Personal review from Vanessa Liwanag’s stay at Crimson Resort and Spa in Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines.
The Unique Setting – Crimson Resort and Spa
A visit to the Philippines requires any itinerary to pay homage to the Queen City of the South, Cebu. Home to great furniture designers, the best seafood and the sweetest mangoes, it boasts of many luxury resorts that cater to different visitors coming in from nearby countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. Part of this big bustling city is the island of Mactan, where an abundance of marine life has continued to lure people the world over. We decided to try out one of the most recent luxury island resorts in Mactan Island, the beautiful Crimson Resort and Spa.
Bound southeast from the international airport of Cebu, a quick 20-minute ride had us arrive the resort in a breeze. With wreathes of tiny pearly shells, a warm welcome embraced us with the cool caress of the ocean air just a couple of feet away from the main lobby where we unloaded our bags. PR Manager Mia Mae Sy was on-hand to give us all the information needed to ensure an excellent stay in the resort. A couple of minutes of chit-chat over cool cocktails, our mini golf cart arrived to bring us to the Ocean Villa that was prepared for us.
The tiled path going to the Ocean Villa was lined with fragrant monoi flowers or kalachuchi as they are known locally. The delicate scent followed our tracks as we reached the big wooden door of the villa that resembled a mini Balinese temple amidst swaying bamboo stalks. The Ocean Villa was excellently situated, right beside a cliff with an amazing view and its very own lap pool. Upon entering, we were treated with a traditional hand-washing ritual wherein a mixture of eucalyptus and hibiscus flowers were poured gloriously on our hands, washing away all the weariness that we had accumulated from all the travels we had already done 3-weeks into the country.
Upon settling on the lounge terrace of the villa, we marveled at the sea and a big neighboring island laid out in front of us. To our surprise, a couple of dolphins went bobbing up and down with the little waves afar, as if they were saying hello to the new visitors to their beloved home. It was almost sunset when we settled in and the colors of the sky was a spiraling mix of blue, pink and orange, a majestic welcome for us as we relaxed in the spacious lounge chairs spread on the vast space of the terrace.
The Fine Dinning Experience – Crimson Resort and Spa
Dinner was a fancy affair as we had 3 locations to choose from: the Saffron Cafe, the Azure Beach Club and their fine dining restaurant called the Tempo. We went first to Azure Beach Club to have a quick serving of a delectable tuna tataki appetizer washed down with a cool drink made from a mix of passion fruit and tamarind. We then headed over for the buffet serving that was spread out at the Saffron Cafe to try out the specials for that evening – a grand mélange of Filipino fare that included a roasted pig centerpiece called lechon, (a prized delicacy in Cebu), chicken adobo ( the national dish comprising of chicken marinated in soy sauce, vinegar and lots of garlic and onions), balot ( another original Filipino delicacy which is unfertilized duck egg boiled and eaten as an appetizer) and a massive seafood spread of different kinds of fish, crabs, lobsters and prawns to choose from. We especially loved the kilawin – a delightful dish of raw tuna and snapper fish cured in vinegar, local spices and coconut milk. Fully satisfied, we barely had room for dessert which was a delightful arrangement of sugar-glazed hibiscus leaves topped on a whipped mango tapioca concoction with fresh coconut slivers. It was too beautiful to eat with the frangipani petals that adorned it. Overall, the buffet was an excellent introduction for all guests wanting to try the best of Philippines cuisine in one set-up. It was the marvelous idea of Chef Godfrey Laforteza who wanted to promote the flavors of the Philippines in a buffet setting that was impeccably curated and beautifully decorated.
The Day-to-Day – Crimson Resort and Spa
The spa was one of the highlights of our stay at the resort. PR Manager Mia toured us to the vast space where their much awarded spa called Aum is located. We walked through subtly lit pathways leading to the little white huts crowned with coconut and bamboo thatched roofs where the treatments are done amidst water pools flowing all around. We were treated to the traditional Filipino massage called hilot and in an instant, we were magically transported in the lap of luxury where time did not exist and the lull of sleep lorded over us as gentle hands rubbed away all the tired joints and aches that life has accumulated in our bodies.
There was so much things to do in the resort, as every morning, a half-carved coconut shell filled with frangipani flowers was delivered on our doorsteps with a little tied-up note announcing all the events for the day. We chose to wander around the beach and swim with the fishes to start the day. It was amazing to wade through the waters and see all the vibrant marine and coral life, just a couple of steps from the shore.
As we spoke with the locals who worked at the resort, we felt one with them as they shared the happiness that they have in their hearts since the resort has opened 5 years ago. We couldn’t agree more and as we parted from Crimson Resort and Spa, we only have much love and praises for a luxury island resort that exceeded our expectations.
LuxeInACity highly recommends a stay at Crimson Resort and Spa in Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines .
Visit www.crimsonhotel.com/mactan to plan your luxury stay.
Photos courtesy of Crimson Resort and Spa, Bertrand Caille and Vanessa Liwanag