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The bright morning sun cascaded in through curtains drawn to one side, heralding another picture-perfect day of fun and frolic. This merriment was set in an environment as luxurious as it was beautiful, framed by a backdrop of clear blue sea, in the heart of a tropical slice of paradise. Pure bliss. This is life lived the Crimson way, and I found myself wishing every day could be the same.
Crimson, Coming Of Age
My first visit to the sprawling 6-hectare Crimson Resort and Spa on the island of Mactan in the city of Lapu-Lapu, Cebu, was in 2013, three years after it opened its doors to the eager public. The sight of quaint Balinese inspired villas (40 luxurious private villas and 250 deluxe guestrooms) brought back a rush of good memories. I would once more be “island princess”; whether nestled in the utmost comfort of my villa, basking in the sun on the stretch of private beach (white sand, no less), or taking part in some leisurely activity.
Yes, it was good to be back. It was even better to see that the Crimson had come into its own, since my last visit, evolving into a special and endearing identity that offers guests not only the luxury that comes with the resort’s 5-star ranking, but also a vacation like no other.
Crimson’s Area General Manager James Montenegro put it succinctly: “What we are doing with Crimson is trying to create a more engaging brand. We have always been known as a “honeymoon hotel” – quiet and slow-paced. We have changed our identity to make it more engaging for all guests, not just honeymooners.”
And engaging it certainly is! Daily yoga classes, water aerobics, movie nights (with popcorn!) by the pool, water polo, volleyball, circuit training at the well-equipped gym, kayak races, sandcastle-building contests, outdoor games for kids: these are but some on a lengthy list of activities to keep even the most difficult-to- please of guests happily involved.
Their commitment to your leisure is such that they even have a Director of Fun! That’s right – Nicholas Fidele, who hails from gorgeous Mauritius Island, is on staff to make sure guests have a jolly-good stay.
“I create magic for all the guests coming here, for the adults and kids to enjoy themselves. We keep our programs light, and fun – even funny. Our activities are three-in-one: exercise, activity and having fun,” said humorous and lighthearted Nicholas. This is the Crimson’s definition of luxury: prestige and pampering, in every aspect of the word; plus a playful spirit that makes every visit unique.
It is no wonder that the Crimson was hailed as Continent Winner in the Luxury Beach Resort category at the World Hotel Luxury Awards in Phuket, Thailand. Definitely a well-deserved accolade, and one of many more to come, I am sure.
An added bonus is that the resort offers day trips for people coming in from neighboring Cebu City. “As a local brand, we want Filipinos to enjoy what we have,” shared Mia Mae Sy, go-getting PR and Communications Manager who played host to us throughout our stay.
Hallmarks Of Distinction
At the Crimson, there are quite a few rituals that bear the hallmarks of distinction. There’s the holding of the right hand to the heart in traditional greeting, a gesture of hospitality and gracious service. And the Evening Ritual, which involves the sounding of the conch shell, dancing, and lighting of candles all the way to the beach, in a homage to a tradition of fishermen trying to find their way home.
Then there is the “meal ritual,” during which you sit down to dine on Crimson’s finest East-meets-West cuisine. No ordinary meals here, for each is a rite of sheer pleasure.
Australian-born Executive Chef Stuart Blair was on holiday, leaving us in the very capable culinary hands of Executive Sous Chef Keith Christie, who hails from the United Kingdom.
“Our culinary knowledge is quite broad. We understand what flavors work, but we play around with immensely different flavors. What we offer in the resort is so varied: Tempo, our fine-dining restaurant is very Asian-European, while Saffron offers comfort food, but with European techniques,” Chef Keith clued us in.
Chef Keith feted us with an exquisite dinner, which began with the freshest of home-baked breads and a variety of delectable tapenades, followed by a portion of savory coriander chicken. Then, his newest creation: seared scallops with slow-cooked (12 hours) belly of pork with adobo flavors. My knife slid right through the super tender meat, lacquered with mouth-watering adobo sauce and cooked to flavor perfection. Next, we had crispy-skinned duck breast and duck confit samosa with tangy and sweet tamarind orange vinaigrette, which proved a very pleasurable marriage of palate-pleasing tastes. This gastronomic feast left us with no room for dessert, but we were quick to try their bestselling tiramisu the very next day.
No matter the dish, you can expect freshness and quality at every meal. Frenchman Florent Humeau, Crimson’s Food and Beverage Director, says they go all-out to ensure guest satisfaction. “We want guests to feel that we have taken care of them from the beginning to the end of their stay,” he shared.
In The Enclave Of Wellness
The Crimson experience is incomplete without a visit to its noted Aum Spa. Recognized by Agoda in 2013 as one of the most outstanding hotel spas in the world, the Aum Spa has quickly become one of my own personal favorite sanctuaries of well-being.
Aum is the sound of peace and refers to an overall state of Zen-like meditative well-being, but it is also the acronym the spa uses to describe their treatments: Authentic, Unique, and Meaningful. I opted for their signature Kahupayan Massage, 60-minutes of stress-relieving, relief-inducing pure rapture, using Swedish massage techniques.
All too willingly, I yielded to the expert touch of therapist Ms. Cherryll, who worked on my body’s stress points with the spa’s own herbal balm concoction. Cowrie shells coated in virgin coconut oil were used for deeper tissue work, ridding my muscles of every ounce of fatigue and tension. A 30-minute Kalahuchi (temple flower) Body Scrub was the perfect finish, and I emerged from the treatment room with the euphoria and glow akin to an encounter with divinity.
At the Crimson, luxury takes on a new face, redefined and reinvented, taken to an allencompassing new level. Indeed, the Crimson Resort and Spa is out to make its mark, and – much like its deep-red candle wax seal logo bearing a graceful “C” – this mark will be distinct and unforgettable.