Location Mactan Island, Cebu.
First impressions Very homey and laidback. Walking to our room through a garden path was quite relaxing. While this is one of the very first resorts in Mactan, it is rather well-kept. Most of the 50 rooms are in the low-rise accommodation spread across the lush two-hectare layout, the only apparent new addition being the up-and-coming seven-storey new wing on the northeastern edge of the property, which will have even bigger rooms and a mixed-use venue on the rooftop with a 360 degree view of the Cebu City and Mactan skyline as well as the Hilutungan Channel.
Travel Located in Maribago on the eastern coast, it’s just a quick 15 to 20 minute drive via taxi from the Mactan airport. Head northeast on Agunod toward Airport Road, turn right and continue to Quezon National Highway. Then take the Basak-Bankal-Buaya Road.
Check-in Quick, efficient and fuss-free, which is very much appreciated after spending the whole day on assignment and on the road from Oslob.
Room Our team got billeted in the courtyard wing across the Anahata Spa and the big pool of kois with a waterfall feature that runs 24/7. The room is very spacious so much so that it got us thinking it could’ve accommodated a receiving table plus chairs with ample room to spare. The wraparound wooden headboard in lieu of the usual side table is hard to overlook, the better to accommodate my book, tablet and laptop. The wall was tastefully decorated with banig (local woven mat) and wood sculptures. The toilet and bath area is roomy; ours even has a tub that could’ve seen some use had we had more time.
The windows open to a pleasant view of trees and shrubs. Stepping outside, there are sulihiya (woven rattan) and wooden chairs for relaxing by the pond. The gushing of the waterfall feature adds to the relaxing ambiance.
Food The resort van fetched us from Oslob, arriving with Styrofoam packs of huge club sandwiches and fries for the almost three hour trip. That gave me literally, a huge first impression of the food servings, which would hold true for our meals during our overnight stay. For dinner, we left the choice to our server opting to have the Seafood Fiesta Platter (P710 or about US $17) along with Cajun style Spiced Pork Ribs (P520). We lucked out as both were marvelous choices – the squid tender, crablets crispy, breaded fish fresh-tasting, and the shrimp gambas spicy hot while the ribs were delicately spicy and tender.
For dessert, we were pointed to the bestsellers, Banana Split (P270) and Mango Float Sandwich (P270). The latter is deliciously, delightfully creamy without being overly sweet, certainly worth the trip and traffic going all the way here if food is what you came here for.
Service Cebu has long been a tourist draw and it’s fairly expected to get efficient service here. The staff is well-trained, but above that, courteous, friendly and helpful without being annoyingly-intrusive.
Nice touches Being surrounded by nature is always a big plus in my book. Having breakfast to the trilling of the birds make for a pleasant eating experience especially in the early morning. The winged creatures are very much at home here, insidious enough to peck at your breakfast plate if you leave your table even for just a moment; but instead of finding it annoying, I look at it as a welcome interaction. Foreign travelers will find the 110-volt electrical outlets in the room (a carryover from the resort’s early years) useful.
Attractions Cebu White Sands is a popular venue for weddings and events and it’s easy to see why. Both the sprawling garden and the white sand beach lend themselves well for holding special occasions. The restaurant, with its good food, is a draw in itself (walk-ins accepted). While we only had time to tour the Anahata Spa, the thought of getting a comprehensive hilot (Filipino traditional massage, P2,250, 90 minutes), signature massage (P1,830, 90 minutes) or body treatment personally designed and approved by Karen Villarica-Neff of the famed Mandala Spa in Boracay, was immediately appealing.
The resort also owns Islas Tres Rosas, three-islet cluster just 30 minutes away by motorized outrigger boat – a nice venue for holding exclusive parties. The resort also offers scuba diving, jet skiing, parasailing, paddle boating, snorkeling and fishing activities. For the nature tripper, there’s even an Isla Visita four-hour island hopping tour, which includes a picnic lunch on Islas Tres Rosas and free entrance to either the marine sanctuary on Hilotogonan Island or bird sanctuaries of Olango.
Minor gripes No complimentary slippers for guests in-room though walking on the bare floor is not exactly a big sacrifice. Having a pair available though could be a much-appreciated gesture. Lack of WiFi signal in the room though connection is fast in the dining area.
Verdict Love the nature vibe here. Even just strolling in the garden is a very relaxing experience. Can’t wait for the rooftop venue to be built – it would be another great place to chill out with an unobstructed view of Cebu and Mactan.
Essentials Rooms from P8,100, inclusive of breakfast, welcome drink, use of beach and swimming pools with outdoor jacuzzis, and use of game facilities. Children 12 years old and below are free of charge (maximum of two kids per room, without breakfast and extra bed).
Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa, Maribago Beach, Mactan Island; Tel: +6332 268 900
Originally published in InFlight Traveller April to May 2015