Eternity Pool at Crimson Resort and Spa (Mactan, Cebu)

Luxurious Refuge at Crimson Resort and Spa (Mactan, Cebu)

It’s amazing how a lot of resorts and destinations in Mactan Island — conveniently located just beside, and connected by two bridges from, the main island of Cebu — are hidden from plain sight. We won’t be surprised if a lot of our readers, even those living in Mactan and Cebu, haven’t heard of Crimson Resort & Spa. We certainly didn’t know Crimson Resort existed, not until Doc Aldrin brought us there. Navigating the narrow roads of Mactan made us realize why Crimson Resort should be labeled a hidden paradise.

Crimson Resort & Spa proudly proclaims, and for good reason, that it’s “nestled in one of the country’s most prestigious tourist destinations,” a reference most likely to Mactan Island. Crimson Resort is found in a “delightfully unique location in Cebu,” which, again, is somewhere in Mactan Island. A little search brought us to the exact address reflected in Crimson Resort’s website — Seascapes Resort Town, Mactan Island, Lapu Lapu City, Cebu 6015, Philippines.

Just for fun (and because we have a lot of space to fill, given the surprisingly huge number of photos we’ve included in this post), let’s show that, for all the hundreds of millions invested by Crimson Resort in creating a world-class destination, it appears that Crimson sadly failed to provide a helpful address (in the alternative, which we believe is more likely, Crimson has deliberately made itself difficult to find).

Crimson’s given address is like Harry Potter telling his friends, “go find me, I’m right here,” while at the same time throwing open the Cloak of Invisibility.

Let’s go back to Crimson’s address — Seascapes Resort Town, Mactan Island, Lapu Lapu City, Cebu 6015, Philippines. Everyone familiar with the Philippines, and we assume you’re one of them, knows that a Philippine address starts with the smallest, up to the biggest, officially-recognized geopolitical unit. That would mean, in the most basic sense, an address that includes the name of the barangay (village), the municipality/city, the province, and the country.

Because Lapu-Lapu City is already included in the address, this means Seascapes Resort Town is probably something unofficial (you either have the name of the town or a city in an address). They’re trying to make, uhm, pauso, along the lines of Ayala Business District. Try asking for Seascapes Resort Town the moment you arrive at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and you’ll probably get puzzled eyebrows.

Mactan Island, on the other hand, refers to the island, not a geopolitical unit, which means that it was probably thrown in for its tourist value and general direction, and not meant to be helpful to lost tourists. What would really be helpful, come to think of it, is the addition of the barangay (village) name where the resort is located. It doesn’t appear in Crimson’s self-styled official address.

The good thing about a resort situated in Mactan Island, or any island for that matter, is the impossibility of getting lost. Just don’t cross any bridge and you’ll be fine. Continue driving when you’re lost, or without anywhere specific to go, and you’ll eventually hit the other side of the island. Turn around and proceed in your search for the destination. Luckily for guests, Crimson Resort is situated in Mactan Island, the same island where the airport is found. It’s 20 minutes from the airport, which is not a source of comfort for first-time visitors of Mactan Island because, as noted previously, the official address of Crimson Resort is hardly any source of useful direction.

Which brings us back to our original theory — our seasoned sleuth minds tell us that Crimson Resort and Spa doesn’t want to be found. And we won’t be surprised to know that guests, after finally finding Crimson Resort, would want it to themselves.

To hide in plain sight would ordinarily be difficult for a 6-hectare piece of paradise, with 40 private villas and 250 guestrooms, with a number of swimming pools, a gym, a kiddie playhouse, a spa, stores, four restaurants, and a beach front. These structures, no matter how impressive they may look, pale in comparison to the generous open spaces that dominate the landscape. When Crimson Resort invites guests to breathe, it puts its foot where its mouth is.

The usual resort would have visible concrete structures loudly sticking out of the earth, announcing high and low that they’ve claimed a portion of paradise. From the looks of it, Crimson Resort chose to take a different tack and succeeded in blending beautifully with the surroundings.

Mactan Island is a coral island. Dig an inch or two of soil — if you see any soil at all — and there’s the white solid rock that must have given headaches to local residents and developers who had to dig the foundation of any structure on this island. It’s basically a flat land (no surprise that the international airport is found here), with green shrubs interrupted by occasional concrete fences. Somewhere along the fence is an entrance that would take you by surprise — the pleasant surprise of discovery that there’s an entrance in the middle of nowhere.

