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all inclusive resorts

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Anyone have any info on all inclusive resorts with good food?? we've read about some salon style all inclusive resorts? we are trying to decide between an all inclusice resort or some other kind of vacation. I just need to relax!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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  1. In general, any I have been to have been, well average. It depends what you mean by "good". If you're looking for "chowish", I don't think you're going to find it. If you're looking for edible, well, you'll probably be fine as long as you stick with one of the more well-known resorts. Since your main reason for vacationing seems to be relaxation - and food second, going to an all inclusive could work for you. We've never found it was a good choice for us, since wherever we travel we prefer to sample local food, and not be stuck with what the hotel is offering. The only exception being when we cruise - where there is no choice.

    1. I imagine that all-inclusives are similar to cruises in that they serve a lot of people and the food is going to be somewhat limited. and, as the above poster mentioned, you will be getting hotel food rather than local food.

      That said, not worrying about how much you're spending on food and drink can help you relax. we've been to two: Sandals in the Bahamas and Dreams in Tulum (in the Mayan Riviera). I chose both because they had a number of a la carte options in addition to a main buffet (which they all seem to have). Also, some of the resorts limit how many times you can eat at the a la cartes, which would not have been a good option for us.

      At both resorts we ate at the buffet for breakfast, and occasionally for lunch. We found it to be fine, and sometimes good, but we tended to choose carefully--salads, fruit, foods easy to hold. We also found the dinners to be fine to good at the restaurants we visited for dinner. None was mind-blowing, but we always found something good to eat. we stuck to dishes that we thought could be done well on a large scale, and if something was less than great, we had enough food and enough courses to enjoy other stuff at the table.

      I wouldn't spend every vacation like that, but I'd gladly do it again.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nc213

        We also went to Sandals (St Lucia) - on our honeymoon. My husband and I LOVE to eat on our vacations - and the food at Sandals never made it above good (and that was the highest honor we awarded). Thank God we also went to St Thomas where we did NOT do AI and the food was excellent. I think I would have been sorely disappointed in my honeymoon if Sandals was the only option. Besides that. Sandals is reallllllllllllly cheesy....

      2. Small private island resorts in Fiji that are all-inclusive are pretty amazing & most food cooked to order per your request. Wakaya Club is the best of the lot - Turtle Island & Vatulele also excellent. Cuisine is limited, but it is fresh and incredible seafood. All very upscale drinks, wines, champagnes, etc. are also included. And one of the most romantic and relaxing settings in the world!

        Some cruises are excellent food-wise - Silversea, Seabourn & somewhat larger, Crystal.

        3 Replies
        1. re: torta basilica

          Second the small resorts in Fiji. Usually they max out at 14-20 guests, making it very personal and relaxing. The food is excellent as well as the service. Also you won't find a crowded beach with jet ski assaults, beachside vendors or boomboxes. Some will assign each couple their own exclusive beach. The diving and snorkeling are world class. The sunsets will melt your heart. Alot of the food - seafood, land protein, vegetables and fruits are grown or caught locally. But probably the best highlight of Fiji are the people. Fijians are some of the most friendly and endearing folks on the planet.

          If you just need some time to yourself in a peaceful and beautiful setting and want some great food and service to match, you should seriously look into the Fijian resorts. Kana vaka levu!

          1. re: bulavinaka

            Bulavinaka -

            You said it so much more beautifully than me - Vinaka!


        2. I went to one in Cuba (I'm Canadian) and while the food was overall kind of mediocre, I managed to find stuff I enjoyed. Now the Cuban AIs are not known for their food. They did have a beachside grill that served a very basic lunch, but the fish & fruit were fresh and that was good enough for me. If you like fresh grilled fish try to find a resort that has beachside option. The a la carte restaurant on the other hand was pretty bad - I preferred the buffet where I had sussed out the decent dishes. The 24-hour pizza and sandwiches were just okay, but my picky eater friend pretty much ate nothing else.

          The AI experience is indeed very relaxing. It's not my preferred way to travel but every ten years or so... why not? Travelling on your own there are hits & misses with the food too. Sometimes you're just hungry and tired and don't have time to find the best place, sometimes there is no great option. Next time (probably Mexico this fall) I plan to budget for some meals away from the resort.

          1. I have been to an AI resort in Cancun last summer and was more than pleasantly surprised and I am going to one in Punta Cana in a couple of weeks and expect the same.
            In Mexico last year, I couldnt believe what was actually offered in that it was more than just buffets. The breakfast was always a buffet but was tremendous- omelette bar and plenty of regional fare that changed on a daily basis.

            When it came to lunchtime, there were a couple of options- you could either sit at the laid back restaurants that they had there which had more than enough options (nothing mindblowing) but always had a full plethera of seafood/veggie/meat options and there was something for everyone which was great given that my wife and I are very different in eating habits.

