a peek inside the fishbowl

26 Apr, 2015

Family holiday to Punta Cana, part two. The food!

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

(Psst! Read the first part of this post here.)

How does food figure into your ideal holiday? Are you one of those people who views food as fuel, so it’s kind of a non issue? Or do great meals figure prominently in your vacation? And is a vacation supposed to be a holiday from your own kitchen as well?

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about the food situation as we were booking our holiday. The last time we were in Punta Cana (at a different resort) the food wasn’t much to write home about. There was a lot of fried foods, but not much variety overall. I was craving something healthy by the end of our stay. I got ill at one point, which didn’t help either. So, yes, I was wary, but as it turns out I needn’t have worried too much this time around.

For the most part, the dining at Majestic Elegance comes in the form of the all-you-can-eat buffet. The AYCE concept tends to a pretty bad rap overall, but I was impressed with the spread here. It IS possible to eat well at a buffet. There was truly something for everyone. The main one is called Flavours. It’s big, and although it seats hundreds of people at a time, the seating and service is so quick and efficient you hardly notice. (Also, not everyone sits down to eat at the same time.) Think white table linens and silverware here, whereas the second buffet, right on the beach, is more casual. This is where we ate lunch almost every day.

Majestic Elegance beach buffet

Buffet lunch at Majestic Elegance

Veggie tacos and fresh mango

This is a much smaller venue than Flavours, but we enjoyed it very much. The mango they served there was unlike any I’d ever tasted. We were MANGO CRAZY.

Sidebar: I’d love to know more about what goes into the planning of this kind of dining service, especially one that caters to an international palate. How many “familiar” foods should be served? (Read: should there be fries and burgers at every dinner buffet?) How much are people willing to try something new? How do you make sure guests with special dietary needs are taken care of? How much food is enough and how do you prevent food waste?

There are a few restaurant options at Majestic – Italian, Japanese, a steakhouse and a seafood place where you sit down for traditional dinner service – but if I had to go back and do it all over again I would skip them all and stay with the buffets as the food served in the restaurants was mediocre for the most part.

The buffet served a lot of the basics people would be happy to find on their plates: meats, carbs, veggies, pasta etc. and every night there was variety within these staples. So for example, pork one night, beef the next. There was always tons of fruit and veggies too. Fish. Bread and cheese. No shortage of desserts either. The variety really came into play during different theme nights at the big buffet. So for example, additional foods were served to fit the theme of “Dominica” night or “Spanish” night. I think there was a Chinese night but we missed that one. The food was consistently good, and in many cases the way it was presented and served – even in buffet format – was downright decorative. Think hors d’oeuvres, fans of cheese, and small glasses of bright and pretty chopped salads. What I saw was presented with care.

I don’t actually have many pictures of the buffet, mostly because I felt like a total goon snapping photos in the restaurant. But here’s one, although I don’t feel like it’s a very good example of what I’m talking about:

A small peek at the spread at Majestic Elegance

It’s funny. When first faced with a holiday buffet I’m like, I MUST EAT ALL THE THINGS. This is especially true at breakfast. Bacon! Crepes! Fruit! Pastries! Oh, there’s the omelette station! But within a couple of days I was more than happy with a plain yogurt and fresh fruit (although I think I ate eggs florentine at least four times). At lunch, amid the sandwich and salad and pizza bars I usually found myself heading to the seafood counter where I had fresh grouper, mussels, and other delights grilled up fresh right in front of me:

March 18 #dailylunches - mussels, grouper, fruit salad, salmon salad. Not shown: lunch #2 of soft fish tacos. :!

I ate a record amount of fruit and veggie salads, cheese, and soft tacos.

Soft taco addiction.

I’m not much of a dessert person, so I can’t really comment there. I preferred to save the room in my tummy for cheese and slushy drinks by the pool. (And I consumed quite a few of those.)

The girls never ceased to surprise me. They made good choices and ate well for the most part. Both took advantage of the variety of fresh fruit and always found a preferred vegetable. The buffet is a good opportunity to try new things, and we all did a lot of sampling (while being careful about food waste… which is a pet peeve of mine).

There was a beach BBQ set up one night during our stay. It was a nice change to shake up the dining routine:

Beach BBQ at Majestic Elegance

The AYCE idea extends, of course, to the bar. There are many throughout the resort. Here’s a view of the bar just below the lobby. It was a nice place to hang out if we wanted to get out of the sun during the day. It’s a totally different scene at night as this is where people stop to have drinks en route to dinner.

View of the lobby bar, Majestic Elegance

Speaking of drinks: the house wine was part of the deal, as was bottled water, pop, and basic mixed drinks. At no point did I crave a Johnny Walker or a brand of top-tier vino, so I was perfectly fine. The four of us brought reusable mugs and would get them filled at the various bars. We used these about half the time we were there, which cut down on the plastic cups and trips for refills. You know what was heavenly? Having a mimosa at breakfast and never worrying about having to carry cash or a credit card. Sometimes I even had a beer with lunch, or a cocktail on the beach. Now THAT is my idea of a holiday!

Sex on the Beach

Next up: a bit about some of the fun we had, including two offsite excursions around Punta Cana.


1 Response to "Family holiday to Punta Cana, part two. The food!"

1 | Sarah McCormack

April 27th, 2015 at 8:35 am

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food is an important part of any holiday for me, I must admit :) This buffet looks really nice, but I tend to prefer an a la carte sit down for dinner, as I have self-control issues and tend to overindulge at a buffet. I do, however, prefer breakfast at a buffet so you can have a variety of items, not just a big plate of pancakes.

also, just finished reading The Rosie Effect…… have you read it yet. know you enjoyed the first one, not as good, but still worth a read :)

have a great week!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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