Pampered in Shangri-La
TRAVEL UPDATE - Marlinda Angbetic Tan (The Freeman) - September 25, 2014 - 12:00am

For those of us chosen few who make it to the media list of the Shangri-La properties' Annual Media Appreciation Party, we really look forward to a couple of days' experience of paradise on earth.

Unlike last year's theme of international espionage which had us in leather trench coats, fedora hats, with some portraying 007 personas, this year was challenging to most of us. HUNGER GAMES was the name of the game. And the Cebu guest list mainstays of: Mimi Lijauco, Honey Loop, Nelia Neri, Maricris Encarnacion & I were overwhelmed as we knew next to nothing about this movie series starring Jennifer Lawrence. This year's Zee magazine representative was topnotch designer Oj Hofer; of course, he enjoyed getting his costume together, as a victorious "tribute."  One medium sized luggage contained just his fur-lined coat and his waistband of wicked-looking weapons. Somehow, we managed to approximate "the look."  I, for one, was a woman "tribute" so I hurried to Toys R Us in the adjacent mall to the hotel, to buy my "weapon" -- I found a Viking hatchet that I strung across my chest with a leather thong. The other ladies came as rich "Capitol denizens" -- Citizens of Panem. Honey was fetching with her huge hair bow accented by a fuchsia flower that matched her "bolero." We were ready for the 2014 Shangri-La Event of the Year.

Upon arrival on the day of the event at Shang Edsa (this year's host), we were met with familiar faces: Michael Albana - Director of Sales & Marketing who used to be in Shang Mactan, and Cristina del Carmen - Director of Communications, on behalf of their GM Patrick Shaub. Right after checking into our individual rooms at, we convened at the iconic Summer Palace for a multi-course Chinese gourmet lunch. The equally iconic lady of the Chinese outlet, Ms. Nancy Farm, welcomed the Cebu group and personally supervised the excellent meal which started with a platter of barbequed duck, pork & chicken with the crunchy jellyfish at center. This was followed by fried king prawn balls coated with cornflakes. The piping hot, braised dried scallop soup with shredded sea cucumber, next served, is a notable traditional favorite. Main courses were stewed pork belly and soft buns, with sidings of braised broccoli flowers and fresh mushroom; steamed lapu lapu in light soy sauce. The platter of salted fish fried rice with diced chicken typically closed the "lauriat." By then, we were so satiated with the delicious dishes on the table, and we realized we were spending two hours over our midday repast.  I thought I could no longer handle the dessert of chilled mango sago and fried sesame balls filled with red bean paste, but the exquisite sesame balls were demolished by all of us!

Time enough for last-minute shopping in the nearby malls for our needs before we prepared for the party at the Isla Grand Ballroom.  We had the occasion again to hobnob with colleagues that we usually reconnect at this time each year.  The bigwigs from the various Shangri-La properties were really in wigs as Hunger Games characters. It was great fun! (Coverage of this event in the Lifestyle section)

Next morning was the highlight of our annual Shang pampering: a two-hour spa session at Chi.  We all experienced "Secrets of the Sea" which started with a 15-min steam bath, then a scrub of Dead Sea salts with Golden South Sea Pearl powder, then a wrap for 15 minutes in lotus flower cream.  Finally, "lomi-lomi" Hawaiian style massage using forearms, with virgin coconut oil and ylang-ylang extract. We were told not to take a shower in the next eight hours to benefit from the treatment, which had a secret ingredient for skin healing with anti-wrinkle and sun protection qualities.

My knowledgeable therapist turned out to be a Bisaya: Sheila Chu-Lagar from Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte.  She informed me that Shang properties worldwide have now adapted the Sense of Place for its treatments.  Meaning that locally sourced ingredients, "botanical products and recipes are combined with spa treatments..." Hence the use of local flowers and herbs in Philippine Chi spas. Also the use of "hilot" with banana leaves to divine the areas of energy imbalance.

A Teppanyaki Bento lunch awaited us at Senju where we were delighted by the resto's all-time sellout: Crazy Maki Dragon -- typical maki slices but topped with a mayonnaise concoction mixed with tempura batter that gives it a flavorful crunch. Of course, the sashimi platter of orange salmon, red tuna and white marinated mackerel were not only a feast for the eyes, but for the taste buds, as well. Then the bento offering of prawn & vegetable tempura with slices of rib eye beef, scallops and  salmon teppanyaki, was truly a culinary treasure box!

We barely had time to freshen up when we were transported to Shangri-La Makati for high tea at the Lobby Lounge.  The heavenly music by the mostly young women violinists with wind instruments, and other string instruments, made us want to stay there forever! Lovely way to spend an afternoon to relax the stress away. The greenery in the background, seen through the glass walls, added to the soothing atmosphere.

As we had about three hours to spare, we went on a short shopping spree before our dinner with Shang Makati's Director of Communications Lesley Tan (a top calibre Cebuana in the Shang management echelon.)

Dinner was a bespoke affair at the hotel's latest outlet: Sage. We had a table full of king prawns, salmon, fat oysters, langoustini (small variety of deep sea lobsters) and the best steak this side of town!

Next morning, we were sent off by Ms. Mildred Amon - Director of Communications of Shang Mactan, who was with us from the morning we took off from Cebu. Despite the bumpy ride back, due to typhoon Luis, the memories of our days in paradise stayed with us long after!

Thank you, Mildred & Cristina. As well as to the rest of the top brass of the Shang properties in the Philippines. We savor your appreciation to the fullest. Here's a toast to Shangri- La! Cheers!

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