Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Shangri La Gate Crash!

This is dedicated to the entire crew of Shangri La Mactan Resort. Please don’t “reconfigure” your security procedures after reading this, okay? You will find a reason to agree to this request at the last paragraph of this topic!

Having checked-in many times at this fabulous resort (on official company-sponsored junkets), I had the mistake of bragging about how truly beautiful this resort is, how great every detail of the structure and facilities are, how professional and likeable the staff are and how expensive it is to stay there! Naturally, when I and my friends jetted in for a budget-saver “own-tour” of Cebu and Bohol, they all demanded that I take them there for a peek at the place. So we did!

I already knew that no “day-tourists” are usually allowed inside this resort – beyond the lobby, that is. That means you have to be billeted in this expensive resort, or at least be attending a party or function to be free to roam around. But to show my friends just the expansive landscaped frontage or the grand allure of the resort’s lobby would have been unexciting! So, since they insisted we go there, I devised in my head the grand gate crash of my time!

We arrived at the resort’s premises via a “chartered” multi-cab. A multi-cab is a common street vehicle they use in Cebu that looks like a leaner cousin of the Sarao Jeepneys. The thing is actually also commonly called a jeep. So you should be able to imagine, the car being open on all sides that we entered the resort’s premises soaking in our own sweat all with disheveled hairdos!

Even as our “limousine” approached the main entrance to the resort’s driveway, the guards there were already curiously examining us. I was sure they were irritated to see another poor man’s vehicle enter their grand bastion of luxury! The lead guard of course asked our driver what business we had in their resort while another guard circled around looking at us and the insides of the jeep. We said we were just dropping by to have a glance at their hotel. Immediately we were advised that visitors can only go up to the main lobby and nowhere else! And of course we said that it was fine enough for all we wanted to do was take a souvenir picture at the lobby or the main entrance! We were in!

Call it colonial mentality, arrogance & condescension or just plain discrimination, our lowly jeep was not allowed to go up to the main entrance – no reason given. So we said we’ll drive up to the parking area and let the driver and jeep wait for us there. Also not possible – no reason given! The obviously irritated driver (after giving a disgusted glance at the guard) agreed to just drop us at the parking lot and let us climb up the stairs that led to the hotel’s main entrance. The guard was actually surprised why I seem to be very familiar with the place for having suggested such an “arrangement”. Right after we alighted, the driver was told by another guard at the parking area to scram! Obviously he got instructions from the entrance via their walkie-talkies.

So we were in! What next? I told my friends to go directly wherever it was they wanted to go, preferably the lobby lounge, without looking or stopping at the guards –even if they asked us about anything! Fortunately, as we piled in, there were two busloads of Korean tourists also entering the place – the younger set always noisily giggling or bantering. And of course, we merged in! All were also wearing shorts and many were like us – lugging their knapsacks along! I asked two of our companions to go straight down the stairs to the restaurant and exit from there to the grounds and on to the swimming pool or beach. Also instructed three of our other companions to head to the corridor on the left wing past the concierge table where there are stairs that descend towards the pool and beach area. I opted to stay a while in the lounge with one other friend. To quell my drying throat, I ordered a can of coke and a pack of cigarettes. As I was ordering so, I told my companion that the green-mango shake was delectable, thus she asked the waitress to give her that!

After the drink and a few sticks, that must have been from half to almost an hour, I was already feeling too relaxed to move. But my companion must join the others down at the poolside or beach area. So I obliged. We went down the stairs to the restaurant and out into the beach. To my surprise, our other companions were already “at home” in their new-found territory. Their belongings settled under the shade of three beach umbrellas. One was snoozing the afternoon sun off, two were gleefully swimming at the “artificial” beach, one was already playing water-polo with some Japanese tourists at the pool while three were busy with a grand pictorial everywhere on the beach! Looking at the surroundings, I noticed that they themselves already had drinks and/or snacks from the resort’s crew. Needless to say, I joined in with whatever the activities were.

We just stayed in this place until sunset and until each of my companions have made quick changes to their new memory sticks because the picture-taking was ceaseless.

By about 5:30PM, we climbed up to the lobby as a group – unafraid of the guards stopping us and throwing us out of the hotel – since we in fact were already on our way out!

From the hotel’s entrance, we walked back to the stairs that led to the parking area. Then walked a few meters more towards the main guardhouse where behind it is a small exit path for unfortunate people who don’t come out of this resort in limousines! We could see that our driver was just by the roadside waiting for us.

I opted to be the last one to exit and just as I passed by the guard I casually asked him: “kumusta ang panganay mong si “”. The guard’s eyes grew big and mouth opened as if he saw a ghost! After recovering from his fleeting shock, he removed his headgear and exclaimed at the top of his lungs “sir, ikaw pala yan?!” And as he came forward to shake my hand and embrace me “bakit di ka nagpakilala kanina, at bakit dyan kayo sa jeep nakasakay, walang aircon yan”! I just smiled and said “my friends want it that way” as I shook his hand and bid him goodbye!

Okay, what about this guard? Well, he is one of the more senior guards at Shangri La that I have befriended in my previous business trips to this place. During those longer visits that sometimes lasted 3 weeks, I would usually run out of anything to do or anyone to talk to! Thus, many times I would walk around the building to talk to almost everyone of them. In one of our friendly chats, this guard invited me to his house just near the resort as it was the college graduation day of his eldest child. The child became a dear friend and now happily employed in Metro Manila. Oops, we have to stop it there! Father guard does not even know the “friendship” that happened between me and his eldest child!

Here are a few pointers if you also want to gate-crash at Shang! While we came in via a filthy jeep, we ourselves did not look filthy because we are not! We are not hapless poor but just about, well… poor! All of us during this trip can speak either Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean or Japanese. That said, you should get the hint that the shape of our eyes do not easily tell that we all are really Filipinos. We are always easily mistaken to be part of those tour groups!

Now what about the gate-crash? If you are not ready to spend at least 500 pesos inside Shangri La Mactan forget about visiting the place. It will be useless if you cannot at least buy a drink while lounging around because aside from the grand views and facilities, there is nothing more in there. Being a five-star resort that it is, your purple money (100 peso bill) cannot buy you even just a can of soda! It’s only good for tipping! And a pack of cigarettes is about a hundred and forty bucks!

Now I wonder why Shangri La is not marketing the place to “day-tourists” like we were – so there would be no gate crashing! In fact, day-tourists are a big and good market. Right?

Oh well!

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3 comments :

  1. just an update...

    was in cebu again last February, and hey! shang now has a day-tour offer for about P1,200++ per head!

    this story might have reached them... who knows :D

    so enjoy cebu... and the shang!

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  2. hi. was redirected to this site while searching if Shangri-La Mactan has a daytour...
    I think its fairly easy to gate-crash Shangri-La, Me and 2 companions have done that, we just told the guard we were going to inquire but we rode a car not a multicab,so they have no problem letting us enter,and once in the lobby we just went straight to the beach.... I've stayed in the hotel before prior to gatecrashing thats why I was so familiar and so confident that we can get in but if I had not stayed in the hotel before I would have gotten so nervous and not dare gatecrash...

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  3. shang's day tour is now at P2,500. i just inquired. with the lunch buffet include. but i don't know yet what amenities they will alow.

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