Finest Resorts opened 7 weeks ago and our family went to see if they truly could handle gluten free guests. I got SEVERE food poisoning to the level I had to go on serious antibiotics. I am 100% sure it was from the steakhouse. It was the worst 2 weeks I have had. I was that sick from this place.
(**We paid for our own trip to Finest Resorts in Playa Mujeres Mexico and all opinions are my own.)
This new resort is 30 minutes north of Cancun. Finest Resort is considered a luxury all inclusive resort and touts that they have gluten free options in all 12 property restaurants. I was intrigued so our family decided to head out for our spring break vacation.
As with any new resort, we were the guinea pigs and there were several issues. At this time, I can't recommend this as a safe place to go if you have food allergies!
I am very hopeful that Finest will consider my recommendations to make the dining experience safer for its guests. This is a beautiful resort and it has the potential to be great...if they put the work in to keep travelers with food allergies safe.
Our check-in was pretty easy. We were escorted to our family room in the Finest Club side. Unfortunately, other guests were already living in that room and we were the second family to walk in on them. Because of this, we were given a swim up room on the first floor. Our room was pretty incredible. It was ultra modern and had all of the upgraded amenities including a top shelf mini bar (all part of the all inclusive rate.)
It was fun to walk out onto our patio and just jump in our pool.
As I mentioned, there are 12 restaurants on the property. There was also food available in the Finest Club Lounge across the hall anytime we wanted it. I am going to list out each place we dined at, and discuss how gluten free was handled.
Also know, there is a huge language barrier and a lot of restaurant staff really don't know anything about gluten free. On the positive side, every restaurant (except Market Kitchen and the VIP Lounge) ask you when you arrive if you have any food allergies. If you do, they fill out a tiny (1" x 2") piece of paper and give it to your waiter.
This resort boasts of high quality water purification equipment and said everything down to the ice is safe here. That being said, I got food poisoning on day 5. My husband started getting really sick the morning after we flew home and he ate salad the last day for lunch before we caught our flight.
1.Lizo was the Mexican restaurant. It was our very favorite restaurant by far. I was so sad to have gotten food poisoning the night before. I tasted things, but my stomach couldn't handle eating much of anything regardless of how delicious it was. This is not a typical Mexican restaurant and all foods are traditional. Don't come looking for tacos and enchiladas!
- Several gluten free options and everything was great. I loved the squash flower soup.
- Tuna is cooked perfectly, as was everyone's seafood dish.
- Gluten free dessert was a pineapple ice cream with a fermented pineapple sauce.
Squash Blossom Soup
Crab Salad and Tuna over Chayote Qquash dishes.
2. Food in the VIP Finest Club Lounge is not labeled gluten free and 90% of the time, nobody could tell us the ingredients.
- We did find out all flavors of mousse were safe, as well as the fruits and morning bacon. Nothing else was trustworthy.
- (I also want to add that all of the best liquors were here so we visited here often to get super top shelf drinks. Belvedere vodka and Don Julio tequila were our favorites 🙂 .
- They have a commercial Nespresso machine and make the best coffees for you each morning.
- Alejandro and Josue are the best guys working here and they helped us improve our Spanish so much.
3. Market Kitchen. This was the main buffet dinning area. It was huge and had so many types of foods from breakfasts and made to order eggs, to lunches with custom grilled fish to a sushi bar, to salads and luncheon meats. (We never came here for dinner.) This is a very large dining area, if you can get a table outside on the patio it's a LOT quieter and more relaxing.
First off, communication between the chefs in the head kitchen and the staff is non-existent. Staff will give you conflicting answers if something is gluten free. This restaurant said the corn tortillas are safe, yet Duke's Lobster and Seafood Restaurant said they are not.
My son was glutened twice in the first two days eating here because one person said the deli meats are safe. Well, by day two we knew this couldn't be true, and it was confirmed by a different employee later the second day. We were incredibly frustrated dining here. (I think the only reason our daughter wasn't glutened on this trip is she lived on sushi and mousse the entire week.)
Here is what we learned:
- Do not eat any deli meat.
- They use imitation crab which contains gluten. Only eat sushi with vegetables, tuna, or salmon.
- There is no gluten free soy sauce.
- Once in a while something will be labeled gluten free. A pasta was labeled one day, then not the next.
- Ask for a chef to come out and tell you what is in a dish.
- Do not eat the ice cream/gelato. They put cookies on top as a garnish, contaminating the whole thing.
- Do not eat their prepared scrambled egg mixture if you order a custom omelet. Ask for them to get a clean bowl (or they won't) and scramble fresh eggs for you. They do not clean the grill so know there is a possibility of cross contamination here. I didn't find out the eggs had flour mixed in until day 3, and again, Duke's Lobster and Seafood restaurant told us these were safe....go figure.
- Do not eat the corn tortillas. We never did get a straight answer if they had gluten or not.
- Do not eat any of the refried beans or potatoes that frequent the lunch buffets.
- All fryers on property are shared. Don't eat the fries, etc.
- We never got a definite answer if the corn chips were gluten free so we avoided them.
- Nobody knew the ingredients of most salad dressings. There were 15 or so dressing choices and only the vinaigrettes appeared safe.
3. Duke's Lobster and Seafood Restaurant was amazing for dinner, not great for breakfast. For dinner we had ceviche appetizers, lobster, and lobster risotto. I will discuss breakfast and dinner separately. Portions are tiny so order extra food at dinner.
- Egg mixture for omelets is questionable.
- The server will suggest gluten free items (all eggs.)
- Even if they know you are gluten free, they will bring you gluten filled refried beans on the side.
- If you beg, they will send someone to the main kitchen for gluten free baguettes for you.
- There are 2-3 gluten free options on the menu. We loved everything we had and this was our second favorite restaurant on the property.
