Rain, rain, rain. I guess the rainy season is definitely not over, since my Columbia raincoat is still getting a good workout. Fortunately, I was able to get away for a few days to the one place which appears to be not generally affected, at least for one weekend.
I recently escaped the foul weather and headed for the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa on the island of Mactan in the “Queen City” of Cebu. I was a little hesitant at first, since there was a big event in Cebu, and most if not all the hotels were at full capacity. I really was just looking for a quiet place to put my feet up.
Fortunately, my fears were laid to rest the minute I got off the hotel car that picked me up. Located on the opposite end of Mactan Island, Plantation Bay is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, even for Cebuanos.
Spread over 11 hectares, the resort is divided into a series of lagoons, all interconnected by bridges and pathways. Accommodations are tucked in nicely between the lagoons to allow you both privacy and easy access to the main facilities of the resort. It’s kind of like being inside a huge plantation.
But don’t let that impression fool you; while the French-colonial design of the buildings and layout of the resort give guests the feeling of being thrown back to 17th or 18th century America, guests still enjoy all the luxury and benefits of a modern first class resort.
On the second day I found myself sitting around one of the lagoons, asking myself if this is a place my family could enjoy, especially the kids. I realize that if you are planning a short trip with the family, you will be hard pressed to find a place that can claim to have something for everybody.
For starters, the different lagoons offer a vast array of activities, from kayaking to snorkeling. There is even an area with a couple of water slides for the kids. Naturally, floating around in one of the lagoons on an inflatable with a nice cocktail in your hand is also an option.
Looking for something indoors? Then the game room is a good escape from the hot sun, where you can enjoy playing a couple of games of table tennis, billiards or darts. For the younger guests, several arcade games are available, as well as a host of board games for a little family fun.
The resort also has a tennis court, archery range and climbing wall for those looking for a little more action on their vacation.
But if it’s peace and tranquility you are looking for, just take a nice stroll or bike ride at sunset, and you won’t regret it.
A weekend getaway is not complete without treating yourself to a good massage, I always say. The Mogambo Springs, Plantation Bay’s Spa Village, is the perfect way to soothe those aching muscles, or at the very least to treat your body to a little pampering. Just walk on over from where you are lodged or hop on one of the golf carts that go around the resort for a spa experience you won’t likely forget.
The spa facilities actually take you on a completely different journey. The entrance resembles that of a cave with an opening at the back where the main spa facilities are located. Looking through, you can pretend to be an explorer who just found the entrance to the famous Tibetan Utopia, except that it resembles an 18th century Japanese village.
To start with, guests are encouraged to take a dip in their hot spring pool to soothe and loosen the muscles and open up the pores in preparation for your treatment. You are then guided through the spa village into your own private treatment room, where trained therapist will take care of your every need.
I recommend either the Sports or Thai massages, but whatever you choose, you can be assured of rejuvenation not only for your body, but your spirit, as well.
Food is not something hard to find at Plantation Bay, as the resort boasts four main dining areas, not to mention the beach where theme dinners are held in the evenings. For those looking for a light meal or a place to start the evening, Palermo offers tapas and pastas in a rustic Spanish atmosphere.
Kilimanjaro Kafe, which also doubles as the main breakfast area, serves international cuisine as well as local favorites like Cebuano Pochero, Adobo and grilled boneless bangus.
Then for seafood lovers, there is the Fiji Restaurant that claims to serve the flavors of the Pacific Rim. Here, you will find the freshest seafood served just the way you like it. But my favorite by far is Café Havanah, where you can find the simplest of comfort food served to perfection. The charbroiled burger prepared to you liking topped with your choice of toppings, is one of the best I’ve tasted.
For hotdog connoisseurs, you will not be disappointed as Café Havanah only serves the best, giving you a choice of either Hebrew National or Armor kielbasa. Finally, if you like chili, you cannot leave Plantation Bay without trying out their Tex Mex Chili. The dish is thick and spicy using large chunks of meat to give it that authentic Texas chili taste.
Of course, given the laid back atmosphere of the place, service can be a little slow at times, even when it is not full, but I think they like it that way.
Getting to the resort is not complicated, as there are flights to Cebu daily from Manila. Once in Cebu, Plantation Bay is a short 20 minute ride from the airport.