In just two weeks time I will be Asia-bound for the unofficial icon-stop on the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour. If you weren’t lucky enough to join us last year, and haven’t already heard it for yourself, the Shangri-La Mactan Resort in Cebu, Philippines, blew everyone’s minds when the city famous for its amazing beaches and sweet mangoes was added to the schedule.
When I first arrived at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a warm, humid night and when walking over to the outdoor reception to check-in I was like a little kid entering Santa Claus’ workshop. There was a bar across from the lobby that opened out to look over the entire resort. Paths lead through tropical rainforest-like grounds, around stunning pools, past massage huts and waterside restaurants, finally down to a private beach lined with the most crystal-clear water I’ve ever seen. With over 13 acres of land, the resort is like a huge playground full of beachside tropical gardens to explore. The attention to detail is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. The outdoor massage tables have bowls of colorful petals floating in water so you’re not staring at a slab of concrete. There’s staff to serve you with refreshing pieces of pineapple and mango on a stick while you lay on the beach, and when you’re in the gym running on the treadmill the trainer comes around every-so-often to give you an icy-cold towel soaked in subtle lavender. I even had a one-on-one yoga session by the beach just before my buffet breakfast out in the sunshine, all included of course. If that hasn’t painted enough of a picture for you, then check out this video:
The resort is swarming, and I mean swarming, with such friendly staff on every corner you turn, all there ready and waiting to greet you, “Good morning ma’am”, “Good evening ma’am”, with such genuine, delighted smiles on their faces putting you in such an uplifted mood. From the concierge, to the cleaner, to the gardeners, to the henna tattoo guy on the beach, to the girl that takes your room service order over the phone… Each person oozes such an appreciation, enjoyment and love for their job, and you can’t help but just smile.
The PokerStars.net APPT Main Event was huge great success, with the numbers going well over the original cap of 300. After the amazing experience everyone had last year, I have no doubt numbers for this year will skyrocket.
I could rave on and on forever about how amazing the resort was last year, but I did feel guilty for enjoying the luxury when at the very same time one of my dear friends was traveling throughout the Philippines on an aid-mission. The stories of her experiences had me in tears. Poverty is a serious problem in the Philippines and I had to do my bit to help by sponsoring a child through Kadasig Aid and Development. My sponsor child is now put through school for the tiny price of $235 per year. This year I am so excited to have the opportunity to meet him when I return, which I will definitely write about in a few weeks.
I’ve been to a lot of poker tournaments over the past year, and I have to say, this is the event that tops off my list as the best destination. If you could only pick one APPT to attend, this is the one.
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Lynn Gilmartin takes you on a tour of Cebu in the Philippines
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