Cebu is still best choice for a peaceful retreat that’s close to the city

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As much as I love to party and have something to do any hour of the day, sometimes congested beaches aren’t my thing, especially if I’m particularly stressed and need to get away from everything and everyone. At the same time, I’ve always been a concrete jungle dweller and like knowing that my beloved city vibe is close enough for me to be able whip out my heels for an evening of dinner and drinks if I’d like to, but far enough from everything for me to be able to tune the rest of the world out.

I found exactly what I was looking for in Crimson Resort and Spa, located in Mactan, Cebu. I was immediately drawn to the place right when I stepped in, because instead of the high rise structures we see in so many resorts, this one has bungalow villas draped over its landscape, 40 of them having their own plunge pools and even deluxe, non-villa accommodations are only two stories high. Anywhere in the resort I walked, I really felt like I was walking in my own personal garden, and the Pool Villa I stayed in felt so private that I almost forgot there were other people in the resort and only remembered when I’d step out to have a meal.

Privacy, rest and clearing my head were the only things on my personal agenda while in Cebu, and I rarely left my villa. Why would I have to? I had my own pool and a great book to read, not to mention a mobile phone that was off and no work to do while on holiday! The only reason I ever left was to check out the beach for awhile, eat and head to their wonderful spa. For those who would like to be more active while on vacation, Crimson offers water sports such as kayaking, jet skiing, parasailing and fun activities like banana boating, fish feeding and island hopping. For those who can’t live without the gym, they also have a fitness center. They have a three-tiered pool that spans from the front of the resort all the way to the back end, close to the beach and “Crimzone,” an activity center where you can leave your children while you spend some one on one time with your significant other.

Dining options

My tastebuds were pleasantly welcomed when I had my first meal at the resort’s casual dining, all-day restaurant, Saffron Cafe. The buffet had a good selection of both Asian and Western dishes, but wasn’t so big that I would have gotten overwhelmed and unable to choose what to eat. Don’t forget to try their signature drink, a malunggay-based juice that surprisingly does not have a vegetable taste at all. If anything, it’s a bit “grassy” but the citrus tones make it very easy to drink. There was also Cebu’s signature dish, lechon, so there was definitely no dieting for me that weekend.

Everyday, VIP guests are invited to go to the resort’s fine dining restaurant, Tempo, for sunset cocktails and an open bar happy hour between 5-7 p.m. I also had dinner there one night where Aussie executive chef Stuart Blair whipped up a meal that was both familiar and new to my tastebuds, and quite confusing and surprising, both in a very good way. I started with an amuse bouche of crab arancini with raspberry sauce, two things I would never have thought to pair with each other, but it absolutely worked. The rest of the meal followed suit. My starter was pan-seared foie gras with brandy-soaked mango and hazelnut and my main was a delicious veal scaloppini on a fried risotto and Manchego cheese cake. Flavors are rich in this restaurant and if you aren’t a big eater, it is best to share with your companion. I rolled happily back to my villa and snuggled into bed almost immediately after that meal.

Real relaxation at Aum Spa

If there is one thing that I believe is truly a highlight in this resort, it’s Aum Spa. The resort allotted a full 2,000 square meters for it and it actually has its own building, just a stone’s throw away from the main resort. As you enter, there are separate doors for the female and male locker rooms but everything joins in the middle, including 14 treatment rooms with couple’s rooms available, an outdoor jacuzzi, a big swimming pool and outdoor cabanas in case you’d like to take your massage out of the confines of a room. The entire spa smells of dalandan, and as you step in, you immediately feel at ease and ready to be pampered.

During my visit, all the treatments I tried were using Pevonia Botanica products, including my favorite Papaya-Pineapple Saltmousse Glow, which I had already tried before. The treatment started with the aforementioned saltmousse glow, which is a gentle scrub that sloughs off dead skin cells and brings out new, shiny, smooth skin. It has a distinct tropical smell that lingers for hours after your treatment. Immediately after, I was given the Pevonia Skin Rescue Massage, which contains Vitamin E and repairs and rehydrates skin. After a day under the sun, this was just what I needed! Lastly, I got the Gingko Biloba Eye Treatment that relieved my tired, stressed and sleepless eyes.

I could feel the puffiness and eye bags subside significantly. I opted for a late night treatment that would lull me to a full eight hours of sleep, unheard of for me for many years now. I got my wish plus a few hours more. I enjoyed my treatments so much, I came back the next day for their Pevonia Water Lily Facial. I was told this was perfect after sun exposure and best for dehydrated and desensitized skin, and since I was leaving the next day, I thought this would be the perfect way to go back to the real world— with amazing skin!

Crimson Resort and Spa was a great choice for a weekend getaway. My only regret is that I didn’t stay a little bit longer! Whether you’d like to enjoy the resort’s facilities and water activities, or spend your entire stay just lounging in the privacy of your room, Crimson is devoid of stuffiness, even if it is on the posh side, and will definitely make you feel less like you are in a hotel and more like you are “home”—the best version of it, of course.

For more details, visit www.crimsonhotel.com and for more details on Pevonia spas, visit www.pevonia,.com.ph.

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