Worst or the best story of the lost luggage? You decide

A real life adventure on how #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines even in a tense situation

It was the last day of a very adventurous and fulfilling FAM trip to TBEX FAM TRIP – NEGROS Y CEBU in the Philippines. We had done everything from swimming with the turtles at Apo Reef to snorkeling at Cebu to experiencing local cuisine and culture at Siquijor. Everything was impeccably well organized. We were treated like VIPs. The Philippines Tourism Board had won everyone’s heart. I was a bit sad and happy too that the trip was coming to an end. And probably that was the reason why I couldn’t sleep the night before.

Our Negros Y Cebu FAM Trip Group

Our Negros Y Cebu FAM Trip Group

At 5 am when the world around me was in the snooze mode, I was sitting in my private balcony of the luxurious Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu, Philippines. The tropical dawn and soothing sea breeze was not only kissing my cheeks, but had also awakened the philosopher in me. While the philosopher in me was busy introspecting life mother nature was busy unfolding the magic in front of my eyes—the sky changed colors as many times as a school girl picking prom dress.

Balcony view from Shangri La, Mactan, Cebu

Balcony view from Shangri La, Mactan, Cebu

Suddenly, a new reality dawned on me. One of my bags was missing! I called the front-desk:

ME: “Hi, I am calling from room #8019. One of my bags is missing, Could you please check on your end and have it sent to my room.”

Why I didn’t notice the night before is beyond me. I think perhaps I was intoxicated by the sensational meal we had at Cowrie Cove the night before that went late into the evening.

OPERATOR: “Oh, I am so sorry to hear that mam. Let me check with our team and get back to you right away.

ME: At 6 am I dial the front desk again, “Hi, were you able to locate my luggage?

OPERATOR: Mam, we are looking for it. Please give us some time. I’ll call you back

ME: At 7am I call the operator again, “Hello, any news on my luggage? How come only one bag reached my room when both were together and had my name on them?

OPERATOR: “Mam, please give us some more time. We are looking for it. We will call you back soon

At 7:30am it was time to switch from patient to panic mode! I frantically tried reaching out to other members of our group. But unfortunately I had only friended them on Facebook and didn’t have their mobile numbers. I ask the operator to connect me to Ochie, the Philippines Tourism representative, but the operator couldn’t find her name listed in the reservation system. I was frustrated and panicked at the same time.

I only had half an hour to get ready, have breakfast and meet the group for our last day of island hopping. Both my luggage and any members of our group were out of reach.  At 8:00am I finally got through to Ochie. She seemed more upset than I was. She assured me not to worry. I knew with her on my side, everything would be fine. Instead of waiting around and stressing out about my luggage, Ochie suggested that I still join the group for the island-hopping tour. I thought this was a good idea, but there was a minor hitch–I didn’t have any appropriate clothes to wear.

There wasn’t much else I could do, so at 8:30am I reached lobby donning my sweaty clothes ready to go, but it seemed everyone had already gone to the jetty area to board the boat going to one of the nearby islands. I went back to my room to do a bit of sulking, when shortly thereafter I received a call from the front desk letting me know that my bag had been found and it would be delivered in just a matter of minutes. Apparently it had made its way to another room and no one turned it in. With the use of closed-circuit cameras they were able to track my bag and retrieve it.

Lady luck smiled but half-hardheartedly at me, the good news was that I had my luggage and was able to change into a fresh set of clothes. The bad news was that the boat had left without me. The hotel staff heaved a sigh of relief when they found my luggage, but the dejection of not been able to achieve their hallmark gold standard of service was written on their faces. It appeared as if they had just lost a World War. They apologized so many times I started feeling sorry for them. I wasn’t mad at all, and besides, Filipinos are so sweet it’s difficult to be angry with them.

The Resort staff wanted to make up for their oversight at any cost, so they went out of their way to arrange an exclusive tour of their huge 13-hectare property and offered other services to me absolutely free. Sometimes a small loss can mean a BIG gain.

The ever-smiling staff of Shangri La, Cebu

During our travels we visited many breathtaking places in Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu, getting pampered at luxury properties and relishing in mouth-watering delicacies, while indulging in adventure cum cultural excursions, but everything was at such a fast pace, that this was now my moment to take a pause and enjoy the moment within the stunning sanctuary of Shangri La.

