Vegan at Gran Melia, Cancun


In a previous post about Cancun, I mentioned that I would talk about the eats and such at our resort in Cancun called Gran Melia.  It’s a five-star hotel, and we got a deal on an all-inclusive package since virtually my entire family flew here together (23 people!).

Not knowing what to expect, Logan and I arrived armed and ready. 

The Ades drink and green tea were purchased at the market downstairs, but everything else we brought.  In fact, this stash was already slightly depleted when I took this picture, since we originally had more chocolate and lara bars.

I’m super glad we packed snacks, especially the chocolate.  Understandably, vegan dessert options at Gran Melia were nonexistent, but I don’t like to be shafted from dessert, and so we happily devoured rice milk chocolate like it was going out of style.  The lara bars were handy for day trips, and the nuts were great for a little extra protein and satiation.

And when it came to breakfast, the granola and nut butter were indispensable.


We enjoyed most of our meals at the buffet called Quetzal, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a wide selection of food that varies day to day.

The banana was enjoyed with the nut butter we brought with us, and Logan drizzled pear syrup on the sweet fried plantains.  We ate a lot of raw vegetables in the morning, since we were so grateful to be eating something that resembled real food after being on the plane.  There was a fairly good selection of fruit (mostly fresh melons at this time of year), but also jarred fruit in syrup like mangoes, peaches, pears and mandarin oranges.

We were very joyous to discover that some days they had soy milk sitting on the breakfast buffet table – it tasted like the So Nice brand.  On this particular morning, we put the granola we brought to good use.  They provided cereal and granola, but we wanted to eat our own because we’re picky like that.

More fruit, and a banana that was later smothered with nut butter.  The mash in the bottom left corner was called “banana with dried fruits”, and it was warm and sweet and very good.  On the top right corner is a scoop of refried beans.  Refried beans have been everywhere, but since they’re often made with lard I’ve been careful.  Generally, I follow my nose when it comes to determining if a food has meat or a meat product in it, since I find them very potent.  I’ve noticed that the beans vary from batch to batch, sometimes smelling animal-ish, and sometimes smelling just like the ones I make at home.  On the whole, though, we avoided them.

Those hash brown potatoes were damn good, and I devoured them every time I saw them at breakfast.  I also enjoyed some sauteed mushrooms in soy sauce and a potato-onion-parsley hash, along with fresh fruit, some granola in the background and a glass of fresh grapefruit juice.  They have a good selection of fresh juices each morning (all fruit, not vegetable), like watermelon, papaya and orange.

Lunch and Supper

Unlike breakfast where all of our meals were enjoyed at Quetzal, we went to a few more locations for lunch and dinner, due to being out and about, family meal reservations or simple curiosity.

What I can say about the Gran Melia resort is that if you’re vegan, the buffet is the way to go for meals.  Most of the restaurants have nary a vegan option, except an appetizer or salad.  We went to a place called Kunah, and the two pages of mains were literally just a different animal for each dish.  But Logan and I smiled and nodded and enjoyed some chips with an avocado-beet cerviche, and later retreated to our room to munch out on some chocolate.

We visited another buffet-style restaurant called La Perla, situated outside near some swimming pools, though they were very much a burger and fries kind of joint in the daytime.  But Logan and I love fries.

They also served nachos, but sadly had no guacamole.  I was all pouty, because I’ve come to expect chips to be piled high with salsa and guacamole.  Though as a side-note, when we visited Xel-Ha (an outdoor aquarium), they had a huge vat of guacamole and Logan and I happily called it lunch.

Luckily, there was a fresh salsa and tons of pickles and lolives olives.  Our room service platter of nachos, however, was most excellent:

That’s a full-sized dinner plate piled high with guacamole – there must have been three avocados in that heap.  The salsa was a little watery, but tasted great mixed up with the guacamole.  And since Logan and I couldn’t conquer all the guacamole in one sitting, we saved some for breakfast, which was delicious smothered atop potatoes.  Just be sure to specify that you want guacamole with no cheese…
And then, the wedding meal.  Logan and I weren’t really sure what to expect, since you never really know what a catered meal will be like as the weirdo vegan, but I was told beforehand I could expect a potato, some veggies, and a grilled portobello.  Logan was told he’d be served grilled veggies on rice.  Not the most exciting food in the world, but hey, at least we were being fed.
We started off with a salad…
It was pretty beautiful and actually trumped the salad everyone else got, which was basically just romaine, cheese chunks and a caesar dressing.  The vinaigrette was simple and tasty, and I was just so happy to be eating a bunch of crunchy vegetables.
As for the main?  Well I didn’t photograph them, which maybe says something.  Mine was quite good, though I had to share my potato with Logan since he just got a plate of grilled veggies…no rice.  What man (or woman) could possibly be filled up on a meager plate of grilled veggies, I ask?  At least they tasted good.  
When they started bringing out tiramisu for dessert, I was wondering if Logan and I would get a plate of fruit or something – I wouldn’t have complained, and I still had lots of room in my belly.  Alas, we got no dessert.  Nada.  So we later snuck back to our room for more rice milk chocolate, and all was well.
At the Quetzal buffet, however, we always managed to pile our plates high.

