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Travel Buzz
All-inclusive Delights
By James Shillinglaw

Dining at an all-inclusive resort used to be fairly rudimentary — you simply went to the buet and ate all the food you wanted. Quality wasn’t the issue, since that wasn’t the focus. Instead, you simply ate more because the food was included in the cost of your vacation. But over the last few years, food has become an essential ingredient in the overall vacation experience. That’s why today’s allinclusive resorts are delivering epicurean delights that will satisfy the most discerning palates. You can now enjoy gourmet dining at its very finest at these resorts without spending anything extra.

In part, the new focus on high-end dining has also occurred in tandem with the tremendous growth in the number of all-inclusive resorts. Where there were once four or five all-inclusive brands, there are now nearly 40 competing in the market. And to attract customers they need to off?er high-quality cuisine and a wide array of dining options.

For example, Palace Resorts, which features two all-inclusive brands, Palace and Le Blanc, with resorts in Mexico and Jamaica, has been focused on setting the highest standard of culinary o?erings at all its properties because they have recognized its customers are much more sophisticated.

“Demand for all-inclusive resorts is on the rise and customers’ expectations are on the rise as well,” says Kathy Halpern, vice president of sales and marketing for Palace Resorts. “It’s now truly about the quality of the culinary o?ering as well as top-shelf libations.”

To help meet that demand for top-notch food and beverage, Palace invested $75 million in its own centralized manufacturing plant for all food so it can control the quality and the dining experience.

“We’re not only raising the bar, we are creating the bar,” says Halpern. “We define the experience because we control the quality. Gastronomy and travel have become synonymous. Consumers are seeking a high caliber experience and unmatched culinary o?erings, which we deliver.”

In addition, Palace Resorts has developed a dedicated program to train its culinary sta? on ingredients and trends in food preparation so they can better serve guests at the wide variety of restaurants at every property. Indeed, Palace features Italian, French, Mexican, Asian, steakhouses and regional specialties at its restaurants, so chefs need to be trained to prepare many di?erent cuisines. Palace Resorts chefs also have been showcased at the Cancun food and wine festival in the past few years.

Cuisine also is crucial at Le Blanc Spa Resort, which features high-end French cuisine with wine pairings at its Lumiere restaurant and an eclectic menu of Asian cuisine at Blanc Asia. Restaurants at other Palace Resorts include sensory dining experiences with music, special lighting, wine pairings and gourmet cuisine.

At Karisma Hotels & Resorts, gourmet dining has been made part of the brand itself with the company’s highly promoted Gourmet Inclusive program. Karisma o?ers three resort brands in Mexico and Jamaica — Eldorado Spa Resorts, Azul Hotels and Generations Resorts — and will soon be opening a property in the Dominican Republic.

“Gourmet Inclusive is designed to provide guests with the finest gastronomic experiences, world-class service, and innovative on- and o?ff-property programming,” says Mandy Chomat, Karisma’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We deliver exceptional levels of quality that can only be compared to luxurious traditional hotels.”

Karisma’s culinary program features internationally trained chefs and sommeliers at every restaurant, fresh local ingredients, partnerships with leading food and beverage suppliers like Jackson Family Wines and Canadian Beef, and innovative food and beverage concepts. Guests can enjoy gourmet a la carte meals, premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and 24-hour room service.

Each of Karisma resorts features a wide selection of restaurants, bars and lounges, including unique culinary experiences — everything from a beachfront BBQ with the fresh catch of the day and healthy juice bar to restaurants serving authentic Italian, Mexican, Asian and world cuisine.

Karisma even has an awardwinning restaurant in its inventory: Le Chique at Azul Sensatori Hotel, led by Executive Chef Jonathan Gomez Luna Torres, is recognized as one of Mexico’s best restaurants. Karisma also has been a recipient of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for the past seven years.

Fuentes at El Dorado Royale by Karisma o?ers another one-of-a-kind dining experience. Dinner is the show in a very special evening under the big top in a 90-foot-high, thatched roof culinary theater where the chef is paired with a wine expert to entertain and inform guests as choreographed, multi-course meal is prepared in front of them.

This commitment to culinary excellence runs to even larger chains of all-inclusive resorts, such as AMResorts, whose brands include Zoetry, Secrets, Dreams, Breathless, Now and Sunscape in Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Panama, Aruba and Curacao.

Zoetry, AMResorts’ luxury spa resort brand, features award-winning restaurants, such as La Canoa at Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita. Other eateries focus on serving specialized regional cuisine in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

AMResorts also o?ers a variety of choices at each of its brands, where as many as 10 restaurants off?er French, Italian, Mexican, Asian, seafood, grill specialties and more. And if that’s not enough, guests can dine at nearby sister resorts under the company’s “Sip, Savor & See” dining experience, providing even more culinary choices.

It all comes down to all-inclusive resorts understanding that their guests have a deep understanding and appreciation for food and wine. “I believe the trend toward elevated epicurean o?erings will continue,” says Karisma’s Chomat. “We will always be evolving and pushing ourselves to surprise and delight our guests as a part of a vacation not soon forgotten.”






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