to be the clincher.

That, and the fact that one can watch television while soaking in the bathtub was enough to make her (and monkies) go "Waaaahhh..."

The monkies were definitely delighted, even more so when they realized that the bathroom wa stocked with children’s toiletries  – including kids' toothpaste, toothbrush and bath foam. The adults were not neglected as well, thanks to the range of L'Occitane toiletries provided.

The living area was spacious, and was the preferred choice of relaxation for the monkies when we were not at the beach or the pools.

It also came complete with a pull-down Murphy bed - essential for our family of five.

Another essential when it comes to a family of five is the presence of an extra bathroom - always welcome especially since the the monkies have the tendency to use the toilet at the same time.

Oh, and did I mention our suite was well-stocked with a Nespresso machine and capsules? Pure bliss.

Yes, many hours was spent lazing by the balcony, sipping on my coffee and simply enjoying the view.

And my word, what a view it was.

When we finally found enough motivation to peel ourselves away from the room, it was time to explore the resort.

I have to give a special mention to the decor within the buildings, where the fine Philippine craftsmanship was evident. Throughout the resort, furnishings incorporated local materials, such as teak and seashells, which accented the tropical feel of the resort.

The beauty of this particular Shangri-La property lies in the lush, tropical grounds and endless amenities it offers.

Truth be told, the monkies (and I) were overwhelmed with excitement to explore the 13 acres of tropical, beachside gardens; and after four nights staying there, we could still never get enough of such a beautiful atmosphere, with its spectacular attention to detail for every guest.

Indeed, this resort seems to have been built with families in mind. There are two separate pools area, a water play area for smaller children, water slide, adventure mini golf, outdoor play area, a very impressive indoor playground with slides and Kids Club activities, white sandy beach, a marine sanctuary and all kinds of water sports. Caught your breath yet?

But if you are planning to find out in detail about the kids-friendly facilities and activities that Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa has to offer, you will have to read my second post. Just like the monkies who were bent on jumping straight into the pool.

All because they had to embark on a Treasure Hunt with Barry, Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa's Ambassador of Fun!

Together with Barry, we were taken on a whirlwind tour of the resort compounds and it was all thanks to this little treasure hunting game that I got to see different parts of the resort - parts I would have otherwise missed like this recreation centre which allows guests to indulge in table tennis, badminton and yes, even boxing.

There is also a six-hole golf park where guests will be able to practice their swings and putts, with clubs and balls included in the green fee package.

I was told that Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa is a hugely popular choice among couples when it comes to weddings, especially this building.

Boasting a stupendous view of the ocean, the building is often the dream location of couples holding their solemnization ceremonies and after being inside, it was not difficult to see why.

The view was just so awesomely stunning that it was ridiculously easy to snap a picturesque photo.

As they say, anyhow take picture also nice.

I guess I don't have to tell you how much all of us fell in love with the sea views then. Enough to make the monkies aspire to be lifeguards.

One of the highlights of the resort has got to be its Marine Sanctuary, spanning six hectares from the resort's beachfront and teeming with over 160 species of fish, clams and coral. Guests will be able to snorkel and marvel at the wondrous marine life, without having to leave the resort.

This, as we found out over the course of the next 4 days, was where the monkies clamoured to be every single day... which I will recount in my next post as well. After we had claimed our ice cream reward for completing the Treasure Hunt, which ended with the monkies making a new feathered friend.

All the running around definitely made our tummies rumble, and Shangri-La's Mactan has no short of options when it comes to food. One of the restaurants we managed to try was at Acqua, which offers Italian comfort fare at good value in a stylish setting. And one doesn't get as Italian as sampling pastas and crisp wood-fired pizzas.

Ayd had the Meatball Spaghetti from the Kids' Menu, while Ash zoomed in on his fave pizza which turned out to be a mightily fine choice. I had the grilled giant prawns served with couscous, which was a signature dish of the restaurant and after tasting it, I have to agree. The prawn meat was so succulent and fresh that I devoured them in a matter of minutes.

The wifey was feeling a tad more carnivorous so she settled on the pork chop. Okay, so the phote doesn't do justice to the dish but trust me when I say the meat was bursting with flavours when I managed to snag a teeny weeny bite.

And where is Ale while we were feasting away, you ask? She was so bummed out from a day's worht of activities that she slept right through lunch!

Fortunately though, she - or the rest of us - did not miss a single morning of breakfast during our stay at the resort.

