The disappointment that was Sotogrande hotel and resorts

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

It's funny that I'm writing this eight months after our trip in Cebu (and posting this, err, four years after) and I still distinctly remember the sad feeling of watching a few foreigners dancing away downstairs, trying to imbibe a party atmosphere during new year's eve. And then going upstairs to watch the fireworks of nearby resorts. That was fun, but the pitiful fireworks display of Sotogrande was just sad.

Our Cebu trip was our honeymoon escape a few weeks after our wedding, which landed on New Year. Since we had to book early, I scouted for hotels that has a beach, that is peaceful, and can provide us relaxation. We were supposed to book BE Resort Mactan but the mandatory P3,500 per person for the new year's eve celebration turned us off. So we searched away for other options.

Then I chanced upon Sotogrande Hotel, which seems promising. It has a beach, the room is beautiful, and best of all, it's affordable. It's along the coast line of popular beach resorts Movenpick and Shangri-La Mactan. Also, it did not demand mandatory fee for the new year's eve.

All of those were true. Sotogrande has a beach, but it's clearly man made and the water is not clear or clean enough to bathe in. There were a lot of gunk and seaweed on the shoreline. Plus, to access the beach, you had to ask the hotel for a special pass because it is actually in the premises of the other hotel/resort. Same with the pool. It's weird and inconvenient. But then again, Sotogrande is located in somewhat a residential area that has three hotels owned by one company. And these hotels share one beachfront and a swimming pool. Yay.

For the room, it is indeed beautiful. We availed of the Suite Room, which is cheap at P5,600. The room has a living room, a dining table for two, couches, and a huge bedroom, which can be closed with a divider. The disappointment lies in the bathroom, which was too small for a bathroom that has a bathtub. For a suite room, I imagined it to be as vast as the one in Shangri-La Boracay. But when you shower, the whole bathroom becomes wet because everything drips. There are also some rust that smells through the water. The bathroom rug was constantly wet and it was very annoying.

The bed though was very soft and we had a relaxing time watching TV on the couch.

Another disadvantage is its location. There were no nearby stores or restaurants in the 'residential area' where the hotel is located. You have to walk for almost 10 minutes to reach the gate of the 'village' and ride a tricycle to reach the nearest McDonald's and 7/11. There were also restaurants in the area, which is a plus.

The hotel's buffet breakfast is a bit boring too. For days, the food seem unlike the other breakfast buffets I've gone to. It's like levelled up carinderia with an omelet station. There are also cereals and milk for an American breakfast but the rice and viand station is a bit boring for me.

But what can we do so we can enjoy our honeymoon? We just went to the city proper to do a bit of sightseeing or just buying stuff here and there.

Then there's the new year's eve that I mentioned earlier. True enough, there's no special dinner or whatever - there was, however, a sound system blasting downstairs on the street near the other hotel. A bit later, some foreigners started to dance and request songs to be played on the sound system. I was just amused while watching them in our bedroom window. There were some Koreans dining/drinking downstairs and when Psy's Gangnam Style blasted from the speakers, the Koreans started spilling outside and dancing to the music. It was funny but it was a bit sad too.

Being one of the few Pinoys in the hotel, the crew said that the best view of the fireworks is on the rooftop. We trooped along with the staff and found ourselves on the rooftop, where we had 360 degree view of all the fireworks display in Mactan and in the city. It was awesome! I only had my smartphone with me, so the photos were not very good.

So for those planning a vacation in Cebu, don't settle for the cheapest. Try to do extensive research on your accommodation to avoid hassle we encountered. Plus, if you really want to visit a beautiful beach, don't settle for those found in Mactan. Go to Bantayan island, where there are cheaper accommodations but more awesome beaches that you can find.

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