Traveling Gluten Free in Mexico: Vidanta Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta (Part 1)
It takes me so long to post travel reviews! I’m definitely in need of working on that 🙂 We’ve been to Grand Luxxe twice in the last 6 months but I have never reviewed the property! So, here we go. It’s finally happening! 😉 Here’s my experiences on our most recent vacation and traveling gluten free in Mexico!
My parents are Vidanta timeshare owners, as well as Wyndham timeshare owners so we’ve been to this resort and the Vidanta location in Playa del Carmen several times. It’s a fairly inexpensive vacation for us, as we don’t have to pay for lodging (besides a resort fee) and plane tickets from Denver are usually fairly reasonable (under $300 roundtrip). Our trip last December was the most we’ve ever paid for Mexico plane tickets ($366) but it was holiday time and tickets usually go up during the month of December. Our trip in April was a much more reasonable $203. We’ve gotten tickets to Cancun as low as $125 roundtrip! Ah, memories. Traveling gluten free in Mexico doesn’t have to be a budget breaker!
The last two times we’ve been to Vidanta we’ve stayed in their 5 star hotel called Grand Luxxe. Vidanta is a massive resort, with multiple levels of hotels (think Disney World), ranging from the lower end 3-star Mayan Palace to the most luxurious, Grand Luxxe. There’s also 2 different 4-star options called the Grand Mayan and the Grand Bliss. All the hotels have their own pools, restaurants, and activities. And they each have a very unique feel about them. If you’re looking for a more “spring break”- party vibe, check out Mayan Palace. They do activities like beer pong and karaoke. If you’re wanting a family-friendly location with TONS of kid options, check out Grand Mayan. Here you’ll find the water park (with water slide, lazy river, and wave pools), a baby/toddler pool and splash pad. If you’re looking for a more grown-up, mellower vibe, I would go with either the Grand Bliss or if you can afford it, the Grand Luxxe.
Traveling Gluten Free in Mexico
Vidanta’s properties are not hotels. They do not have a hotel license so you can’t just book a week on Travelocity or even their own website. You either need to transfer in points from another timeshare, know an owner who can make a reservation for you, or buy a vacation package that includes a sales pitch. I don’t recommend you do this last one. As much as I love the Vidanta properties, their sales department is aggressive. Probably the most aggressive I’ve ever encountered. You’ll spend hours in their sales pitch, and unless you’re super confident you can say no and walk out, I just don’t think it’s worth the hassle.
But after seeing this property and vacationing on it multiple times, I honestly can say it’s one of the best resorts I’ve ever been to. Our whole family has said they’re ruined for life on other hotels because of this place. It’s absolutely stunning. The service is unparalleled, I’ve never heard of a resort that has more pools (something like 46!), and the food will blow. your. mind. I mean, come on, where else do you have a personal butler to care for your every desire? Or a pool attendant who comes over to clean your sunglasses? Where else would you find people walking around delivering homemade Popsicles to cool you down on those 90 degree days? It blows Walt Disney World out of the water (sorry, Disney). And I’ve stayed and eaten at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel. It just doesn’t compare.
Speaking of eating, Vidanta does such a great job with food! We had some really incredible dishes that were made gluten free for us. Although, the one thing that I think they could improve on is their gluten free dessert options. None of the restaurants had a great selection to choose from (maybe a single choice, if any at all) and I couldn’t find a gluten free chocolate cake or brownie on the premises! Sad day. I also would love to see better markings on the menus. There was a symbol for gluten free, but very little was actually marked with the symbol. I had to talk to the waiters or chefs to find out what they could do for me. But maybe that was on purpose. It’s possible they wanted to provide a more personal experience, like Disney World tends to do. But here is a run down on some of my favorites when traveling gluten free in Mexico!
Burger Custom Made
Here, they’re able to provide french fries and sweet potato fries, cooked in a separate fryer. They also have a gluten free bun or they can wrap your burger in lettuce or portabello! The steaks are also gluten free (depending on the sauce you choose).
We liked this restaurant the first time we vacationed at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. But service has always been super slow and I feel like it’s gotten worse over the years. I doubt we’ll be back. But the food is good, the chips and salsa are endless, and it’s a great spot to watch the light show each night! I had the fajitas, the chicken mole, and queso. It’s a TON of food and we always bring leftovers back to our room!
This little tucked-away spot is located on the top floor of the marketplace. Surrounded by art and souvenirs, it’d be easy to miss! But it’s definitely worth seeking out! Cheap and filling, the food is similar to La Cantina, with much better service! The one thing I don’t like is they don’t have access to tap water (they cart off dishes to the nearby French restaurant) so you have to pay for bottled drinks or their flavored waters.
Cafe del Lago
This is a breakfast/brunch buffet that is hands-down the best buffet I’ve ever been to. And that includes any buffet I’ve tried in Las Vegas, home to never-ending buffet spreads. They have a whole section of gluten free pastries and breads, and you can even ask for made to order gluten free pancakes. And the juices! Oh, the fresh squeezed juices. I daydream about those juices. Could they build a Cafe del Lago here in Colorado, please???
Fresh Co. is a breakfast and lunch place (they’re open till 6:00pm) that specializes in salads and lighter fare. For lunch, they always start with a special chef’s appetizer for the table and it changes throughout the year. In December, it was an amazing beet hummus. In April, it was a jicama salad that we didn’t care for as much. Both times, it was served with pita bread but they’ve always brought us corn chips when asked. The waiters are wonderful and the chicken lettuce wraps are delicious. We went several times during both trips.
This is one of the few places where you can get a gluten free dessert. They have a gluten free crepe base that they can fill with whatever toppings you’d like, from savory to sweet. We usually make this a last stop before heading home! Paris Crepes is relatively inexpensive (compared to some of the restaurants on property!) and consistently good food. They also make Belgian waffles with different toppings, though not gluten free.
We’ve been to most of the restaurants on property by now but the restaurants listed above are some of our favorites. I think our next trip (in November 2020), we’ll finish eating our way through the restaurants we haven’t tried which include the Italian restaurant Tramonto, the French restaurant Azur, and their fine dining Spanish restaurant, Epazote! I’ll let you know how those are next year 😉
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where I’ll discuss Traveling Gluten Free in Mexico off property!
Interested in learning more about Frugal & Fit Travels? Check out my review of a Mexican cooking class or one of my series on traveling gluten free at Disney!