5 things we love about Nustar Resort in Cebu  

Here’s what P450,000 a night gets you at Nustar: an 850-sqm. villa with pool, four bedrooms, a gym and stream rooms.

Who can afford such a villa? Well, let’s just say they’ve had walk-in guests—to no one’s surprise.

Hotel prices are a good benchmark of how expensive a city is and the kind of tourists it attracts. In London, New York or Hong Kong, $500 to $1,000 a night hotel rooms are standard. Of course, there are less expensive alternatives, but when a newly built resort finds that it makes good business sense to build villas that cost as much as $8,300 or half a million pesos a night, you know they have the market for it—a small one maybe, but it exists—that’s willing to drop a million or more per stay.

Fili Hotel’s lobby features concentric rings lighting inspired by Moalboal’s sardine run
Fili Hotel’s lobby features concentric rings lighting inspired by Moalboal’s sardine run.

Welcome to Nustar Resort, Cebu’s first integrated resort that features a casino, two luxury hotels, a Michelin-starred restaurant, convention center, Cebuano design, and soon a shopping mall. Nustar Resort was designed by top-notch firms HKS Architects, HBA Design Consultants and ASYA Design Studio.

Cebu Pacific, which celebrates its 27th anniversary this year, recently partnered with Nustar Resort to mark this milestone.  Both owned by JG Summit Holdings of the Gokongwei Group, Cebu Pacific and Nustar are raising the tourism profile of the province with more flights and the first luxury resort of its kind.

Here are 5 things we love about Nustar and Cebu.

1. Cebuano design

Cebu is known for a unique design aesthetic that has put it on the global map in furniture and fashion design. In luxury hotels around the world, you might spot Kenneth Cobonpue furniture pieces; on the Hollywood red carpet, you might see celebrities clutching Neil Felipp minaudieres; at an A-list celebrity wedding, you might see Monique Lhuillier gowns, and the list goes on.

Subtle touches of Cebuano elements all around the resort
Subtle touches of Cebuano elements all around the resort.

One thing that I truly love about Nustar putting elements of Cebu in its interior design—in a subtle, look again or you might miss it kind of way—is the Moalboal sardine run. At the reception lobby of Fili Hotel, look up at the chandelier, which was inspired by the thousands of sardines that encircle divers in the waters of Moalboal. Have a look during daytime (when it’s off) at the three concentric rings with thousands of tiny lights representing the sardine run.

Fili Hotel’s lobby lounge also features solihiya, a form of weaving that dates back to the Spanish colonial era. The murals fronting the elevators of the public floors by Fidel Sarmiento are amazing depictions of the Filipino way of life during the colonial period, while sculptures by Jef Albea around the hotel are inspired by water. 

The design of Fili extends to a signature scent derived from osmanthus, a sweet, fragrant flower native to Asia with a unique odor profile. It’s fleshy, floral but also fruity, with peach and apricot notes.

2. The villas

The five-star Fili Hotel, the first of two hotels to open at Nustar, has three villas of different sizes and 379 guest rooms (starting at 41 sqm.). The biggest is a showstopping villa that may be the largest in the country.

One of the three villas at Fili Hotel in Nustar Resort, Cebu.
One of the three villas at Fili Hotel in Nustar Resort, Cebu.

Here’s what $8,300 or P450,000/night gets you at Nustar: an 850-square-meter playground with its own swimming pool, four bedrooms, huge living and dining rooms, a study, a gym, two stream rooms (one with eight seats, the other with four), and luxe appointments all around.

Who can afford such a villa? Well, let’s just say they’ve had walk-in guests—to no one’s surprise, least of all, Nustar.

Guest rooms at Fili Hotel start at 41 sqm
Guest rooms at Fili Hotel start at 41 sqm.

3. The location

Located on Kawit island, Nustar has wonderful views of both Cebu City and Cordova, and the 8.9-kilometer CCLEX or Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway, which opened in 2022. The bridge connects Mactan to Cebu City and Cordova and makes getting to the resort only a 30-minute drive from the airport.  

Nustar is also very near the city, which makes exploring the historic and modern parts of Cebu easy. Not far are shopping malls, Carbon market, the Minor Basilica of Child Jesus, and other attractions. A few hours by land and you could be swimming with thresher sharks in Malapascua, or having a grand time in Bantayan and Moalboal.

Located on Kawit island, Nustar Resort has a convention center, casino, two hotels, signature restaurants, and soon a shopping mall.

4. The restaurants

You’ve probably heard that Mott 32 opened at Nustar, making Cebu only its sixth location. The Cantonese restaurant owned by Maximal Concepts has branches in Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Bangkok and Singapore. Chef Lee Man Sing earned for Mott 32 two Michelin stars. It also has won numerous awards for its interior design—mixing Chinoiserie with Victorian chandeliers—since it first opened in Hong Kong in 2014.

Michelin-starred Mott 32 restaurant at Fili Hotel
Michelin-starred Mott 32 restaurant.

Nustar also has Il Primo Italian Steakhouse, which uses a a Josper grill to keep the steaks’ flavor and succulence, and features an extensive wine list. The Chinese restaurant Xian Tian Di is where southern Chinese and southeast Asian specialties come together in both classic and fusion preparations. Filipino specialty restaurant Fina serves Filipino classics and heirloom dishes from Cebu and other regions. Sinag Café at the pool level offers an extensive all-day buffet of international and local dishes, such as Cebu lechon, sutukil, pungko pungko, among others.

5. Cebu as Cebu Pacific’s hub

First, I love the domestic airport of Cebu! It’s the right size for a busy domestic hub like Cebu. It has comfortable cafes, you can buy packed lechon per kilo just before your flight, and it has adequate seating at the gates.

Cebu Pacific flew its maiden flight on March 8, 1996 from Manila to Cebu. Today, the airline has an average of 355 flights a day, covering 34 domestic and 19 international destinations. That’s about 64,000 seats a day!

Sailing around Kawit island as Cebu Pacific recently marked its 27th anniversary in Cebu.
Sailing around Kawit island as Cebu Pacific recently marked its 27th anniversary in Cebu.

The airline is set to exceed its Cebu hub’s pre-pandemic network and capacity which will hit 129% in June as it raises to 28 its combined domestic and international routes operating at Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA). It will start operating direct flights between Cebu and Taipei daily starting June 23 for a total of 23 domestic and 5 international destinations. Cebu Pacific will also ramp up its flight frequencies to 11 of its destinations from Cebu.

If it’s luxury, city and sea adventures you’re looking for this summer, it’s gotta be Cebu.

The new lifestyle.