Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Dec 9, 2009 07:13 AM

Why is All-Inclusive Resort food so awful?

During a recent trip to the Dominican Republic in a beautiful all inclusive resort, I experienced 5 days of the worst food. Not only was the food flavorless but it was unidentifiable. I came across the weirdest combinations of foods. Strange cold salads, sushi (that looks liked it was flown in frozen), mystery meats, and very "cheezy" presentations. I eat everything and will try anything so I had to look at my week of meals like a series of science projects.
Where was the Dominican food that i had been craving. Platanos Maduros, Mangu, arroz con leche, guandules con coco?
It seems strange that resorts seem to serve cuisines and styles of food that they are unfamiliar with? Why couldn't the food be simple, healthy, and reflect the country that we were in? Was it their take on continental cuisine?

Please someone answer these questions for me.......

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Trapped clientele looking for the easiest path to gullet fulfillment. Resorts that are part of international chains that have systematized and made more 'efficient' the process of food puryevance. Assumptions (perhaps based on truth) that clientele don't want to have their tastebuds challenged. The approach of these large resort chains that don't treat their settings as unique, but rather as a sort of generic tropical paradise that thru sun, sand and a sense of abundance amid poverty can convey a feeling of entitlement and luxury
    to their clientele who, let's face it, aren't going to these resorts to see the DR or Baja or Fiji but rather something simply 'exotic' and luxurious.

    All that being said, I had a great time with my family when we went to one.

    1. nyufood08 (btw, im nyulaw10, yay!):

      in their defense, they're trying to appeal to guests who may not have a palate as adventurous as yours. hence, the worst of "americanized" cuisine.

      however, all is not bleak. i've always enjoyed food at the iberostar hotels. they're a spanish chain, so i think they have a great appreciation for local variation and better food in general. last time, i was in the dominican, i stayed at the costa dorada location. there's also a hilton next door where ive also stayed. it's not as good as the iberostar, but also passable. (i love DR, if you can't tell)

      And it always pays to befriend the staff. I was there with my family, and my Dad is uber social. He was besties with all the servers and we got stuff brought out from the back that was not available in the buffet. (And no, he only tipped them upon departure, so this wasn't a bribe situation). we ate really excellent home made yogurt and many dominican meals you described (i assume prepared for the staff meal).

      5 Replies
      1. re: StrawbrryF

        I've stayed at the Iberostar in Punta Cana and we thought the food was quite good (in addition to the fact that the property is absolutely gorgeous). My husband and I also worried about the food ahead of time but we were pleasantly surprised. I think their European orientation definitely helps. In addition to having a nice offering of Dominican food, I thought they also did basics really well - we are haunted by the baked potatoes we ate there with what seemed to be some kind of mix between lime juice, sour cream and butter.

        1. re: pellegrino31

          I have been to several AI's and the only place where I DIDNT love the food was Iberostar PC! (I hated the property as well -way too big and slightly dirty)
          (sorry Pellegrino)
          We stayed at a small and gorgeous AI in Tulum last year and the food was stellar. I am usually v impressed

          1. re: NellyNel

            Oh really?! That's too bad - we really liked it. Were you at the Bavaro property or the other ones? I thought the other properties weren't as nice/food wasn't as good as the Bavaro side of things where we stayed.

            1. re: pellegrino31

              Yes we were at Bavaro...The only thing I did like there were the rooms...
              I just felt it was way too crowded for my tastes, and for such a large property there wasnt must variation on where you could hang out...lots of other small issues too, one of which was the food - it wasnt bad - and certainly LOADS to choose from - but it wasnt my fav

              And annoyingly IB was the most expensive of the AI's we have been too.

              If you liked it there - you should check out Catalonia Royal what a stunning peaceful, yet fun place and really the food as well as the drinks (strong and tasty!!!!) were to die for...

              1. re: NellyNel

                Sorry to hear it...we went 2x both in early December and the crowds were pretty light, but I can see if was more crowded how it would be annoying. I too felt the hang out spots weren't great - that DC 9 or whatever nightclub had a funny vibe. We did appreciate the fried hot dogs and french fries at the bar right outside it though to soak up the booze (which was more of our complaint - wish they had better brands to offer).

                Nice to know about the Tulum property.

      2. It could also be a cost issue... likely they are serving inexpensive options to keep up the bottom line.

        1. Most resorts are owned by American Companies, What resort did you vacation at and which hotel operator was it?

          3 Replies
          1. re: fourunder

            I went to IFA - Villas Brava in Punta Cana. The DR and the hotel itself met my expectations of a beach resort but the food just needed a revision. The Japanese, Mexican, and "Fine Dining" restaurant's menus were outdated and all food presentation needed some help. Why can't we have the beautiful beach and some great food to go along with it?

            1. re: fourunder

              Most all inclusives are NOT owned by American companies........most are Spanish.

              1. re: wineman3

                I think Club Med is a French-owned company. I'm not sure. We love them- not the tacky-alcohol-drenched-pool-partying-fiestas of the 70's Club Meds (although I do miss those (money) necklaces). The food is OK, especially for families. The rooms usually suck, though. But who cares? You're too busy to ever be in your room!

              1. re: grampart

                yeah! let's all go chill with richard branson.