Movenpick cooks up the unique & exciting

Lester Gopela Hallig (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - When Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu general manager Knuth Kiefer declares that Movenpick is designed to deliver more than just a comfortable stay, we believe him. See, staying at Movenpick is not the hotel cliché that involves sleeping in, walking around aimlessly, and occasionally pausing for a selfie.

Since Movenpick reopened in December 2012, the transformation was not only evident in its newly designed rooms but also in its unique approach to hotel dining and entertainment. It is in these areas that the hotel is offering experiences unlike any other.

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Of course, we have to start with the much-talked about (and rightly so) Ibiza Beach Club. The beach facility has been garnering raves for its authentic Brazilian churrasco, a Brazilian-style barbecue made up of 14 courses of meat and seafood, brought to the table and loosened from the skewer by the server.

Movenpick executive chef Aaron Foster says, “The churrasco is the star of the show at Ibiza. It features USDA-approved tenderloin wrapped in bacon and rib-eye, baby back ribs, lobsters, king prawns, Australian lamb, chicken satay, calamari, and fish marinated up to 12 hours to get the flavors and the textures. We cook them on a special grill made in Brazil, cooked and basted slowly. You get beautiful texture out of it.”

The churrasco dinner also comes with a variety of salads, cured meats, and Pao de Quejo. What we did not expect to fall head over heels for is the grilled pineapple. We were never fans of cooked fruits, but when the Ibiza server brought out the skewered slice in all its golden-grilled glory, with vanilla cream and crushed pistachios on the side, we had to declare our conversion. It practically summed up why Ibiza’s churrasco works and wins fans to its fold: take something familiar, bring out its flavor, execute and present with care and creativity, and nothing else. It is simple yet satisfying.

The hotel’s F&B manager Daniel Trumpfheller gives this advice: “Go to Ibiza hungry. We are proud to serve very good quality meats and seafood. You can try everything in manageable portions. If you liked a particular portion, say filet mignon, you can always ask for more. Our bar serves familiar cocktails, but we also have a very unique cocktail menu featuring exclusive drinks that get fancier every week. And while you are at it, add a bit more for our Manny O wines, paired best with our churrasco.”

The churrasco dinner happens nightly at the Ibiza Beach Club, from 6 to 11 p.m., and goes for P2,000 per head. For the bottomless Manny O wines, just add P500. Good deal for more than a filling spread or, should we say, skewer. At any rate, this buffet dinner also works best in a festive setting, that is, Ibiza’s nightly entertainment shows.

“Our Ibiza Beach Club concept embodies our aim of providing world-class entertainment with the highest quality of food and beverage,” Kiefer asserts. “It is a true game-changer in the Cebu market that focuses on a lifestyle experience rather than on individual components. Our varied and ever-changing live entertainment nightly programs ensure that each visit is slightly different and unique.”

A group of 12 dancers, singers, and fire-dancers light up the Ibiza night stage. This group works on a theme such as retro pop, disco, current pop, K-pop, and Latin music. Since this is an in-house band of merrymakers, expect an audio-visual feast found only in the hotel.

“We have our very own entertainment department,” says Francisco Beltran, director of entertainment and events. “The idea of this new concept is exclusive in-house entertainment. The group performs five to six shows every week. Right now we are working on Chicago, a cabaret act, as well as a Filipino theme night. I am proud to say the entertainers are very talented people.”

The nightly shows start at 8 p.m., although one can choose to get the party started at 5:30 p.m. when the DJ spins a variety of cool cuts and hot tracks. The club play resumes after the show and of course, one has to dance and party. After all, what’s the point of going to Ibiza if one will not get that groove on?

Meanwhile, the culinary groove extends all the way to the rest of Movenpick’s F&B outlets. The Sails is the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, and features live show-kitchens serving Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other international dishes.

“At the Sails, we offer an interactive buffet-style concept, from breakfast to dinner, alongside a creative a la carte menu,” Foster says. “While we are proud of our weekday dishes, we are just as confident with our Asian fusion brunch on Sundays.”

“We love working on that brunch. It is like a living, breathing organism that grows every week. My team and I go over it, and make changes when we come up with something new and exciting, such as the Thai chicken curry steam buns, the Thai chicken salad maki roll, the Korean kimchi and bulgogi spring roll, and the sisig steamed bun sliders with pickled papaya,” he adds.

“The Asian fusion brunch has different ethnic foods and we bring them together. We want to keep our creative cuisine customer-friendly, something they do not get anywhere.”

Foster and Trumpfheller chorus that curing meats and making sausages are done in-house. “The better to ensure their freshness and their quality,” Trumpfheller remarks. “By the reactions we get from our guests, I say we are on the right track.”

“We insist on using local meats. We want to support the local community and the farmers any way we can,” Foster volunteers.

If lounging is on the agenda, then The Forum is the place to be. Already known hereabouts as an elegant lounge serving hard-to-find brands such as Hennessy Richard Cognac and the Macallan single-malt whiskey, The Forum is an ideal al fresco dining option. Light snacks and refreshing drinks and cocktails are best enjoyed by the pool.

A more laidback atmosphere is also on offer at the Lobby Lounge. Its fabulous cups of imported Movenpick specialty coffee are hard to miss, and so its eye-catching Venus espresso machine tower. Foster tells us that snack-y items like pizza, burger wraps, and fun salads are must-try.

“Here you can enjoy both the Lobby and the Forum menus. Sometimes we serve smoothies to guests in the day or even complimentary chocolates during the daily chocolate hour from 3 to 4 p.m. It is a Movenpick tradition that we faithfully keep,” Trumpfheller says.

The F&B manager is just as thrilled with their tapas kitchen. “Our tapas are so unique you have never tried them anywhere else before. What makes our tapas truly special is that you can design your own dinner from our exceptional tapas menu.”

The Movenpick experience does not stop with dining. One has to explore and indulge in the hotel’s other facilities and activities: the white beach, the Spa Del Mar, the fitness center, and the game room, among others.

Kiefer sums it up: “In today’s world, it is all about being unique and different. Guests are tired of seeing the same concepts and facilities when they travel. They look for something new. That was the goal we set for ourselves when Movenpick underwent a transformation.” It continues to be, in all respects, a goal successfully being achieved.


Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu is located at Punta Engano, Mactan Island, Cebu. For more information, call (032) 492-777, e-mail at or visit its website at Photos by Fernan Nebres


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