Post and photos by Philippa Langrish
Why you’ll love the Shangri-La Mactan
The Shangri-la Mactan Resort & Spa has triumphed in offering their guests the perfect balance of fun family and couple time, mainly due to their fantastic babysitting service and kid’s activity schedule. It’s the perfect family friendly resort and with so many activities on offer I can’t wait to return.
Having stayed at three Shangri-la properties I am each time impressed by the continuity of the fantastic service offered. The staff are so incredibly welcoming and gracious it instantly gives you that warm fuzzy holiday feeling.
After being at the hotel for just 24 hours we met the executive chef whilst making our way to breakfast, who voluntarily escorted us to a quieter restaurant so we didn’t need to wait for a table. On our way he told us anecdotes of his passion for chocolate (the resort even has its own cocoa garden) which my daughter Maya was fascinated by. After breakfast two members from housekeeping came to turn down the bed sheets and ended up staying to make towel sculptures of bulldogs and bunnies for the kids. Later at the beach a lovely life guard returned my watch to me, which I had carelessly forgotten on a sun lounger. It felt that every member of staff was not just doing their job but took great pleasure in looking after their guests and making sure they were charmed, entertained and relaxed for the duration.
In addition to our warm welcome, we also fell in love with the Chinese food at Tea of Springs. Having discovered the famous Mango Mochi (glutinous rice balls filled with mango ice cream) here I am now determined to track down these little pieces of heaven anytime I find myself in a Chinese Quarter. With five restaurants to choose from and four outlets as well as the superb buffet breakfast I was quite happy to find the jogging trail at the end of our stay!
The babysitting service is a huge plus point for us. Our babysitter “Rachel” was very professional, kind with the children, and even had them in bed by 8pm! In addition to our night out we were able to book the same babysitter during the kids siesta after a full morning playing on the waterslides. Once the children were happily resting Mum and Dad headed back to the beach for some adrenalin packed jet skiing. The jet ski experience is fantastic. We sped up and down parallel to the horizon enjoying the thrill of the waves and the beauty of the coast line.
If you are looking for something more tranquil than a Jet Ski then the snorkelling around the resorts marine sanctuary is sublime. I snuck off to have a peak at what the deep blue had to offer while my husband watched the kids. I was so happy to spot a moray eel, parrot fish, a puffa fish, rabbit fish, a couple of giant clams, a few clown fish (Nemo) and the local sergeant major fish in just an hour floating along the reef with the current. It is rather fabulous to be able to stick your head under water for an hour with nothing but the sound of fish nibbling on coral when you are the Mum of two small kids – ahh tranquillity this is where you have been hiding!
Why the kids will love the Shangri-La Mactan
The Philippines loves it’s festive occasions and goes to town on decoration, costume and food. We stayed at the Shangri-la over Halloween, which was by no means any exception. The children took part in most of the festive activities including a Trick or Treat Parade and Spooky dinner party. Maya (5) and Gillan (2) had a wonderful time in their costumes. They collected candy at different spooky stations around the grounds and were treated to a magic show after the dinner party which took place around round tables and floor cushions – perfect for the little guests. The food was suitably themed with “eyeball” chocolate brownies and ghost cupcakes amongst pizza, fries, spaghetti and sandwiches. Unfortunately there wasn’t a separate menu for the adults! The highlight of Halloween was the team games which the staff organised for the kids.
In addition to the Halloween Party we couldn’t drag the kids away from the waterslides which are suitable for tiny tots as well as 5years +. The only lure from the pool for our two little tykes was the soft play area which offered a nice air con escape in the hottest part of the day.
Our daughter Maya tore around the play area with her slightly more cautious brother. She even went on the “freefall” slide (helmets obligatory) which is a straight drop curving into a ball pit.
The beach was also a big hit with the children. The sand is soft, the waters clear and full of beautiful Sergeant Major fish. My daughter is very new to snorkelling so this close encounter with tropical fish was really special. Happily the beach is also peppered with the resorts giant water proof beanbags which guests can float about on. The children had great fun amusing themselves on these pretending to be giant jellyfish as they wobbled over the waves. The beach here is a very safe place. A life guard is on duty all the time and the marine sanctuary is penned by a string of buoys.
The Shangri-la Mactan has 530 rooms which form a 9 storey semi-circle overlooking the pool and horizon. There are 2 wings- the Main Wing and the Ocean Wing. The rooms are split into the following categories:
Main Wing: Deluxe Room (185), Deluxe Seaview (151), Deluxe Family Room (8), Veranda Suite (5), Mactan Suite (3), Shangri-La Suite (2).
The Ocean Wing is situated in a quieter part of the resort. It contains the following: Premier Room (99), Panorama Room (21) Ocean Club (40), Panorama Suite (15), and Presidential Suite (1).
We stayed in a deluxe family room in the Main Wing which was very spacious, decorated in muted earth tones with natural watercolour paintings of oceanic plants. The bathroom had a large bath and separate drench shower.
Best Rooms for Families – The best room for families is the Deluxe Family Room, since it has two queen size beds and extra space for a baby cot if requested.