            Dinner was fantastic. There were 4 different restaurants to choose from so you werent stuck with the same thing every day and there was even 2 restaurants that were truly up-scale containing lobster/frog legs/etc and always always great desserts. There was also a 24 snack bar available for those cravings.

            The best part was that the alcohol was included. They had selection of only about 5 beers but top-shelf drinks (ie Don Julio) were all included!! I couldnt believe it. Highly recommend and i hope I get the same results in Punta Cana next month.

            1 Reply
            1. re: yankeefan

              where in punta cana? we went to one a few years back that was okay. great breakfast buffet with an amazing european cheese, bread, etc. selection and beautiful fresh fruits and juices. there were a number a restaurants to choose from. the trick was not to expect americanized food because it wasn't but the dominican restaurant was really pretty good. and the drinks, etc. were very nice. it was an apple vacations place.
              of course i may be a bad judge of the food since i was about 10 weeks pregnant at the time and SO sick! but i remember thinking i'd like to go back and enjoy it. :)

            2. We went to Goldeneye in Jamaica a couple of years ago and all I can say is FANTASTIC! It is situated in Oracabessa outside of Ocho Rios. It is the fromer home of Ian Fleming and is run by Chris Blackwell of Island Records. The grounds are spectacular. At night all the pathways are lit by candles and lanterns. There isnt a menu per se. At lunch they lay on a buffet. Always Jamaican delicacies. Jerk, ribs, slads, veg. At dinner it is usually a surf and turf of some sort. I was worried about no menu as I have a picky eater but it was great! You dine in a gazebo that hangs over the water by candlelight. The staff is amazing. There isnt anything they wont organize for you. It's on the pricey side but all food and drink is included. Check it out at www.islandoutpost.com

              1. We had a workshop in an AI resort on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua a couple of years ago. The buffets were extensive; and it was easy to eat well if you decided on a couple of things and plated it it nicely, rather than taking a bit of everything. The pool also had a pizza, burger, hot dog place to provide an alternative. Drinks were included. All in all, it was fun.

                1. We did an all-inclusive resort (Freedom Paradise) in Tulum, on the Mayan Riviera, but wound up eating elsewhere a lot of the time. It hurt less because the place had just opened and we got a fantastic price. But their food was only so-so, and the selection was limited (they didn't have a lot of guests yet, so they only had one of the three restaurants open). And it was probably just as well--we enjoyed exploring and trying different restaurants, more than staying in one place, anyway. We rented a car and did a lot of day trips, so eating all our meals at the resort wouldn't have been an option.

                  It partly depends on what kind of vacation you want. Are you envisioning going somewhere and parking on the beach all week, or doing activities around the resort? Or do you plan to rent a car and get out and explore the area on your own? If you're just going to relax and veg, or let the resort entertain you, then AI could be a good choice--but if you prefer to do a lot of independent sightseeing away from the resort, it might not be for you.

                  Also consider the location. We had a car, so it was easy to go into town for a meal. But some of the resorts around Tulum and Playa del Carmen are miles from anything but other resorts, and a lot of cab rides would have run into some money. If you decide against AI, make sure your other options are reasonably accessible.

                  1. I have just the place for you. Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands. It's a private island and the only thing on it is the Peter Island Resort. Small - 54 rooms plus 3 ultra-expensive villas. The food is one of their prime focuses - as is their extensive wine list. It is all-inclusive except for beverages...because of the wine focus.

                    DH and I have been there twice. I have never had such a relaxing vacation with such amazing food.


                    1. I think you can get above average, and more than just 'hotel' food, and even good local food, if you're staying at a really nice resort, or one that's not endless acres of humanity. It's like cruises -- some lines are bottom-dollar and family oriented; some are for the more discerning customer.

                      Just honeymooned at Kona Village Resort and I was trepidatious about the all-inclusive aspect; I didn't want to feel obligated to eat mediocre food. I was very pleasantly surprised. Lunch was buffet style, but with options like fresh out of the water sashimi? All you can eat? Yes please! They offered local food as well as a traditional japanese breakfast, with green tea and natto. Dinner at the Hale Samoa was amazing -- had a side of breadfruit fries and plantain ketchup with my thai green curry sauced lobster vol-au-vent, and was quite happy with it.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: themis

                        My husband and I honeymooned at Kona Village in 2003 and absolutely loved it. And i strongly recommend Hale Samoa. It costs a small supplement more, but it is so worth it. We had fantastic lobster, prawns, lamb chops, etc. All of the food was amazing with fantastic service. Plus it's right on the water so very romantic with great service. Breakfast and lunch were also great. We thought we'd dine out more, but the food at Kona Village was too good to leave.

                        1. re: stolenchange

                          Third on KVR - we're going again for the third time next December. Loved Hale Samoa and unlimited sashimi is wonderful. Reminds me of those resorts in Fiji - a true Hawaiian resort, unlike any other of the concrete hotels you find anywhere else, with lovely staff and delicious food! Did you try their special honey for breakfast - to die for!

