We just got back from Puerto Vallarta last night after spending the week of Nov 17-24, 2013.
It was +30 hot, humid and sunny. This is the first all-inclusive I have tried since being diagnosed with Celiac 2 years ago, because I was leery about the whole no control over my food issues. We stayed at the Secrets Vallarta Bay resort in Puerto Vallarta. I emailed back and forth with resort customer service and was assured by Violeta that they deal all the time with food allergies.
When we arrived I was given a gluten free card by the concierge that I was to show our waiters in all the restaurants. Most of the waiters knew what i could not eat off of the menus, and if they were not sure they would take my card back to the chef and check.
I was treated very well and had no problems the week we were there. The french restaurant was amazing. We dined there on our first and on our last night. Carlos, our table captain, and his wonderful crew found me excellent gluten free bread for our meal and on our last night even found me a gluten free crème brule for dessert. I could have eaten at the French restaurant every night. The food and the service were by far the best at the resort.
The Italian restaurant was also very good. We dined there twice -- the first evening with another couple we had met down there. The food was quite good and so was the service. The second time it was just my wife and I, and we were seated in an out-of-the-way spot, and the service was lacking...maybe a 4 out of 5.
The Asian restaurant had only one salad and one entrée that (as a Celiac) I could eat. The service was ok, but not up to our expectations, 3.5 out of 5.
We did not try the Japanese, which is the only restaurant that requires a reservation, because the dinner was cooked in front of the group at the table, and I was not sure how I would be able to handle it being gluten free. We heard good reviews of it, though.
Lunches were spent at either the Oceana seafood restaurant by the pool or at the marketplace buffet up by the hotel. Both were casual and very enjoyable.
The first morning we had a breakfast buffet at the marketplace. When the maitre d' found out I was Celiac, he personally gave me a tour of the entire buffet, omelet station, quesada station, and the usual breakfast buffet selections. He told me what was safe for me to eat and what wasn't. If he was not sure, he called over one of the chefs to check.
The "secrets" side of the resort is adult only and the "now" side is family oriented if you are travelling with kids.
We went downtown and felt very safe. I did not eat down there so i can't comment on the restaurants. We did a few excursions, and I was careful what I ate. One of the excursions was "Rhythms of the night" where we took a catamaran to a private island for a candlelit dinner and a show (think cirque du soleil meets the jungle). I found one of the chefs when we got there and showed him my own gluten free travel card translated into Spanish, and he walked me through the buffet showing me what I could and couldn't eat. I was very impressed and felt safe and relieved about the food. Our server at the marketplace, Carlos and sometimes Ricardo, were very friendly and helpful. At our last breakfast I told Carlos we were leaving, and he told us not to leave...he disappeared for 5 minutes. He came back with a muffin-sized chocolate cake on a white plate that was decorated with chocolate drawings and he had written, "Have a good trip home" in chocolate. It was beautiful. Sadly, we had already packed the camera because that would have been my picture of the trip.
One afternoon I got to put on a silly little chef hat and tour all the kitchen facilities at the resort. It was a very large facility, very informative and absolutely spotless. Being Celiac, I can be a little anal about food cleanliness and cross contamination. After the tour I was quite impressed.
I would rate the resort as 4.5 out of 5 as the Asian restaurant was a disappointment for my wife and I.
On a couple of days our rooms were not cleaned until late in the day, and they also missed the turndown service a couple of times.
If I can pry the gluten free bread recipe from Yoana, the friendliest, most helpful and apologetic concierge I have ever met, I will change my rating to a 5 out of 5! I could have eaten just a loaf of the bread with butter and not even ordered off the menu!
If anyone wants to hire me to take them down and guide them through the around, let me know. LOL!
My wife and I will definitely be back, maybe next year we will try the "now" family side if our grandson is old enough to travel with us.
Paul in Edmonton
P.S. On our way through the duty free shop in the Puerto Vallarta airport we were told by the staff, and there were signs up, that you are allowed one 1 litre bottle of alcohol per person but you are allowed three 1 litre bottles per couple coming back to Canada.
Wrong. The nice customs agent kindly explained to us that you are not allowed more than 1.14 litres of alcohol per person and you can't split anything up between anyone. He then proceeded to let us go with our 3 bottles.
Make sure that you read and know what you are allowed to bring back, not all agents are so forgiving.