Although an all-inclusive resort in Mexico might not be the first thing you imagine when searching for international culinary treasures and extraordinary tasting menus,the reality is that high-end boutique hotels and luxury resorts are serving up some of the world’s most exciting food in exotic locales throughout this emerging Latin American superpower. Last month,Forbes contributor Alexandra Kirkman visited the all-inclusive Occidental Royal Hideaway Playacar in Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya overlooking the Caribbean Sea,where she dined at the chef’s table and rediscovered what today’s Mexican fare is all about.
Offering a gourmet tasting menu of six to more than 12 different courses for up to eight people,each paired with the very best wines,the exclusive Chef’s Table Experience at the Royal Hideaway Playacar is led by Executive Chef Eugenio Villafaña and includes his professional team of chefs,who work together to perform an “innovative combination of modern and ancestral culinary arts,” according to the resort’s website. Villafaña also operates the property’s fine dining restaurant,Las Ventanas and oversees its six other restaurants.
“Villafaña is transporting diners with a dazzling and wholly unexpected gastronomic journey that celebrates Mexico’s rich and largely unsung culinary heritage,” writes Kirkman for Forbes. “Chef Villafaña draws upon an exotic and wide-ranging list of delicacies to create ultra-sophisticated,wildly imaginative dishes that are a far cry from traditional Mexican fare.”
Villafaña is reportedly dedicated to supporting local Mexican suppliers and sources around 95 percent of his ingredients locally for Las Ventanas and around 80 percent for its other restaurants. His favorite items include superfoods like cacao,achiote seeds and avocado,along with a wide variety of locally raised game and locally harvested seafood.
The chef’s table at the Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen is the only one currently offered in the area and is served in a private dining room with a direct view of the kitchen. Here,diners willing to pay a surcharge to the hotel’s all-inclusive plan get to enjoy Villafaña’s exciting and inspired fare while they watch his entire team in action.
Situated on one of the Riviera Maya’s most pristine white sand beaches,the resort’s Spices restaurant offers beachside dining and specializes in Mexican and Caribbean food that is simply to die for,while the property’s other top-tier restaurants – such as Azia and Palazzo – serve up a variety of excellent options,including Asian and Mexican fare,respectively.
“While not the newest resort on the Riviera Maya,whose burgeoning popularity has attracted many of the world’s best hospitality brands,the hotel’s exceptional cuisine under Villafaña’s watchful eye,paired with consistently five-star service,has helped the Royal Hideaway Playacar cultivate a loyal clientele that returns year after year,” writes Forbes.
Want to learn more about dining in Playa? Click here to read A Foodie’s Guide to Playa del Carmen and discover a wealth of other local eateries today!