If you think dining at an all-inclusive family resort is defined by long lines at a buffet table loaded with bland, starchy food, it’s time to think again. There’s a new wave of all-inclusive resorts offering farm-to-table meals, hands-on culinary experiences and other delectable perks. From a seaside resort in Mexico’s Baja California to a Montana dude ranch, here are seven standout all-inclusive resorts with the best food.
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1. Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, New York
Mohonk Mountain House is a beloved Victorian castle nestled in a forest a few hours from New York City. Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages may cross-country ski, golf, kayak, or hike with the in-house naturalist. Time spent in the fresh air builds an appetite and Mohonk serves a cornucopia of locally sourced products to celebrate Hudson Valley bounty. Beverages lean local too, with apple cider pressed at nearby farms and beer from neighborhood breweries on tap.
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Start your day with an eye-opening, all-American breakfast buffet featuring light-as-a-feather waffles served with New York State maple syrup and house-made jams. The upscale lunch buffet includes a carving station and hot-from-the-grill sandwiches big enough for Dagwood. A multi-course dinner is a sophisticated seated affair that ends with fabulous desserts. During summer vacation, dine outside by the lake.
2. Grand Velas Los Cabos
Los Cabos, Mexico
With a world-class kid’s club, baby concierge and a stunning beach, Grand Velas Los Cabos is a popular resort for families. It’s located in Mexico’s up-and-coming culinary hotspot, Baja California. With so much unspoiled coastline, it’s no surprise a windfall of fresh fish is a big part of its culinary scene. The climate, with sunny days and breezy nights, is a springboard for growing luscious vegetables and fruit that the resort sources from nearby orchards and fertile farms.
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There are a variety of global cuisines to indulge in on property, though Grand Velas takes special pride in its Mexican heritage. At Frida, guests enjoy traditional Mexican recipes with a contemporary twist, from red snapper in complex molcajete sauce to Cornish hen with a savory mole. Tidbits of tangerine, nopal and mint add zest and zing while accents of edible flowers take desserts to an Instagram-worthy level. For the truly adventurous, an edible insect degustation is available. Frida is a fine place to sample Baja’s noteworthy homegrown wines as well. A gorgeous setting and top-notch service guarantee a meal you won’t soon forget.
3. Flathead Lake Lodge
A family-run property near Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake Lodge consistently ranks as one of the best family dude ranches in the U.S. and Canada. Guests at this consistently praised resort enjoy horseback riding, boating on the sparkling lake and communing with nature. General manager Chase Averill is the third generation of his family to operate the ranch. And as a father of three, he has first-hand experience feeding hungry kids.
Meals are hearty and delicious. In the morning, take a group horseback ride followed by a cowboy-style breakfast served fireside. Lunch is a nourishing buffet with a lakeview, while a plated dinner presents wholesome main dishes, such as baked chicken or lamb garnished with vegetables and mashed potatoes. You won’t find heavy sauces, just quality ingredients simply prepared. Homemade bread and irresistible desserts—think berry pies, sugar cookies and fruit crumbles—are served warm from the oven. Nightly wine pairings keep oenophiles satisfied.
4. Club Med Tignes
Val Claret, France
Club Med Tignes is a newly revamped resort in the majestic French Alps. Facing the Grande Motte glacier with direct access to the slopes, it’s a celebrated winter vacation playground for sports enthusiasts, with snowy peaks beckoning visitors to downhill ski and snowboard.
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The marketplace-style main dining room was designed to evoke a mountain stroll. Culinary offerings from the Savoy region, like local charcuterie and cheese fondue, are woven into the menus. After a day on the mountain, stick-to-your-ribs gratins and robust stews are soul-satisfying. The kitchen turns out mouth-watering breads and pastries as well, so leave your diet at passport control.
5. Petit St. Vincent
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Petit St. Vincent is a private island resort in the Grenadines, a sanctuary of white sand and turquoise water that has not yet been overrun by mass tourism. At the resort, a large organic garden provides a tangle of tropical produce, making it easy for the chef to maintain a commitment to sustainability. A flock of free-roaming chickens means your breakfast eggs were laid that same morning.
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At the casual restaurant, guests may dine on grilled fish while their toes tickle the sand. At the upscale Main Restaurant, the nightly three-course menu changes according to fisherman’s catch and farmer’s harvest. Don’t skip afternoon tea, a British-meets-Caribbean treat of fragrant cakes and biscuits served with mint tea straight from the garden. Bonus: The staff makes a noble effort to tempt tiny appetites, with crowd-pleasers including burgers and pizza.
6. Adler Lodge Ritten
Italy’s South Tyrol region, bordered by Austria and Switzerland, is home to Adler Lodge Ritten. The lodge and chalets of this wellness-focused favorite are surrounded by pristine flora with a spectacular view of the Dolomites. Adler’s cuisine reflects geography, blending earthy mountain ingredients with Mediterranean brightness.
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The chef partners with local purveyors to source quality foods to create enticing dishes that respect traditions without being tethered to them. Wine from small, family-run vineyards complement farmhouse cheeses and air-dried meats. The resort’s beekeeper has numerous bee colonies producing ambrosial honey. Breakfast is a sweet-and-savory buffet, lunch is self-serve and dinner is a lavish occasion prepared in an open kitchen and served under the stars.
Children age eight and older are welcome at the lodge and can join in on the resort’s roster of unusual activities, including trekking with a friendly pack of alpacas.
7. Fairmont Mayakoba
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Immersed in a mangrove jungle intersected by canals, Fairmont Mayakoba is a luxurious resort on a swath of a Caribbean beach that defines tropical paradise. It’s home to exotic parrots, monkeys and sea turtles that delight kids and kids at heart.
There are plenty of global dining options, from Korean barbecue to a New York-style steakhouse. At the Sweet Spot, Mexican confections join rainbow-swirl lollipops and old-fashioned bulk candy, a treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. And guests who crave even more variety may opt out of the all-inclusive plan and explore nearby Playa del Carmen’s dining scene.
For something interactive, book a hands-on cooking class with Chef Sandra and feast on a meal that you’ve helped to prepare. Your family will learn the secrets of the Mexican kitchen as you make guacamole in an authentic molcajete and press masa into tortillas using a classic tortilladora.
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FamilyVacationist.com covers family vacation ideas; family vacation spots; all-inclusive family resorts; and must-have travel accessories for families of all shapes, sizes and orientations. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
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