When I take a vacation, I’m taking time off from my regular life, and that most definitely includes time off from cooking. One of the best parts about an all-inclusive resort for me is the plethora of food options, and that they all happen without me anywhere near a kitchen!
I visited Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic with my family last November, and I definitely enjoyed all the not cooking choices at the Grand Palladium Resort Complex. Whereas most all-inclusive resorts offer a buffet and a handful of a la carte restaurants, the complex had five buffet restaurants including two serving lunch right next to the beach, eight a la carte restaurants in a variety of international cuisines, two more adult only restaurants, and a 24-hour snack bar.
I always get nervous taking the kids out to eat at home. Let’s just say by the end of the day, they don’t always appreciate the difference between inside and outside voices, and I don’t want to disturb other diners. That’s not really an option here, because it’s all eating out. We found the staff and the vast majority of the other guests to be kind and understanding. We saw many families with young children there, presumably because of Grand Palladium’s reputation as a child-friendly resort, and on one spectacular occasion watched a set of year old twins fling their plates off the table at virtually the same time. Crash! The staff quickly cleaned it up and laughed it off to the embarrassed parents.
While our kids were slightly more restrained than that, they did have moments where they had a hard time sitting still, and conversely, on more than one occasion, the kids fell asleep at dinner. As in, face down on the dinner table. Playing all day is hard work! The staff were universally kind and understanding, and they were happy to pull two chairs together to make a little bed for them, even at the fancier a la carte restaurants.
Unlike other all-inclusive resorts, The Grand Palladium is unique in that guests are not limited to two or three a la carte meals a week. But it is first come first served (unless you go for the VIP package, then you can make reservations every night of the week if you like), so it’s best to go early, right when the restaurant opens.
>> Here’s the complete list of all the restaurants at the Grand Palladium Punta Cana complex
- Las Torres
- La Catedral
- El Arrecife (beachfront – lunch only)
- Bohio (beachfront – lunch only)
A la carte restaurants:
- Bamboo Restaurant (Chinese)
- Bhogali Restaurant (Indian)
- El Tapeo Restaurant (Spanish tapas)
- La Adelita Restaurant (Mexican)
- La Parrilla Steakhouse (American and steak)
- Rodizio Restaurant (Brazilian)
- Sumptuori (Japanese a la carte and teppanyaki)
- Trattoria Chef Raffaelle (Italian)
- Le Chanterelle Restaurant (French gourmet – adult only, available to guests at the premium Royal Suites at Turquesa resort)
- Royal Gourmet Restaurant (international gourmet – adult only, available to guests at the premium Royal Suites at Turquesa resort)
The breakfast buffets always included a custom omelet station, a fresh pancake and waffle station, and freshly made fruit juice. We had lunch at the beachfront buffets most days, sitting on the breezy patio overlooking the ocean. Dinner at the buffet was pretty good too. Of course everyone has different preferences, but there were always lots of choices for all of us, including the kids. Each night was a different theme night, and I enjoyed the build your own salads and fruit bar. I do wish there had been a little more variety in the desserts – it seemed to be a very similar selection of cakes, Jell-o, and fruit most nights.
If you get peckish after hours, the sports bar offers fast food type snacks (pizza, nachos, fries, ice cream) 24 hours a day.
The Chinese restaurant was under renovations while we were there, and I was sad that we missed the grand opening of the new Indian restaurant by about a month. But we had the chance to visit almost all of the other a la carte restaurants during our stay.
Highlights for us included Rodizio which specialized in Brazilian cuisine and served all you can eat grilled meat on swords: chicken wings and breasts, sausage, pork, beef, and lamb. It was heaven for my carnivore hubby!
Our favourite restaurant by far though was Sumptuori which offered a la carte Japanese fare and three teppanyaki tables. Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine where the food is cooked on a large iron griddle. The highly trained chefs put on an incredible performance flipping knives, catching raw eggs in their hats, and entertaining the entire table with their fancy knife skills and patter. We went on two different nights because Kay slept through it the first time. Chef Carlos kindly boxed up Kay’s dinner for us to take back to the room so she didn’t go to bed hungry.
Hubby and I also visited the Royal Gourmet adults only restaurant at the Royal Suites Turquesa and enjoyed a delicious (and quiet!) lobster dinner without the kids. Now that was nice!
Somewhere along the way between five and six, my oldest child became a picky eater. I remember patting myself on the back when she was a preschooler, telling everyone what a good eater she was. What do they say about karma again? Anyway, the kids weren’t exactly adventurous with their food choices. There was a lot of pizza, fries, and mango, and they both had a pancake for breakfast almost every day. There were plenty of kid-friendly choices at the buffets, and the a la carte restaurants all had a separate kids menu with basics like quesadillas, spaghetti, hot dogs, or hamburgers for children uninterested in trying the a la carte options.
All You Can Drink
With fifteen bars scattered across the complex including five kiosks on the beach, we were never far from a drink whenever we wanted one. Staff roamed the pools and lobbies making sure that guests always had a drink to sip while relaxing. Of course, large amounts of alcohol, small children, and swimming pools are generally not a good combination, but the friendly bartenders were just as happy to bring us soft drinks, juice, or a pina colada sin alcohól during the day. The Grand Palladium is a firmly family resort so you don’t need to worry about partiers or drunken idiots.
Liquor laws seem pretty liberal here, though the drinking age is 18. There was never an issue with the kids hanging out at the swim up bar – they loved to play on the underwater stools and enjoy a fruity slushy drink while hubby and I had a pina colada or coco loco.
There’s also a bar and stage in each of the four lobbies across the complex, so you can hang out, have a drink, and listen to some live music in the evenings.
But What About Food Allergies?
I know many of my readers have food allergies in their families which can be a significant barrier to eating out. We have some food allergies too – thankfully none of them life-threatening – but when the wrong food could make you critically ill, I can’t even imagine how stressful it must be to rely on others to prepare food for you or your children. But you still deserve a vacation!
I had the opportunity to speak with General Manager William Cervera about some of the ways the Grand Palladium makes sure that all their guests are comfortable and safe. Grand Palladium offers a special gluten-free menu for guests with celiac disease, but of course gluten is not the only serious allergy out there. That’s why when the resort is notified, William arranges a meeting between the family and the chefs to ensure that all the allergy information is passed on accurately. The resort is able to provide a dedicated, contaminant-free cooking area, and guests with allergies are given a special food allergy card to show food staff at the restaurants so you can be sure your meal is safe.
I love how the Grand Palladium is working to accommodate all guests, including those with special dietary needs. This is definitely something I would take into account when looking for a resort destination!
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary stay for review. Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.