I know a large number of people who are put off from travelling or staying all inclusive due to their allergy or food intolerance. Suffering from a complete intolerance to gluten myself, I have a lot of sympathy with you guys, however I wasn't going to let my diet affect my honeymoon experience and booked into a 5* all-inclusive resort. Before I arrival I informed the hotel of my intolerance and was assured they would be able to cater for my needs. I decided to write this post both to share my experience and give advice which I hope will help others who suffer from the same issue. Although my allergy is gluten I hope this information will be helpful to those with any dietary requirement.
As anyone with an intolerance will tell you eating out is always a bit of a challenge. My experience of staying all-inclusive was unfortunately no different. I cannot say I didn't have delicious food or that the staff were not willing to help but for me, as a self confessed foodie, dining in buffets where my choice is limited is always difficult (especially since I could see and smell everything). In the buffet my choices were repetitive, most evenings I could eat the salad and the curry but not a lot of the other dishes. Watching my husband devour plates of Italian pizza and pasta (my favourite) on Italian night was particularly difficult. After one less than satisfactory evening in the Buffet we were upgraded to eat in the Al la carte restaurants which were noticeably better! Here the chefs would come out and discuss the meal with me to make sure my dishes were suitable however there was still quite a basic understanding that gluten meant flour, but not thinking of a lot of the products which have flour in, for example sausages are generally made with heaps of flour mixed with the meat.
The breakfast buffet was a whole other story, every morning I was greeted with gluten free pancakes and hash browns with the option of gluten free toast if I wanted. There was also an abundance of fresh fruit, yoghurt and although I couldn't help eyeing up the pastries there was more than enough to keep me satisfied. Despite my best efforts a couple of times during the fortnight my food was contaminated with gluten and I felt unwell; this was always from when I had eaten at the buffet.
So...what would I suggest to other with a food intolerance? Well for a start - never let it stop you! I had the best holiday of my life and one on to remember - I wouldn't have swapped it for the world. If you are mildly intolerant to something or if the food you are intolerant to is quite unusual, I would recommend letting them know before you arrive and speaking to the chef on arrival but taking no further action, sit back, sip a cocktail and enjoy your holiday. If however your allergy is more serious I would recommend these steps.
Before your arrival not only inform the hotel but make a plan with them, ask whether the food is buffet style and try to arrange a package that allows you to eat al la carte. Book your table in the restaurants before arrival so that they have plenty of time to ensure they have good options for you. Also, ask to see the menus at the restaurants so you can gauge for yourself what sort of things you can eat. On arrival arrange to meet the head chef and the head waiter just to confirm your arrangements (I found the restaurant staff are actually very keen to help and would rather meet with than be caught off guard by a request mid dinner service when they are busy - everyone was very friendly and polite to me when I had requests). If you can get a translation explaining your requirements in the staffs local language that also highlights likely and unusual places you may find your ingredient so that they are fully aware. My final recommendation is always have your own snacks just encase you are caught off guard!
Post by Victoria Aldrich, MillieGoes' fabulous sister