I will just summarize it here - the buffet breakfast at the newly-renovated Tides restaurant was the BEST I have ever had in a hotel stay.

The selection was just mind-boggling! There was just about every conceivable item on the buffet tables that one will associate with a hotel's buffet breakfast - and more.

The first thing you will notice when holidaying in Cebu is the huge number of Koreans, to the extent we were greeted in Korean by the locals while we were there! For some reason, Cebu is an extremely popular vacation spot for Koreans which meant that a portion of the buffet spread consisted of Korean staples too.

Again, what won me over was the dedicated row of buffet spread just for the little ones - and at the appropriate height, with kids cutlery!

So I guess it was safe to assume that the monkies looked forward to breakfast time every morning.

For other meal times, kids of hotel guests under the age of 12 can also enjoy complimentary buffet meals in All Day Dining and Pool Cafes when accompanied by a paying adult, up to a maximum of 2 children. In excess of 2 children under the age of 12, a 50% discount of the buffet price will be given.

But to take your experience to an even higher level, then booking an appointment at the incredible CHI, The Spa is a must. Its selection of treatments showcase the well-being traditions found in Philippine culture and the many natural plants, herbs and botanical products with their potent therapeutic properties.

And what an experience it was. It was beyond words.

The spa has its own grounds, and each treatment room is a separate villa.

The wifey and I had the warm coconut massage, and I felt so relaxed during the session that I managed to fall asleep - and even snore. Or at least that was what the wifey claimed, but I don't believe her.

Patrons of CHI, The Spa also receive complimentary access to the Water Pavilion.

So after the adults had our share of fun, it was time for the monkies to have some of their own. And there is nothing quite like making your own fish house for the aquatic life in the Marine Sanctuary!

This unique activity comes free with the Family Fun Package (details at the end of the post) and is part of the W.A.V.E. (Waonderful Act of Valuing the Environment) program, a program where guests are empowered with education and experience to better appreciate their surroundings.

And who better to share that with the monkies than Irene, a Marine Biologist with the resort.

The Fish House was to be constructed using limestone with a metal skeleton and in order to 'glue' the limestone rocks together, we had to use a mixture of cement and soil.

The real work then began in earnest.

Unsurprisingly, the monkies were superbly enthusiastic about the house-building process so in no time, the structure of our Fish House was done!

With property prices rocketing, we figured it would increase the value of our Fish House by adding a second level.

And the finishing touch? Our names, of course.

Once the cement has dried, our completed Fish House will be dropped into the sea where the Marine Sanctuary is. Hopefully, it will welcome tenants in the form of fishes, sea stars and corals over time. Irene has promised to check on our property from time to time, and she'll email us photos should it get occupied. Can't wait!

Throughout the resort, the one thing that struck me was it was the gentle, friendly staff who greeted us at every corner we turned, everyone ready and waiting to make our day a special one. And every 'Good morning!' or 'Good evening!' was accompanied with such genuine, delighted smiles on their faces. Frankly, we couldn't help but feel uplifted whenever we bump into the staff.

Each person seemed to ooze such an appreciation, delight and love for their job. And that, coupled with the astounding beauty of the resort, probably explained why we felt down when it was time to bid farewell to this little paradise in Cebu.

If you are planning to visit Cebu with the kids, I really can't recommend this resort enough. And after my next post - which is HERE! - on the many kids-centric activities and facilities that Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa has to offer, I promise that your kids will never ever want to leave!

Or at least that was what happened to my monkies.
For more photos of our amazing experience in Cebu, see our Facebook photo album HERE.

Useful Details

Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa
Punta Engano Road, Lapu-Lapu, Cebu, 6015, Philippines

Family Fun Package
Available from now until 31 March 2015

The Family Fun Package includes:
- Room accommodation and daily buffet breakfast for two (2) adults
- Children below 12 years enjoy complimentary buffet meals when accompanied by an adult (maximum of two (2) children)
- Daily dinner buffet with unlimited standard drinks for two (2) adults and two (2) children
- Unlimited access to the Adventure Zone for a maximum of two (2) children
- Round-trip shuttle bus transfers to/from the airport for two (2) adults and two (2) children
- Fish house making activity for the family
- Savings of 15% on Food & Beverage services, CHI, The Spa treatments for adults and laundry and pressing services
- Welcome drink upon arrival
- Access to the Health Club for adults: whirlpool bath, steam room, sauna, gym
- Complimentary in-room wired Internet and Wi-Fi access
- Scheduled complimentary recreational activities
For more information, visit HERE.

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