It may not sound like much but a good croissant can really make a holiday for a baked goods addict like me.
Of course I’m willing to forgo my filo and put my pastry needs on hold for the dreamy white-sand beaches and world class diving and snorkelling of the Philippines – who wouldn’t – but after three weeks enjoying the highly regionalised cuisine from some of the country’s 7,107 islands, the patisserie highlight so far has peaked with rather stodgy muffins from Philippines bakery chain Julie’s Bakeshop.
So I’m over the moon to reach Crimson Resort & Spa on Mactan Island, Cebu, where the dream combination of perfect sand, sea, swimming, spa and sunbathing is made yet more indulgent with the addition of the flakiest, most melt-in-the-mouth authentic buttery croissants I think I’ve ever tasted. Suddenly all is right with the world.
Of course the fact that this 5-star resort’s breakfast bakery section is overflowing with other French-standard baguettes, cakes and muffins and is housed in an airy pavilion a mere three-step-stumble from my huge luxury villa complete with private plunge pool, four-poster bed, and no fewer than three TVs might make the food taste a little sweeter.
The sweetest morsels of all here are the mangos that make up part of the complementary fruit basket; Cebu mango is legendary all over the Philippines for its delicate flavour and bag loads of the dried fruit is taken home by visiting Filipinos as gifts.
At this time of year the mango has to compete for suitcase space with souvenirs from Sinulog, one of the country’s biggest and most colourful festivals, taking place in the third week of January each year.
Attracting thousands of people from all over the islands, though very few overseas tourists, this Pagan-Catholic street festival sees the city of Cebu decorated with brightly coloured streamers as participants in costume dance to drums, trumpets and cymbals to celebrate the revered image of the child Jesus, the Santo Niño, which was originally given as a gift to a local Queen.
I reluctantly leave the tranquillity of the resort behind to explore Cebu city where I’m able to soak up the atmosphere of the Sinulog preparations, walk the old walls of Fort San Pedro and visit Magellan’s Cross, the most historically significant spot in the Philippines which marks the place where the first European came to these islands in 1521.
By now it’s mid-afternoon and time for schoolgirls to pour out of the gates of Cebu’s schools in their bright pink uniforms, and time for me to head back to the Crimson for some more pure R&R.
I check into the onsite spa, a refined and serene Asian-designed outpost with its own luxury pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, as well as highly-trained therapists who seem to have decided that I won’t be leaving until they’ve pummelled and kneaded away every travel-induced knot in my back and shoulders using the soothing technique of a hot stone massage.
Drifting in and out of my massage-induced dream state I turn the events of the last couple of days over in my mind, thoughts of the ancient churches and processions and the hustle and bustle of the town mixing with the sensation of hot oil and stones soothing the aching muscles which took the brunt of my over-packed hand luggage. ‘Heavy bags?’ asks the masseuse gently, and I wake with a jolt suddenly unsure which is part of my stay at the Crimson is real and which I’ve just conjured up in my dreams. I’ll just have to wait until breakfast to double-check if I imagined those croissants.
Located just a 20 minute drive from Cebu Mactan International Airport, Crimson Resort & Spa is a sprawling beach resort with 40 luxury private villas with individual plunge pools as well as 250 stylish and contemporary guest rooms. Ask your friendly travel consultant about booking your very own stay at Crimson Resort & Spa for your stay in the Philippines – call 0208 045 4186 or find your nearest Flight Centre store.