Calling all foodies – all-inclusives are no longer about buffet lines

By Eileen Ogintz

PUERTO MORELOS, Mexico — The waiter makes guacamole table side in a traditional stone dish.

‘That was really awesome,” said Maia Capp, 13, from Sitka, Alaska.

Guacamole made tableside at Grand Residents Riviera Cancun
Guacamole made tableside at Grand Residents Riviera Cancun

 

We have our choice at the Flor de Canela at the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun of grilled lobster, shrimp flambéd with tequila, grilled grouper duck breast or  chicken mole, among other choices.

At the El Faro Grill, there’s Ceviche, beef carpaccio  cream of carrot and coconut soup followed by steak Diane, grilled octopus or risotto, among other choices.

“People are really interested in the food,” said Daniela Trava, general manager of the 144-suite resort. Plans are underway for a big expansion, she said, which will include two new restaurants. A new wellness menu will be introduced this spring as well as an expanded children’s menu with more healthful options.  They are looking at options for a roof garden

“People want quality food at all-inclusives,” she said. “It is a whole revolution.”

Fruit kabobs served on the beach at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun
Fruit kabobs served on the beach at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

 

That means fish that comes from local fisherman, different Mexican stews at breakfast, tamales, cooking demonstrations, weekly BBQ complete with lobster and steak, Taco Tuesdays, Italian Mondays…. “We have different dishes every day,” said Trava. “For sure everyone is concerned about the quality of the food.”

“Everything is so fresh,” said Rachel Spector, 26, who was here with her mom.

About 65 percent of the guests here opt for the all-inclusive plan, roughly $135 per person and free for kids 12 and under. As the units are all suites with kitchens or kitchenettes, guests can also opt for the resort to provision for them at no charge—just the cost of the groceries.

Parents note that if they opt for the all-inclusive plan, there is an opportunity for kids to try new foods—maybe mussels, grilled octopus as well as kid favorites like pasta, quesadillas and mac and cheese, not to mention all varieties of smoothies.

“The food is amazing,” said Daisy Schudmak, from Louisiana. “And I don’t have to lift a thing.’

“Everything is so fresh,” said Lisa Park, from Vancouver. “Whatever you order you can’t go wrong.”

Octopus served at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun
Octopus served at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

 

All-inclusives once were the purview of bland buffets where, like on cruise ships, the emphasis was on quality rather than quality. That has all changed here as well as at other resorts and cruise lines where there are growing partnerships with celebrity chefs and specialty restaurants.

When this resort expands in 2020, for example, there likely will be a steak house as well as an Asian restaurant in addition to the two restaurants that are already popular here and the beach bar- the place for ceviche, salads and quesadillas for lunch; It’s even possible to order a burger and fries at the swim up bar in the pool.  Premium spirits are offered, Trava added.  “We don’t compromise on the quality,” she said.

The only problem—the temptation to eat too much—way too much!

 

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