Friday, December 6, 2019

When in Cebu: Shangri-La Mactan

The Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has been synonymous with stellar service. Having it as one's accommodation during a vacation almost equates to a wonderful and memorable trip. However, with boutique resorts offering more personalized service and more attention to detail, can big hotels like Shangri-La compete? 

Hello, Shangri-La Mactan.
Shangri-La Mactan is one of the popular resorts in Mactan. With its massive lot housing two wings, Garden and Ocean, plus numerous restaurants and amenities, it is not surprising for this resort to be packed with guests, local and foreign alike.

With R's birthday approaching, he thought that it would be great to celebrate his birthday out of town with his parents. And when we spotted Shangri-La's July promo offering its Ocean Wing Premier Rooms at PHP10,500/night, we quickly booked two rooms for a 3 days and 2 nights stay. 
Complimentary airport pickup went smoothly as there was a resort representative visible by the baggage claiming area of the Mactan International Airport. He also assisted R's parents to the mini bus. 
While checking in, we found out that all Ocean Wing rooms are not equipped with a separate shower. With a shower-in-bathtub set up, we were worried for R's dad who has difficulty moving around. But the staff was quick in finding us a stool to help him. 
Since our rooms were still not ready when we arrived, we opted to have lunch first at Acqua which is also in the same wing. 
It can be easily accessed by stairs and elevator. However, one of Ocean Wing's lifts was under maintenance during our stay. With only one lift serving all rooms in the huge wing, we sometimes had to wait for 5 to 10 minutes. (Note: R's dad opts to use the resort's wheelchair.)

Acqua is a lovely Italian restaurant by the Ocean Wing Pool. 

Since we were all starving, we went all out. We went with Albese ai Funghi Chiodini Parmigiano e Olio al Tartufo (PHP650), Cacciucco Toscana (PHP420), Minestrone Rustico (PHP375), Risotto ai Frutti di Mare (PHP650), Crudo di Parma (PHP750) and Fiorentina di Angus (PHP4,850, 600g). 
While waiting for our order, we got a complimentary plate of fresh bread which we finished in no time.
Between Cacciucco Toscana and Minestrone Rustico, R and I both liked the former more as it had richer flavor. It being filled with grouper, prawn, mussel and squid bits made it worth every penny. 
I'm not very fond of beef carpaccio but Acqua's version topped with shimeji mushroom confit, scraped parmesan cheese, white truffle oil, tomato concasse and citronette was amazing! It was a well-balanced dish that I wouldn't mind having more of. 
The pizza was also pretty good and very filling.
I would have enjoyed the risotto more if it had a bit more citrus taste to it to complement the briny taste of seafood. 
The star of our meal was this huge pan of grass-fed black Angus tomahawk with roasted potatoes and salad. 
The steak was grilled well as each bite was succulent. Pair it with salt for extra flavor.

Acqua - Shangri-la's Mactan Resort & Spa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Our rooms were ready when we finished lunch a bit past 2 p.m.. And we were lucky that we got rooms on the ground floor making us not as dependent on the lift. 
As expected, the rooms were spacious and equipped with the basics. 
The sofa by the bed was great for lounging when you want to escape the intense heat. The outdoor furniture was perfect for afternoon tea or for drying clothes (as there was no drying rack for swimwear).
We were also welcomed with a complimentary birthday cake for R which was really good. (R's parents also got one for their anniversary.)

However, upon closer inspection, we noticed that the room we got was not as clean as we thought. Kudos though to the housekeeping staff for being very responsive and addressing our concern. But that still led us feeling a bit squeamish and we had to make sure we had our slippers on at all times. 
Speaking of slippers, turns out that bedroom slippers are not provided for premier rooms. We did get rubber slippers though which were very useful for the pool and beach areas but R found his pair a bit uncomfortable.  
Shangri-La Mactan's house reef is known to be the best in Mactan and it sure was amazing! 
Its rich biodiversity made it a gem in the island. We spotted sea snake, sergeant major, clown fish, moray eel, giant clams, and a lot more. There are just some areas that are too shallow yet filled with corals so pay extra attention. Or best if you wear aqua shoes and rash guard for protection.
The resort also offers free use of life vest. Use of snorkeling mask and fins may also be complimentary depending on your room inclusions. 
R's parents didn't join us anymore for dinner so we opted to just have Fish and Chips (PHP720) and Calamansi Juice (PHP200) from Tides. 
The Fish and Chips was perfectly battered and was piping hot when it was served. One order can be split to two. 

