All Inclusive Vacation Planning & Tips

Healthy Hideaways

Are your New Year’s resolutions starting to slip? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us begin the New Year vowing to make changes in our lives. But by February many of those plans are wavering.

According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, “losing weight” topped the list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2015. If you plan to spend your winter holiday at an all-inclusive resort, sticking to that New Year’s Resolution can be tough. From unlimited buffets to tropical cocktails, temptations abound. In fact, several studies report that the average Brit gains 7.4 pounds during a one-week stay at an all-inclusive Caribbean resort. I suspect we North Americans aren’t too far behind.

But help is at hand. A new generation of all-inclusive resorts is transforming the vacation experience so guests return home feeling healthier instead of sporting a bigger waistline. Offering programs once found only at luxury weight-loss camps, these visionary retreats offer nutrition training, cooking demonstrations and custom menus, but without the intensity of a health clinic regimen. If your New Year’s goals include losing weight or getting savvy about fitness in time for spring, consider these resorts:

Zöetry Paraiso de la Bonita

It’s easy to keep fitness goals on track at Zöetry Paraiso de la Bonita, an all-inclusive resort set on 14 acres overlooking the pristine waters of Puerto Morelos National Marine Park, in the Riviera Maya south of Cancun. In addition to in–room dining, the three restaurants helmed by Executive Chef Antonio Torres all offer Healthy Eating Choices. Menus display the calorie, carb and fat content of each dish as well as plenty of gluten–free and vegetarian options. Feel free to order that platter of nachos, wood-fired pizza or burger with all the fixins’ – just plan for the calorie count.

Another way to maintain a healthy eating plan when vacationing at an all-inclusive is by ordering from a menu rather than hitting the buffet line. At Zöetry Paraiso de la Bonita, all food is ordered a la carte. That makes it easy to avoid the all-you-can-eat, anything-goes abandon of the usual resort buffet. And you don’t even have to avoid fave foods like waffles or bacon. Portion size is controlled for you. Guests can take these and other nutrition lessons home by participating in cooking demonstrations, touring the onsite organic garden and learning to boost flavor with fresh herbs. Wellness programs such as meditation and yoga are offered at Zöetry’s Thalasso Center, a European–style spa using natural seawater, seaweed, mud and marine algae within its Jacuzzi circuit, steam room and seawater pool overlooking the Caribbean.

The BodyHoliday, St. Lucia

No need to pack your muumuu for a stay at The BodyHoliday an all-inclusive on St. Lucia. This wellness mecca’s philosophy involves offering guests the best in relaxation, restorative spa treatments, exercise and healthy diet. A full daily spectrum of calorie-busting fitness activities includes yoga, scuba diving, tennis and hardcore workouts with personal trainers. Food and drink is also an important part of each guest experience. Whether you dine at TAO, the resort’s ultra-glam signature restaurant or choose something light from the Deli, your meal will be made with fresh, nutritious ingredients and served in serene surroundings. Salads are abundant and fresh-picked from the chef’s garden while proteins tend towards lean meats and heart-healthy fish. Every holiday should include a few treats. For dessert, why not indulge in luscious macha ice cream, rich in L-Theanine, an amino acid that promotes a state of well-being and relaxation in the brain.

Around the pool, a wise strategy is to choose poolside drinks wisely. Instead of chilling out with a margarita cocktail which can pack as many calories (550) as a McDonald’s Big Mac, you can substitute a refreshing Detox smoothie packed with vitamins and antioxidant-loaded foods like blueberries, spinach and banana. Mornings, a high-quality protein shake can do double-duty as breakfast and as a pre-workout energy boost. You’ll feel so toned by the end of your stay, you won’t feel shy about sporting your Speedo or tiniest bikini.

Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun

It’s easy to keep holiday weight at bay at Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun where the focus is on premium cuisine and good-for-you calories. When it comes to weight control, eating quality foods is just as important as the number of calories consumed. I was surprised to learn that, according to the American Medical Association, certain kinds of calories can affect how efficiently we burn energy. Choosing low-glycemic foods over highly-processed carbs can be a strategy for losing weight and keeping it off.

At Le Blanc Resort, menu selections can be completely customized to guest preferences including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. All restaurants feature top-quality ingredients such as prime USDA beef. At Lumiere, the hotel’s most exclusive restaurant, Executive Chef Marco Cázares serves up French fusion cuisine with vegetarian options such as a delicate but delicious portobello mushroom tartare and a heavenly rich eggplant cannelloni. For those who can’t resist the dessert buffet, Le Blanc is famous for its homemade ice creams and popsicles in fun Mexican flavors like rompope (eggnog) and coconut.