Awesome kid friendly all inclusive and gluten free friendly resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica!,
March 22, 2014
My eight-year old son has celiac disease and Down syndrome, so there are many "extra" factors for us to consider when travelling. Our travel agent, Lesley Hock from Travel Leaders (508-879-6110) helped us once again in selecting a wonderful vacation spot for our family. Our vacation at Beaches was an incredible experience. There were many gluten free options for our son. Interestingly, gluten is not added to foods in Jamaica as routinely as it is in North America. Most sauces and salad dressing did not contain gluten, so our son was able to order many of the meals from the menus, minus the pasta or bread that would normally accompany the dish. The chef prepared gluten free pancakes and french toast for him for breakfast. The breakfast meal was not as good as what we have access to at home, but our son ate it without complaint and didn't seem to mind that the texture of the pancakes was a bit "sticky" and not light and fluffy (we used kinnikinnik mixes at home). He ate Jamaican jerk ribs and french fries or a burger (without the bun) at lunch, and seafood, chicken, or steak with rice and vegetables at dinner. At the Italian restaurant one evening, they made him pasta with the most delicious meatballs. For dessert there was ice cream and one evening they made him a special creme brulee. They take special diets very seriously at Beaches, and we had absolutely no issues with our son's diet while we were there. We did travel to Azul Fives in Mexico last year (on Lesley's recommendation) and I would say that the head Chef at Azul Fives, Jorge, was more friendly and accommodating than the chefs at Beaches. However, the food was still great for our son and he definitely ate better on holidays than he does at home. The rest of us enjoyed the rest of the offerings, which were truly fabulous (there was a creperie bar where my son could have gluten free ice cream and the rest of us could enjoy the crepes). As for the rest of the resort, it is also great. The rooms are not as luxurious as they are at Azul Fives, but they were spacious and clean, and the beds were very comfortable. The beach at the resort is small, but the water is warm, clear and the most beautiful shade of blue. There was a kids pool with some great water slides that my daughter really enjoyed (and I even tried them too!). The staff at the resort are very friendly - we especially loved our server at the bbq restaurant, Karlene, who could carry plates on her head! One of the best things about this resort was the Kids club. My six-year old daughter absolutely LOVED it and wanted to spend all of her time there. We had to tell her it was closed on a few occasions so she would spend some time with us! When our son was originally diagnosed with celiac disease, I thought we wouldn't be able to travel to an all-inclusive resort again. I found Lesley's name on this website and am glad I did, since both of her recommendations have been great. If you don't have kids and want to go to an all-inclusive, you may want to try Sandals (Beaches is owned by Sandals) which is the adult version of Beaches. This is an expensive resort, but it was worth it. We may end up going back next year!