Hotel Reviews

Waterfront Hotel Mactan, Cebu

I definitely not like its sister hotel but that location, though!

Waterfront Hotel Mactan, Cebu

For those of you who have read a few of these reviews about my extensive travels around the Philippines and other parts of Asia, you already may know that I’m not a big fan of Cebu.

Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of people who love it – but I just don’t see the attraction, as it’s dirty, there’s just as much traffic as Manila (ok, not that bad), the nightlife options entail either walking around seedy Mango Square and hoping no one jacks your kidney or hitting a big club packed with Koreans (ok, they have opened up a few new venues that are cool in IT Park), there literally is not one green park in the whole city I’ve found (cemeteries and business parks do not apply), and the food is terrible (fight me, but man cannot live on deep fried and fatty pork alone). Even the people seemed unfriendly, snobbish, and a little non-Filipino (for lack of a better term) to me.

But, again, this is just one man’s opinion based on a medium sample size (I lived here for six months and have visited a dozen times). I’ve also met some cool people, too, and I know a lot of expats who actually love living in Cebu City.

All that notwithstanding, Cebu City is a major transportation hub in the country – the gateway to the amazing Visayan Islands (one of the three large regions in the Philippines; Luzon (where Manila is), Visaya (Cebu) and south in Mindanao). In fact, there are countless millions of tourists and travelers who come through Cebu each year, landing on international or a beehive of domestic flights, and visit a few of the fun excursions on Cebu island before going to spots like Boracay, Palawan with El Nido and Coron, Siargao, Bohol, Dumaguete, etc.

The reason I tell you all this is because when I’m in Cebu, I usually look for a decent hotel room, hunker down with work and good wi-fi, and just try to stay as local as possible, avoiding hours in traffic to get around.

I’ve covered two of my favorite hotels in Cebu that I highly recommend: the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Lahug, near the growing IT Park complex, and the Eloisa Royal Suites on the island of Mactan where the airport is located.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is another Waterfront Hotel (and this one is closer to water!) – the original Waterfront that stands on Mactan island literally right next door to the airport.

I’ve stayed there several times, and I would characterize it as a legit 4-star hotel…in the 1980s. That’s not a slight, as the rooms and amenities are just outdated and not up to modern luxury hotel standards. And it’s expensive, running closer to an average of $100 or even $120 per night, selling out quickly, compared to the Waterfront in Lahug, which is huge, dazzlingly nice, and modern – all for an average of about $70 per night if you find a good deal.

But the one thing that the Waterfront in Mactan has that’s undeniable is location. It’s the one true airport hotel that’s so close it’s nearly conjoined, and you can take a ludicrous 1-minute taxi ride to its front entrance or actually walk right across the street from the arrival terminal at the airport and dip down into its back entrance.

While the Waterfront Hotel at Mactan is too expensive and outdated for my liking, it does serve a huge purpose for travelers who only have one night or so in Cebu before flying somewhere more fun, and they don’t want to deal with traffic.

It also is an absolute oasis for travelers for another reason: day use. Since it’s so close, I often wander on over during layovers (sometimes there can be 6-8 hour layovers between flights!). I can sit in their comfortable lobby and use their free wi-fi, pig out at their awesome huge buffet lunch, or even go downstairs to use their gym and swim in the pool. It makes a layover highly enjoyable, and they don’t charge me a thing (except for the food I eat).

For that reason, the Waterfront Hotel is an important asset for some travelers with layovers or who want to stay very close to the airport

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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