An increasing number of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus are available at hotels throughout Mexico. // © 2014 Thinkstock
Feature image (above): Specialized menu cards at buffet restaurants in Palladium Hotels & Resorts throughout the Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit are helpful to guests with food allergies or dietary restrictions. // © 2014 Grand Palladium Colonial Resort Spa
It’s not clear whether travelers are actually getting more food-sensitive and pickier about what they eat, or if hoteliers are simply getting more creative and responsive with their menus. But one thing is certain: There is a wider range of culinary experiences and special dietary options than ever before at Mexico's biggest hotels.
On the Pacific coast, Viceroy Zihuatanejo bills itself as the destination’s first hotel to offer dedicated menus for vegan and vegetarian guests. Both menus feature a variety of salads, soups and main courses. The vegan menu also offers appetizers and desserts — including specialties such as vegan bean soup with epazote (a locally grown herb), fajitas, green enchiladas and Greek linguini. The hotel can also accommodate other special diets and specific requests with 24-hour notice.
In the Riviera Maya, Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita serves a selection of light, heart-healthy, gluten-free and vegetarian selections on the menus of its three restaurants, including the sushi and ceviche bar. The resort can also arrange a meeting with the chef for guests who have additional allergies or food restrictions. Nearby, Gran Porto Real Playa del Carmen Resort offers low-calorie and vegetarian meals as part of its all-inclusive program.
A bit north, Excellence Playa Mujeres in Cancun offers health-oriented spa and vegetarian menu options at all of its nine restaurants. And Palace Resorts recently launched a new wellness concept, available exclusively at Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort. Guests who stay at one of the 19 freshly renovated Palace Wellness Suites will find tips and amenities geared toward healthy eating and physical and mental fitness. Even the in-room minibar is stocked more salubriously than most, with a variety of vitamin-infused beverages and natural juices. What’s more, Moon Palace also serves vegetarian dishes — including vegetables, pastas and soups — at all of its restaurants.
Gran Velas Resorts, located in both the Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit, have also recently expanded their special menu items, with items that are gluten-free, organic and vegetarian. In addition, both properties now offer cuisine that caters to the needs of people with food allergies and specific food preferences or limitations. Seven restaurants at Grand Velas Riviera Maya serve gluten-free and organic dishes, with menus clearly marked to highlight these specialties. Gluten-free, organic and vegetarian dishes can also be prepared on request at any time as part of the resort’s 24-hour room service.
Also located both in the Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit are Palladium Hotels & Resorts properties. These all-inclusive hotels — two in the Riviera Nayarit and five in the Riviera Maya — have created specialized menu cards that provide information for people with food allergies. Different colored cards, each representing a different food allergy, are placed next to all buffet line dishes. In addition, chefs and food preparation staff have been trained in the preparation of dishes for gluten-free, Type 2 diabetes-diets and seven other special diets, including allergies to any nuts, fruits, vegetables, seafood, eggs, dairy and lactose, fish and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Even some Mexican restaurant chains make it easy for travelers to watch what they eat. The chain called 100% Natural, which has branches in Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun as well as other cities,serves healthy cuisine with organic and gluten-free ingredients. It also provides charts that help patrons choose the healthiest food for each meal.