My husband and I, in desperate need of a little rest and relaxation, planned a six-night stay in Riviera Maya, Mexico and divided our time between Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun and Dreams Riviera Cancun (dining at-a-glance and a full dining review coming soon for this resort), which are both owned by the same company, AMResorts. (Full vacation reviews will soon be posted here.) Because I have stayed at/visited all of the current resorts owned by this company in Cancun, Cozumel, and Riviera Maya, I wasn't too concerned about my vegan options - the resorts have always come through for me in the past.
Vegan Upon Arrival
I did not take any pre-vacation steps to notify the resort of my herbivore ways, and really, it is not necessary to do so. After checking in, I visited the concierge desk and spoke with the kind and helpful staff about my dietary needs. (They didn't even bat an eye.) I provided my room number so they could tag our reservation and they asked if we already knew where we might like to eat while staying at the resort...of course we did! Secrets resorts do not use a reservation system, so we just let them know as a courtesy where we planned on dining each evening so they could notify the chefs of each restaurant. We decided upon El Patio, Ratatouille, and Himitsu (Mexican, Mediterranean, and Pan-Asian), although other options were available as well. For breakfast and lunch, we would enjoy the World Cafe for some deliciously prepared buffet foods.
Breakfast was served buffet style in the World Cafe, and I was able to find options each morning even though I tend to stick to the same sorts of breakfast foods while on vacation. Options included vegetarian beans, fresh fruit, cereal with soy milk, oatmeal (prepared with water if you ask for it), made-to-order smoothies, toast, etc. One of my favorite breakfasts in Mexico is beans, pico de gallo and salsa on top of toast or rolls. With guacamole, of course. I didn't take many photos of my morning meals because let's face it, cereal and toast just aren't that photogenic.
We would head back to the World Cafe in the early afternoon, this time warmed by the sun and ready for lunch offerings to refuel for the day. I was presented with a couple of options for this meal: the chef was happy to prepare me a special vegan-friendly meal for me if I made arrangements at breakfast, or I just ate vegan-friendly food from the buffet on my own. I took the chef up on his offer for one lunch, but then was just fine on my own for the remainder of our stay. (I think. I might have had one snafu with some butter.) The buffet featured a theme each day - while we were there it was international, Mexican, and Italian, although really several cuisines were available regardless of the theme. The salad bar was quite nice, and I was wowed by the number of lettuce varieties in front of me. (I am pretty sure I was more excited about this lettuce than anyone else at the resort.) I was very happy throwing together a giant salad with rice, beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo - this was my first meal at the resort. On day two the chef made a vegetable-stuffed zucchini dish for me, and on our final day I enjoyed a made-to-order bowl of pasta (make sure you tell the chef no butter) with lots of vegetables and tomato sauce.
To say I looked forward to my evening meals while at Secrets Silversands is an understatement - the chefs really went above and beyond to prepare some really incredible meals for me. Even my vegan-at-home-but-omni-elsewhere husband was ogling a few of my plates during this vacation.
AMResorts properties do not have a dinner reservation system, which is one of many things I love about their resorts - you just go eat when you are hungry! Awesome! During the prime time (7pm-9pm or so) you might have to wait just a bit, but we never experienced a problem while at the resort. There are several themed restaurants to choose from: Bordeaux (French), El Patio (Mexican), Himitsu (Pan-Asian), Oceana (seafood), Portofino (Italian), Ratatouille (Mediterranean), Seaside Grill (seafood). Each restaurant has vegetarian options or a vegetarian menu with items that can be veganized, or the chef is available to assist with a special meal prepared just for you.
I took several photos of my dinners, so let's just go night-by-night...
Our first dinner was a really fantastic experience - the server could not have been friendlier (Silversands has an outstanding staff) and the chef came out to speak to me and present my options for appetizers, salads, and entrees...yes, options...plural. We started with freshly prepared guacamole and chips, and I also enjoyed a really delicious and inventive fruit salad. For my entree, I feasted upon vegetable molcajetes with corn tortillas.
The menu at Ratatouille did not really feature anything that I would be able to eat or modify, so I was a little nervous about my dining options. (If you've read my other posts, you know I am really sensitive about being a problem, even when I am a paying customer!) Again, the chef came out and spoke with me and I was soon enjoying one of the most delicious meals that has ever passed these lips. The citrus salad was extremely flavorful, and don't even get me started on the grilled sweet potatoes with balsamic that accompanied my stuffed pepper. I could have eaten a giant bowl.
No problems here, folks. The vegetarian menu had everything I needed and more, and I ate quite a bit of food on our last night at the resort. I started with a fried tofu appetizer, moved on to a green salad, sampled some vegetarian sushi, and ended with teppanyaki vegetables with rice.
Snacks and Treats
CoCo Cafe, the on-site coffee and snack shop has soy milk, so you can enjoy some delicious coffee drinks while visiting. Other snacks during the day include whole fruit, French fries, chips and salsa/guacamole, and vegetable sticks - most are available by the pool area.
My husband and I had an incredible stay at Secrets Silversands, and would definitely return in the future. The staff couldn't have been nicer or more accommodating, and I ate quite a bit of great food while there. All-inclusives are not created equal, there is a reason why Secrets have so many return guests and so many great reviews. It's because of the vegan food!
Don't be afraid of mainstream travel!