The 8th Floor is the 9th Floor. — Mr. Francis Unchuan, Patriarch, Cebu White Sands at Maribago Resort and Spa
This very interesting fact captivated me during my first ever visit to Cebu White Sands at Maribago Resort and Spa. It kind of made me search for the answers during the day. And what I learned definitely amazed me.
A main hall inspired by Filipino Architecture combined with a comfortable and rustic ambiance beaming with a tropical ancestral home design greeted us once we set foot on the receiving area of the Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa. Me and my friends Kuya Ruben, Gay, Mary, Channel and Brenn from Cebu Blogging Community and INewMedia Org had been fortunate to be given the chance to witness the warmth the resort gives. Beaming with a glowing smile, the Resort Operations Director, Miss Marian “Anya” Unchuan greeted us and ushered us to the patio where we met the Patriarch, Mr. Francis “Pakito” Unchuan, as his family and close friends call him, and engaged us in a friendly and family like conversation.
He shared to us his humble beginnings as a businessman and how he crafted the ways to start-up. He started his business on Siopao buns and later started of with Chika-an Restaurant, the first restaurant to feature chefs cooking up front for all the diners to see. This venture was started together with other friend and later on, was joined by Mr. Bobit Avila. This then resulted for Chika-an to be a bench mark in Cebuano Cuisine for the last decade. While doing the restaurant, he also recounted that he started another venture, this time a bakery business, since he was committed to his future wife and father in law. This was named Bread and Butter Bakeshop and became a success for the Cebuano Food Industry back in the 80’s. Aside from that, he also build the Unchuan Development Corporation to get into real estate.
When I got the chance to ask him what prompted him to venture into the resort business, he replied that first of all, they have the property. The resort was initially planned to be tied up with the subdivision [White Sands Resort Villas] they are developing just across the gates of the resort. And also, they initially planned to collaborate with a developer but decided to just do the business on their own.
As the day progressed, we were then toured all over the property and I had gathered some interesting facts about the resort:
1. Cebu White Sands was an apt name for the resort due to its natural white sand. FYI, the sands were already around even before they decided to put up the resort. As what Mr. Unchuan recounted, the beach area had its share of rocks and corals but beneath that is fine white sand. Many resort owners did not know that if you dig deep down the shoreline, you will still see at least 10 feet of pure white sand.
2. The beach area is the original ground level of the resort. The architect who designed the resort raised the present ground level now to give ample space for expansion. They had maximized the area by putting all the buildings in the sides to make it more visually spic and span. 🙂
3. There were originally 4 trees on the resort when they started some of which were namely, Sampaloc and Acacia trees. These are present on the 2 hectare lot that housed the main amenities of the resort like the villas and the pools as well as the restaurants. The other trees were planted once the development continued and up to this day, the trees stood silent witnesses to the milestones and achievements of the resort. These gardens and pool sides hold witness as well to the many ” I DO’s ” and meaningful birthdays.
4. The 8th floor is technically the 9th floor since the ground level of the resort was raised. The basement of the main building was considered as the ground floor to remind everyone how it was elevated to the present ground now.
5. Function Halls are named after Mr. Unchuan’s parents. Patio Gavino on the main hall was named after Mr. Unchuan’s father, Don Gavino Unchuan. This is to pay homage to the man who started the motivation for business that eventually paved the way for Cebu White Sands for what it is now. The function hall was named Estrella Function Hall that was derived from Doña Estelita Lozada Unchuan.
6. The resort prides itself for having the biggest KOI collection in the Philippines with the rarest koi. The 6 feet deep Royal Koi pond is home to at least 15 kois. The staff of the resort has been trained to hand fed the kois to prevent their lips from being wounded. This technique also enhances the bond between humans and fishes. And it’s a calming experience to just gaze around the pond both indoor and outdoor. There are 4 more ponds scattered all over the area that makes the guests feel relaxed throughout their stay.
7. Each building in the resort are built at different times making them unique from each other. The Filipino Heritage wing consists of the oldest, original rooms from the start and has been around for more than 18 years. The owner made sure to take measures to take care of the materials to make it last longer. They made it a point that as the resort expands, the materials are better with every time and much sturdier that the previous.
