Traveling with food allergies is a burden I would not wish on my worst enemy. Every trip involves hours of research and communication with airlines, restaurants, resorts and event coordinators. When the trip arrives, you leave armed with detailed information about your dietary restrictions. However, there is still a nagging feeling of fear that you can’t get rid of.
Most people get excited about dining at a new place. For me, having Celiac Disease (Coeliac Disease), my biggest fear is getting sick on vacation in a world far away from the comforts of home.
If your travel planning story sounds anything like mine, I’d like to introduce you to Sandals Resorts. If you have never heard of them, they are a couples only, all inclusive resort with locations in the Caribbean. While I have visited several Sandals, today I’m going to specifically guide you through eating gluten free at Sandals LaSource Grenada.
(Disclosure: Some of the product links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. This helps keep my blog running!)
Pre-Travel Dietary Checklist
Here is a checklist of what to do before traveling with dietary restrictions to a Sandals Resort and Spa.
- When you book on the Sandals website, make sure to include if you and your spouse are gluten free, dairy free or have specific food allergies in the comment/special request box.
- Watch this video from Sandals Resorts interviewing guests with food allergies. I cherish every review I can get when traveling. It helps to ease my travel anxieties.
- At least 4 weeks before your trip, email Special Services at email@example.com. They should respond confirming your dietary restrictions, that they can meet your needs and to meet with the Culinary Concierge upon your arrival. Here is the email template I use for each trip.
To Whom It May Concern,
We are staying at Sandals (insert location) from (insert arrival date) to (insert departure date). This will be our (insert # of stays) stay at Sandals Resort. I called the customer service department about my severe food allergies and they requested I email you. I have Celiac Disease and cannot have gluten.
Anything you can do to help ensure a smooth check in process and happy gluten free stay would be appreciated! We love Sandals and always recommend it to all our friends.
Confirmation Number: (insert #)
Member Number: (insert #)
Have a wonderful day!
Resort Late Arrival: Where to eat
Depending on when you check in, the Culinary Concierge may or may not be available. He or she mans the desk until 5:00 pm. If you should arrive later, no worries. Let your waiter or waitress know of your dietary restrictions.
If the Culinary Concierge is available, visit the desk found at the Living Room. She will show you the menus for every 5 Start Gourmet restaurant at Sandals Grenada. From my experience, the concierge will not be able to answer allergen related questions related to specific items on the menu. Their job is to make your dinner reservation schedule for your entire stay and to confirm you are attending the Soon Come Back Dinner. Tip: Book your dining reservations a little earlier than you normally eat. It is our experience that gluten free meals take longer to prepare.
Sandals Resorts has really upped their game over the past few years. Before you even place a drink order, the server will ask if you have any food allergies. They note the allergen (wheat, corn, soy, dairy, etc.) on their order pad and let you browse the menu.
Unfortunately, the menus are one area Sandals needs to upgrade. At the bottom of the menu there is a notation with a wheat icon stating “can be prepared gluten free”. The icon is nowhere to be found on the menu, leaving you to initially think there aren’t any meal options.
You have two options. Have the waitress ask the head chef which items on the menu can be made gluten free (this can be a time-consuming option as the chef is quite busy) or pick what you want to eat and have it made with your dietary restrictions in mind.
My 10 Day Gluten Free Dining Experience
We were guests at Sandals LaSource Grenada for 9 nights and 10 days. I have compiled a list of the restaurants we ate at with the gluten free menu items we chose. We aren’t foodies by any means and our menu selections reflect this.
Dinner: We arrived in Grenada too late to speak to the Culinary Concierge so we decided to try our luck at Cucina Romana. Most restaurants and their menus are the same at each Sandals Resort location. After 12+ hours of travel, we were craving Italian cuisine and knew Cucina Romana would have the carbs and cheese we desired.
We both enjoyed a Caesar salad, without croutons, and a glass of Robert Mondavi house red wine. For the main course, I had Spaghetti Carbonara and asked the chef for a side of grilled chicken breast for protein. While Sandals Resorts does not have gluten free spaghetti noodles, they do have penne. (Update: During our 2019 visit to Grenada, the resort had noodles but no penne. If this matters to you, mention it in your initial letter to the resort’s customer service.) Nick, my husband, had the Scottadita d’Agnello, which is grilled lamb chops, roasted potatoes and vegetables.