                          1. re: torta basilica

                            Yes, I always bring some home with me. Kiawe honey is about $16 a jar, though.

                      2. I've done the AI thing several times, and generally found it to be relaxing at the expense of poor food. I find that it's edible for the first three or four days, but then the repetition of themes and ingredients brings me to the point where I just don't want to eat at all and dread meal times.

                        The only place I went where this wasn't the case was the Sierra Llorona ecolodge in Panama - which was sit down in a gorgeous large house - where they went out of their way to prepare excellent Panamanian food for us for every meal (with a couple of ventures into other cuisines, like Italian, for variation), and really mixed it up a lot. Fresh tamarind juice and a bowl of plantain porridge is a great start to a lovely breakfast and really gets your day off on the right foot.

                        My absolute favourite vacation, all things considered, was to the AI Mercure Simson in St. Martin. Breakfast was consistently decent, and lunches and dinners were mostly okay with a few very big misses and a couple nice hits. The menu was posted ahead of time, allowing us to determine if things looked grim, in which case, we took advantage of the opportunity to head to the village of Grand Case, the gourmet capital of the Caribbean, which offers utterly amazing high class food at excellent prices. We had the five course tasting menu at L'Hibiscus for a mere 55 euros per person and nearly died and went to heaven. Sheer perfection. People talk about exquisite restaurants in Toronto; I've tried a few of the highly recommended ones in my price range, but nothing comes even remotely close to Grand Case.

                        It was also the most relaxing vacation we ever took. The resort was a 10 minute walk away from Baie Rouge, which is the nicest beach I've ever been to: pristine blue waters, clothing optional if you wander down the long sandy stretch a bit, not that many people, and a lovely view of Anguilla across the ocean. I loved this much better than the beaches I went to on Oahu and the Big Island in Hawaii. I came back feeling just wonderful.

                        Cuba had by far the worst food ever, and as I was far from major cities at the resort I stayed at (Brisas Santa Lucia), I was stuck eating undercooked veggies, underripe fruit, and rock hard virtually unseasoned meats for a week. Disgusting. I survived on the deep fried pork burgers and fries that the poolside grill served, as they were the most edible things offered. Fortunately, the resort itself was very nice. All inclusive alcohol kept my spirits up.

                        I definitely think for relaxation, AI is the way to go. I went to Hawaii a few years back and given the prices there, I felt a lot of trepidation for the trip as to how far over budget I was going. I adored Hawaii and fell in love with it, but it was not restful (overcrowded and everything was horribly expensive) and for the price, I think there are better places to travel.

                        1. If you don't find one that appeals, another option would be to rent a villa that comes with a private chef. You pay for the food, but you can eat in your own private villa. Not a bad deal!

                          1. I've only been to one all-inclusive: Iberostar Bavaro in Punta Cana. The resort is amazing and was the most relaxing trip I've ever been on. Would go back in a second and recommend it to anyone. The food ranged from just okay to really good. We tempered our expectations ahead of time since we figured it would be a mixed bag - both my SO and I love to cook and eat out but for that trip, the food wasn't the main focus. We wanted to relax and not feel like we had to run around at all.

                            I found there were more individual items that my SO and I really liked rather than whole meals we had at any of the restaurants. A decent proportion of our meals ended up being the same things each day once we found the things we liked and were perfectly happy with it. There was enough to make us feel like we were happy with the food. It's all context. We figured that the food would be good but not out of this world so we couldn't get too worked up when some parts of the meals didn't work as well as others. But even so, I still dream of a few things we did have like the grilled skirt steak, baked potato, this herb salad dressing and black bean soup. They were all amazing. Interestingly too, at the buffets there was a very impressive selection of breads. Freshly baked and really wonderful flavor and texture.

                            FYI - the Iberostar is made up of 3 different properties - Bavaro is the higher end one, and Punta Cana and the Dominica are more middle of the road. They all have restaurants that you have to make reservations at plus a few buffets. The advantage of the Bavaro is that you can eat at any restaurant in these 3 properties but it's not the same policy at the other two.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pellegrino31

                              Im actually going there in 2 weeks to that location - now I cant wait. Thanks.

                            2. We visited th Royal Hideaway Playacar (near Playa Del Carmen --- Cancun area) about 4 years ago, and the food there was quite good. We generally ate buffet for breakfast, and at the beach cantina for lunch (best guacamole EVER!!). The dinner restaurant choices were an Asian (maybe Thai) place, Steakhouse, Italian, and Mex/Caribbean. The Italian place was our favorite. There was not much going on for night life at the resort. I am sure a few things have changed there over the last several years, but we had a wonderful vacation!

                              1. Curtain Bluff in Antigua, W.I. is pretty amazing. Great food and wine cellar. Great hosts. Beautiful accommodations, lovely beach with all ammenities. Always rated in the top 3 in the Caribbean. You will go back. Oh, did I say very relaxing!