8. There are technically 87 rooms in the hotel after it will finish it expansion. But only 85 are classified for its clientele. The 86th is the Odd Room since it is oddly shaped [room 301 to be exact]. Ms. Anya Unchuan stated that they named this room as the “Priest’s Room” Its quiet smaller and far irregular than the rest of the rooms in the annex building. 🙂 The 87th room is Mr. Francis Unchuan’s personal room located at the basement of the main building [the ground floor]. This is only opened to guests when the hotel occupancy is at full swing and the guests would still want to stay a little longer. Who wouldn’t? The resort has lived up to its charm of homey ambiance and warm hospitality without the noise from all over the place.
9. The antique furniture you will notice on the resort are all from the Unchuan’s home. They placed it there to take part of their own brand of hospitality and warmth. Sitting on these furniture and walking through the hall ways with their own home carpet will give you a glimpse of their own household.
10. The Anahata Spa houses the most sensual and relaxing rituals. Anahata is actually known as the heart chakra, where positive emotions are thought to be emanating. At Cebu White Sands, Anahata Spa had already provided the best spa package for someone who does not only seek the calm and relaxation of the body but as well as the soul and mind. Stepping inside each room will definitely give you a sense of fulfillment and calm, knowing that you will be receiving only natural ingredients. Its one good way to be relieved from all the stress and negativity this world poses on us.
11. The main building where the restaurant and the function hall is located has retained the same materials like bamboo all the way from Negros and capiz shells in wooden window panes. These materials are trademarks of old world Spanish Colonial era and had survived the test of time. Until today, you will see them in mint condition as you stroll over the main reception and restaurant area.
12. Islas Tres Rosas or locally known as Islas Tres Marias is a group of 3 islets owned by the resort and has been a place for rendezvous of couples and groups who wanted to keep it private and to a minimum. It is actually 9 minutes away from the resort via Jetski and about 20-30 minutes away via outriggers [a.k.a. Bancas]. This is where the Unchuans usually held private gatherings and celebrations and extended the privilege to the in-house guests of the resort.
13. The restaurant that is set to open at the top roof of the expansion building offers a 360 view of the entire area. It is a scenic and somewhat relaxing view to behold. It somehow makes you feel that you are lifted high on a different dimension.
14. The resort had identified their own market where they can still stay competitive without losing the essentials to what travelers and guests are looking for in a place to stay. When prices soar rocket high, you will still be able to enjoy a piece of paradise on a shoe string budget.
15. The wall decor of the spa rooms are made of natural materials like shell and resin designed to be able to make light pass through it in a subtle manner illuminating the room softly. 🙂 Its one way of showcasing Cebuano ingenuity and creativity on broad spectrum media.
These are just few of the hidden amazing facts that the resort has to offer. It’s up to the guest on how they would take the journey of rediscovering themselves and the wonderful offerings they have in store for everyone. I would definitely share this gem to my traveler friends who wanted to spend time with themselves and nature. Yoga Classes are also held in one of the outdoor pavilions with a dedicated Yoga Trainer.
So after a day of touring around the resort and getting the best of it like having sumptuous lunch with the Unchuan family, we decided to call it a day with a fervent wish to come back again someday when our schedule and resources permits us. 🙂
Here is how I can rate my experience with Cebu White Sands in stars [or asterisks] with 5 * as the highest and 1 * as needing improvement.
Accessibility – *** [The resort may be quiet far and traffic is present, so each guest needs to max his/her time in traveling]
Hospitality – ***** [The staff greeted us warmly and are friendly and lets you feel you are part of the family]
Customer Service – ***** [Staffs are attentive to our needs and is patient enough to get our plates during meals]
Food – ***** [This, I must say, has taken my curiosity. From flavor to aroma and to plating, the resort had set its own standards that it’s truly their own. Food was served on time and was in succession letting you experience a full course meal without the pressure of time]
Amenities – ***** [I loved how the resort had placed a koi pond in a courtyard and how the original sea view villas retained their wooden elements through the suns and storms. The resort was well-kept and spic and span]
Value for Money – ***** [Rates are not that high and are truly competitive. They offer you a number of options so that you can get the best out of your budget. Day Tour rates are less than a thousand per person with a special kids rate making it easier for parents to tag along kids. 🙂 One great way to relax, unwind and bond with the family]
Here are some snaps I had taken from my phone’s camera after days of tinkering with it. I thought I was not able to save it…Luckily I was still able to retrieve it. [disclaimer: sorry for the not so good quality since I don’t have a DSLR yet. And there are some also taken from Channel’s camera]
For more information on their updated room rates, kindly visit the website of Cebu White Sands or contact these numbers below:
|For inquiries or reservation, call us at (63 32) 268 9000|