Shangri-La Mactan: Cebu’s Tropical Paradise

Have a fancy dinner by the sea at Cowrie Cove. Indulge in beach-side luxe at Shangri-La Mactan.

Cebu, known as the queen city of the south, is back with a vengeance after being ravaged by Supertyphoon Odette last year. Planning and rebuilding took a while before the tourism industry got back in the groove of things. Shangri-La Mactan was one of the first destinations to welcome guests with open arms.

I knew that Shangri-La had fully reopened and we took this chance to visit Cebu. We booked a flight, packed our bags, and thought about the long and private beach of Shangri-La Mactan, the only one of its kind in the area.

They serve great food with gorgeous views at Cowrie Cove. Experience wellness at CHI.

 Catching a morning flight from Manila, we arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport. The flight from Manila took about an hour and a half.

 We were welcomed by the staff of Shangri-La at the airport and brought to the resort hotel by their own shuttle van. The ride from the airport took only a few minutes and without delay, we found ourselves being served welcome drinks by the staff as the team ushered us to our Seaview Room at the hotel’s main wing.

 The resort

 Cebu’s Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, is an award-winning resort property in the Philippines. It has won praise from both domestic and international travelers for its luxurious, spacious, and well-appointed 530 guestrooms and suites. The property is indeed enormous as I view it on the room’s balcony. The time has come for me to explore and experience this lush tropical hideaway.

 The room offers plenty of space and a gorgeous view of the sea. The accommodation is sophisticated and inspired by tropical elements such as corals and shells and accented with luxurious Philippine craftsmanship.

Executive Chef William Tan

The Shangri-La Marine Sanctuary 

The beach is calling and a quick dip wouldn’t hurt. The rooms are only a few minute-walk away from the white sand beach and the Shangri-La Marine Sanctuary. The hotel’s guests can swim with the schools of tropical fish that make their home in the marine sanctuary. In keeping with the resort’s corporate social responsibility mission, the marine sanctuary was officially established on February 1, 2007. The Shangri-La Marine Sanctuary Stewardship group was granted 15 years of stewardship rights and obligations for the management of the sanctuary.

Swimming with the fish so close to the beach is quite an experience. It is definitely something that makes guests return to the property. If you feed them with treats provided by the hotel, this comes as a truly a one-of-a-kind encounter with the friendly creatures of the sea

A hearty breakfast 

The next morning, we were at Tides, one of Shangri-La Mactan’s restaurants with a friendly bustling market atmosphere. The buffet breakfast was served here and the choices are extensive. There’s a big chance that you’ll also meet and have a photo with Polly the parrot, the resort’s mascot while having breakfast.

 The hotel staff was quick and attentive and I got to know them by their first names. These workers are a great representation of the tourism industry here in the Philippines. It’s wonderful that they are back at work after the super typhoon hit Cebu.

CHI, the spa

“Make a date with your well-being”, the spa’s mantra spoke to us and we responded with an emphatic yes. We booked our schedule with the spa and after arriving a few minutes early, we were ushered into our own individual villas for the treatments. We had the Himalayan Salt Stone and Immune Booster massages, which were heavenly. The spa’s villas were spacious, quiet, and peaceful. They provide everything you need but if you want to spend more time in the spa’s garden facilities, you can come in your swimsuit.

 The treatments and massages here are authentic and based on natural healing methods used in traditional well-being practices shared by many Asian cultures, which includes the Philippines.

Epicurean journey at Cowrie Cove 

Before having dinner the following day, we sat down with Shangri-La Mactan’s Executive Chef, Chef William Tan in the late afternoon and had the chance to explore his influences behind the delectable food being served in the resort.

 Chef William hails from Malaysia and it’s wonderful to hear about his culinary journey through the years. He brings Asian flavors with a western style of cooking to Cowrie Cove and Shangri-La Mactan. 

We sat down for dinner by the sea and had their Tuna “Kinilaw,” Burnt Octopus End, Smoky Salmon, and Sticky Pork Hock. All were flavorful, and we savored each bite while enjoying the ocean views. We finished the meal with the Gooey Cake for dessert. 

Cebu is definitely back on the map after typhoon Odette. Tourism in the Philippines is going through a renaissance in this part of the country. I had a great time with the people, the service, and the welcoming atmosphere of the resort. 

Image credits: Ardee P. de los Angeles


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