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Hotel Highlights

  • Privacy and peace in your own tropical hideaway
  • Personal butlers for exemplary service
  • Aquatic activities, from swimming to scuba-diving

Overview

Secluded, serene and so seafront you’re almost in the water, tropical island hideaway Abacá Boutique Resort teams a seductive spa with Med-influenced fine dining to romantic effect. Cool, contemporary suites showcase the work of renowned local designers (including Brad Pitt’s bed-maker) alongside ethnic touches from the Philippines' archipelago, warm, dark woods and soothing stone.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Abacá Boutique Resort with us:

A bottle of sparkling wine and 10 per cent off spa treatments

Facilities

View Gallery
Abaca Boutique Resort & Restaurant - Cebu & Mactan Island - Philippines

Need To Know

Rooms

Nine, comprising six suites and three villas.

Check–out

Noon, but flexible subject to availability, and a small fee. Check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $340.00, excluding tax at 22 per cent.

More details

Rates include return airport transfers, welcome drink, à la carte breakfast, evening cocktail and butler service.

Also

At the pretty spa, the Filipino Hilot Massage is our top tip to bliss you out. Leave room in your suitcase for Abacá’s natural spa products, which feature ingredients spanning mother-of-pearl, bamboo, walnut and even caviar.

At the hotel

Library with books and DVDs, spa, gym, kayaks, gardens, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, iPod docks with preloaded iPods and iPads on request, fridge, minibar.

Our favourite rooms

The other two villas have their own plunge pools, but the Oceanfront Spa Villa (Villa 7, or Tawhay) boasts a large balcony for private sunbathing and dining overlooking the spa and seafront.

Poolside

The 30m black-tiled infinity pool has a submerged seat so Smiths can cool off while gazing out across the Hilutungan Channel towards nearby Olango Island. Grass-thatched cabanas with day-beds provide welcome shade.

Packing tips

Bring your mask and snorkel to see what a paradise the Philippines offers below the water's surface, as well as above. Divers should also pack their certification cards.

Also

Personalised 24-hour butler service starts when you're picked up from the airport and includes everything from newspaper delivery to ironing. Your butler can also hook you up with excursions, activities, drivers or restaurant reservations.

Children

Well-travelled children are welcome (though howling horrors may be asked to keep it down). Kids eight years old and under stay for free and the hotel supplies baby cots and extra day-beds for older children gratis. Babysitting can also be arranged.

Read more

Eco‐friendly

Taking its name from a native plant fibre, it's no surprise that Abacá thinks green, with locally sourced materials used in its construction, regular beach clean-ups and projects that support the island community.

Food & Drink

View Gallery
Abaca Boutique Resort & Restaurant - Cebu & Mactan Island - Philippines

Hotel Restaurant

Oceanfront Abacá restaurant offers Californian-meets-Mediterranean fine dining with a laid-back jazzy ambience and candlelit, open-air simplicity. Try Australian chef Wade Watson’s roasted dishes, straight from the wood-burning oven. The home-made bread is hard to resist, as are the cooling shakes and juices.

Hotel Bar

The bar has a fine selection of single malts and plenty of the new ‘It’ drink – and owner Jason Hyatt’s personal passion – tequila (try the margaritas). There’s also an extensive list of global wines.

Last orders

The restaurant's last sitting is at 10pm, but request private dining back at your suite terrace if you want to linger longer.

Room service

A selection from the restaurant menu is available until 12am – or later by request, but order in advance.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Anything goes – beachwear, shorts and sandals are fine, though you might want to spruce up for evenings. The Filipinos’ love of icy air-con is noticeable by its absence here, so keep it cool and comfy.

Top table

Table 4 is a romantic spot for two; or ask staff to convert Cabana Number 1 into a dining area, for a wave-serenaded feast. To see how the magic happens, take the Chef’s Table, next to the kitchen.

