Before we started our trip I booked four days at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa at our first stop in Cebu so we could rest and relax at one of the best family hotels in the Philippines. I knew I'd be pretty exhausted after packing up our lives, and I knew from our experience traveling in Borneo that Em needs rest on arrival in a new country, especially after a long flight. So I decided we would kick off our trip in a five star Philippines resort. Why not?!
I knew that the Shangri-La Hotel was a family focused resort, but what I didn't expect was the level of thought and detail that the Shangri-La Mactan invests in making sure kids have a great holiday. And as we all know, if the kids have a great holiday then so do mum and dad.
Starting from our arrival at the airport - where to our surprise a car and driver were waiting for us, so fabulous as it was after midnight when we arrived - to check in, where Emmie was greeted by the gorgeous Mae in the lobby and looked after while I completed the paperwork. What's really great about the front desk is that kids can colour in and draw at the special kids table or grab some popcorn while parents check-in, get new room keys, make enquiries or check out - wow, what a concept! A stress-free check in!
The Shangri-La family beach is perfect for children. There's lovely snorkelling in the marine sanctuary - it's filled with fish and starfish and giant clams, and calm enough for smaller children to enjoy snorkelling or playing in the shallow water. Snorkelling gear is available for hire for a very small amount, and free fish food is available every other day - it's incredible how many fish swim up for a feed, Emmie was surrounded. Another thoughtful touch is the complimentary beachside toys like buckets, spades and shapes for guests to use - and there's a lot to go around. The beachside bar is shaded and serves kids meals...everything is designed to deliver a perfect family holiday.
At breakfast, lunch and dinner there's not only kids meals but a whole kids buffet and a dedicated pancake maker who luckily is up for a challenge! Of course Em put the challenge out every day with requests for pancake mermaids, turtles, manta rays, Minnie Mouse and Spongebob Squarepants! At breakfast time look out for the Shangri-La Parrot who flies in to say hello to the children every morning. It really is the best hotel for kids in Cebu.
And a resort that has vegemite by the jar gets top marks in my books. And there was marmite there too for the Brits.
And the pools! There are two huge main pools, one overlooks the beach the other is a kids paradise with a huge waterslide, a children's play area with fountains and slides and an adjacent baby pool. There's also a toddler pool with water canons and a basketballs and hoops in the big pool for games and goals. And there's heaps of organised sports activities from yoga, to aqua aerobics, snorkel safaris and a zipline! Yep, a zipline!
And after all that activity it's time for lunch at the buffet or at the Resort's restaurants - Acqua, the delicious Italian restaurant overlooking the pool, or Chinese at Tea of Spring. Both incredible and worth a visit.
Cowrie Cove is the Resort's spectacular seafood restaurant, overlooking the ocean. The adjacent Waves Bar is perfect for cocktails or wine whilst overlooking the sunset as it reflects from the western sky on the water. Perfectly calm and perfectly indulgent. You can also get happy hour drinks from the beach bar, and food and drinks from the pool-side Buko Bar.
The view from our room was incredible! Right over one of the pools and the water.
And sunrise is incredible, each and every morning.
Twice a week the Shangri-La Resort showcases traditional food and dance from around the Philippines at an outdoor cultural show. It's definitely worth going to at least once. The dances are fascinating and so much fun, and the audience is invited up at the end to try their skills at bamboo dancing. So much fun for everyone and the kids absolutely love it. Em was spellbound the whole time.
Everyone needs their downtime - to rest, maybe have a wine and some child-free peace and quiet...the Shangri-La's Adventure Zone is the kind of place your kids will be begging to go to and once they're there its likely they won't want to leave. There's a toddler play area with ball pit and climbing games, which is perfect for younger children but the real fun is in the older kids three story maze, climbing, jumping, balancing and super slide at Adventure Zone! The massive slide is a huge drawcard, almost vertical at the start, you whiz down before landing in a ballpit. It's so much fun - yes I did it too!
Adventure Zone also hosts craft activities like frame-making and t-shirt painting, has colouring and drawing, rest areas and is right next to a cafe so you can arrange for an ice-cream or treat break. There is a small charge for use of the Adventure Zone - well worth it for some me-time whilst knowing your kids are having a ball. And the centre will give you a mobile phone too so they can call you if your child or children need anything or just want to check in.
And while they're there, you can have a treatment at the Shangri-La's Chi, the Spa. I had the traditional massage with banana leaves and it was bliss. There are no rooms at the spa, but private villas instead! So on arrival you will be taken to your villa for your treatment. So fancy!
The Philippines is an amazing country to visit - whether you make a family vacation to the Shangri-la Mactan and relax and enjoy, or if you use it as your jump off point for exploring some of the country's more than 7000 islands...it is truly a paradise waiting to look after you and your family.
We loved it!
Find out more and book your rooms on the Shangri-La Mactan's website.
Note: Emily and I paid for our first five days stay at the Shangri-La, and were welcomed back as guests part way through our travels through the Philippines - after my eardrum had burst actually - and we were so well looked after. Our review remains objective but I openly admit I am in love with this Resort. Evie xo