While everybody was getting ready to return home after celebrating the New Year in Boracay, my husband and I continued our escapade in the Philippines. Our next stop was the island hailed as the “queen city of the south.”
Cebu is not new to me; this must be my third visit already. The latest one was just two years ago, when my mom and I went to see the mall and the churches, and taste the popular lechons. And we succeeded; for just an overnight stay, we were able to do it all. In fact, this itinerary was specially crafted for first-timers like my mom (at that time). Now that it’s my husband’s turn, I felt the need to follow it again. Yet, of course, it would be a bore for me if I didn’t add a few new things to do for our stay in Cebu.
About Mactan island
The smaller islands surrounding the province’s main island have actually made Cebu a more popular tourist spot, primarily because of its sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and amazing diving adventures. You might have heard about Bantayan, Camotes or Malapascua, to name a few of its mini islands. One of them, on the other hand, plays an important part in Cebu’s ever-growing economy. Located a few kilometers away from Cebu city, there is an island called Mactan.
Mactan has the second busiest airport in the Philippines, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. The island of Mactan is connected to metropolitan Cebu by the two bridges, the Marcelo Fernan Bridge and the Mactan-Mandaue Bridge. Mactan offers some nice beaches on the coast, fantastic dive sites, and some very upscale hotel-resorts. While it still boasts a high-class tourism industry, many industrial businesses, mostly Japanese-owned, are also located on this island.
4D / 3N at BE Resorts
Both I and my husband had neither gone around nor stayed in Mactan, so we looked for an accommodation that would be comfortable and cozy yet reasonably priced for us, while it wouldn’t be also too far from metropolitan Cebu. We chose BE Resorts for our 3-night stay in Mactan.
A small tip upon arriving: If you’re not in a rush and want to save a bit, hail a cab in front of the airport. Do not take the ones waiting in line, because these airport taxis charge a flat rate. Compared to a metered rate, around 50 PhP you pay extra. We did the latter and it was already too late for me to realize and make the switch.
From the airport to BE Resorts, it takes around 20 minutes. You will pass by exclusive resorts like Moevenpick, Abaca Boutique Resort and Shangri-la before you reach BE Resorts.
On the first day we arrived, there were lots of Koreans loitering around the lobby. The new year holiday must be over, so we presumed this huge pack of tourists was already leaving the hotel. But as days went by, more and more Koreans, as well as other nationalities, had kept on coming in. It’s the busy time of the year for BE Resorts apparently.
An overnight stay in BE Resorts would cost around 5,000 – 6,000 PhP and that includes a breakfast buffet and use of amenities such as the infinity pool. For some reason, our room got upgraded on our second night. We got one of the coziest rooms on the fifth floor, which goes with a king-sized bed, a balcony with a magnificent sea view, a sofa area, and a kitchenette. What a lucky couple we were – our second honeymoon suite part deux!
Down from the lobby, we’re greeted by a trendy beachfront with sights of an infinity pool, a beach bar, and hip-looking beach chairs. Eye-catching rattan-made lounge chairs sitting idly on artificial pebble sands, these chic pieces are apparently designed by Kenneth Cobonpue, the Pinoy international furniture designer who got known for his works and his roster of clientele that include Hollywood celebrities like Brad Pitt and members of royalty.
Except for a few hiccups, the service was satisfactory overall. The staff were generally friendly and accommodating. Foodservice could be incredibly slow though, most especially when you order at the beach bar. The breakfast buffet had a lot of food choices, catering both for Western and Asian tastes (and of course, Filipino food was plentiful). Food and drinks were reasonably priced, except for hotel services such as laundry and aqua sports activities.
Wi-fi is free and available on every floor, but it could get slower sometimes in our room so, at some point, we would bring our laptops to the lobby to get a better connection. It could also be difficult to get a taxi from BE Resorts, but somehow we managed to get one easily whenever we leave the hotel to go somewhere else. It was only when we left the hotel for our trip to Dumaguete that we waited for a taxi for almost an hour. Luckily, a van-for-rent driver who dropped off hotel guests in BE Resorts offered us a free ride.
Perhaps the grave mishap was when we availed their island-hopping promo package. We thought it was a great deal that we took it right away. Unfortunately, the misleading promo ad didn’t explicitly indicate it’s a double rate, hence it’s overpriced. We called it off on the day we’re going for the island tour; but given the boat owner had already prepared our lunch packs, we were compelled to pay for it. A beach attendant noticed our dismay and a few hours later he approached me and asked on whether we are still interested to go for island hopping because he knows somebody who can offer a better package. Tempting it was but we didn’t have much time left for the trip. Inasmuch as we appreciated it, we begged off.
For quick buys and some fast food, the nearest place must be Mactan Marina Mall. We went there to buy a few grocery items (and ferry tickets for Dumaguete), exchanged money for some pesos, and took a jeepney ride on the way back to the hotel (yes my husband just did, a fun ride indeed). For nice restaurants, only a few exist nearby. Seaport village houses some of them and it would take only ten minutes walking from the hotel. The Italian restaurant was already full, so we chose to have dinner at the Filipino restaurant, Lubu. After our unforgettably awful experience in a sutukil restaurant (a story about it on a later post), dinner at Lubu was the best recompense, as well as an opportune moment to quickly showcase some Filipino dishes with my Belgian husband.
We wanted a special dinner for our last night in Cebu and we’re choosing between fine dining in Abaca Resort Restaurant and classy international buffet at Tides in Mactan Shangri-la. We chose the latter and we had no regrets at all. Not only the dining experience was great at Tides, but we also came to see what’s inside Mactan Shangri-la. It was a greatly satisfying buffet with professional yet amiable service from the staff at a very reasonable price. If ever there’s a chance we return to Cebu, my hubby and I both agree, we’ll definitely try to stay in Mactan Shangri-la.
BE in Mactan
Going back to BE Resorts, Mactan is more of a coral island, hence the resort’s beach is not as bluish as the water, or as fine as the sand in Boracay. You will especially see the rocky surface early in the morning when the tide is incredibly low. You will also encounter locals walking on it and perhaps, searching for some crustaceans.
BE Resorts is ideal for foreign tourists who want to enjoy a relaxing, quieter stay in a hotel-resort at a reasonable price, yet can still conveniently get into Cebu’s city life. It is ideal for staycation weekends on the other, for couples and families who live in Cebu. For local tourists like me, it’s enjoying both.
My CEBU ONCE MORE series continues on my next post. Check it out here – Mactan Shrine & Sutukil.