Local Guide

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Abaca Boutique Resort & Restaurant - Cebu & Mactan Island - Philippines
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Abaca can line you up with a wide range of activities, both active and blissfully relaxing – just ask your personal butler. Mactan Island banca (boat) tours and island-hopping cruises are popular and can include snorkelling, fish-feeding in marine sanctuaries (a hit with the kids) and romantic sunset meals on private secluded beaches. More adrenaline-fuelled Smiths might want to zip along the Hilutungan Channel on a jet-ski or glide above the ocean on a parasail. Kayaks are also free for guests to use. Cebu and the surrounding islands have some of the best scuba-diving sites in the world, with crystal clear waters, perfect for watching sharks, manta rays, turtles and colourful shoals of fish. Malapascua, Moalboal and Balicasag are highly recommended by divers across the Philippines. Time spent on Mactan is less about flopping on great beaches and more about enjoying active seaside thrills (for the former travel to some of the region's smaller islets). Back at the hotel there are less energetic options up for grabs, including savouring the spa. For more wellness-oriented diversions, pre-book a private yoga class or hit the gym. Culture-vultures should ask the butler about tours to nearby Cebu City, where historic sites abound (or just get directions to the best shopping stops).

Local restaurants

On Mactan Island, Krua Thai (+63 (0)32 495 4818), near Marina Mall on Airport Road, has a reputation for authentic Thai flavours, including spicy soups, noodle dishes and curries. It’s also good for vegetarians – something of a rarity in the carnivorous Philippines. Just down the road from Abacá, Rice Café (+63 (0)32 236 8888), at Be Resorts Mactan, is the go-to spot for pan-Asian dishes, from local fare to Indonesian, Indian and Thai treats. A short drive away in Cebu City, on neighbouring island Cebu, Maya (+63 (0)32 238 9552), at Crossroads Mall, offers tasty, genuine Mexican dishes, plus hundreds of tempting tequilas. For fine home-style cuisine, make for Laguna Garden Café (+63 (0)32 233 8600), at the Ayala Center shopping mall, an elegant eatery with set menus for all occasions.

+ Enlarge
On the waterfront

Abacá Boutique Resort

Buot, Punta Engano Road, Macatan Island, Mactan Island, Cebu, 6015

Right on the oceanfront, this exclusive getaway is located on the east coast of Mactan Island in the heart of the Visayas region in the central Philippines. It's just a short hop (or bridge drive) east from buzzing second city Cebu (set on a much larger island of the same name), but feels a world away.

Planes

Fly into Mactan-Cebu International Airport (www.mactan-cebuairport.com.ph), handily located on Mactan Island, which services the region. Airlines that'll wing you here include Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, SilkAir and Qatar Airways. Most major carriers fly to capital Manila, from where there are several daily flights south to Cebu with Cebu Pacific Air (www.cebupacificair.com), Philippine Airlines (www.philippineairlines.com) and Zest Air (www.zestair.com.ph). You can also fly direct to Cebu from Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Trains

There are no train connections to Mactan (it's an island thing).

Automobiles

It's just a 15-minute drive from the airport to the hotel, but with complimentary return transfers you won't need to battle for a cab. Your driver and butler with meet you off the plane. Driving from Cebu City, on adjacent Cebu Island, takes 25 minutes.

Other

Boats are a dime a dozen round here, but with two short bridges connecting Cebu Island with Mactan next door, it's quicker and easier to grab a cab. If you're arriving from another island, ask your hotel about aquatic connections.

Reviews

View Gallery
Abaca Boutique Resort & Restaurant - Cebu & Mactan Island - Philippines

Anonymous review

by Sofia Suarez , Jaunting journo at South China Morning Post

Local children slowly relocate their ball game from the road, before nondescript black gates open to reveal a tropical garden. ‘Now this looks like my kind of place,’ Mr Smith finally concedes. He has been silent and underwhelmed by the landscape – a herky-jerky mix of empty roadside plots and overly cheery Waikiki-pink hotel complexes – during the ride from the airport. …
Read more

Abacá Boutique Resort

Anonymous review by Sofia Suarez, Jaunting journo

Local children slowly relocate their ball game from the road, before nondescript black gates open to reveal a tropical garden. ‘Now this looks like my kind of place,’ Mr Smith finally concedes. He has been silent and underwhelmed by the landscape – a herky-jerky mix of empty roadside plots and overly cheery Waikiki-pink hotel complexes – during the ride from the airport.

Ever enthusiastic and efficient, I’ve made better use of the journey. By the time we reach Abacá’s discreet doors, our personal butler Raffie – who met us off our flight and is soon to become my new best friend – and I have identified suitable dinner venues while he pointed out historical sites and markets along the way. Raffie also informs us that jobs are now plentiful in the area thanks to Mactan Island’s tourism boom. The information partly salves our guilty consciences about this indulgent holiday, and partly explains the welcoming, friendly nature of the locals we’ll meet over the coming days.

