At an all-inclusive resort, we often resign ourselves to an acceptance that what we gain in dollars saved, we lose in memorable dining experiences. When all of our meals are included in the room rate, we often don't hope for anything better than standard food court or buffet fare.
The Spanish hotel chain Iberostar wants to turn that perception on its head, and so they have launched a new initiative, named Iberostar Chef, that focuses on elevating awareness of the brand’s culinary offerings through special events, training courses for guests, and a cookbook.
When we visited the Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraíso, on Mexico's Riviera Maya, last month, Jordi Sole, Director of Operations for Mexico told us about the company's focus on their gastronomical offerings, saying that guests stay at their resorts for an average of five nights but often up to 20. "If you stay at a resort for that long," he said, "the last thing you want to do is eat the same thing night after night."
With four à la carte restaurants and a buffet, you get a range of culinary offerings, - from Japanese to Italian to a steakhouse - and with chefs that earned their stripes at Michelin-starred restaurants, including the three-star Martin Berasategui in Spain, you can be sure to eat well.
Iberostar has a four-tier rating system for all of its resorts: the Grand Collection, Premium Gold, Premium, and Standard. On the Riviera Maya five different properties are located on one big complex - so all are within the same easy reach of the Mayan ruins and Cancun, for example - offering a total of 2,000 rooms all together. The difference between each is in facilities, services and price. Here's how it breaks down on the Riviera Maya.
At the Grand Hotel Paraíso mid-November rates start at around $400 per night (double occupancy) with a three-night minimum stay. Guests at this adults-only, all-suite resort can make use of all the facilities (including three pools, a golf course and spa) as well as those of all four other resorts on the complex. An added perk of the Grand Collection is the included butler service.
The next step down is the Premium Gold-level, all-suite Paraíso Maya, a family-focused resort where rates start at $300 (double occupancy with a minimum three-night stay). The Maya has nine pools and five restaurants. Guests of the Maya are welcome to also make use of the facilities in the three lower ranking resorts.
The Paraíso Lindo takes next place in the pecking order. This is also a Premium Gold level property, but ranked lower than the Maya thus guests can only use the facilites at the Lindo and the two lower level resorts. Facilities at the Lindo include six pools, three restaurants, and a buffet. Children are welcome here as well, and rates start at $260 for a standard room (double occupancy, three-night minimum).
The last two properties on the same complex are the Paraíso Beach and the Paraíso del Mar, both Premium resorts where rates start at $190 (double occupancy standard room with a three-night minimum) and facilities include four pools and seven restaurants - guests may only use the facilities of those two resorts.
If you're looking for deal, you might also consider Iberostar's newest property the Premium Gold Playa Mita, on Mexico's Riviera Nayarit, which is opening in December and offering early bird rates for as low as $230 a night. This resort will have four restaurants (Japanese, Mexican, steakhouse, and gourmet) as well as a buffet, and facilities will include three pools and a golf course.