Shangri-La Mactan celebrates its 15th year!
- Bobit S. Avila () - October 17, 2008 - 12:00am

Tomorrow is a Red-letter day for Cebu as it is the 15th anniversary of the fabulous Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa and their big bash will be celebrated at the “Marquee” (this is the site specially constructed for the use of the 14th ASEAN Summit) and I’m sure Cebu’s Who’s Who will be there as we were all there when they opened on Oct. 18,1993.

Actually the Shang’s 15th anniversary celebration kicked off last Monday when they featured an art exhibit at the main lobby of the renowned Cebuano painters, who painted scenes in and around the Shangri-La. 50 percent of the proceeds of the sale of the paintings, will go to charity. No doubt, the management and staff of Shangri-La take their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) very seriously that in the past six years they have been supporting the “Batang Opon” helping the indigent children of Lapu-Lapu City in their “Lugawan Para Sa Kabataan” feeding program for all the Saturdays of the month of October. This is not to mention that the Shang has hired and trained many Cebuanos who are now employees of other resorts throughout the world as the experience they gained from the Shang is impeccable!

Also last Monday, the Cebu media was given a culinary feast of Cebuano dishes at the Tides Restaurant, where the Shangri-La management requested Mrs. Jessica Avila to get out of retirement from the restaurant business (yes, we already sold the Chika-an Restaurant) to be their food consultant for Cebuano dishes. For many years when we were in the business, the Shangri-La tapped my wife’s expertise in Incentive Catering especially when they have big companies having an incentive travel to Cebu.

At the beginning of this article, I said that tomorrow is a Red-Letter day for Cebu… that’s because the presence of the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa in Mactan has put Cebu’s Tourism Development in the map of the Tourism World, thus Cebuanos are proud to have the Shangri-La as part of our Tourist Boom. Actually Cebu’s tourism development started with humble beginnings when Mr. Anos Fonacier started promoting Cebu as “An Island in the Pacific”. Soon after numerous charter flights became regular flights, then Fonacier opened the Tambuli Resort and soon many other resorts followed, then the Shang opened its doors in 1993 right at the height of Cebooom, when Cebu’s tourism industry blossomed.

Shangri-La’s opening in Mactan meant that Cebu was now in the map of the Shang’s very discriminating clients. Best of all, the Shang is but a 10-minute ride from the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), which that after a long hard flight, tourists can be in the beach 30 minutes after deplaning. Now that’s an attraction by itself!

The numerous awards it has bagged through all those 15 years can read that the Shangri-La has truly outdone itself. Let me just name a few. In 2004, the Shang was Time magazine’s Readers’ Travel Choice Award as Favorite Resort in Asia. In 2005 the Shang was Condê Nast Magazine’s Top 15 Resorts in Asia. This year, it was the ASEAN Tourism Forum’s ASEAN Green Hotel, while AsiaMoney’s Asia Pacific Travel Poll named it the Top Two Best Vacation Resort and Best Spa. It was also a Kalakbay Awardee. But as I said, these awards are so numerous to print all of it here.

Because the Shang is in Cebu, we became hosts to many International events, starting with the Ms. Universe swimsuit competition in 1994. The Shang hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC) meeting and of course the 14th ASEAN Leader’s Summit in 2007. Best of all, when the Shangri-La group advertises in CNN and other media outlets, Cebu always gets top billing! Their advertising the Shang means a big savings for Cebu’s Tourism industry in terms of advertising in international news outlets.

How time flies indeed that 15-years have already passed since we met with Mr. Wolf Dieter Flecker who opened the Shang’s doors in Mactan. Since then, we’ve met all the other managers, from Mr. Coen Masselink, Mr. Richard Riley, Mr. Ben Bousnina, Mr. Desmond Hatton and Mr. Timothy Wright. Today, the General Manager is Mr. Raymond Bragg from New Zealand. All of them became our good friends.

At this point, we salute the men and women of the Shangri-La for making this resorts one of the best, if not the best resort in the world and we’re happy that they are part of Cebu’s Tourism family. Talking about family, the Chief Operating Officer of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is Mr. Greg Dogan, who married my niece Mrs. Cathy Dizon Dogan. They are now based in Hongkong. I hope they can come to grace this milestone; after all, Greg was once assigned in Mactan where he met Cathy who used to work there. Once again, we salute the Shangri-La on its 15th year in Cebu.

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For email responses to this article, write to Bobit Avila’s columns can also be accessed through He also hosts a weekly talkshow entitled, “Straight from the Sky” shown every Monday only in Metro Cebu on Channel 15 on SkyCable at 8 in the evening.

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