Tides - Shangri-la's Mactan Resort & Spa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

On our way back, we spotted Timezone inside the resort. It was a lovely addition to help keep kids distracted while parents get some R&R. I'm just not sure how much tokens cost. 

As we were about to fall asleep, we were woken up by the guests across our room. Sadly, the carpeted floors weren't enough to sound proof our room. In fact, we could hear people walking down the hall and the housekeeping cart the next morning cutting our slumber short. 
For our first breakfast, we decided to go with Acqua. 
The place was packed at 9 a.m. with only a handful of tables by the window available. 
Food selection was ample and I liked that there was a good mix of international and local food. 
None stood out though that made me go back for seconds. 
We just lazed the whole day until the sun wasn't so harsh. And we just snorkeled some more.
We went with Tea of Spring for dinner and had Deep-fried Cod Fish in Light Soya Sauce (PHP1,850), Deep-fried Soft Shell Crab in Japanese Wasabi Sauce (PHP1,375), Simmered Pork Belly with Chinese Wine (PHP835), Dried Scallops with Seafood in Thick Soup (PHP415/bowl), and Stewed Mushroom, Sea Cucumber and Bean Curd (PHP1,335).
We were looking forward to this dinner as we're big fans of Edsa Shangri-la's Summer Palace. 
The soup was good and I liked its thick texture. I loved it best with black vinegar while R preferred his with red vinegar. 
The Deep-fried Soft Shell Crab was good too but we found its dipping sauce a bit off. 
We liked it more with black vinegar or the light soya sauce of the deep-fried cod fish.
I was surprised that the cod served to us had bones. The ones we get from Summer Palace are deboned so we expected the same at Tea of Spring. Nonetheless, it was a good dish. The delicate flavor of cod was highlighted by the slightly sweet and salty sauce. Just be careful of the fish bones. 
The stewed mushroom with sea cucumber and bean curd had a nice light flavor to go with the other dishes we had. 
It took the simmered pork belly long to be served as we were almost done with dinner when it got to our table. Taste-wise, it had that sweet and savory flavor which goes well with rice. It wasn't anything special though. 
Though food's decent, it was far from Summer Palace.

Note: In-house guests get to enjoy 20% discount in all dining establishments.

Tea Of Spring - Shangri-la's Mactan Resort & Spa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I woke up extra early on our last day here to catch a glimpse of the sunrise
However, I was a bit too late as the sun was already up then. But I was treated to a serene view of the beach and pool area.
For a change, we checked Tides' breakfast spread and it was a bad decision as it was very chaotic! It was packed and some guests had to wait outside to be seated.
Though it seemed to have more stations such as ice cream, the overall ambiance of the place was not relaxing at all. Best to stick with Acqua for breakfast. 
While having breakfast, I spotted Polly, Shangri-La Mactan's mascot. It was sad though that even the kids were ignoring it. It might have been better if Shangri-La Mactan had a real parrot instead.
Overall, our stay at Shangri-La Mactan was decent. We weren't able to get the premium experience we expected from this chain given hiccups such as not serving welcome drinks, leaving our luggage by the driveway after getting it out of the shuttle bus and lack of hospitality from some staff. Our room also was not as clean as hoped for but this was quickly addressed. Other issues were the annoying flies inside Acqua and alarming amount of mosquitoes by the pool area which we hope would be addressed as soon as possible.

Shangri-La Mactan has been around for several decades and have been regarded as one of the best. However, having been to several other resorts, big and small, we realized that Shangri-La Mactan seems to bank more on its name while its service falls behind. Perhaps, for now, the only thing that would make me go back here is its divine reef.  

Shangri-la's Mactan Resort & Spa is located at Punta Engano, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Disclosure: This post is not sponsored by Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa. We paid for our accommodations and meals in full. Rates mentioned were from its website and menu as of November 2019.

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