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Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Reigns Supreme in the South’s Queen City

The hotel lobby's grand staircase

The well-loved hotel shows us how it stays on top of the fiercely competitive hospitality game

Quietly ensconced amidst the lush greenery and gently sloping terrain of the Nivel Hills district, 600 meters above sea level, sits a jewel in the crown of the Queen City: the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. This renowned hotel is as iconic to the southern island paradise as its famed beach getaways, warm hospitality, and internationally acclaimed cuisine.

Known as Cebu City’s finest in the industry, the 329-bedroom affair that is the Marco Polo Plaza received its Deluxe Class Hotel accreditation in 2008, for its unwavering commitment to excellence. It has long been a favorite of Cebu’s denizens and tourists alike, for its world-class facilities and amenities, delectable gastronomic offerings, well-appointed guestrooms, and idyllic location.

Well-appointed Junior Suite

Well-appointed Junior Suite

Along with a generous dose of warm and welcoming hospitality, the hotel serves up the best of both worlds: an idyllic setting that is far away from, yet close enough to bustling, cosmopolitan downtown Cebu.

We recently experienced the graciousness of the Queen City, Marco Polo Plaza-style. As any host bent on impressing its guests, the hotel treated us to a vacation like no other and showed us how – years after it first opened its doors – it continues to reign supreme, in seemingly effortless manner.

Eat, drink, and be merry!

I have fond memories of Cebu Plaza (the hotel’s original brand) – memories that date back to my teen years and summers spent in Cebu. So, it was with more than a touch of curiosity that I headed to the hills, along with my daughter, for what would prove to be three days of blissful contentment at the old-school hotel’s present-day incarnation.

Having been acquired by the Marco Polo Hotels Group many years ago, the hotel continues to hold a special place in the hearts of all who call Cebu home – and all who have the privilege of staying within the establishment’s first-rate premises.

We enjoyed every moment; whether it was hanging out at the Continental Club’s exclusive rooftop lounge (once among my favorite night spots; back in the Cebu Plaza days), with its sweeping, panoramic views of the hills on one side and the city on the other, or lounging and kicking back in the comfort of our cozy Junior Suite.

Eats and treats at the Lobby Lounge

Sweeping views from the hotel’s Continental Club Lounge

The pool area, by day

The pool area, by day

Nights were restful, and days were never boring – between the spa, pool, and gym, there was hardly a shortage of activities. Mealtime, on the other hand, was always scrumptious. From me to you, when at the Marco Polo Plaza, do one thing with your diet – forget it! Café Marco is the go-to place for flavors that tickle the palate and satisfy hungry appetites, oh-so-deliciously.

Enjoy hearty snacks, delightful desserts (the cheesecake is a must-try!), cold drinks, and hot, live music at the Lobby Lounge. For al fresco dining and molto delizioso Italian fare (including wood-fired brick oven pizzas), there’s the El Viento Restaurant and Pool Bar. Continental dining (and an array of drinks) is to be had at the BLU Bar & Grill, right beside the Continental Club Lounge.

Breakfast waffle overload at Cafe Marco

A meat-lover’s dream at Cafe Marco

Service with a smile – and then some!

Perhaps, however, what truly sets the hotel apart from the rest is its service philosophy that not only offers up the sincerest of smiles but also the utmost in caring.

“All hotels have rooms, beds, restaurants – the usual things one might expect to find in a hotel; however, what makes a hotel different are the people,” shares international hotelier Brian Connelly, Marco Polo Plaza’s GM. “Our associates in the hotel are what makes us Marco Polo Plaza – they are genuinely hardworking and sincerely hospitable. Service is second nature to us and I believe that is what sets us apart.”

“It is not just about getting the job done; it is being passionate and dedicated in making sure every detail is looked after,” Connelly adds. And, sure enough, we were greeted with a warm, welcoming spirit and honest-to-goodness, seamless service throughout our stay – and that is not something we will soon forget.

Steadfast, yet-ever-evolving

While remaining true to its heartfelt hospitality, Marco Polo Plaza continues to cook-up new and exciting ways to entice its guests and to stay relevant in the field. “So many great things are happening at the hotel,” Connelly reveals. “We have upcoming Culinary Journeys at our award-winning Café Marco. This August we have the Swissness from A to Z, and Sabores de Espana. In October, we’ll be having Oktoberfest, and Khana, celebrating Indian Food. As the Festive Season approaches in November, we will keep with our timeless traditions with the lighting of the Tree of Hope to be followed by other Festive Season activities. In addition, our suites and premium rooms will also be undergoing renovation, so we are excited for that, as well.”

As for my daughter and I, well, we are already dreaming of a return trip.