The food at the Shangri-la Mactan is heavenly. We dined at Tides on the first night with the children where a huge buffet feast awaited us. I sampled the famous Cebu Lechon (spit roast pig) which is carried in by four men with a ceremony of dancing and drumming. We enjoyed a fresh sushi appetiser, followed by a main course of Chinese and Filipino delicacies. The children had their eyes glued on the three-storey chocolate fountain and ice-cream counter. This made great leverage for them to finish their main course! We managed to keep a little extra room for dessert, since we were spoilt for choice with everything from cheesecakes, to bibingka (local coconut muffin), ice cream, chocolate mousse and plenty more.
The next day we had lunch at Tea of Springs which is the Chinese Restaurant. This was our favourite dining experience of all. The food was expertly prepared and incredibly tasty. I munched my way through a bowl of authentic Chicken Kung Pao and Sweet and Sour Pork with Special Fried Rice. In the evening we decided to try Cowrie Cove, which is a more romantic location overlooking the twinkling ocean. Cowrie Cove is open on all sides, with Ibiza style white décor and a D.J playing laid back music. We ate alfresco sampling the local seafood and a couple of cocktails, thanks to our wonderful babysitter (who was also a local paediatric nurse!)
One of the most memorable things about the Shangri-la Mactan is their abundant breakfast buffet which greeted us every morning. A hearty breakfast of East meets West is offered as well as a few sneaky treats for the kids. Our top tip is to have breakfast at Acqua (the smaller restaurant in the Ocean Wing) since it is quiet and there is a little kids play area tucked away in the corner of the outside terrace.
- Golf Course
- Jet Ski
- Scuba Diving
- Mini Golf
- Jogging and Circuit Training
- Cultural Night Time Show
- Botanical discovery walks
Activities for kids
The Activity Zone has a full programme of morning and afternoon craft activities for the children. The activities are divided into 2 age groups (4 and under and 5+). My 2 enjoyed the following:
- T-Shirt Printing
- Puffy Ghost Making (Halloween)
- Canvas Painting
- Clay modelling
- As well as the Activity Zone crafts there is also:
- 3 storey Activity Zone Soft Play area
- Toddler soft play
- Guided Snorkelling
- Mini Golf
- Acrobatic Entertainment (held outside the Activity Zone)
- E-Zone (video games, pinball and air hockey)
The resort features daily activities on boards outside the elevators. These are complimentary and well worth investigating.
- Air-Conditioning: In all rooms.
- Babysitting: 24 hours
- Cots: Yes
- Doctors & Hospitals: on site doctor and clinic. The nearest hospital is 30mins away
- Inter-Connecting Rooms: Yes
- Kids’ Activities: as above
- Kids’ Swimming Pool: yes
- Laundry Service: Yes
- Pets Allowed: No
- Pushchair Friendly: yes
- Shops: yes there are a couple of shops offering souvenirs, clothing and jewellery.
- Spa: Chi Spa
- Swimming pool: x2 Yes
- Travel Desk & Excursions: Yes
- Wheelchair Access: Yes, full access
- Wifi: Yes
Environmental measures and social responsibility: The Shangrila Cebu boasts the top CSR rating in the Philippines out of all its sister residencies. The resort has supported the Tingo community for 6 years on neighbouring Olango Island. It offers medical and dental learning programs and has opened 2 classrooms. The resort also supports the Children’s Haven Orphanage in Mactan.
The resort has a protected marine sanctuary with 2 marine biologists on it’s staff. They even have seahorses in residence which is a true sign of healthy biodiversity.
The island of Cebu also hosts the Asia Pacific international Iron Man competition. 24 members of staff entered the competition last year which saw nearly 3,000 triathletes visit the island.
When to go
The best time to visit the Philippines is between December and February in the cooler months. The wet season is from June onwards. Be careful travelling in the months from September to November as this is when the typhoon season is. Temperatures range from 27 – 40+. I would usually advise against travelling during the busy festive periods. However, the Shangrila does such a great job of celebrating with its guests I would recommend visiting during these times as well. The resort is also large enough with a fantastic infrastructure that it does not feel crowded even when it is full to capacity.
What To Take For The Family
- Sunglasses, suncream and a hat are a must. Even if you have dark skin pack a high factor cream (50+) as the sun is very strong.
- Gym Kit
- Socks and Long Sleeve T-Shirt for the Play Area (even for adults)
- Shawl – since it gets a bit breezy in the restaurants at night time
- Kids water wings (arm bands)
- Flip flops
Location and Travel
Address: Shangri-La, Mactan Cebu, Punta Engaño Rd, Lapu Lapu, 6015, Cebu, Philippines Air: For international (Non Asia/Pacific) travel fly to Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport and then to Cebu with either Philippine airlines or Cebu Pacific. The resort will pick you up from Cebu International Airport. For Asia Pacific Travel you can fly direct to Cebu from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea.
- Book a babysitter and enjoy moonlit drinks and dinner overlooking the sea at Cowrie Cove
- Go snorkelling on the house reef. Kids can take a guided trip. Look out for the daily activities on offer posted on the activities board (they are complimentary and guided snorkelling is included)
- Catch the evening cultural show with the kids. It’s a really colourful show which the children (and adults) can participate in.
Please check your country’s government website before travelling in the Philippines. The Southern Island of Mindanao has been a conflict area for many years and occasionally travel warnings permeate to the other islands.
Disclaimer: I received a 2-night complimentary stay in a Deluxe Family Room in the Main Wing. However all opinions are, as always, entirely my own and I would happily recommend the Shangri-la in Cebu to anyone.