Breakfast: We started the morning at the breakfast buffet at Spices. Here the list of gluten free items you can enjoy include: fresh fruit and vegetables, scrambled eggs, bacon, yogurt and juices or smoothies. I asked for gluten free pancakes and the chef could not provide them. This restaurant is open air dining. The mornings were quite hot, even during late November, and we found eating directly in the sun to be a hot mess. (literally!)
Lunch: Every day we had gluten free pizza for lunch at Dino’s Pizzeria Italiana. When we aren’t on vacation, 80% of the time we eat a Paleo friendly diet. This means we are dairy free, grain free and gluten free. It isn’t very often we enjoy pizza. However, we find it’s easier when traveling to eat a gluten free diet. Tip: Place your pizza order as soon as the restaurant opens at 11:00 AM. Gluten free pizza will take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes when the restaurant is not busy. Otherwise, it could take up to an hour. Dining at Sandals with dietary restrictions is not for the impatient. (From here on out, I will not note our lunch menu unless we changed course.)
Dinner: Neptune’s Mediterranean Seafood. Once again, we both started with Caesar Salads. I chose the Shrimp Surf & Turf with chargrilled Boston cut Striploin steak and shrimp, herb garlic butter, sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes. Nick had Chermoula-Crusted Mahi Mahi with scalloped potatoes, fennel in a lemon-herb oil.
Breakfast: As we weren’t prepared with sunscreen, we decided to skip Spices and eat the breakfast buffet at Cucina Romana. It had the same food choices as Spices, but offered outdoor and air conditioned seating options.
Dinner: It was Thanksgiving and each restaurant was serving a special holiday menu. (Update: During our Thanksgiving 2019 visit, a holiday menu was no longer offered.) Unfortunately, the turkey meal option was not allergen friendly. As we were back at Cucina Romana (can’t you tell we like Italian food) I had the Spaghetti Carbonara.
Breakfast: We booked an Island Routes Half Day Grenada Sampler tour of the island. It left quite early in the morning so we ate a quick bite from Spices. I included my notes on the tour and the gluten free eating options along the way in my Sandals LaSource Grenada Review.
Lunch: Our tour came back fairly late in the afternoon (no time to put in that pizza order) so we tried Neptune’s. We both ordered burgers with fries. The restaurant does not offer gluten free buns; however, the fries are if you request them.
Dinner: Le Jardinier. We both ordered the Salade de Maison, seasonal local greens, baked tomato persillade, goat cheese, asparagus and mustard vinaigrette dressing. We also both requested the signature dish: Souris d’Agneau au Romarin, braised lamb shank, haricots verts, caramelized pearl onions, roasted pumpkin and Cabernet jus.
Late Night Snack: Tipsy Turtle Pub. I ordered gluten free nachos for our table of friends to share. They were a little spicy for me, but everyone enjoyed them. (Update from 2019: The menu no longer includes nachos. While on the property I used the Sandals and Beaches app to request it be added again. It was a late night favorite for us.)
Breakfast: We were advised to visit Le Jardinier for breakfast. This location offers a sit down experience where you order from a menu. To our delight, they offered pancakes with a berry compote. If you are gluten free, pancakes are a treat! These were amazing. The outside was perfectly crisp and the inside fluffy as a cloud. In other words, I still dream of these.
Dinner: Butch’s Chophouse. This restaurant was a treat! Nick started with the Island Pumpkin Soup minus the cinnamon croutons. We both ordered the Filet Mignon with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans with pancetta. I went a little crazy and asked for gluten free lobster mac and cheese. To my delight, the chef made it for me!! Nick finished the night with crème brulee.
Breakfast: Le Jardinier. We shared a plate of fresh local fruit. Nick had the gluten free pancakes with berry compote. I ordered an egg omelette with lobster and a side of hash browns. You must try the hash browns! We were so spoiled at this restaurant with items we rarely ever get to enjoy.
