My wife has celiac disease/DH and as most of the other people on this site can appreciate, travelling can be difficult when trying to find a resort that can accomodate gluten-free meals.
We just returned from our first trip to Mexico and I wanted to share our trip report with the members of this site as I am truly impressed with the level of service that we received and the outstanding support that the staff at this resort offered when it came to guests with food allergies. As noted below, they are in the process of rolling out an official food allergy program for their guests but they have already taken some major steps in the right direction based on what we experieneced last week.
Cross-posted from the Trip Advisor and Palladium Addict trip report sites (Please make note of the "Food" comments highlighted below as they are the most relevant for members on here).
Absolutely Incredible - Royal Suites Yucatan (04/03-04/09)
My wife and I just returned from one of our best vacations ever and we're already talking about when we'll be going back again. We had read a lot of the feedback on this site prior to arrival and can now see why everyone raves about this resort - It truly is paradise and the level of service that we received far exceeded all of our expectations.
Details - Booked for 6 nights in a Royal Mayan Suite (Cabana) through WestJet Vacations with private airport transfers from Olympus Tours.
Flight - A little bumpy as we flew through some storm systems on the way down from Toronto but nothing too bad and we arrived on-time into Cancun.
Airport - Fairly busy but not too bad to navigate for our first time visiting Mexico. The exit hall was swamped with timeshare people but based on advice from this site, we knew to avoid them and head outside to meet our transfer rep.
Transfers - We had already booked through Olympus prior to reading about everyone on here seeming to prefer AGI. Pricing seemed fairly close (I think AGI would have been a bit less) but we had no issues with Olympus. The rep was outside in a bright orange shirt holding a sign with our names. After meeting with him, we were lead over to the Olympus area with other reps/passengers to wait for our vehicle. Wait time at the airport was about 10-15 minutes and the drive down to the resort took a little over an hour.
Check-in - We arrived at the Royal Suites and were introduced to both the front desk staff and the butler that was on-duty in the lobby. Check-in was quick as they went over the details of the resort, the butler forms (pillow menu, drinks, etc), reviewed the resort map and had our welcome drink. At that point, we were given our keys while the bellman loaded our bags into one of the courtesy cars and drove us over to our room.
Room - The Cabana Suites are quite nice and very private. As you can see from the pictures on this site, there is one main room with a king size bed, sitting area and desk area. The bathroom consists of 3 separate areas (sinks/dressing area, tub/toilet area and the outdoor Mayan shower). We were a little concerned about the outdoor shower at first but it is very private and definitely a unique experience - I think my wife is actually trying to figure out how we can install one at our house some how.
Dock - One of the nicest features of the Cabana was the dock out back along the river. This is a very private area on the water with two lounge chairs, a hammock and a dock for your canoe. While we didn't venture out in the canoe, we did spend some time sitting on the dock (I loved the hammock) and it was a nice surprise to see so many different varieties of fish swimming around the dock.
Food - This is one of the areas that impressed us the most. My wife has celiac disease (allergy to gluten/wheat/flour/malt/etc) so finding things that are safe for her to eat can be a challenge even on the best of days. One of the deciding factors in choosing this resort was a post that we had found on the Palladium Addict site about their new allergy card program for guests with food allergies. While the program is still being rolled out, it is obvious from speaking to the staff at the resort that they are committed to looking after their guests and making this work. For example:
Prior to checking in, I had made arrangements with the resort to eat at El Jardin (Royal restaurant) on our first night where they were able to offer us gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs that was surprisingly good. It was definitely a nice surprise for my wife as she had expected to be eating meat/potatoes/veggies all week.
During our meal, we were introduced to the Director of Food/Beverage for the resort who explained that they had a number of gluten-free options available from local suppliers (pasta, pancakes, brownies, dinner breads, etc). They are not to the point of putting this out for every single meal, but they said that it would be no problem to have them available as long as we gave them a day or two notice.
We were also provided with a letter written in Spanish that fully explained all of the details surrounding celiac disease and the foods/ingredients that had to be avoided so that we could show this to the hosts/waiters at the various restaurants and they could inform the chefs. Likewise, whenever we made a reservation for dinner, there was already a note on our file indicating the allergy and they offered several off-menu adjustments for her to eat (baked potato instead of fries that could have been cross-contaminated in the cooking oil, jello/custard/fruit desserts, etc).
This level of service also extended to a couple of the buffets where we actually had one of the chefs walk through the buffet dishes with us to point out which items could be a problem (some were obvious like pasta and breaded items, but it was nice to be able to confirm which dishes had sauces/gravies that were unsafe because they were thickened with flour, etc).
Royal Service - As expected, the Royal Service was a wonderful addition to our trip. We probably didn't use them as much as we could have but their assistance in helping to arrange some of the dinner reservations noted above was greatly appreciated. They also helped with a surprise birthday celebration for my wife one night by decorating our room and getting us a nice bottle of champagne. Overall, it was nice knowing that they were there to help in case we needed something and the shuttle service was definitely worth the extra money (especially on some of the hotter days when we decided to go resort hoping).
Weather - Absolutely fantastic. We weren't sure what to expect for the first week in April but the weather was just about perfect - Sunny and around 30'C every day with only a hint of rain late one night after we had got back to our room.
Pools/Beaches - The Royal pool seemed nice and having your own private bar was a bonus but we spent almost all of our time at the main pool at White Sands/Riveria. This pool was very well laid out and seemed to have a perfect mix of everything (music, activities, water volleyball games, swim-up bar, water jets, etc). As with the Royal section (and just about every pool/beach area across the resort now that I think about it), there were always plenty of chairs around and palm trees/palapas available for shade when required.
Entertainment - We only caught a couple of the shows in the theatres but there was definitely a good variety from what we saw on the schedule. Likewise, the daily activity schedule was extensive and seemed to have something for everything (from Bingo to Beer Drinking Contests).
Spa - We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon at the spa lounging around in the various different areas before having an extremely relaxing couples massage. The facilities were very clean and well laid out and while we didn't get a chance to use the gym/cardio side of things, it looked like they had a good selection of equipment available.
Overall - We had an excellent vacation and I would highly recommend this resort to anyone. It easily rates as one of the best resorts that we've even been to (other than not having the water park/lazy river that we enjoyed so much at Atlantis, I'd say this resort even beats our previous favourite vacation at The Cove).
Thank you again to everyone that we dealt with during our trip - We'll be back soon!
Mexico Vacation - Royal Suites Yucatan (Grand Palladium)
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