As food allergies and special dietary needs become more prevalent in our society today, traveling families need to focus on finding hotels and resorts that offer more menu options. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children under the age of 17 with food allergies increased from 3.4 percent to 5.1 percent from 1997 to 2011; that’s a 50 percent increase. Luckily, the number of properties who can accommodate families with food allergies or dietary needs is also on the rise.
Over the past couple of years, chains like Hyatt and Fairmont have expanded their menus to include gluten-free and vegan options, while individual resorts, such as the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa in California, will prepare personalized menus for children with restricted diets. Other properties, like the Breakers Palm Beach, work to make menu items gluten-free from the start and even prepare food in separate dishes so as to prevent cross-contamination for those with severe food allergies to ingredients like peanuts or shellfish.
For families wishing to visit all-inclusive resorts where every meal is included in the price, alternative dishes may be hard to come by. Palladium Hotels & Resorts are working to include options for all their guests visiting the all-inclusive properties. Chefs at Palladium Hotels & Resorts have been specially trained to prepare dishes that are gluten-free, Type 2 diabetes-specific, and that eliminate seven other ingredients that can cause severe allergic reactions, including nuts, fruits, vegetables, seafood, eggs, dairy and lactose. Guests with the special dietary needs receive a color-coded card at check-in, which they show staff prior to every meal. The staff then acts accordingly, offering guests meal options just for them.
Beyond hotels, theme park resorts are also willing to help guests find accommodating restaurants during their time in the parks. Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort are three that really make the effort to have alternative meal options for guests.
At Disneyland restaurants, even Kosher meals are available – just order at least 24 hours in advance. And for guests with uncommon food or dietary restrictions, simply contacting Disneyland at least 14 days prior to arrival and after booking all dining arrangements can make the dining process a breeze.
If your family includes members with restricted diets, there are a few things you can do prior to your vacation to ensure that special meals can be made:
1. Tell the hotel or resort at booking about all food allergies or dietary needs. Then, follow up with the hotel or resort again just a few days before your actual stay.
2. Make advanced reservations and notify restaurants of all food allergies and diets at that time. Most restaurants allow reservations up to 60 days in advance.
3. Check with the hotel concierge or the guest relations kiosk upon arrival. If you’re at a hotel with no onsite dining options, the concierge can point you to a restaurant that meets your needs. If you’re at a theme park, the guest relations kiosk can do the same for in-park dining.
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