The antithesis of a high-rise hotel that clogs the heart of a bustling metropo- lis, Shang Mactan occupies a secluded corner of Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island.
Upon entering the spacious open-air lobby, guests are offered cool mango juice to accompany the warm welcome from the staff. If a word or phrase could best describe the sprawling hotel, it’s ‘well manicured.’ The pool water is safe enough to drink (but please don’t), the grass is perfectly cut, the cushions are soft, and the food abundant beyond imagining. Of course, such trivial details must be taken for granted so the guest can wallow in the various niceties that populate the hotel resort.
A secluded white sand beach is a bare minute away from the hotel. Of course, it may take longer if your room is in an opposite wing or the restaurants prove tempting. There are seven in Shang Mactan and three of them serve specialty cuisine. The most eclectic is Cowrie Cove. For 21st century palate there’s Acqua with a great view of the sea. Oriental appetites are bests served at Tea of Spring, dubbed the finest Chinese restaurant in Cebu where the carefully prepared entres are modest compared to its neighbor Tides, whose enormous breakfast-lunch buffet holds court on a daily basis.
As a pampered guest, this writer enjoyed the rare privilege of Shang Mactan’s impeccable service from a congenial staff, which includes a significant number of Japanese and South Koreans for the sake of the droves who arrive from those East Asian countries.
Day one was a blur of food and the inviting tropical ambiance. The cuisine, though, was an all-star cast. The maddening buffet at Tides could knock out a ravenous appetite after a few plates of various gastronomic selections.
The nighttime itinerary was just as magnificent when the China Business team was ensconced at Tea of Spring. Tea flowed and a seaweed appetizer tickled the taste buds before the onslaught of delicious food arrived. Tea of Spring has a ritzy sophistication, an ideal choice for functions and socializing with colleagues. Families are perhaps better suited for the bigger servings at Tides; or Acqua, where whole pizzas with an emphasis on authentic ingredients are served.
After a second day spent attending to various appointments, dinner time was spent at Acqua where a portly Italian Chef presides over a gut-busting menu. Despite its proclivity for large servings, Acqua’s very best comes out in less ambitious main courses and modest appetizers, where the restaurant’s modern edge is indulged to the fullest. The desserts are murderous as well, and if a guest is willing to forsake the seaside nocturnal rites (fire dancing and a fireworks display, etc.), Acqua has its own trove of novel experiences to savor.
Print ed: 05/11