Beach and the City | Bernard L. Supetran

The travel season is upon us now and it’s time to hie off to the countryside to splurge in classy resorts and bask in the sun, sand and fun which we were unable to do a few summers ago.

A destination that is always top-of-mind for wanderlusts is Cebu because of its eclectic blend of Old World charm and cosmopolitan living, and the beach and the city, just minutes away from each other. It is also accessible by sea or air from nearly all points in the country, as well as key international cities.

Marina Seaview’s harbor view

Mactan, a huge chunk of which is composed of Lapu-Lapu City which is named after the legendary precolonial chieftain, is the beach hideaway just across the mainland. A new kid on the block is the six-month-old Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort located near the tip of the island’s peninsula, and the latest addition to the ever-growing roster of prestigious brands in the area.

The 5-star hotel endured the pandemic, the destructive typhoon Odette in December 2021 and various logistical challenges, and finally opened in September last year after a long wait. The 10-story edifice boasts of 261 well-appointed rooms and suites many of which overlook the private white sand beach and Olango Island in the horizon. It also has four multi-layered swimming pools for adults and children, 5 function rooms, a spa and fitness center under the Sheraton brand, and an aquasports center, among others.

Sheraton Cebu Mactan’s multi-level pool

In the short period it has been in service, the luxe resort has become a go-to place for dining and chill-out with its four food and beverage outlets which reflect the local soul and international flavors. Its flagship is the all-day dining 5 Cien, which has a merry mix of international gourmet selections and home-grown Pinoy favorites such as taho, danggit, puto maya, and sikwate chocolate drink.

The dining spot, which marries global and indigenous motifs and cuisines, draws its inspiration in the 500 years of Christianity in the archipelago which took root in Cebu in 1521 when the natives were baptized into the Roman Catholic faith.

The Weekend in Cebu City

A more intimate but equally-chic restaurant is Dip, which serves Nikkei cuisine, a rare mixture of culinary traditions across the Pacific countries of Japan and Peru. Just among the few of its kind in the country, it has a panoramic view of the beach and the Hilutungan Channel.

At dusk, you can imbibe the contemporary seaside vibe at the Buhi Cave Bar which has a plethora of Mediterranean specialties and favorite spirits. Literally meaning “alive,” the bar was reengineered from the rock formations of the cliffs to create a cozy and cavernous feel and an alive binging for after-work unwinding.

There’s also Sitio, a grab and go nook at the lobby lounge for quick bites for those always on the move.

Buhi Cave Bar of Sheraton Cebu Mactan

Built by local developer AppleOne Properties Inc., Sheraton Mactan is the country’s first Marriott International Resort, and has already bagged the Best Luxury Resort Development and Best Hotel Interior Design accolades in last year’s 10th PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards.

Members of the elite Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program can easily avail of perks and a host of exciting offers. It also has an adjunct Sheraton-branded two-tower Residences condominium which will further add glamor to the swanky property.

Step out of the beach, explore Lapu-Lapu City and swing by Marina Seaview, a fine dining lounge which specializes in seafood, situated beside the Cebu Yacht Club and almost a stone’s throw away from the airport. With its elegant furnishings, ornate interiors and superb customer service, it has become a place to be seen and can outdo the typical hotel dining outlet and.

Its al fresco dining is a mesmerizing spot at dusk with the kaleidoscopic sunset, passing ships and cruising yachts which serve as visual spectacles at night. For good measure, you can play “Harbor Lights” of The Platters in your head while sipping spirits and watching the boats go by.

Foray into the megacity’s nocturnal colony which was once a sleepy urban fringe—88th Avenue, a cluster of mid-market restobars along Banilad Road.

A must-try is The Weekend which is sought after for its 50-day dry-aged Porterhouse, T-bone and wagyu steaks, USDA prime-grade ribeye, mackerel, pork belly confit, 30-Day Dry-Aged Pork Chop, seafood, pastas, chophouse burgers, an assortment of European dishes, and a curated list of wines, spirits and craft beer.

A masterpiece of millennial entrepreneurs Ray Patrick Manigsaca and Chef Jan Rodriguez, the watering hole’s quaint interiors seem to transport you to Gordon Ramsay’s famed Dubai restaurant. With The Weekend’s wide array of offerings and the nightlife that goes with it, every weekday can get the feel of a pulsating weekend.

With the beach and the city, and everything in between, within reach, Cebu is undoubtedly the South’s queenly city for travelers.

Image credits: Bernard L. Supetran