• BLUEWATER MARIBAGO

    Filipino hospitality at its finest

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    Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort is located along the 100-meter strip of Mactan Island’s sand and shore

    Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort is located along the 100-meter strip of Mactan Island’s sand and shore

    Amuma: a Cebuano word with many meanings and associations. It means caring, pampering, nurturing, tending and feeding. It is associated with a mother’s nurturing for her child, providing the needs of one’s kin, or tending to one’s garden to bloom.

    Filipino hospitality is renowned worldwide a distinct and joyous welcome, replete with heartwarming feelings.

    At Mactan Island in Cebu, an established local resort best exemplifies this famed natio- nal trait. It is none other than Bluewater Maribago Beach Re–sort located along the best 100-meter strip of the island’s sand and shore.

    In July, Bluewater Maribago celebrated an important mile–stone, its 25th anniversary. Hosting a series of celebrations, the resort proved that it continues to pamper its guests with amuma, then, now, and always.

    The Manila Times was fortunate to be one of the invitees to experience Bluewater’s amuma on its silver year.

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    The resort has a contemporary Filipino architecture by Benji Reyes from Antipolo, Rizal

    Lucky beginnings
    At a press conference with Blue–water Resorts’ vice president for sales and marketing Margie Munsayac, and Bluwater Maribago general manager Rhyze Buac, the history, achievements, and up–coming plans of the beach resort were revealed.

    According to Munsayac, the property was founded in 1989 by the Alegrado family who hails from Butuan City, Agusan del Norte. During that time, Cebu was fast becoming an exotic, tropical destination for the international travel markets.

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    The exterior of Bluewater Resorts’ Royal Bungalow

    “Bluewater Maribago was quite lucky to be located in Mactan Island because Cebu then was a destination in itself,” Munsayac recalled. “During those years, the Philippines was not quite good in the eyes of the world. So Cebu was marketing itself as a stand–alone destination with the slogan, ‘An Island in the Pacific.’ People who flew in from the inter–national market thought Cebu was not part of the country.”

    All this was possible, according to Marge, because the province has the second gateway to the Philippines, which is the Cebu-Mactan International Airport.

    With the Filipino brand of hospitality present in all these facets, the resort flourished in its early days among Asians, especially with the Chinese and Japanese as its most avid patrons.

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    Maestro Ryan Cayabyab gives an all-out performance at Bluewater Maribago’s silver anniversary party

    Continued growth
    With a steady stream of inter–national tourists, Bluewater Maribago immediately ex–panded with a new wing two years after it opened.

    “Business was still very good for the resort so we decided to build the Garden Wing with a total of 64 rooms, in addition to the original 30 rooms,” Munsayac shared.

    Come early 2000s, the resort was able to withstand the fi–nancial crisis that hit the region. “Cebu remained to be a popular destination despite the finan-cial crisis. And Bluewater be–nefited in this increased inte–rest,” shared Marge.

    The company even expanded its business to Oslob, Cebu. Marge said, “We opened Blue–water Sumilon in 2005. It is an exclusive 24-hectare island that started with only 14 rooms. Now, it has up to 27 rooms offering a unique experience.”

    Besides the sea, guests can also experience the beautiful lagoon-shaped pools

    Besides the sea, guests can also experience the beautiful lagoon-shaped pools

    Two years later, another development took place in Maribago as a third wing was opened, which housed the Amuma Spa and Suites. This was in January 2007 when, as Marge said, spas became a huge trend in the well–ness industry.

    But growth for the brand did not end there. A few years later, it also opened a resort in Pang-lao, Bohol, and simultaneously started a management company called Amuma Hospitality.

    Today, the Alegrado family owns and manages hotel and resorts chain in the Visayas, collectively known as Bluewater Resorts. The company also operates the Almont brand for properties in Mindanao.
     
    ‘Amuma with Excellence’
    Through the years, Bluewater Resorts prides itself with the mantra “Amuma with Excellence,” most especially at its flagship resort in Maribago.

    Currently rated AAA, Bluewater Maribago is already undergoing upgrades and renovations to pass the Department of Tourism’s new evaluation scale for hotels. According to Buac, the hotel is on its way to becoming a five- star destination.

    Currently, the resort, which stands on a seven-hectare lot, has163 well-appointed rooms complete with amenities like queen- to king-sized beds, LCD TVs, coffee and snack bars, and bathtubs and showers.

    Of the total number of rooms, 50 are located at the Amuma Spa Wing where a hilot pavilion, a swimming pool and a juice bar are also situated.

    For children’s special needs, there is the Dolpo Kid’s Club, which offers fun and educational activities every day.

    The resort also has a one-hectare breakwater that serves as a beautiful, private island in front of the beach strip. It is a popular wedding venue for locals and domestic tourists alike.

    Other facilities include lagoon-shaped pools, a children’s play–ground, a recreation and water sports center, and full-service restaurants and bars.

    Moreover, the resort prides itself with contemporary Filipino architecture to complement the distinct hospitality. “Famed wood artist and architect Benji Reyes from Antipolo, Rizal designed the present look of the Bluewater Maribago,” noted Buac.

    Completing the experience are leisure activities that can be availed in packages. Buac shared, “For activities, we have island hopping. Between Mac–tan and Bohol there are lots of islands and diving spots. There, they can go parasailing, diving, or kayaking.”

    For the less adventurous, they can opt for a day-tour of popular destinations in nearby Cebu and Lapu-Lapu cities.

    The resort is also a favorite place for meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions, or MICE tourism. The general manager said that they can accommodate a group of 1,000 plus for a single event.

    “This is our edge—that we are very Filipino in terms of service and design of the hotel. And we will keep it that way. Why? Because we are sure to deliver that promise. We are known to be very accommodating, caring and loving and that’s natural to Filipinos,” Buac expressed.

    Silver celebrations
    To mark the brand’s 25th year, Bluewater Maribago pulled out all the stops in hosting a grand party on July 19. Dubbed, “Kasauogan sa Bluewater,” the event carried a Filipiniana theme to stay true to the resort’s mission and vision.

    The festivities started in the late afternoon with cocktails at the Allegro restaurant’s al fresco area. Pass around food of modernized Filipino cuisine like sisig, balot and Bicol Express were aplenty, while dance and song numbers were presented by the resort’s very own folk group.

    The main event took place at Bluewater Maribago’s pride beachfront, and despite the stea–dy rains, guests stayed on to celebrate with the Alegrado family. Why ever not when the resort owners, led by founder and chairman Arcadio Alegrado, are well loved and made sure to give those present only the best.

    To start with, the Alegrados invited famous chefs from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to cook regional cuisine. They were Tatung Sarthou, Sau del Rosario, Pierre Tan, Editha Singian and Eugene Raymundo, as well as the resort’s very own head chef, Dennis Uy.

    The result was a scrumptious buffet boasting of the best Filipino dishes including Vigan empanada, Bicol Express, Pancit Luglug, and more. Of course, the Cebu Lechon figured as the star of the night.

    Filled from a huge, delicious feast, a performance featuring Maestro Ryan Cayabyab began featuring his eponymous group of singers.

    His first time to play under a parasol, Mr. C gave everyone a groovy lesson on the history of original Pilipino music, or OPM. What guests expected as a short performance became an all-out concert.

    The night was capped off with a magnificent fireworks display that lit up the dark rainy sky.

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