CEBU, SEPTEMBER 17, 2008 (STAR) RENDEZVOUS By Christine S. Dayrit - Carry me out to the ocean, where my drifting thoughts flow free. Guide them to a far distant land that only the mind can see. There I shall paint a great portrait of what this world should be.”

The words of Robert M. Hensel, 39-year-old Spanish poet, define the philosophy of Mogambo Springs, The Spa at Plantation Bay in Cebu. This is an invitation to daydream as you retreat to another world, another time. Here, you magically indulge all your senses as the ambient surroundings match the impulse of your imagination and it doesn’t simply stop there.

If we are going to fall in love with the Queen City of the South, it’s most likely to be in Plantation Bay where the soothing rhythm of cascading water blends deliciously with the sounds of the forest and the gentle breeze whispers of the glorious days of a grand colonial era. Relish the experience of bathing in the warm salt water of the Mogambo Springs, perched high above the luxurious resort with a dazzling view of the exquisite manmade lagoons as tropical palms wave against the cerulean sky. Like a precocious child, I instinctively raced up the winding path to the elevated pool at the Mogambo Springs where the cool, freshly pumped seawater created fine bubbles resembling frothy champagne. From there, I invaded the coldwater springs at Havana adjacent to the open-sea beach. At the main source, it was truly invigorating to feel the powerful surge of 2,000 gallons per minute of water gushing towards me.

At the Mogambo Springs, the cineaste in me is awakened as I imagined smoldering white steam rising in the air as the sounds of the African jungle reverberated through my soul. Just like the 1953 film Mogambo, directed by John Ford and starring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly, the springs are full of magic, intimacy and emotional exchanges. In the spa named after this romance and adventure packed opus, you have varied options to honor yourself through mind, body and soul pampering treatments. Try the Ultimate Mogambo Springs Experience as your masseuse kneads your back while the warmed aromatherapy oil with scents of lemongrass, kaffir lime and ginger forms a pleasurable perfumed protest as the fragrance sinks deep into your skin, aiding in the release of your tired muscles. The cooling cucumber wrap refreshes and rehydrates your skin and face, opening your entire being to the beauty and balance of the natural environment that embraces you. Your only goal here is to relax and energize, cultivate compassion, inner peace and truth. Acquire a sense of oneness, a heaven on earth experience, an intoxicating sense of spontaneous flowing.

Just half an hour from the Mactan International airport lies a sanctuary that provides a much-needed reprieve from everyday responsibilities, where one can savor a sacred holiday with family and friends. The Plantation Bay reflects a unique combination of contemporary elegance and exuberant amenities. The atmosphere of sheer indulgence includes waking up on huge beds with ivory duvet comforters, opening the wooden shutters against the white walls with elegant ceiling fans that transport you to a charming mise en scène in Havana, Cuba. In Plantation Bay’s new High Romance bedrooms, with enamel-white wainscoting, candy-color blush walls, and a mahogany four poster bed with softly-lit canopy, morning light streams into your elegant room inciting exploration of the rest that this soulful resort has to offer.

If you decide to embark on an epicurean feast, your palate will surely be satisfied by the most discriminating flavors that abound in the resort’s five restaurants. To begin with, their Eggs Benedict is a conversation entrée — including the open buffet with its creamy Hollandaise sauce, perfectly poached eggs with firm whites and viscous yolks. The Caesar Salad is garlicky, lemony and piquant in its perfect thick texture that coats the freshest greens while their pasta is handmade in the kitchen at Palermo restaurant. Each dish is prepared meticulously with perfectly balanced sauces and the freshest ingredients. Choose from Linguine Vongole, Farfalloni Alla Carbonara, Ravioli al Granchio, and more. Another culinary hit is the Rock Lobster Newburg — succulent chunks in a subtle cream sauce, served on the shell. More flavorful than Maine lobster, meatier than crayfish, this rock lobster is insanely divine. Kilimanjaro Café offers an extensive children’s menu that’s sure to impress your discriminating youngster. For the sweetest sensation, try their tiramisu, made from fine mascarpone cheese, sponge cake in chocolate and coffee liqueur, drenched in rich fresh cream.

Family activities are at the heart and core of this haven. As soon as you arrive, you are given a comprehensive map of activities, classified for the young ones and the “young once.” Plantation Bay is the ideal place to develop a hidden talent, practice a skill or discover a new passion. Immerse yourself in photographing sunrises, sunsets and full moons over idyllic lagoons, capture the unforgettable moments of kids who are engaged in wall climbing, pony rides, fish feeding, fishing, mini golf, kayaks and banca rides around the waterways. Challenge the family to a round of billiards or board games, test the indoor firing range and even learn origami at the children’s center. Dive in the reef wall that plunges 300 meters or check out the submarine cave. You can also test your courage at Dive Rock, a thrill for children of all ages, or jet-ski to your heart’s content. Numerous activities offer an abundance of choices that will allow you to bond with your loved ones as you experience the healing power of this unique environment and its spectacular scenery.

At Plantation Bay, the open village design allows guests convenient access to the resort facilities. Like sparkling jewels in the oasis, the giant swimming pools are popular attractions. Its main freshwater pool as well as all its saltwater lagoons feature textured coat finishing resembling natural stone. As if that wasn’t enough, this lavish watery park has eight whirlpools, numerous caves, three party pools ideal for groups of eight persons and two raging water slides.

You will squeal with delight as you try the two other giant slides built into Plantation Bay’s Mogambo Springs, scaling three stories high. The resort humorously advises in their welcome pamphlet: “One is fast; the other is faster,” and either slide is guaranteed to elicit a scream or at least a few moments of panic, even from hardened thrill-seekers.

Corporations come here to play, too. Plantation Bay’s proprietary in-house teambuilding activities are highly sought-after. These are not your run-of-the-mill sack races, but intricate and in some cases diabolical pursuits that call for mind-boggling, problem-solving skills, trust and diplomacy.

Over a hearty dinner, my dear friend, Plantation Bay GM Efren Belarmino, proudly shared the history of this 100-percent Filipino-owned resort, patterned after the West Indies-Plantation. The resort president and CEO, amiable banker Manny Gonzalez, envisioned creating a resort synergizing beautiful colonial themes from the Caribbean and British India. With his indefatigable drive and passion for excellence, this dream project was developed from raw land into a spectacular fairy-tale property. From the viewpoint of guests, Manny believes the resort is appreciated because “it embraces travelers in the intimate charm of a private colonial residence in an old style plantation. Walking leisurely during mid-morning or noon through the vast expanse feels like a Sunday in the province. Most guests appreciate this laid-back, relaxing feature while basking in privileged luxury.”

This is heaven’s playground. Each day, the sun wraps this dazzling oasis in sunshine and each starry night, the ancient moon charms the island visitors. Be it a romantic weekend, a family outing, hurried business trip or an extended overseas adventure, Plantation Bay is the perfect antidote to stress, the ideal elixir to restore bliss and celebrate youthful vigor.

The spirit of our journey is as important as the arrival at our destination. To say that my stay at Plantation Bay was a passage to another world is underlining the obvious. I came to this paradisiacal place to rediscover a haven of tranquility and returned home with a renewed sense of nirvana.

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Plantation Bay Resort and Spa is located at Marigondon, Mactan Island 6015, Cebu. For inquiries, please call its Makati office at 844-5024 or 25, e-mail, or visit their website at

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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