The stunning marine sanctuary of Shangri La, Cebu

The stunning marine sanctuary of Shangri La, Cebu

The stunning marine life of Shangri La Marine sanctuary, Cebu

The stunning marine life of Shangri La Marine sanctuary, Cebu

First things first. Pahle pet puja phir kaam duja (first eat then do anything else). First on the agenda was to relish the sumptuous breakfast buffet at Tides, the resort’s all day-dining outlet. It had so many varieties of the world cuisines you can eat daily and still not be able to sample everything in a week. It even had poha and aalu puri (an Indian dish that makes me think of home).

With a happy tummy, it was time to get some eye tonic. True to its name Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort was designed on the concept of “structure nestled in nature.” A picturesque island retreat framed by lush palm trees, ivory sand beaches and postcard-perfect waters. Seems like a dream, right? Well, I was living that dream!

The outdoor Spa of Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu

The outdoor Spa of Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu

My beautiful guide took me around the property, which had 530 guest rooms and suites, its own private man-made beach cove, 2 outdoor swimming pools, a 6-hole golf course, and its own marine sanctuary covering 6 hectares that holds over 100 species of fish and corals. My guide told me that the property is so huge, that sometimes even she gets lost.

The Snorkeling beach of Shangri La, Mactan, Cebu

The Snorkeling beach of Shangri La, Mactan, Cebu

I was just about to end my walking tour when my mobile alerted me. The delightful disturbance was from Mike Shubic, publisher of this very blog.

MIKE: “Hey, how’s your island hopping tour going? Did you finally get your luggage?

Coincidentally, Mike was also confined to the resort because of some last minute flight issue. Funny thing was, neither of us knew that both were left back at the resort. After I informed Mike that I did not make the boat for island hopping, he said in his confident and baritone voice, “Meet me at the beach in 10 minutes, I have a surprise for you.” I had no idea what he was up to, but I made my way to the beach with great enthusiasm.

Both of us are huge adventure seekers, so I was really excited when Mike informed me that we were going to take a jet-ski out for a spin. Believe it or not, I don’t know swim, but since Mike is a great swimmer, I was comfortable to try something crazy and hop on the back of the jet-ski. Yes, I put my life in his hands. Mike talked me into driving and I think he may have regretted it. It was so much fun to go fast!


After few hours of water sports, hunger pangs were in full swing, so we decided to listen to their calling and went back to the Tides Restaurant for lunch.

I was having such a wonderful day, but didn’t know the next thing was going to blow my mind. Mike and I parted ways and I headed to the other side of the resort to CHI, the amazing spa at Shangri La. I must admit, it was one of the best spas I been to in the Philippines. I had a traditional Philippines Hilot massage using warm coconut oil and banana leaves. It was so relaxing that I even dozed off a few times.

The Chi Spa at Shangri La, Mactan, Cebu

The day had finally come to an end and it was time to fly back to Manila with a bagful of memories. At this time I remembered a famous quote from a Bollywood movie, “Kabhie kabhie jeetne ke liye kuchh haarana bhi padata hai aur haar kar jitne wale ko baazigar kahte hain” (Sometimes you have to lose something in order to win, and the one who wins after losing is called a Gambler.)

All I can say is, It’s more fun in the Philippines to lose Luggage!

CEBU TRAVEL TIPS

WHEN to go

  • Cebu is a destination for every season. But the best time to go in the dry season (Dec to May).

HOW to go

  • Cebu is an international destination with flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and even the USA. An hour away from Manila, Cebu is an ideal jump-off point for other tourist attractions in Visayas and Mindanao. Local flights like Cebu Pacific, Air Asia & Philippine Airlines provide good value for the money.

WHERE to stay

  • Cebu has all kinds of places to stay, depending on your budget – from backpacker inns to 5 star resorts. I can say Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort is the best place you’ll find in Cebu. Splurge it, if you can, it’s an amazing property!