There was almost always rice and potatoes, and plenty of raw and cooked vegetable salads to choose from.  On certain days, we even got to enjoy chickpeas (delish) and black beans.  Logan and I loaded up on olives at every meal, and pecans made a frequent appearance.  But yeah – no shortage of vegetables for us.  
As you might expect from buffet-style food, everything was rather oily.  I didn’t really mind since I was so happy to be well-fed, but it was nice to return home and eat a non-greasy rice bowl topped with crunchy raw veggies.  
So the verdict?  If you’re a vegan at Gran Melia, Cancun, you’ll almost undoubtedly do well.  There’s meat everywhere, but there are plenty of vegetable options (at Quetzal, at least) most days.  There was only one or two days where Logan and I noticed a lack of selection, when they decided to put cheese on the potatoes and seafood in some of the salads.  But we didn’t go hungry!  And the snack bars we brought were mainly for  day trips – we didn’t need them at the hotel.  The granola was great to have for breakfast, though if you’re into stuff like Corn Pops, they’ve got little mini boxes of assorted cereals.
And the best part?  Logan and I never got sick!
But I’m happy to be back in my own kitchen.  My hair is lamenting the loss of its poofy curls and my skin doesn’t particularly enjoy Saskatchewan’s cold, dry air, but it’s actually been a really warm winter so far.  As of this moment it’s 0 degrees (about 32 F), which is amazingly warm for this time of year, where highs of -20 (-4 F) are common, and the windchill can get into the -40’s (-40 F).  And it’s supposed to be warm like this all week, which is worthy of celebration.  And cervezas! 🙂
  • Jolene – EverydayFoodie

    That is too bad that the wedding food wasn't better for you guys … it wouldn't have been too difficult to pull together a vegan entree, and dessert.

    Sounds like the rest of the eats were pretty good! It is impressive that the resort had that many vegan options, although I assume not a lot of protein options …

  • Allysia

    Ha ha, that's why we brought peanuts. 🙂 And we were very happy on the days when the chickpeas or black beans showed up! As for the wedding, yeah, I'm a little disappointed they didn't even at least give us fruit or something. If it were my wedding and someone got skipped on dessert because they don't eat gluten or something, I'd be pretty upset! I figure caterers should be accustomed to working with a variety of dietary issues, especially nowadays.

  • xvavaveganx

    Hi! Seems like you did pretty well in Mexico! Your meals look so delicious and vibrant and you supplemented really well with the items that you brought with you. Sounds like you had a great time, I'm jealous I could use some beach time! And a giant pile of guacamole 😉

  • Allysia

    It was tons of fun! I'm still not quite used to being back yet. And yeah, giant piles of guacamole are always welcome. 🙂

  • Erin

    You certainly didn't starve! All the buffet plates looks great, I love that they included beans some days, makes it so much more satisfying.

  • Allysia

    Yeah, it makes a huge difference. It sticks to your ribs a bit better than just vegetables (don't get me wrong, though, I love vegetables).

  • foodfeud

    D'oh, I've totally missed all these awesome posts! The feeder was working with yr new blog for a while and then it stopped and all got quiet. I've got to fix that. Anyway, looks like you did pretty well for yourself, even though you totally had to rough it with chips sans guac. How long were you there for?

  • Allysia

    We were there a week – it was short in the sense that it was really nice being there, but long in the sense that I missed my own kitchen!

    And grr to the feeds! I can't wait until all the technological stuff smooths out and works properly.

  • Gena

    Way to plan ahead! Preparedness takes so little effort, and it makes all the difference if one is vegan.

    I made it 8 days through a 10 day trip to Mexico without getting sick, and then was felled with (gulp) e. coli. Not a good experience. I think vegans should get an get out of jail free card when it comes to e. coli.

  • Allysia

    Agreed! That's part of the reason we went easy on the raw veggies (the raw fruit I typically assumed was fine, since it was stuff with a thick skin like grapefruit or bananas), but you never really know. Something like 1 in 3 people get sick visiting Mexico, so we basically just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. Sucks that you got sick!