The only interruption to our chatter is the surprising sound of UB40’s ‘Red Red Wine’ resonating from the passenger seat. It is Raffie’s mobile phone – the hotel is calling to establish our ETA. We like their style.

With only six suites, three villas and enough nooks and crannies to find some solitude, Abacá resembles a private residence. We feel even more at home when we’re shown to our room, the expansive Seaview Pool Villa. Two keys are required to get in: one to enter the bougainvillea-canopied walled plunge-pool area (our minds race with the romantic possibilities), and another for the villa proper. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow for views from the pool deck to the big blue sea. We rush through Raffie’s in-room check-in, throw on our swimsuits and slip into the resort’s sultry infinity pool.

Wrapped in Abacá’s thick, chocolate-brown towels, we sip calamansi sodas – the citrusy local fizz – sprawling on curvy contemporary furniture in a poolside cabana, a buffet of sunscreens thoughtfully provided nearby for vitamin D–deprived urbanites like ourselves. At first glance, the resort’s modern design, dark woods and cream fabrics tempt us to reference Bali and cookie cutters. We never actually do, though, because subtle elements – sinuous rattan chairs by Cebuano designer Kenneth Cobonpue (who made Brad Pitt’s bed), local antiquities and traditional handicrafts, the juiciest mangoes you’ve ever tasted, big-hearted hospitality – remind you that you are experiencing the best of the Philippines.

Mr Smith soon retires to the spa for a eucalyptus and rosemary scalp and shoulder massage, while I stroll out to the waterfront to chat with a young local girl who is knee-deep in the sea, collecting shellfish for her dinner. A valiant effort in the teeny health club follows. Of the resort’s many laudable green policies, my least favourite keeps the air-conditioning off until a guest expresses interest. The complimentary Gatorade and water and shiny new equipment, however (not to mention the decadent breakfasts), inspire me to return in the days that follow.

Instead of sampling Maya, a Mexican restaurant about 40 minutes away (also owned by the Abacá group) that night, we opt for local fare. An Abacá driver takes us five minutes down the road to the pick of the waterfront seafood restaurants, where you literally point out your preferred catch of the day. Afterwards, he walks us around the historic Magellan Marker and other monuments in a pretty community garden. On our return to Abacá, someone has adorned our pool deck with glittering candles. Behind door two, in the villa, are bedtime brownies. It is all too delicious to resist.

The luxed-up version of a traditional banca boat Raffie has booked for us arrives soon after a sinful breakfast the next morning, bobbing by the resort’s waterfront about 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

By the time we step aboard the all-white deck, Raffie has already stocked it with fresh towels, fruit, drinks, lunch and chocolate-chip cookies. Sprawled on beanbags we decide that even the most jaded traveller would find it difficult not to feel giddy with excitement. We giggle with glee much to the amusement of our crew, who take us snorkelling at the Gilutongan Marine Sanctuary, then on to the postcard-worthy Pandanon Island, where we picnic on the white-sand beach.

Mr Smith rewards himself on our return for the day’s active start with another massage. Easily seduced by a gigantic bathroom and standalone tub, I retreat to our villa. On the way, I stop by the restaurant to confirm our booking and, I confess, to scout out the best table. I find it is reserved – Raffie had already chosen it for us.

When we booked Abacá, we didn’t know that the resort was built around a well-known restaurant of the same name. Chef Wade Watson’s diverse menu includes phenomenal grilled seafood and imported beef, perfectly thin pizzas from the wood-burning oven, a decent selection of wines by the glass, and diet-busting desserts to follow. The home-made breads alone feel criminal in a place where you have to don a swimsuit the following day.

By the time we are heading back to the airport, any doubts we’d had about holidaying in the Philippines, which tends to get a bad rap from snooty travellers, have been dispelled. Abacá is beautiful, the service is thoughtful and efficient, and the food we sampled was wonderful. This is truly a world-class resort in a country full of spectacular spots begging to be discovered. From the beds to the banca and the butler, we were well and truly converted.
 

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Abacá Boutique Resort's Guestbook below.

 

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