WHAT to do

  • Historical places: Cebu is very rich when it comes to historical sites from the time of Spanish rule in the Philippines. Places I recommend are Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Museo Sugbo, Casa Gorordo Museum, Cebu Provincial Detention & Rehabilitation Center, Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary, University of San Carlos Museum, Tops Lookout, Magellan’s Cross and Fort San Pedro.
  • Diving: Cebu is one of the best scuba diving areas in the Philippines. The top 5 dive areas in Cebu are ideal for both novice and experienced divers, they include: Mactan Island, Moalboal, Malapascua Island, Liloan Island and Sumilon Island.
  • Oslob Whale Shark century: swim with the whale sharks in the Oslob Whale Shark century. But be there before 11 am. You can’t see them after 11
  • Waterfalls: Cebu has some of the most stunning waterfalls like Dao Falls, Tumalog Falls, Kawasan Falls, Bugasok Falls and Mantayupan Falls among others

For a detailed travel guide on Cebu visit: www.mycebuguide.com

Disclaimer:

I was invited byPhilippines Tourism Board for their TBEX FAM TRIP – NEGROS Y CEBU in the month of October 2016. I was hosted by Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa. All the views expressed here are mine. The pictures used were clicked by me during my stay there.

43 Comments

  • neha says:

    What a story, I am glad your luggage finally got located. The last thing I would want on a trip would be to loose my pretty cloths and roam around in the same set over and over. And its really generous of the hotel staff the way they arranged for your trip to makeup for your loss and emotional trouble.

    • Hey Neha,

      I am so glad you found my story engaging. I know losing a luggage can be really painful and I only know how I felt when i couldn’t find my luggage. But all is well that ends well 🙂

      And Shangri La staff were really very helpful. That’s top notice service. Have you ever experienced their service?

  • joanna says:

    This place sounds great. I have never even considered going to the Philippines, I think I will change my mind 🙂

  • Harsh Gupta says:

    You’ve weaved the story so well that I got lost into it. Happy that your lost-found baggage story got you great rewards!

    • Hey Harsh,

      I am so happy to know that you found my story very engaging. I had heard horror stories about lost luggage so I was really anxious. Thank god it turned out well for him.

  • Amanda Tran says:

    This just got me so excited for my upcoming trip to Cebu. Sounds like you had a great time despite your lost baggage!

    • Ohhhh wow! When are you going to Cebu. It’s a fantastic place. Has so much to offer – history, nature, adventure, food and what not.

      And yeah, I had a fabulous time in Cebu. Thank god for the lovely staff of Shangri La and Philippines Tourism Board.

  • Paulina says:

    Wow that is a good story. I would love to travel the philipines. Thanks a lot for sharing

    • Hey Paulina,

      Thanks for stopping by to read the story and sharing your comment.

      It was really a happy ending for me. Totally loved my stay in Cebu.

      Do give it a try if you are there somewhere.

      Cheers!

  • Samantha says:

    Sounds like it ended up being a great stay despite the little mishap in the beginning! The Philippines are so beautiful and the people are great. I hope to hope over there soon!

    • HA HA. Totally. Philippines is truly the hidden secret of South East Asia and it’s people are really very nice. Gold standard of hospitality. I still miss them so much.

  • Halef says:

    Sure it can be frustrated to have things don’t go your way, but I’m glad that you have a way to compensate it with a good solution. I think that’s why we like to travel. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Hey Halef,

      Thanks for sharing your feedback. You are right, losing your luggage is the last thing you want on a leisure trip.

      I am glad it turned out all fine for me.

      Cheers!
      Archana

  • Neha says:

    I so comprehend with the story of lost luggage. Your writing is SO interesting.

  • Jennifer says:

    This is why it is so important to be relaxed and patient when you are travelling! Things always work out in the end, and sometimes they get even better when a little hiccup happens:)

  • Jen Morrow says:

    Sounds like a great day out enjoying the property and jet skis. Also a good reminder to double check that all of your luggage arrives when you get to the room. The island hopping sounds fun, but a special day all to yourself is a great way to spend the day.

    • Oh it was really fun. I had a ball! Finally I learnt my lesson 😛

      I had done lot of island hopping in Philippines so I was OK to miss it. I was happier to explore the beautiful Shangri La property 🙂

  • Sometimes the best times happens because of unplanned events. Not following the plan can sometimes be a good thing. Glad you finally got your bag and that the day turned out to be a great day anyways. Jetskiing is so much fun and having a good swimmer With you certainly makes it more safe 🙂

    • You said it Torger. I totally agree that unplanned fun is always special.

