Welcome to the first of Rivage travels "a vegan stays at" where Angela discusses her experiences staying at different hotels and resorts and how they cater to their vegan clientele. Angela has been vegan for over 15 years. "A vegan stays at"- Finest Playa Mujeres and Excellence Playa Mujeres.
Finest Playa Mujeres and Excellence Playa Mujeres are 5 star rated all-inclusive resorts. Finest is family friendly, while Excellence is adults only, they are located just north of Cancun, Mexico, within walking distance of each other and are part of the Excellence group Luxury Hotels and resorts.
We started our stay with 3 nights at Finest and then moved over to the Excellence property, for the remaining 3 nights of our trip.
Upon check in at both resorts we were asked if we had any special dietary requirements, I informed the reception staff that I was vegan, this information was then noted and I was assured that my dietary requirements would be accommodated wherever we chose to eat. Off to a great start! now, where to go?....
The Finest resort features the following restaurants and eateries-
The Market Kitchen- Buffet
Duke’s Lobster and Seafood- American and Mexican
Insieme Trattoria-Italian and Mediterranean
Bistro- Exclusively for Excellence club and Finest club, adult members
Tinto and Tapas-Spanish
Le Petit Plaisir- French
Surf and Turf
Las Duenas Beach House- Mexican and Caribbean fusion
Legends- Salads, sandwiches, pizza
La Coconita Food Truck- Snacks, burgers, hotdogs
The Sweet Corner- Coffee Shop, ice cream, cakes, crepes
Tropical Juice Bar- Fresh juice and coconuts
Excellence resort features the following restaurants and eateries-
Chez Isabelle- French
The Grill- Burgers, Salads & Sandwiches
Flavor Market- Tapas
The Lobster House- Seafood
Las Olas- Snack Grill on the Beach
Toscana- Italian for dinner and doubles as the buffet during the day
Aroma- Coffee, sweets, cakes, Ice cream, sorbet
We quickly discovered that all of Finest's restaurants offer a full vegetarian menu and with vegan items! At Excellence, there are quite a few vegetarian options on the menus and at both resorts, the chefs are more than happy to prepare a vegan meal for you. A quick meeting with the food and beverage guest relations manager, a head of time, is extremely simple and your requirements can be discussed and relayed to the chef at the restaurant of your choice. I didn’t meet with the F&B manager at Finest, however, I felt that my vegan requirements were easily catered to at each restaurant we visited just by letting the host know.
At Excellence, where they don’t, as yet offer an alternative vegetarian menu at each of their restaurants, we met with their wonderful Food and beverage guest relations manager, Nelson Calixto, who took care of me throughout the stay. He liaised with the chef at Agave, before our meal to ensure that I had a great vegan dining experience. He also discussed with us the importance that the resorts have placed on providing a great selection of food options and dining experiences, for their vegetarian and vegan clients and for all other guests with special dietary needs.
For all of our plant based clients looking for a Mexican vacation spot, hot tip- Nelson told us that Excellence, Riviera Cancun is the first resort of it's kind to feature a completely vegetarian and vegan restaurant on property! Yay!
At both Finest and Excellence we ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet (Finest- The Market Kitchen) - (Excellence- Toscana). Each time we arrived to eat, my vegan diet was noted.
The Finest buffet was enormous and Excellence smaller but both offered an extraordinary range of vegan options such as, fresh tropical fruit, salads, raw vegetables and oils to build your own salads, many different grilled, steamed and sautéed vegetable dishes, dried fruits, nuts, fresh bread, cereal, juice and coffee with a choice of soy, almond or rice milk. The stand out for me would definitely be the fresh juice at breakfast, an entire section of the buffet featured a rainbow colored assortment of glasses containing fresh juice, from almost every fruit and vegetable imaginable.
In my years of visiting all-inclusive resorts and following a plant based diet, these buffets really stood out, they offered an extensive variety of dishes and I found myself more than satisfied at the end of each meal, with both the quality and quantity of food available to me. Tip-if you have any questions about how a dish has been cooked, the buffet chefs are always available to ask and are happy to help. I have suggested to the resorts that they identify vegan options at the buffet, by marking them as such on the dish description placard. This was well received by the F&B Manager.
Other restaurants we ate at during our stay were;
Shoji @ Finest; had full vegetarian menu, with vegan options- I ate a green salad with green beans, celery endive and granny smith apple in walnut vinaigrette and Vegetable Pad Thai, confirming that there would be no egg or fish sauce used.
Brass @ Finest; had full vegetarian menu, with vegan options- I ordered the green salad with quinoa in a lemon, coriander and jalapeño vinaigrette and Tomato "pisto" soup with marjoram and lemon oil.
Tinto and Tapas @ Finest; had full vegetarian menu, with vegan options- I had the Gazpacho shot with vegetable skewer and Bravas potatoes in the tomato garlic sauce.
Basmati @ Excellence; featured veg menu options- I ate the vegetable samosas and Daal Tadka- yellow lentils with garlic and mustard seeds and Sadha Chawal- steamed basmati rice.
Spice @ Excellence; featured veg menu options- I ate the asian salad - field greens with orange segments, caramelized nuts and green apple and vegetable rolls, with avocado, cucumber and carrot.
Agave @ Excellence; the chef prepared a vegan menu for me to choose from- To start I had sautéed mushrooms with jalapeño in olive oil and cactus salad- grilled Mexican cactus leaves, tomatoes, onions, oregano, coriander and olive oil and for main I choose vegetable enchiladas for main with red sauce for main, dessert was fresh fruit and a watermelon sorbet.
I personally spoke with the chefs at Brass and Agave and each were happy to alter any of the menu items to make them vegan.
We also ordered off the room service menu, it was a little limited but offered a vegetable wrap, salads and pizza. I ordered a "build your own" veggie pizza, with red sauce and without cheese.
We had great coffee at both, The Sweet Corner and Aroma, with a choice of non dairy milk.
Overall, both resorts were mindful and accommodating of my vegan diet and the chefs at each restaurant we visited were happy to personally speak to me about my dietary requirements and to specially "veganize" items off the menu. A quick chat with the food and beverage guest relations manager is the easiest way to ensure that your dietary requirements are met. I found that at each resort the buffet always offered plenty of vegan food and for added peace of mind, I could easily confirm with a host or chef that certain dishes were actually vegan. FYI, the resort's bath and body products do not appear to be vegan, bring your own! Best of all, these 5 star resort accommodations come at an affordable price to fit all budgets.
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Much love and Travel!
Angela & Jonathan @ Rivage Travel