Cebu’s Finest: Discovering Luxury Hotels in the Queen City of the South
My job as a travel writer brings me to destinations where superlatives are sometimes just not enough. Among those is a recent work trip to Cebu Island - specifically in Mactan and Cebu City - where I was schooled on the luxury lifestyle: a life where a single serving of sinigang costs P600, a nightly stay can easily shave P100,000 off your wallet, and the casino is so huge it feels like Disneyland.
These are hotels that are so darn lavish, my jaw dropped and my heart stopped every single time we visited for photoshoots and meetings. For five days.
(And though the budgetarian in me shivered while reading their price lists, my brief fling with Cebu’s luxury outfits made me thrilled about the other side of the Queen City of the South, that I ended up surfing Traveloka for budget-friendly flights to Cebu. Because, you know, no hidden charges.)
Let me take you on an Epicurean journey to Cebu’s most luxurious stays.
Previously known as Cebu Hilton Hotel, Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu is now among the most coveted resort destinations in Mactan Island, thanks to some serious remodeling by top interior designers Manny Samson, Fred and Butch Valdes, and Cynthia and Ivy Almario – the design duo behind other grandiose hotels like Midas in Pasay.
Only 15 minutes from Mactan Airport, this 5-star Mediterranean-themed luxury resort in Punta Engaño features 245 ultra-modern rooms and suites with bathtubs, minibars, and private balconies or lanais fronting the beach or the pool. Ranging from 33 square meters to a whopping 224 square meters, the rooms start at P8,000 a night to as high as – wait for it – P110,000+ (Loft and Presidential Suite).
The reason for the hefty price tag? Aside from impeccable service and the hotel’s prime beachfront location in Mactan, guests are treated to a slew of unique amenities – from a luxury health club and spa to a private marine sanctuary beside the famous Ibiza, one of four in-house themed restaurants. A seaside loft for 8 to 10 - the Ibiza Loft – can be rented overnight too.
Ibiza rests at the edge of Movenpick’s marina, evoking the vibrant atmosphere of Spain’s party mecca. Bespoke cocktails are best enjoyed here at sunset, while enjoying live entertainment or resident deejay picks. If you want a quieter ambience, there’s Sails on the main building serving world fare, buffet-style.
Be Resort may be the cheapest of Mactan hotels on this list, but it certainly does not feel that way. Youthful, hip, and laidback, this Mactan Island resort offers beachfront rooms that let guests Be what they want to be: Be Classy, Be Cool, and Be Chic.
Lined with fun splashes of pastels and contemporary decors, all rooms are equipped with chiropractor-approved mattresses, fridges, en suite bathrooms, cable TVs, and a spanking hot view of the sea.
Be Resort is a hit among vacationing families and it’s not hard to see why. The rooms (which start from P4,500+) offer sufficient space for work and play. There’s a leisure room with a pool table and kids’ toys from the garden across the infinity pool. The beach is also among the calmest and widest I’ve seen in Mactan, perfectly suitable for children. It’s just a five-minute drive of family destinations like Mactan Shrine.
The most charming of the resort’s facilities for me though, are their futuristic sunbeds, which afford one an unparalleled view of the island without getting baked under the sun.
Also straddling the coastal Punta Engaño road, Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa Cebu is a 5-star holiday resort with a lush tropical vibe. The whole resort encompasses 13 hectares of land and over 500 rooms, making it one of Cebu’s largest resorts.
Shangri-La hosts two wings: the Main Wing, which features tasteful, native-themed rooms; and the Ocean Wing, home to elegant beach-themed rooms with private sea-fronting balconies. Set in masterfully landscaped gardens, this wing offers guests enhanced privacy and close access to the beach. Guests occupying Ocean Wing rooms enjoy exclusive privileges, including a private pool and access to the Ocean Club Lounge, where a personal club concierge and Guest Relations Officer are at their disposal. In both wings, accommodations average at P15,000.
As a full-service resort, Shangri La’s Mactan is fully equipped with a health club, a 6-hole golf course, two outdoor pools, and a man-made beach cove. For children, there are three kid-dedicated zones including one for toddler play, an adventure zone with a multi-level indoor playground, and the E-Zone entertainment center, where they can grab a bite and play video arcades and soccer.
For foodies though,the main highlight of a Shangri-La Mactan stay are the mind-boggling options for indulgent fare in its seven restaurants, each with its own specialty. Cowrie Cove serves family cuisine. Acqua is for Italian dishes, while Tea of Spring whips up Oriental favorites. Tides offers al-fresco dining, though the menu is a bit limited during the afternoon. Light snacks and cocktails can be enjoyed at Buko Bar and the Lobby Lounge.
If you’re looking for a lavish but affordable stay that’s near Cebu City’s industrial and commercial centers, Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino is an excellent option. This multi-awarded 4-star installment lies just a few minutes away from Ayala Center, SM Cebu, and Cebu IT Park (free shuttle service is available to these places), making it a good base for business travelers. Housing a duty-free shop, boutiques, and one of the biggest casinos and convention halls in the country, it seamlessly combines business and leisure.
Rooms are priced at P4,000 and up, all fitted with minibars, cable TVs, and free WiFi. Apart from an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a FOREX center, a salon, and 11 dining facilities (Yes, you read that right. 11.), guests can also indulge in 24-hour room service and in-room massages.
If you have the budget for it, book a room at the Ambassador Floor and be spoiled with complimentary privileges such as butler service, suit pressing, shoe shine services, buffet breakfast, and all-day beverages, plus express check-in and check-out.
Have you stayed in these luxury resorts? How was your experience?
I write, I mother, and I breathe and thrive in ephemeral journeys through words, roads, and in-betweens. Learn more about what I do HERE.
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