That’s exactly what to expect when searching for Crimson Resort. Flat land with low shrubs, occasional houses, tricycles, nothing spectacular. The low-key signage at the side of the concrete fence, or the half-developed grounds which look like a subdivision about to be abandoned by the developer, doesn’t give any inkling as to the beauty that awaits at the end of the road.

At the concierge area, right at the end of the road and right after guests step down from their vehicles, the first of a bunch of pleasant surprises greet the guests.

The constant stream of golf carts, from the drop-off point to anywhere in the resort, gives the impression that the development of Crimson is integrated  with an adjoining golf course. There’s no golf course. The seemingly endless swarm of golf carts, which you won’t probably need because walking is a pleasure amidst the landscaped natural beauty, serve as the primary mode of transportation inside the resort. Want to go to your room or villa? Call the concierge and a golf cart will be there pronto.

The courtyard, or the open area traversed by the main path from the drop off point to the reception, resembles a serene Japanese garden. The yellow-stemmed bamboos that gracefully sway to the mild breeze could very well lull any battle-hardened samurai to blissful sleep. It’s beautiful. Peaceful. Crossing the bridgeway, well, sort of a bridge path, is like crossing from the stressful world of reality to a place of peace and quiet. If the garden could speak, it would say, “welcome, time to relax and recharge.”

The exposed dark-brown wood trusses add to the open-air, non-claustrophobic atmosphere that characterize the Crimson Resort. Everywhere lies wonderful highlight pieces. There’s the wooden sungka that resembles a cross, right in the middle of the reception area together with the beautiful sofa and furniture. There’s an artistic plant holder, shaped like an onion bulb, lazily soaking the dispersed natural light that pierces the middle of the otherwise solid roof. Nice. Very, nice.

One realization that slowly grows on any guest is the fact that Crimson Resort is a child-friendly resort. There’s a separate play room, just across the gym, that exclusively caters to kids. It has different games, both traditional and electronic, and is manned by a dedicated team to keep the kids busy while the adults lounge by the pool or enjoy the spa. From time to time, the staff go around and invite the kids to some games, from as simple as sand castle building at the beach to elaborate mazes on the grass court. We can’t stress it enough — Crimson Resort is a very, very child-friendly place. In fact, should VisitPinas come up with some sort of award, the Most Child-Friendly Resort Award would no doubt go hands-down to Crimson Resort and Spa Crimson Resort and Spa to the pantheon of great resorts, that would be its people. A resort with great facilities is nothing without a warm, dedicated crew. It immediately becomes clear that Crimson invests heavily in the training and positive encouragement of its staff. Quick service with a warm smile, fully booked or not.

The series of swimming pools, right from the main building that houses the reception area and straight to the beach, provides the guests — mainly the kids — with enough fun to last the whole day. These pools, infinity pool included, are obviously not designed for serious swimmers. These pools are meant for group fun. Balls and goals are provided, irresistible to friends and family.

Not that Crimson Resort is perfect. While nature seeks equilibrium, it seems to abhor perfection. There are a few shortcomings here and there. The response when we called after the door key failed to open took ages, but maybe because there was a crying toddler with us that increased the urgency. The beach front is far from spectacular, not the kind of barefoot-friendly, powdery-white sand that Boracay and Palawan are known for.

The food is good. How good, we don’t know. Not yet. The decision to curb the anticipated holiday binge left us with little interest to sample the food. Plus, we were too absorbed in animated conversation, helped in no small part by the relaxing ambiance, so much so that we completely forgot that we should have noted and blogged about the food. A great conversation over coffee and breakfast, beside the pool, while the kids enjoy the pool’s pleasures. By the time we snapped out of the conversation gusto, the crispy pata was on the chopping block. Unfortunately for Crimson Resort, we’ve encountered crispy pata straight from culinary heavens.

These shortcomings, however, cannot dent the solid impression that Crimson Resort made on our group. In a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the highest, these “shortcomings” would be around half of one percent.

And so, if Ferdinand Magellan came across Mactan Island in the current year and dropped anchor at the beach of Crimson Resort, no doubt he would have made the same decision to colonize the place. Or, at the very least, take a long relaxing refuge in this verdant hideaway. That is, if Magellan, or anyone for that matter, could find the place. Good luck in your search for this little piece of Mactan Island paradise.

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