Cebu City in the Philippines is a boom town.
Back in the early ’90s it had what was nickamed a ‘Ceboom’ and the good times are back – there are plans to expand the city’s airport to four times its present capacity and widen this gateway to the Central and Southern Philippines.
And the pace is quickening everywhere.
Job outsourcing, tourist services, maritime trade, transportation and shipbuilding drive the local economy in top gear.
The streets rush with traffic. The shop tills cha-ching and ker-chang, and from sunrise to sunset the locals work hammer and tongs in the dockyards moving vast seas of shipping containers onto waiting cargo vessels.
I could see all of this industry from the window of our room at the Radisson Blu Cebu, a landmark hotel in Cebu City that reflects the prospering fortunes of the city it towers over.
Fresh off the boat from a scuba diving trip to nearby Bohol Island, we stayed at Radisson Blu Cebu for two nights and felt like we were in the eye of a moneymaking storm!
A busy place to be
With a capacity of 400 rooms, the place often has 70% occupancy or more – and when we stayed there the conference rooms were full of seminars and meetings from Microsoft developers to the local Chamber of Commerce and the Peace Corps.
And of course there were tourists just like us – hundreds of them exploring the island of Cebu or on their way to the paradise islands beyond, or taking a breather while they headed to some far-flung destination. Australians, English, Americans, Chinese, Indians, Koreans – scores of nationalities came through the polished front doors and into the vaulted marble lobby.
It’s exciting tapping into so much energy and seeing so much action. In Australia hotels can be dull places where people just go to sleep. But I’ve noticed that in many Asian nations hotels are the centre of things – the places with the cool bar and the top restaurant where you go to be seen.
The Radisson Bu Cebu definitely fits the bill – and we felt a bit out of place rocking up with our dirty backpacks, flip-flops and shabby clothes!
The friendly staff didn’t bat an eyelid though, and swiftly checked us in and gave us a personal escort to room on the 19th floor where we showered and changed into better duds to begin our two day stay.
Location of Radisson Blu Cebu
The Radisson Blu Cebu is located on the waterfront of the city, right next to the port and close to the Central Business District.
Our room was on a corner, so we had an impressive view of both Cebu City and the port and ocean beyond, and at night both areas are lit up giving some very romantic scenes.
You don’t have to go far to get something to eat or do some shopping – the hotel is connected to the SM City Cebu shopping mall which covers over 11 hectares of retail space and has everything from Thai food to a bowling alley. We went to the IMAX theatre there to see Jurassic World in 3D on our first night and got a good thrill.
Rooms at Radisson Blu Cebu
Our room was very well appointed and modern – the hotel itself is less than five years old so everything is still in good nick.
We had a comfy double bed with lots of pillows, a proper desk to do our work on, a long sofa by the window, a Nespresso coffee machine with free pods, a kettle for tea, a walk in robe and a bathroom with a strong shower and good lighting for the big mirror.
Food at Radisson Blu Cebu
Take your pick…
The food at Radisson Blu Cebu is buffet style and on our first morning there we went down to breakfast and filled our boots.
For round one I made up a muesli with dried fruits from the cereal bar – got to start with a healthy option! Then I sliced up some crusty wholemeal toast at the bread bar and slathered both pieces with butter and scrambled eggs with a side of Indian curried vegetables.
It was delicious – and by the time I’d polished it all off (and had some fresh fruit and tea) I was stuffed to the gills. There was no need for lunch that day, at all, and we only needed a couple of pieces of fruit for dinner that night to tide me over until the next day.
On one night of our stay we also ate dinner, and it was the same astonishing array of foods, with everything from Peking Duck to fresh sushi, Indian curries and kebabs, roast pork with all the trimmings and a dessert bar with freshly made ice cream.
Other amenities at Radisson Blu Cebu
Fortunately for our stomachs, the hotel has a fully equipped gym open early to late that also boasts a steam room, so we could keep our extra baggage in check.
Carmen and I did three workouts in the gym, hitting the running machines and weights and topping up our fitness, which for constant travellers like us is a great thing to do. There was also a big pool, which we lay beside for a while and read our books and a lawn area with a cool bar you could relax with a cocktail at. There is also a day spa, with reasonably priced massages, and a early bird special of 30% off for in-house guests each day.
Our favourite little distraction though was the Dilmah tea bar in the lobby where you can order from a big range of exclusive teas and have them served to you in a comfortable lounge chair. They even did a high tea with scones and jam, but we didn’t have the room for it unfortunately.
What we liked about Radisson Blu Cebu
We had a very relaxing time at Radisson Blu Cebu. We particularly appreciated the very fast wi-fi, which enabled us to upload some long overdue YouTube videos and get lots of work done.
It’s a hotel that caters to your every need quite effortlessly – for example whenever you take the elevator at the ground floor there would be a member of staff there to tell you which way to the lobby, which was a nice touch.
It’s not a criticism, but breakfast gets very busy, so if you’re rushed you can pay a bit extra for your room and get a spot in he business lounge on the 20th floor where you can get your work done and have something to eat without much bother.
Other than that… zilch to write about for this section!
Overall thoughts on Radisson Blu Cebu
We spent two days at Radisson Blu Cebu and loved it. After we checked out, we flew away to Palawan and checked into our new hotel… where we were sleeping in bunk beds on the cheap.
Back to reality!
Have you ever stayed at a Radisson Blu? What was your experience like?
Thank you to Radisson Blu Cebu for hosting our stay for two nights. As always, our opinions are our own.
What you need to know
Cost: We stayed in a Business Class Room, which goes for 8,700 PHP (AUS$250). The cheapest rooms are Superiors for 5,800PHP (AUD$170).
How to get there: Get a metered cab from the airport or the port. From the airport it costs about 250PHP (AUS$7.50) and from the port it’s about 35PHP (AUS$1).
Booking: You can book through the hotel’s website here.