Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A 5 Star Get-Away

After several days of major budget traveling and staying in shitty hotels, I was ready for a few nights in Mactan's Shangri-la Beach Resort. Normally I wouldn't even consider staying at a ritzy resort, however I belong to the Golden Circle Club where privileged guests receive special discounts and extra services. Growing up, I was fortunate because my parents and grandparents took me traveling to many places and staying in posh resorts. My taste for luxury travel hasn't abated. Once in a while I splurge some of my hard-earned money and pamper myself. Unfortunately, I can't afford posh travel accommodations on a regular basis. But I'm addicted to traveling. Whether it be by land, sea or air. So this truly was a nice treat for me. I decided to simply explore everything the resort had to offer. I walked its grounds, swam in its many pools and sun-bathed in its white sand beach. 
The Beach Area 
What makes Shangri-la Mactan's Beach unique is that, it was artificially made. It is one of only three beaches in the Philippines that I'm aware of that's been artificially constructed. Mactan has a rocky seaside terrain. But its waters boast some of the best dive sites in the entire country. It is also the main seafood source in the Visayan Region. Extremely fresh seafood in Mactan markets are quite common. And the restaurants within the resort take full advantage of this.
One of the many things I appreciated about this place were the countless details distributed around the resort to make ones visit pleasurable. 
Flowers underneath the massage table.
Chi Spa

I loved this pool. You can't see the details from the photograph, but there were built-in mosaic chairs with jets. And the best part about it is...its completely isolated, hidden and private. I swam in it naked and it was the best feeling in the world. After I received my spa package, the attendant in waiting ushered me into the shower room, then the sauna. After I had my sauna session, she then directed me toward the garden where I was told I can basque in the sun until they come fetch me for the body scrub. At first, I didn't think the pool was anything special. But once I got in, I felt like I was in heaven. I thought to myself....this is life! The pool had fresh, drinkable water pouring from the small fountain. As I lay there basking in the sun I couldn't help but wish I had someone special to share the moment  with. 

 Mosaic and Cement Sunbathing Recliners. It was surprisingly comfortable. It was scorching hot though. I felt like I burnt my butt the second I sat on it. It reminded me a little of ancient Roman baths and lounging couches. So I poured water on it before finally laying down, soaking in the sun. I think it was the first time my butt ever saw the sun.

After an hour of swimming and sunbathing, I rang the bell to get the attendant's attention and to let them know I was ready for my body scrub. Before they begin the process...they rinse your body with a bucket of cool rosewater.

Then they laid me upon the marbled bed before proceeding to massage my body with sea salt and some special oils. OMG! Was all I could think. This is heaven!
After the scrub down, they rinsed my body with warm water with my element (fire) oil. I was getting ready for my massage and expected them to usher me into a room. But I was surprised when they showed me to "my" villa. I was assigned the Chorien Villa. The attendant explained what the word meant, but I forgot.

The beautiful ceiling was the first thing I noticed once I entered the villa's gate.
Warm Water w/ Flowers to rinse ones feet before proceeding into the villa's interior.
Hot Tea and Warm Towel before Beginning the Massage.

Heated brass bowl where they pour herbs and oil to use for the body massage.

Warm Coconut Milk for a Foot Soak before the Body Massage.

Paraffin Foot Wax to Soften the Feet.
After they dipped my foot in the Paraffin Wax, they immediately wrapped it in aluminum foil to help seal in the moisture. After 15 minutes they remove the wax and a softer-smoother foot is unveiled.
After the Coconut Milk foot soak and Paraffin Wax and a quick 45 minute foot massage, I was finally going to get my 1 hour body massage.
It was a great day of pampering for me. I spent the entire afternoon and evening (a total of 6 hours) at the spa. When I left the comfortable villa, it was nearly dark. I decided to head straight to my hotel room (with a quick walk in the beach), prop my newly-softened feet on my balcony, enjoy the view of the ocean, order room service and spend what's left of the night watching old movies. this was a vacation! 
The next day, refreshed from all the pampering, I was up early in time for the breakfast buffet. I ate a huge breakfast and headed straight for the beach. I decided to try some of the water sports offered at the resort since they were free!
Good selection of breads and pastries.
Fresh Fruit Juices buried in ice.
Packaged Yogurts. Great for taking away with you.

Fresh Fruits
Fresh Farm Eggs cooked anyway you want.
Breakfast Meat selection


Hash Brown (Potato Wedges) Yummy!
My very Big Breakfast!

After having my fill at the breakfast buffet, I happily skipped along the garden paths toward the beach and try some water sports. I started with surfing, but unfortunately there were no waves that day. However I did take the surfing lesson and some of the surfing exercises on land.  After the lessons, I decided to go paddle boarding. This didn't pose too  much of a challenge. But it was lovely to paddle away from shore.

After a couple of tries surfing on land and paddle boarding...I decided to move on to bigger and better things. So I signed up for wake boarding. Holy Sh*t! My legs felt like jello after a couple of rounds. It was a lot of fun, but damn! After 30 minutes of wake boarding, I went back to the beach to relax, read my book and fell asleep. When I woke up, it was late in the afternoon! Oops! I slept for 3 hours. The beach was almost empty. So I took some snapshots of kids attempting to go water zorbing and headed back to my room to get ready before going out to meet a friend for dinner.
After a few days in paradise, it was back to real life...back to reality. A somewhat bruised wallet, but definitely worth it. I'm thinking, my next luxury trip would be in the Maldives.

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