Dinner: Kimonos. If you have trouble with soy, I would not recommend this restaurant. This is a group dining experience. If there is are guests with Celiac Disease, the chef will use gluten free soy sauce for the entire group. I tried the striploin, chicken breast, shrimp and mahi-mahi filet and finished with the Guava Pudding, green tea cream. This was the only restaurant that left me feeling ill. However, I do have a sensitivity to soy sauce and attributed my stomach pangs to that. If you are looking for an entertaining dinner experience, I would recommend this restaurant. Just visit the Tipsy Turtle Pub afterward for a bite to eat.
Breakfast: Le Jardinier. By now we had breakfast down to a science. Fresh fruit, pancakes and hashbrowns. (From here on out, we ate breakfast at Le Jardinier. The servers knew us by name and didn’t even have to write down our order!)
Dinner: Cucina Romana. We know what we like! Our meals were the same as our first day of arrival.
Dinner: Sandals Select Soon Come Back Dinner held at Spices. If you have ever been a guest at a Sandals Resort, you are invited to this event. The Culinary Concierge should have notified the chef of your attendance. Let your server know your food allergy or dietary restrictions and there should be a custom meal prepared for you.
Dinner: Butch’s Chophouse. Nick enjoyed the Island Pumpkin Soup, Classic Angus New York Strip Steak, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans with Pancetta. I followed suit but with the Filet Mignon. Tip: Our reservation was later than our first experience at Butch’s. Unfortunately, this time we found the food and service lacking in quality due to the busyness of the restaurant. I would suggest making an early reservation at this restaurant if you have a food allergy.
Today was our last day. We said goodbye to our servers at Le Jardinier at breakfast and enjoyed one last pizza before heading to the airport.
Let’s Not Forget gluten Free Snacking & Coffee
Our favorite spot for gluten free snacking, which we did often, was Café de Paris. Due to the hour time difference, we always woke up well before breakfast was served. Thankfully, Café de Paris was open at 7:00 am. We would start with a fresh cup of coffee and chat while waiting for Le Jardinier to open at 8:00 am. Tip: There aren’t alternative milk options here, just half and half or whole milk. If you ask at the sit down restaurants, almond milk is available.
As we also enjoyed an early lunch, we always needed a little something to tide us over in the afternoons. Café de Paris was the place to go for our mid-afternoon Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee and sweet treat. Tip: The gluten free offerings were always displayed on the top shelf of the refrigerator. This was a great help as you didn’t need to ask the chef each time you visited. The French cafe gluten free dessert options changed daily. My favorite was the gluten free Bailey’s cheesecake. They also offer crepes and waffles. Unfortunately, these cannot be made gluten free.
When you visit Café de Paris, make sure to ask for Nigel. He was so kind and helpful to me. If it hadn’t been for him, I would not have known about the amazing breakfast at Le Jardinier.
- Make sure to notify Sandals LaSource Grenada multiple times before your arrival that you have dietary restrictions. They suggest at least 4 weeks in advance.
- Upon arrival, ask to see the Culinary Concierge. Book your dinner reservations for your entire stay. Consider earlier blocks of time as custom entrees take longer on average to prepare. Our dinners from start to finish were about 1.5 hours in length.
- At each restaurant, when the server asks if you have food sensitivities, let them know if you would like to see the chef.
- Enjoy a worry-free, all inclusive vacation eating all the wonderful foods the talented chefs prepare for you!
Even though this travel review is about eating gluten free at Sandals Grenada, the tips work at each Sandals Resort location. Many of the same restaurants are found at each resort and the menu items are similar too. My husband and I have been to 6 Sandals Resorts and will only stay at a Sandals when traveling in the Caribbean. If you would like to learn more about the Grenada resort location, check out my blog posts: Sandals LaSource Grenada – Pros and Cons | Sandals Grenada Photography Tour | Little Known Tips for Your Sandals Grenada Resort Vacation
We have also stayed at the following Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean:
- Sandals LaSource Grenada – 2017 & 12/2019
- Sandals Grande Antigua – 2011 & 2016
- Sandals South Coast, formerly Sandals Whitehouse – 2012 (Sandals website. Photo tour coming soon!)
- Sandals Royal Bahamian – November 2014
**I was not approached by Sandals Resorts to write this review nor was I paid for this post. Everything is 100% my own opinions based off my experience at the Sandals LaSource Grenada.