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Taking the Kids: Indulging your inner-foodie at an all-inclusive resort

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Want to impress a teen on vacation? Start with the food, perhaps guacamole, which tastes as good as it looks, prepared tableside in a traditional stone dish and served up with freshly made tortilla chips.

"That was really awesome," said Maia Capp, 13, from Sitka, Alaska. So was the beach butler, who came around with fruit kabobs, an omelet with smoked salmon and all the steak she wanted. "A lot more than at home," said her mom, Kimberly Capp, a physician with the Indian Health Service.

That the Capps have opted for an all-inclusive package at the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun enables them to enjoy their vacation -- and their meals -- even more. "If I have to look at a bill every time I eat, that's a detriment to my enjoyment," said Capp.

But unlike buffets at all-inclusives in the past, the idea here isn't to stuff yourself silly -- though that is tempting -- but rather to savor the carefully crafted dishes. Liquor is likely to be top shelf and there are plenty of mocktails and smoothies for the kids, as well as cooking demonstrations, mixology lessons and cooking projects in the kids' programs.

When we can't decide between grilled lobster and flambéed shrimp with tequila at the Flor de Canela, the traditional Mexican restaurant at the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, the waiter suggests that we order both. "Have as many entrees as you like," he said smiling.

At breakfast a smiling chef makes street tacos from freshly made blue corn tortillas with a variety of fillings -- some zucchini blossoms, perhaps? And along with the made-to-order eggs and omelets here are tamales, enchiladas, Mexican stews and all varieties of cheese and fruit.

 

And, of course, there are options for vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, or anyone else who requires a special diet.

"People are really interested in the food," said Daniela Trava, general manager of the 144-suite resort, which is located about a half-hour from Cancun International Airport. "It's a whole revolution."

Other all-inclusive resorts are also upping the ante when it comes to food. Karisma Resorts in Mexico and Jamaica boast their "Gourmet Inclusive" meals, including Casa de Rosa, fashioned like a traditional Mexican home, at The Fives Azul Beach Resort Playa del Carmen. Here guests are invited to learn to cook authentic Mexican dishes from salsa, tamales, tacos and more.

The family selection at the new Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa (north of Cancun) and at Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa (in Riviera Nayarit) elevates the dining experience at their own restaurants. And should families opt for Teppanyaki, for example, a Japanese chef will be there to prepare it for you.

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