BY: NICOLE DEFOREST
This question is being asked more often now than ever and the answer is usually not advertised in a resort brochure or hotel chain website. Gluten-free is a diet that treats celiac disease and excludes foods containing gluten. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. When you have a disease, you can’t stop maintaining it just because you are going on vacation to an all-inclusive resort. When you travel to an all-inclusive resort, you pay the one price upfront in a package for unlimited food, drinks, and activities without having to cook for yourself or travel off site to find places that can accommodate you. When looking for your next vacation, I suggest first looking at the list of hotels below so you know they can accommodate your diet. When making the booking I would ask your travel agent to make a remark on your file that you are gluten free to give the hotel a heads up (this is not mandatory but recommended). I did some research to see what resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico offer gluten-free options, in every price range.
Unfortunately, Cuba did not make the cut. Although Cuba is one of the more affordable islands, it already has limitations for variety and flavourful foods. I would suggest avoiding this island and spending a bit more to travel to a hotel that will be able to match your dietary needs. The Dominican Republic is very affordable and still offers some great hotel options from budget to high-end properties. I found the food quite good at the following hotels: Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, Hard Rock, Catalonia Bavaro Resort, Riu Palace Punta Cana, Melia Caribe and Ocean Blue all offer gluten free meals. They offer lots of choices so you won’t be eating the same foods repetitively. Mexico is very Americanised in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera area. I’ve found that the Hard Rock, Iberostar Cancun, Dreams Cancun, Paradisus La Esmeralda and Valentin Imperial Maya all offer gluten free options. All these hotels are large chains across the Caribbean and not locally run. This makes it easier for them to trade food goods and offer ample options when it comes to food. The chains listed range from budget to luxury and some are adult-only if you want a more relaxing vacation.
If you are considering some higher end or unique islands, consider the Riu chain in Costa Rica or Aruba. Riu hotels are located worldwide, not just in the Caribbean. Again, there is lots of availability to trade with other islands and countries, and lots of options for gluten free food choices. Riu Palace Aruba and Riu Guanacaste Costa Rica offer lots of buffets and a la carte dining to choose from, making it hard not to try everything on the menu.
A trip to these resorts will make you feel confident that you can still have an enjoyable vacation if you are gluten free.