Whenever people ask us what is the most unique hotel in the Philippines, our answer is always Plantation Bay in Mactan. This 5 star resort might not be the best or most luxurious one, although it doesn’t fall short in that regard either, but it’s definitely the most special one. With a large artificial lagoon at the middle of the property, which is designed entirely in a colonial-plantation style, you really get a feeling like you stepped back in time and reached some remote village in paradise island.
For us however, what truly sets them apart is their management. We have never seen a hotel being so honest and upfront about everything it offers – they make sure guests know both the good and the bad sides of staying there in advance. Not only that, but they are the only resort in the world who offers an automatic full refund even once you get to the hotel – no questions asked! They are so confident you will love it, and they are unapologetic about the service they provide. To us, this is a true evidence to the resort’s quality, as well as the type of service you can expect to enjoy there.
The Plantation Bay resort should be mainly compared with the Shangri-La Mactan. While there are many other 5 star accommodations on the island, these 2 are really miles ahead of the competition when it comes to luxury and comfort. So, this review will be written with that in mind, to help you understand the differences between both resorts and decide which one is better. To make it short, both of them are the best choices for people who seek a real all inclusive experience and are less worried with the price. Everyone can visit the Plantation Bay resort in Mactan and enjoy it – singles, couples and families would all find a place there.[expert_review] Due to its remote location, we didn’t even know the resort exists at first. However, we quickly learnt about it as practically everyone we met has asked us if we paid them a visit already. The Plantation Bay is widely considered as the best hotel in Mactan, and it was recommended to us even by competing hotels. So, we decided to stay at the resort and came with the highest expectations possible – planning on having a true luxury getaway in a tropical paradise.
Upon reaching the resort, it didn’t take longer than a minute to realize the praise was justified. The reception area is beautifully designed and we were greeted with a warm smile and refreshing drink. The check in process was quick and efficient, and we were even offered a quick tour of the estate so we can make sure we are getting what we expected. The resort sprawls across 11 hectares of land, making it the largest in Mactan – but still you feel like your’e staying at a comfortable small village.
There are only 255 rooms at Plantation Bay, which is really a small number considering its size. Just for reference, the Shangri-La has more than the double that even though it’s significantly smaller. The Crimson resort, another 5 star luxury hotel, has more rooms as well while occupying less than half of the land space Plantation Bay does. No wonder that when we reviewed both of those hotels, we specifically mentioned they feel a bit overcrowded and service is sometimes slow. This is definitely not the case here, where you get to enjoy a lot more privacy and personal attention from staff members.
Rooms are all very spacious, and don’t fall short when compared with other luxury resorts. They are much bigger, and very well furnished. The only place where you can find substantially larger rooms, which are also more luxurious is the Abaca boutique hotel. Abaca is a tiny place with only 9 rooms, providing a tailor made luxury experience of the highest standards, but of course it’s also reflected in the prices they charge. Plantation Bay’s value over Abaca comes from its wealth of available activities and services, and its all inclusive nature.
Even the smallest rooms are large enough to accommodate 2 adults and 2 children. They come with a nice private balcony, a working station and a separate shower area. All rooms are equipped with AC, a large LED TV, free wifi, safety deposit box and a mini bar. Toiletries and other small amenities are provided, as expected by any self respecting 5 star resort. The room’s rate doesn’t include breakfast – you can choose each morning if you’d like to have it or not, and charge it to your room. We feel this is actually quite fair, especially since the breakfast is very reasonably priced – roughly 10$ per person.[pros_cons] There are 5 different restaurants at the resort, each offering a different style of cuisine. These include an international kitchen, Asian seafood, a tapas and pastas bar, fast food style with a 5 star twist and a ice cream and cocktails bar. As mentioned, breakfast isn’t included in the price of the room, and you choose to have it at any one of the restaurants or even at your room. We have to be honest and say the food here gets mixed reviewed by guests. The management is also aware of that, and they are willing to replace any dish for free if you don’t like it.
A special themed buffet is organized every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting at 6:30pm. It includes a rich selection of dishes and a live show, both inspired by some specific area or culture in the world. On top of that, there are always other entertainment and shows organized by the resort, but these aren’t done on a regular basis. So, if you are interested in those it’s better to simply ask about the schedule at front desk.
Plantation Bay also offers a plethora of additional services and activities, many of which are without any additional charge. The spa in particular is excellent, but treatments are not cheap. The gym is relatively small, but is well maintained and has all the necessary equipment. There’s also a very nice game and entertainment center, as well as a shooting range which is free to use. Other free, exciting activities include snorkeling, wall climbing, archery, bird watching, mini golf and beach sports such as volleyball.
There are also plenty of free activities especially for children which are organized and supervised by well trained staff members. These include fishing lessons, boat racing, arts and crafts and many other exciting activities. The resort however, does not provide nanny or babysitting services, so you’ll have to stay with your kids the whole time.
Paid activities are mostly related to the water. The resort has its own dive shop, with a huge selection of available dives – for both beginners and experts. They’ll take you on a boat to the Hilutungan marine sanctuary, one of the best coral reef sites in Cebu. The prices however, are not as cheap as in other dive shops so please keep that in mind. Other water activities they charge for include jet-skis, banana boat and parasailing. On top of that, you can also rent the tennis court for 4$ an hour, or go play golf at a nearby golf course for 60$ per person.
Overall, we feel like Plantation Bay does exactly what it was meant to do – provide a real one of a kind experience of luxury and comfort. While the location might be too remote, and the rooms could use a slight facelift, the overall value provided here is outstanding. The resort definitely stands in the same line as the most luxurious hotels in Mactan, providing a complete all inclusive stay. We especially recommend Plantation Bay for couples and small families, who seek a private and quiet vacation in a luxury paradise.
These rooms are 46m2, and a private balcony overlooking the lagoon. They each come with your choice of either a king size bed or 2 queen sized ones. An additional Futon bed can be added for a small fee.
For an extra 20$ a night you can get a room right next to the Lagoon. The room is exactly the same as the Lagoon View version, only with slightly newer furniture.
The 1 bedroom suite is a perfect choice for honeymooners and small families. it has a living room and a large private balcony that goes directly into the beach. With 92m2 it can comfortably it in up to 4 people – there are either a king size or 2 queen size beds, as well as a sofa bed in the living area.
The 2 bedroom suite is exactly the same, only with an extra bedroom. Recommend capacity is 6 persons, but up to 8 can stay there quite comfortably.