The new battle of Mactan
Almost five centuries since the tell-tale Battle of Mactan, Cebu’s resort island has begun seeing a different kind of combat from a new set of protagonists.
With 30 barangays spread out within a 58-sq.km. area, Lapu-Lapu City comprises the bulk of Mactan Island, and shares it with the smaller but booming town of Cordova on the eastern coast.
Dubbed as the historic resort city, it has also become a satellite of Cebu City with the influx of hotels and resorts, subdivisions, executive villages, shopping malls, townships, scuba diving centers, and a vast array of restaurants, among others. It is also home to Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the country’s second largest aerial gateway, where a new tropical-themed terminal building was opened just last year.
Instrumental in this growth are the beach resorts, the old guards of the island’s tourism industry and the backbone of the local economy. Another major provision of employment is the 40-year-old Mactan Ecozone which hosts manufacturers of semi-conductors, apparel, and automotive parts, and is being eyed by the Philippine Ecomic Zone Authority, as a township project that will integrate industrial, commercial and residential components.
A pioneer establishment in the area is Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort which opened in 1989 with 14 cottages to cater to the middle to high-end markets. Owned by Almont Holdings, it has expanded to 200 well-appointed rooms, and will be opening 64 more this year as it marks its 30th year.
The four-star getaway was awarded the prestigious Asean Green Hotel Standard last year for its best practices on environmental sustainability. A low-density development, it is a sought-after venue for conferences and day tours for its long beachfront, water sports activities, and promotional offerings.
It also takes pride in its private sandbar, reportedly the only one of its kind in Mactan, which is used for special events.
The Cebu-based company, which has outlived most of its contemporaries, has grown into six properties under the Bluewater brand in Sumilon Island in Oslob, Cebu and Panglao, Bohol, and Almont Hotel in Butuan and Surigao cities. Just last year, it opened the 20-storey One Central Hotel in downtown Cebu City, which is managed by its affiliate Bluewater Hospitality.
Over the decades, Mactan has seen entry of global chains such as Shangri-La and Movenpick, competing alongside Filipino hoteliers Plantation Bay, J Park, Waterfront, Crimson, Arterra, and old-timers Costabella and Tambuli.
Joining the fray is Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu, a five-star property owned by Robinsons Land Corp. and managed by the prestigious Thai group. The 272-room, three-building resort hotel sits on a 10.8-ha land on the island’s far end at Punta Engaño, along with the high-rise Amisa Residences condominium. The third building, which faces the scenic Magellan Bay and mainland Cebu City, is an all-suite wing for VIPs.
Set for full operation in the fourth quarter, it boasts of a 1,000-person grand ballroom, two function rooms, a fitness gym, boutique stores, a pastry bakeshop, aquasports facilities, the Sky Garden, three dining outlets including the signature Benjarong Restaurant, and the trademark Namm Spa.
Capturing the middle-end market is the artsy Be Resort by Enrison Holdings Inc. of the prominent Benedicto family. The 163-room, mid-rise hotel has among the enviable secluded coastlines and a stunning view of Olango Island, known as a sanctuary for migratory birds.
With just four years in the competitive market, the newly-refurbished resort was able to charm Filipinos and foreign tourists with its family-friendly atmosphere and mid-range pricing. It offers tours within Cebu and nearby Bohol province through its upscale sister resort in Panglao, Be Grand.
The firm, which is largely involved in the cement and wood production, will also venture into condominium through Be Residences to infuse urban resort living in Lahug, Cebu City.
Further heightening the competition is the 250-room Sheraton Hotel of homegrown Apple One group. Also expected to make their presence felt are Aruga Resort and Residences-Mactan, Emerald Resorts and Casino, and Hotel 101.
About to be completed is the Mactan Newtown, a Megaworld township that is expected to redraw the landscape of once-rural Lapu Lapu City. This mega-community combines office towers, luxury condominiums, leisure amenities, retail shops, upscale hotels, a private school, a beachfront property, and a cyberpark for the business processing outsourcing firms.
The 30-ha development is also envisioned to become Cebu’s next information technology business hub in the next five years.
As the country moves closer to the 500th year of the epic Lapu Lapu-Magellan encounter in 2021, realtors can only expect the battle in Mactan’s property sector to be more intense, bringing an infinity of options for vacationers and business travelers.
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