All-Inclusives: What's On the Menu?

Buffet-only offerings have gone the way of puffy-sleeved wedding gowns, and sophisticated diners are sated no matter where they check in.


planet hollywood cancun
Photo: Planet Hollywood Cancun

Food isn't a trend, it's a literal taste of your destination. And while there are several things all-inclusives get right, they truly excel in the art of cuisine.

"Today’s traveler is ever more discerning and wants to spend precious leisure time enjoying elevated culinary and cultural offerings that go beyond their everyday experience," says Xavier Pineda, Marriott International’s director of sales and marketing, all inclusive. "As guests tend to stay in the resort most of their vacation, the variety of food is key. Menus that reflect authenticity with local flair and a touch of international cuisines are a priority."

Even the smallest boutiques typically have a handful of eateries, and dining and drinking options at the mega-properties often number in the double-digits. There’s most likely an always-on all-day three-meal buffet and usually some combination of outdoor grills, pool bars, casual café with coffee, dessert and takeaway items and several full-service sit-down restaurants plating up all manner of global delicacies including Italian, French, Japanese teppanyaki or Brazilian chophouse.

Increasingly, you'll find food trucks, food halls, scoop shops, romantic pop-ups with a limited amount of seating, themed concepts, or shows with a side of entrees. And that doesn't even take into account after-dinner treats left in your room, midnight snacks delivered by room service, the stocked mini-bar, or the refreshing nibbles handed out poolside. An embarrassment of riches to be sure, but if you fancy yourself a foodie who wants to try it all, develop a dining plan early in the trip (or even prior to arrival), because not everything is available every day, many of the upscale eateries require reservations, and some come with an added cost like chef’s table scenarios and just-the-two-of-us candlelight dinners in the sand. Another note: Some properties offer premium wine packages for an additional fee.

Hot Tip: Stay at an all-inclusive property like the chic Tamarind By Elegant Hotels in Barbados, and eat at the sister lodgings along the Platinum West Coast through the dine-around program. A complimentary water taxi will shuttle you to bubbles-filled breakfast, afternoon tea, charcuterie and wine tastings, and heaping plates of pasta at The House’s new Positano.