> Alegre Beach Resort, Cebu, Philippines.

Happy in Paradise: A Tale of Two Vacations (Alegre Beach Resort and Shangri-La Mactan)

Text by Angel Viloria.
Photos by Manuel and Angel Viloria.

beach bench along shore of Alegre beach resort in Cebu, Philippines. For the second straight year, our family went to Cebu for our annual vacation. Last year, we went to Shangri-la's Mactan Island Resort while this year, we went off to Alegre Beach Resort. Why did we choose Cebu? Main reason: getting there is pretty straightforward. Just take a one-hour flight and you're there. No need to experiment with all the modes of transportation (as you would have to do with a place like Boracay). Believe us, when travelling with a toddler, getting somewhere in as straightforward a manner as possible earns "mega-points."

When preparing for a trip with a toddler, pack with the purpose of checking-in your luggage. Lugging your things and your 30-pound kid through a domestic airport teeming with people and where there are not enough seats surely will not mark the start of a "fun" vacation. Add to this having to ride a shuttle bus to get to your plane and where Pinoy guys will scramble for all the available seats. I was busy grumbling silently to myself when I felt a tap on my shoulder. An old lady (bless her soul, wherever she may be now) was making space so that I could sit down with Adi. Now does that say something about the average Filipino male or what?

This is Adi's second time on a plane. He seemed to enjoy this flight although I think that comes with age. Last year, he kept crying, especially during take-off and landing - well, it was his first plane ride at about a year and a half. He was restless the whole time, wanting to try out his "walking skills," tripping over the feet of this businessman who could not find the words so he just blurted out: "Diyos Ko!" ("My God!") This time, Adi slept through most of the flight to Cebu and entertained co-passengers on the way home by his repeated "President Erap" and "Thank you God for our food." (I guess he liked the Chiz Curls and the Cloud Nine. Now what he thinks about President Erap, I wouldn't know...)

Adi didn't like to wear his seatbelt though. He only agreed to put his belt on when he saw his new toy fish. So for parents travelling by plane with a toddler, expect some trouble with the seatbelt and have a "new" toy on hand to divert your kid's attention.

So much for the trip, on to the vacations. Alegre Beach Resort is located in Calumboyan, Sogod, Cebu. It takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get from the Airport to Alegre, in contrast to Shangri-la, which only takes about 15-30 minutes.

Angel and Adi standing near a coconut lamp post Alegre has a more "provincial" or "rustic" (as my husband would describe it) feel to it compared to Shangri-la. You take long walks to get from your cottage to the other areas. There are a lot of trees and greenery. The driver and the staff are courteous and friendly and there are "small things" which make your stay really pleasant. Like the really "cold", antiseptic-smelling face towels which they give you upon your arrival to freshen up or the calachuchi and chocolate kisses which they leave on your nighttable every afternoon.

Manuel and Adi at Talisay Beach, Alegre resort, Cebu What can one do at Alegre? There's Talisay Beach which is much better than the beach at Shangri-la. The water is cleaner and the sand is whiter and finer. It's still no Boracay but it is pretty enough.

Manuel and Adi in pool There are the adult and kiddie pools. Adi particularly enjoyed the kiddie pools since he could stand up there and walk by himself. There's an Orchid Farm where we were able to talk to Mr. Llaguno, a former Vice President of the Cebu Orchid Society. Through him, we learned that the cut-flower industry is a "growing" industry. There is great demand from countries like Japan although our supply is not sufficient to meet demand over the long-term.

There's also the gift shop where one can buy souvenir items. Kiddie shirts sell for about P270. There's a tiny library where Adi enjoyed the disturbing story of the "Gingerbread Man" ("...And that was the end of the Gingerbread Man..." He was eaten by the fox, remember?) and where there are a lot of books in German. There's a Game Room although at the time that we were there, it was converted into a seminar room.

We also looked forward to the Sunset Cruise which promised some "whale and dolphin watching." The Cruise leaves Alegre at 4pm and comes back by 5pm. We didn't see any whales or dolphins though, prompting Adi's friend, Daphne, to ask: "Ba't walang dolphin?" ("Why were there no dolphins?") Her dad had to think of some excuse and just said that the dolphins were sleeping. Then again, maybe it was the dolphins and the whales who watched us, as Leababes, my officemate, said.

There's more to do and see though at Shangri-la. They have a treehouse, a playroom (The Galleon) and a playground for kids with Little Tikes slides, playhouses, etc. They have a Health Club, a Hair Salon, and a disco/bar (Coco Loco) with private videoke rooms. There's also more variety when it comes to food. With 5 main restaurants, namely: Garden Patio (their coffee shop), Asiatica (Asian Food), Shang Palace (Chinese), Cowrie Cove (Seafood), and Paparazzi (Italian), one can stay for a week and still not manage to taste all the dishes.

Such is not the case with Alegre. There's only one restaurant, The Pavilion, and their menu is not that extensive. They do have lunch and dinner buffets although not everyday. The breakfast buffet at Shangri-la is a buffet with a capital "B," with a whole range of choices including Chinese and Japanese Food. For the Pavilion, it's really limited to breakfast items (cold cuts, cereal, omelette, tapa) although the buffet is also filling enough.

Food at Alegre is quite pricey. The dinner buffet goes for P650 per person. If one were to order a la carte, one can spend about P300 to P550 per person. Drinks are priced from P50 (Mango Juice, strawberry milk shake) to P160 (Orange Juice). When in Alegre, you should make it a point to try their Carbonara (very creamy and tasty with lots of bacon) and their Alegre Bouillabaise (super fresh seafood soup but not that fishy-tasting). Also, when eating, get the group called "Himig" to sing for your table. Adi particularly enjoyed their version of "Puff the Magic Dragon."

Shangri-la is more kid-friendly. They have utensils and Mickey Mouse plastic plates for kids. They also have McTan Gang where there are different activities for kids of different ages.

If one wanted rest and relaxation and the feeling of getting away from it all, try Alegre. If you want to go somewhere with really more modern facilities, more things to see and do, go to Shangri-la. Better yet, try both and be happy in paradise...

Cabana Interiors

bedroom corner desk bathroom

Beach, Pathways and Swimming Pool

Adi playing with sand stairs leading to the Pavilion main swimming pool
Copyright © 1999 by Angelica Viloria.
All Rights Reserved. Uploaded: Apr 1999