      I was lucky to have Mike by my side. Otherwise also I would have enjoyed my day. The hotel staff were really very helpful.

  • Ha Truong says:

    I love the story! I would be so panic if I lost my luggage. I’m glad that you enjoy Philippines with jet skis. I would love to do it one day!

    • HA HA. Even I would have had a panic attack if it happened on the first day. By the last day I was all chilled out. And I knew it would be in the hotel only since I didn’t go anywhere else. I would have been worried if any airlines was involved 😛

  • Oh wow, I’ve never been in the situation where my luggage was lost! Wouldn’t know what I would do if I were you. Good thing you kept calm, though. The bright side is that you managed to get your luggage AND go jet skiing, I’m leaning towards best story of the lost luggage 😛

    Things always find a way of sorting itself out, that’s one of the best things about travelling, I reckon!

    • It happened to me for the first time so I did get nervous for sometime but all was well in the end. So I do felt it was the best story of the lost luggage 🙂

      Thanks a lot for sharing your feedback. Really appreciate it 🙂

  • Julianne says:

    I loved your post! Losing my luggage would send me panicking too, so I’m glad they were able to find it. It sounds like the staff were great, given that they cared so much and tracked it down using video footage! Jet skiing and the spa there look amazing, too.

    PS: This line was a true gem: “The sky changed colors as many times as a school girl picking prom dress.” Love it!

    • Ohhh. Absolutely the Shangri La staff were really very helpful. I am not sure how others would have reacted.

      And hey thanks for sharing what you liked the most in the article. It was one of my favourite line too in the article 🙂

  • Rosie Benton says:

    What a story! I’ve lost my luggage before, it’s such a pain. Sounds like the staff really went out of their way to help you though which is great! The jet skiing looks like so much fun too!!

    • OMG! Hope you didn’t face much problem finding your luggage.

      Yeah, you are right the Shangri La staff was really very helpful and understanding. All in all it was a fun day 🙂

  • Janine Good says:

    It must be so stressful losing luggage. I am blessed and lucky that I have not had that happen after travelling to nearly 40 countries. It is nice that they offered you a nice tour to make up for the mishap and you enjoyed some time on the ocean. I would love to go to the Philippines. I hope to get a fam trip in the future.

    • Hi Janine,

      Thanks a lot for sharing your comment. Really appreciate it.

      Actually losing the luggage was first for me as well. Philippines is a lovely country. Worth visiting whether or not you get a FAM 😛

  • So glad that it all worked out! And you are totally right Filipino people are the kindest and most hospitable. Cebu is a cool place , I stopped by on my way to surf in Surigao

  • I would be so stressed if my luggage ever got lost! But I’m glad to see that everything worked out for you in the end. 🙂 Cebu also looks so amazing! This spring I’m actually going to be in Hong Kong for 6 weeks… and after reading your post now I’m super tempted to try and plan a weekend trip there! Did you need to apply for a certain visa prior to visiting the Philippines?

  • Suma Shah says:

    So glad you got the lost luggage back, losing possesions while travelling is not something one wants to encounter while travelling. And lucky you to get special treat from the hotel for the mistake ;). The psa really does sound like a great experience.

  • Christina says:

    I can only imagine your stress level. It may be seen as replaceable things in your luggage, but I understand that sometimes it is not. I am glad to hear that everything was okay and that despite a rocky start to your morning you ended up having a great day!

  • I absolutely love your writing style! I find it so stressful to lose luggage, I almost always travel carry on now!

  • Clare says:

    Cebu looks like an amazing place to visit. I was hoping to visit the philippines this year but my plans have now changed. I can’t wait to get over there as it does look amazing!! I can’t believe your bags made it to your resort but not your room!! The only time I have lost bags has been at the airport!!

  • Suzanne says:

    Wow, this is a different “lost luggage” story. God certainly smiled on you that day! I’m glad to hear that you gained so much more out of a minor setback. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Losing a luggage is the worst scenario that could ever happen to any traveler. Thank goodness that the hotel staff helped you. Then, they gave you a wonderful tour. That was so nice of them. It was definitely a big gain for you. Filipinos are very hospitable. They will make sure that you will get the best service always.

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