Gluten Free Jamaica

This summer I took a trip to Lucea, Jamaica with my boyfriend to an all inclusive resort (Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort/Lady Hamilton) located very close to the Montego Bay airport.  Of course, traveling to a foreign country as a celiac girl was intimidating. I was very worried that there would be nothing I could eat or that the staff would not understand what gluten is.  To prepare, I loaded a suitcase full of gluten free crackers, gluten free pretzels, and other gluten free goodies (I assumed I could find peanut butter and cheese to make it more filling). Upon arriving at the resort, I went up to the concierge who directed me to a manager of the resort.  She gave me a special green dietary card that explained clearly that I have celiac disease and listed key ingredients that I could not have including wheat, flour, bread, rye, oats, malt, etc. and explained the importance of avoiding cross contamination.  I was instructed to present the card upon entering any buffet or sit down restaurant and ask to speak to the head chef (there was sometimes a small language barrier between the waitstaff and visitors so to make sure nothing was miscommunicated, speaking to the head chef was advisable).  In addition, the manager proceeded to make reservations at all of the sit-down restaurants for the nights I was there so that I would not have to wait and that the staff would be prepared for my arrival—-some chefs went out of their way and baked gluten free cupcakes because they had advance notice!!  I was able to eat at the Chinese restaurant, Italian restaurant, Jamaican restaurant, and steakhouse (although all the sit downs had a ton of options!!).  The manager presented me with the gluten free menu for the restaurants in advance and never once did I have to settle for a salad! Each meal was composed of 3 courses and I was happily full after each meal.  I did NOT feel like my celiac disease stopped me from eating very enjoyable meals.

I was most concerned about the buffets at lunch and breakfast–but luckily experienced few problems.  For breakfast, the chef made a fresh custom omelet on a clean surface and potatoes that were delicious.  Once chef made me fresh muffins for two breakfasts.  For lunch, the chef would make me grilled chicken on a clean safe surface and would walk me through the buffet to tell me what I could have.  This part I was always a bit worried about due to cross contamination with buffets but the chef would grab me the item I wanted from back if I was concerned (once bread was next to a spinach dish so he ran in back and got me the spinach dish).  At night after having an early dinner at a nice sit-down restaurant and wandering the beach, we would often go back to a buffet and get a second dessert—the chefs made me special gluten free baked goods and were very accommodating.

In terms of drinks, the pina cooladas were gluten free (and delicious) and the wine was safe as well.

I would highly recommend this resort to anyone with Celiac.  As long as you talk to a head chef and present the dietary card, you will love all of the celiac friendly options!!

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