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Relearning English in Cebu: a review of Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan

English is so widely spoken in the Philippines that one could almost forget the locals speak anything else, but at Crimson Resort & Spa we get a surprising lesson in a language we thought we knew.

At first we think we’ve misheard, that something had been lost in translation. So we simply smile and continue walking around the six hectare resort, basking in its beauty. But then it happens again.



“Great morning,” one of the many smiling staff say as we walk towards the infinity pool.


It’s clearly not an observation, as in, ‘What a great morning’. It’s said as a greeting, as the staff member covers their heart, smiles and nods their head. 


It happens a few times before it finally clicks that this isn’t some individual mis-speaking. This is intentional. Everyone working at Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan doesn’t just wish their guests good day, they want their days, mornings, afternoons and evenings to be great.


But that’s not the only language lesson we get here.



When you work in tourism it’s easy to forget that the words we use everyday have meanings beyond our industry. At Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan, the words ‘accommodation’ and ‘hospitality’ are brought to life.


We are travelling with a three year old and she is treated with so much love (yes, love) by the staff that she asks me if they’re part of her family. 



At the Crimzone Club (imagine an awesome pre-school, make it a lot better and then plop it on Cebu’s stunning Mactan Island), my daughter promptly dumps me for the amazingly patient and loving staff who, when I return after some time at Aum Spa (try the Gatas - coconut milk - bath), have neatly braided her wild hair, jumped “a million times” into a ball pit with her, taken her through the playground “another million times”, coloured with her,  built things with her and just gave so much more than their time to her.


Prying her away from her new ‘family’ proves difficult, but the staff help and lure her to the resort’s private beach to play games with the other kids visiting the island.



As night falls, we head back to our villa with its private plunge pool to get ready for dinner. We stop via the Score Sports Bar for cocktails (drinks are included for those who stay in one of the resort’s forty villas) and try not to fill up too much on the delicious snacks. 


Because tonight we dine at Enye by Chele Gonzales. Here, Gonzales fuses Spanish and traditional Cebuano cuisine and elevates it. You can find traditional Spanish favorites, but most folk come to Cebu for the lechon (roasted suckling pig) so Gonzales’ Lechon Cebu Tacos are a big hit. 


Having tried so many dishes, we take a stroll through the grounds to digest and settle in our villa for some of the most peaceful sleep I’ve ever had. 



The villa itself is lovely and kitted out with everything you could need and everything you don’t. My only issue is that the rest of the resort is home to so many activities and the islands are just at our doorstep that we are hardly in it.


We open our door the next morning to find a list of activities arrives, rolled into a scroll and balanced on a coconut shell. This is my daughter’s favourite time of day. “It’s a treasure map,” she says and takes it carefully to breakfast at Saffron Cafe so that we can plan our day between bites. With so many activities at Crimson, you need a game plan - so long as it includes some serious pool-hopping time.



The days pass too quickly and soon we’re in a golf buggy on our way out. My daughter doesn’t want to leave. She’s on hugging terms with the staff and saying goodbye takes longer than anticipated. As she climbs into the cab, she calls out to the staff waving us off, “Great bye!”

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Written by: Gaya Avery
Published: 2 September 2019

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