24 Hours in Plantation Bay Resort and Spa

Plantation Bay's saltwater lagoon
On a quick visit to Cebu, I was fortunate to have the chance to explore one of the island's premier resorts, the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Marigondon. A wholly Filipino owned and managed property, Plantation Bay exudes a warm and cozy atmosphere for a well-deserved getaway.

From the Mactan International Airport, a resort representative welcomed me and directed me to the luxurious chauffeur-driven black BMW 520D. This is an optional add-on service being offered by the resort for those who want to amp the experience and travel in style. It also brings you directly to your room of choice without the need to pass by the reception. Someone from the front office will welcome you at the doorstep of your room to facilitate check-in.

The bed is calling me! 
As if the room was selected with my personality in mind, I was billeted at a Lagoon Side Room at the Edo Hall, the cluster near one of the resort's restaurants, Fiji, and the aqua sports center. The marine sanctuary was two cartwheels away from my room!

Like the rest of the resort, the colonial-inspired room radiates easy elegance. The king-sized bed looks inviting, as well as the marble tub in the spacious bathroom. There was a basket of local goodies, which I appreciate so much as I love local flavors and delicacies.


A view of the lagoon from my room
Basket of goodies
The all-marble bathroom
Bath amenities
Where to eat in Plantation Bay:
Plantation Bay has five dining outlets such as Kilimanjaro Kafe (the 24-hour main restaurant), Fiji, Palermo, Savannah Grill and Alien Abduction. For lunch, I tried Fiji; Palermo for dinner; and Kilimanjaro Kafe for the regular daily buffet breakfast.

Fiji
This seaside restaurant offers delectable dishes featuring flavors of the Pacific Rim. Here, I enjoyed a variety of Asian specialties including salmon sashimi, yuki cheese maki, ebi tempura, and ox tail braised in sake. All of which were fantastic in their own right: the thick slices of salmon sashimi were fresh and clean on the palate; the yuki cheese maki was rich and gave a perfect balance with the salmon sashimi; the tempura remained an old-time favorite; and lastly, the oxtail braised in sake sauce was stellar, it's tender meat was oozing with sweet-tangy flavors from the sake sauce. A sweet ending was the crepe samurai, thin crepe with mangoes, ice cream and chocolate syrup. The restaurant takes pride in sourcing most of its ingredients locally.

Salmon Sashimi
Yuki Cheese Maki
Ebi Tempura
Oxtail Braised in Sake
Crepe Samurai
Palermo
This restaurant is serious in bringing high-quality, scrumptious tapas and Italian dishes to every plate, Plus, its well-curated steaks including our very own Bukidnon rib-eye, as well as an expansive selection of wines, make it a perfect place for intimate dinners. The interiors are as charming as the rest of the resort with highlights on the masterpieces of the artisans of Cebu.

For us to have a sampling of the menu, we ordered three tapas such as gambas, callos and fabada, a serving of Pasta Al Nero, two kinds of steaks to compare (Bukidnon and US rib-eye), and a dessert, the bestselling Triple B (banana burnt butterscotch). 

While waiting for our orders, we were served an amuse bouche of olives on foccacia, which we paired this with a bottle of Tinto Pesquera 2011.

Black and Green Olives on Foccacia
The tapas arrived warm and steaming on our dimly lit table, and the aroma alone made me want to dig in my fork right away. The gambas was seasoned right, and the prawns not overcooked. The fabada (a rich Spanish bean stew that originated from Asturias in Spain), on the other hand, was rich and garlicky, and with a drizzle of cane vinegar and olive oil, all the flavors just fall into the right place. The callos, I must say, was the star of the night--pork (not tripe) and chickpeas stewed in a rich tomato-based sauce infused with a bit of spice. The result--a sinfully delicious tapas that can also be enjoyed with a serving of garlic rice. Oh and by the way, did I tell you that they sauté their garlic rice on beef fat? Yes, dear, beef fat!!! Spell y-u-m. Don't forget to wash everything with a glass of red wine so your heart won't complain!

Fabada
Callos
Gambas
While we were still savoring the tapas, our steaks came in. Honestly, if you will just look at the two (US and Bukidnon rib-eye), you won't notice a significant difference but wait until you grab a slice of each and you'll be able to tell which one is your favorite. While the Bukidnon rib-eye won my heart over, others may say otherwise. I just love how tasty, succulent, and marbled the Bukidnon rib-eye was, and the US rib-eye was a bit on the safe side for me. The good news is, steaks at Palermo are not ridiculously expensive! Both steaks that we had were priced at Php 1,600, sides included.

US rib-eye
Bukidnon rib-eye
Pasta Al Nero
The pastas at Palermo are also worth checking out. Except for the spaghetti and linguine, all pastas are handmade, including the best-selling Pasta Al Nero (squid ink pasta). This was tossed in a light oil-based seafood sauce, indeed perfect for those who would rather not have meat.
Our bottle for the night
Kilimanjaro Kafe
The resort's main restaurant offers thematic buffet breakfast as well as a lavish spread for lunch and dinner. It was just a quick visit, so I was only able to grab my usual breakfast staples: croissant, congee, danggit, chorizo, and garlic rice. The restaurant sits pretty beside a lagoon so the views are fantastic!
Cappucino and croissant
Congee with salted and white eggs, garlic and chives
My breakfast plate
A view of Kilimanjaro Kafe
What to do in Plantation Bay:
The resort offers an array of activities that you can enjoy above or below water. Aside from the four freshwater pools and the world-class saltwater lagoon where you can enjoy kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, there's also the aqua water sports center, which can provide you the gears that you need for water activities. You can enjoy snorkeling or even diving at the house reef just a few meters away from Galapagos Beach, the resort's private cove. The popular Marigondon Underwater Cave is also a stone's throw away. You can also explore the nearby islands of Nalusuan and Pandanon as well as the Hilutungan marine sanctuary through the resort-arranged island hopping activities. For your adrenaline fix, you may want to book an afternoon of Hobie Cat sailing, parasailing and jet-skiing.

Bask in the sun
Saltwater lagoon



YDXJ1301 from Matet Garcia Reyes on Vimeo.
At the Galapagos Beach
Beach bummin'
Hobie Cat sailing
Jet-skiing
Snorkeling with our full-face masks
If you're not into watersports, you may also check out the mini golf course, the tennis court, or the Savannah Park, the resort's indoor activities hub.

The Mogambo Springs
After a long day, head to the resort's Tokugawa-inspired spa for a relaxing massage. It features rejuvenating salt- and freshwater plunge pools and Jacuzzis, as well as a needle shower to relax your tired muscles. I had an hour and a half of their traditional hilot massage, which lulled me to a good night's sleep afterwards.
Entering a no-cellphone, no-gadget zone






The spa suite 
While 24 hours might not be enough for me to enjoy all the activities and offerings at Plantation Bay, there is always a room to go back time and again. The charming rooms, the gastronomic delights, the fun activities, and most of all, the warm hospitality that is truly Filipino, invite a return.

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