- Carlos, the manager was amazing and even got the main chef to create a gluten free pizza for us. (They will do this with 24 hour notice and serve it to you in the Italian Restaurant.) He is the one who told us about the gluten free baguettes. These are the best gluten free baguettes I have ever tasted and I don't even want to know how many our family consumed during our stay.
The famous gluten free baguettes!
4. Inseime Trattoria was the Italian restaurant next door to Duke's. They had 2-3 gluten free options that were fabulous. We had 4 gluten free pizzas (cheese and sauce only because as we learned, all deli meats contain gluten here.) This restaurant even had gluten free lemon tarts for dessert.
Stuffed chicken breasts and lemon tart.
5. Bistro is one of two adult only restaurants. We ate breakfast here one morning as our kids had opted to sleep in that day.
- Again, watch the egg mixture.
- A few egg based gluten free options are your only choices.
- This restaurant had the most incredible gluten free chocolate muffins. We couldn't get them anywhere else. We didn't believe they were gluten free they were so moist and delicious.
- Don't get ham in your omelet. It contains gluten.
6. Le Petit Placir is an adults only French restaurant. There were very few gluten free options here and the chef came out to our table and offered to make any sauce we needed gluten free for us. Ask for Chef Wendy, she was so thoughtful to help us.
I ordered a tartar as an appetizer. It was so-so as it was still somewhat frozen. The carrot soup with foam was really good. For the main dish David and I both ordered steak. Chef Wendy created a gluten free peppercorn sauce for me, and an onion sauce for David. My cut of steak was great, but David's was pretty bad and he ended up sharing mine.
Chef William then came out and asked if he could make us a gluten free dessert. Of course we said yes. We were served giant raspberry macaroons with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. They were well worth the calories 🙂 .
7. Shoji was the Asian restaurant on the property. I am just going to say it. This place was awful. There were three gluten free options listed on the menu but our waiter said they all contain gluten. Well that was a bummer. After we expressed disappointment, the chef offered to make something for us. The result was a big piece of fish that was as hard as a rock and tasted horrible. We ended up going to our VIP lounge and ate there because we were starving. Bleh!
8. Teppanyaki dining is part of Shoji, but separate. You need to line up at 5:00 pm to get a reservation for either 6:00, 7:30 or 9:00. This is the only place that takes reservations and it is so worth it. The chef puts on a show better than any Bennihana restaurant and the kids LOVE it.
- The chef goes out of his way to ask about allergies. He was able to make most things gluten free for us.
- Miso soup is not gluten free.
- Grill is shared. He will clean the grill if you ask, but given the time constraints of the show, I am not sure how good of a job they would do.
Seaweed salad and fried rice.
9. Brass Steakhouse was the steak restaurant. DON'T EAT HERE. I got food poisoning within 3 hours of eating here and I know it was the t-bone steak. Within four bites I knew something was wrong with it. The steak was incredibly salty and had an odd texture. It must have been bad. It ruined the last two days of our vacation, and made the plane ride home hell. Four days later I am still not over it.
**I have since read more Trip Advisor reviews and have read several others got food poisoning at this restaurant. Again, don't eat here.
10. Tinto & Tapas. We didn't eat here because other guests said it wasn't very good. We were told it was not your typical tapas like you would find here in the U.S. This tapas place had lots of little sandwiches.
11. Las Dunas Beach House (and Friday Beach Party Buffet) was so-so. This is the place that serves burgers and hot dogs on the beach at lunchtime. Each Friday there is a big beach party and they add a big buffet to this area.
- Hot dogs and chicken burgers contain gluten.
- Hamburgers are safe and they will serve them on a gluten free baguette. WARNING - They will grill the gluten free bun on the main grill in all of the gluten crumbs. (*I am not kidding, they have no concept of how to avoid cross contamination here.) Watch them and make sure they don't do this to you.
- Friday buffet: hard to know what is gluten free. We were able to track down a chef that spoke English to help us. 75% of the food contains gluten, if not more.
12. Legends Sports Bar. We didn't eat here because we didn't see any gluten free options available when we looked at the menu.
There is so much room for improvement. Both of our neighbors had children with nut allergies. It was very hard for the parents to manage this. I am happy to report neither family had to use epi pens during their vacation.
Other useful information:
- Bathrooms. There is NO privacy. There is no bathroom door and the shower door is glass. We showered in our bathing suits all week. The toilet room also has a glass door. Bring tape and you can tape a sheet or large towel to block the area off.
- Motion sensor lights in the bathroom. The logic of this escapes me. I get the upgraded high class fixtures, but motion sensors just leave me puzzled. Anytime anyone goes to the bathroom all bathroom lights come on. Remember there is no bathroom door so you get woken up to bright lights every time. Picture four to a room, kids go to the bathroom twice a night and you get the idea. We finally covered all of the sensors with band aids in desperation for a solid night's sleep.
- Travertine floors cover the entire room and bathrooms. Although this is beautiful and expensive looking, they are VERY slippery when they get wet. We had a swim up pool so we had to lay towels down to make a pathway to the bathroom. Many guest told stories of falling down on the floor and that is just dangerous.
- The kids club for young children seemed awesome and many families raved about it. Unfortunately, no teens showed up for any teen activities. I am thankful our neighboring rooms all had kids around our kids ages so they had other teens to hang with.
- Staff is AMAZING. Everyone employed here works 6 days a week, 9 hours a day and they are all so nice. Not a single complaint, we loved everyone we spoke with.
- Pack bug spray, you will need it every evening.
- The gift shop is expensive!! Bring what you need or you will end up spending $28 for a bottle of Coppertone After Sun for the sunburns you most likely will get.
For more information and hundreds of reviews on this resort, go to Trip Advisor.