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Need advice communicating special dietary needs in Punta Cana

Need advice communicating special dietary needs in Punta Cana

Apr 29th, 2009, 04:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 8
Need advice communicating special dietary needs in Punta Cana

We're doing a family all-inclusive vacation in June at Grand Palladium Palace. I have to follow a gluten free diet. Sadly, I am monolingual (English). What can I expect regarding the staff's language skills? I'm concerned about being able to question them about ingredients in dishes, my need to avoid wheat, rye, barley, etc. Thanks
Javert is offline  
Apr 29th, 2009, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 101
Most people that work in the resorts speak more than one language, you probably don't need to worry about that. In any case you can say

1."tengo una dieta especial y necesito saber los ingredientes de la comida" (I have a special diet and I need to know the ingredients in the food)
2. "No puedo comer nada que tenga trigo, centeno y cebada" (I can't eat anything with wheat, rye and barley) though I've only heard the last two ingredients in the beer...
AyQuehago is offline  
Apr 29th, 2009, 08:03 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 291
Hola, Javert. While I have not been to that resort, I have been to a dozen AIs in the DR, Jamaica and MX. Unless your resort is unusual, the majority of your meals will be buffets. The only "staff" you would typically encounter are waitstaff bringing drinks, or "runners" refilling steam trays, etc., on the buffet line. IOW, it's not likely that these folks would always know the ingredients if you were to ask them. So, what you can "expect regarding the staff's language skills" is pretty much a moot point.

Since you have some time before the trip, my suggestion would be to contact the guest relations dept. of the resort. (check resort website for email or phone info) It's possible that they even have a process in place for assisting guests with specific dietary needs.

In addition, you may want to learn a few key phrases for those times when you dine à la carte, or from room service or off the resort. Something along the lines of Perdón, no puedo comer trigo. (Excuse me, I cannot eat wheat). Or, more directly: ¿Hay trigo en este plato? (Is there wheat in this dish ?)

You might even think about making up a small, neat index card in Spanish, listing the "No puedo comer......" items, and which could be shown to your server.

For the resort, though, I think being proactive and contacting them ahead of time would be the best place to start.

BTW, since you mention being monolingual (sadly), I'd like to encourage you to pick up a few other phrases in Spanish---apart from the food issue. There are myriad sources on the web for learning standard words/phrases. This could even be a family project leading up to the trip. If you have not been to the DR before, you will find Dominicans to be warm, friendly and eager to please. Taking the time to learn to communicate in their language--if only in the most basic way---will absolutely enhance your experience. Buena suerte !
lifes2short is online now  
Apr 30th, 2009, 04:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 8
Thank you both very much. I will act on your advice and contact the resort ahead of time, but I will also prepare a printed card (I have one in Spanish already but I believe it is directed more specifically to Mexican cuisine). Now I am determined to learn to speak some phrases in Spanish before the trip. Gracias!
Javert is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 06:21 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,163
If you have celiac disease, then you can eat rice and potatoes, which is a very good thing as these are staples in most Latin American food. Also ask your doctor about taro and yuca, which are also common. I think you can probably have corn, and that's another staple. Other grains (wheat, barley, rye, etc.) are actually not that common, and if you avoid bread, tortillas, and pasta, you'll probably be ok. The hardest thing is that there are few fresh vegetables. But I think you might find this to be relatively easy. I think you'll have to be aware of thickeners, and these AI resorts use a lot of processed and pre-packaged foods rather than fresh ingredients, but you'll almost always find some kind of grilled meat, and you can eat a burger or hot dog without the bun. You will definitely not find any gluten-free bread products or anything like that.

I tend to agree with other posters who have said that the staff may have little or no English (don't count on anything), and they probably won't know how the foods are prepared. An advance email or inquiry to the resort could help, but don't count on it. These resorts aren't very good at dealing with specific issues.
doug_stallings is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 07:19 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 8
If you are familiar with celiac disease then you know that eating from a buffet can leave very few choices if one can't identify those potentially hidden sources of gluten, like items dredged in flour for browning, sauces and gravies thickened with flour,barley malt in cereals, etc.But I won't let limited food choices keep me from enjoying a Caribbean vacation I'm sure I'll find enough to eat but it's nice to not have to stick to only the very plain, obviously "safe" foods.Oh well, at least rum is GF! I've sent an email to the resort, but no response yet.
BTW, the cruise lines and Disney are fantastic in accomodating GF dining needs.
Javert is offline  
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