El Dorado in Riviera Maya: The All-Inclusive Experience for Food Lovers
Elite travelers might shy away from the term “all inclusive.” In their minds, they think: boring buffets, mundane service, and uninspired cuisine. However, El Dorado Resorts, owned by the Karisma Hotels & Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Mexico, has redefined the meaning of all-inclusive.
The sprawling property is home to seven different restaurants with 24-hour room service. The Asian-inspired restaurant Kampai has a wide range of offerings, from sushi to curry to pad Thai, with a variety of mind-blowing desserts, including coconut ice cream. For leisurely afternoon lunches, look no further than JoJo’s on the beach, which serves Caribbean cuisine like seared ahi tuna and delicious fresh salads.
One of the most innovative dining experiences happens at Fuentes, the property’s culinary theater, which marries unique tasting menus with an interactive dining experience. While the restaurant does require a reservation, hotel guests are treated to a five-course meal that changes depending upon the day. Some are experimental, Mexican-inspired spreads, while others take diners on a tour through Europe with dishes from Greece and England.
Jeroen Hanlo, vice president of food & beverage for Karisma Hotels & Resorts, launched and is still at the helm of the gourmet inclusive program. He gives each chef guidelines for what they should prepare, but also allows substantial creative flexibility.
Creative Culinary Programs
The property offers additional dining experiences through partnerships with international food and beverage brands. The Canadian Beef Culinary Series brought visiting chef Jonathan Gushue from Toronto to create stunning multi-course meals featuring Canadian beef, accompanied by specific wine pairings from the California-based Jackson Family Wines.
Chef Gushue featured beef in a variety of ways, including preparing it as a Japanese-style seared beef tenderloin. During his demonstration, chef Gushue seared the beef and then shocked the audience by placing the still-warm beef right into a bowl of ice water, stopping the cooking process. The result was a deliciously light dish that was reminiscent of a Japanese-style tuna dish.
Throughout 2015, other top Canadian chefs, such as Todd Perrin, will be cooking for the guests. The program also offers a series of more casual culinary events, including the Beef Sampling & Wine Pairing, where the chefs will prepare upscale beach-side burgers and pair them with a variety of wines.
Beyond the culinary offerings at the adults-only El Dorado, guests can also visit the sister property built for families, Generations Resorts. While all of the restaurants are kid-friendly, they offer another layer of culinary options, including Jade, a Pan Asian concept, and Wine Kitchen restaurant and tasting room. The Chef Market is open for both lunch and dinner and has arguably the best oceanside views on the property.
To the Spa and Beyond
Food is even on the menu at the N’aay Spa. The spa highlights a chocolate treatment that uses indigenous ingredients —cocoa beans mixed with hazelnut — for a chocolate lover’s wrap and scrub, which is followed by a luxurious massage.
To combat this over-indulgence with the food and drink, the El Dorado has a well-crafted wellness program that begins with its two gyms. They offer a suite of fitness activities, including morning yoga on the beach, a weekly 5k run, daily bike tours, spinning, Zumba, cross-fit training, and salsa lessons.
A Romantic Escape
Throughout the entire property, the ambiance lets you know that romance is always in the air. The culinary experience is not only perfect for larger groups, but also for couples looking for a relaxing getaway. One of the most picturesque spots to share a meal with a partner is right on the beach. White tablecloth-clad tables are draped with red tulle and candles along the water’s edge. As long as you make a reservation, you and your partner can have the best seats in the proverbial house to share a momentous evening.