Cebu is a rapidly growing tourist destination in Asia. It’s constantly been rated in the top 10 holiday destinations in Asia by a number of publications and over recent years has had enormous growth in tourism. To cope with this, the number of resorts and hotels in Cebu have grown rapidly to meet the demand. If you have never been for a holiday in Cebu, finding the right hotel in Cebu can be a daunting task with so many hotels to choose from. For further information visit our directory of hotels in Cebu for a full list of hotels.
Video of some of the best resorts in Cebu
Choosing a hotel in Cebu and tips on saving money
There are a number of criteria for choosing hotels with everyone having their own personal opinion of what’s important to them. Listed below is what you need to look out for as well as some handy tips to save money.
One of the most important factors is how much to pay for a hotel and is it value for money. Where can I get the best deals for a hotel? Generally hotels in Cebu are pretty good value, while not quite as cheap as say Thailand, they tend to be a lot cheaper than those of developed countries. The resorts on Mactan Island are pretty much overpriced, although if you compare the resorts to other parts of the world it doesn’t seem so expensive. These days there are plenty of resources on the web to help with getting great deals. Having worked in a travel agent, the agency had some deals and hotels that offered better kickbacks and we pushed to sell those hotels more than others. These days you can book hotels yourself as there are dozens of hotel booking sites on the web. For Cebu Hotels, Agoda has definitely the largest variety of hotels in Cebu by far on the web. Although not always the cheapest, it’s sometimes the most convenient. Places like Malapascua, resorts are so much easier to book this way. Booking direct some resorts need a deposit or full payment sent to their Philippine Bank account. If you’re never dealt with them before, you always have that hesitant feeling that someone will just run off with your money. I’ve used Agoda dozens of times and haven’t had any issues.
Ways in which you can save money.
Travel in low season. Hotels offer discounted rates in off peak time (for the Philippines this is usually June – November) sometimes you can save up to 40%. On the hotel booking websites (such as Agoda or Hotelscombined) you will see a lot of the advertised hotels in Cebu offering huge discounts during this time. Join the hotel’s Facebook or Twitter pages, they regularly promote discounts or sales on these pages. Contact the hotel direct or email them asking about any promos. I found the mid priced hotel near Ayala, Golden Peak Hotel had some great deals on rooms in the low season, they didn’t promote it on their website and it was only by emailing them that they offered these rates. Budget priced GV Hotel chains have a mailing list that you need to sign up to and at times they have offered rooms starting at P1.00! Stay a week or more, a lot of hotels offer discounts for those whom are staying for an extended period of time, so it’s well worth asking at the time of booking if they do discount for longer stays.
Early bird sales. Booking well in advance, some hotels (usually the more expensive ones) offer early bird promos. I know of Crimson Resort and Abaca Resort in Mactan as well as the budget hotel Islands Stay near Mactan airport offering early bird deals like this. The only downside is they usually have more restrictive conditions (i.e. cancellation fees or no changes to dates allowed) so do check all rules and conditions before booking. On the opposite end of the scale, when a hotel hasn’t sold a lot of rooms they offer these “last minute rates” in a hope of a quick sale. Rooms are sold at a discount rate only days before the said date in the hope to at least get someone booking the room. It’s better to make some money than none!
Package deals. Working in a travel agent a great way to make money was selling package deals which included flights and hotel. Usually the deals work out pretty good value.
Rewarding returning clients. Some hotels offer discounts for guests who regularly return to the hotel. Palladium Suites Cebu is one of these. Larger hotel chains (such as the Marriott and Marco Polo) have loyalty programs so every time you stay you get points that add up for free stays or room upgrades. Usually these are free to join. Also with these larger chains you can use your stay to get points on airline frequent flyer points, so ask when you check in if the particular hotel is affiliated with the frequent flyer program you use. If you’re booking via the cheap hotel booking sites, most of these sites also have some type of loyalty program as well. These can include discounts for future stays at hotels or even free nights. I’ve got some free rooms and free upgrades from doing this.
Location of hotels in Cebu can be an important part of deciding which hotel you will be staying at. If you’re a first time visitor to Cebu you don’t want to be in a dodgy area. My advice if you haven’t been to Cebu before to stay in uptown area of Cebu. The best areas to look for a hotel are near Ayala Shopping Mall or around Fuente Osmena which both have plenty of options when it comes to hotels. Convenience is another important factor. Ayala Shopping Mall is a great base to start from; there are plenty of shops and restaurants as well as banks to change money with. For more details on the hotels visit our Cebu City hotel guide. If you’re looking for a beach, Cebu City doesn’t have any, so the nearest place to the city is Mactan Island. Mactan has plenty of resorts that are more mid to upper classifications and although the beaches are not the best Cebu has to offer, they are the closest from the city. For Cebu’s best beaches you will need to head north to Bantayan Island, Malapascua or the Camotes Islands.
Everyone wants a fresh clean room, comfortable bed and nice bathroom. Nothing could be worse than having a room full of bed bugs and crawling with cockroaches. I’ve read lots of reviews on hotels rooms and the problem is it’s been written by one person who only stayed in one room. Hardly objective! So while one room could have been bad, 99% of the other rooms could have been perfect, so one review on a room reflects the whole hotel! I’ve stayed at a number of rooms at the same hotel on different occasions and the standard of rooms can change considerably. If you’re a walk in, most hotels will let you check the room before you book and pay, this way you can see the room 1st hand. People’s expectations of rooms are different to others, while to some a room could be perfectly acceptable to another it’s a room they never stay at. Another point is “you pay for what you get”. Pension houses you’re only going to get basic amenities yet they can be great value and rooms can be more than adequate. We tried to give a better inside to hotel rooms in Beyond Cebu with photo and video, hopefully giving you a better idea what to expect.
Customer service if anything, is one of the most important things you really remember from a hotel. I’ve heard so many stories from travellers who tell of tales of horrible service they received. I’ve also see a lot of customers who have acted badly and probably deserved it! I’m not totally convinced on stories I read and hear about are always the hotel’s fault, though the way the hotel sometimes handles the situation, it isn’t in the best possible way. I think that’s more down to training rather than to staff having a bad attitude. I find most staff are only too happy to help, sometimes they need a friendly nudge to do things as they don’t always use their initiative. For instance setting up the table to eat, simple things like not setting the cutlery are just missed. To some it may be annoying, having to ask staff to do something that you would normally take for granted. But by getting annoyed at the staff they in turn get annoyed with you! You will find it more common in the province where staff haven’t been properly trained. Remember you’re on holidays, don’t let little things get the better of you and have a bit more patience, the Filipino staff are only too happy to please. It goes a long way to make your stay a lot better.