Buffets Around the World – Top Resort Restaurants

Resort dining is on trend with the rise in culinary tourism. These are our picks of 10 of the best buffets around the world at resort restaurants. For Luxury Travel Magazine, Australia

Buffets rebuffed resort restaurant feature article - 1

Buffets rebuffed feature for Luxury Travel Magazine, Australia

The restaurant offering wasn’t always a compelling reason to pick a particular resort. Often bundled in the resort holiday package, along with the promise of idyllic surrounds and pampered fun-filled days, it did little to tempt the gourmand. The croissants were often misshapen but passable and the standard three-protein dinner selection fair but lackluster. Within recent years, with the globally acknowledged upward trajectory of culinary tourism, the once dire resort buffet spread has given way to a multitude of covetable dining choices. While hotels have always housed fine dining establishments, resorts are playing catch up. From well-recognised and starred international restaurants to the highest calibre bistros, chefs pushing the envelope to promote indigenous cuisine and unique dining experiences – think candlelit caves and secluded hilltops, the resort restaurant may just be all the reason you need to make that booking.

SE Asia: Six Senses Con Dao, Vietnam

While there is an international option at Six Senses Con Dao hidden on a remote archipelago, traditional Vietnamese home cooking using fresh market produce at Vietnamese by the Market restaurant is where you want to eat. You may be far from the street food bustle of Hanoi, but here, adjacent to the glimmering East Sea, you can enjoy silky beef pho, and crispy bahn xeo pancakes stuffed with plump shrimp and pork, in style. Select freshly caught seafood for lunch or arrange to pick your own produce at the market, followed by a cooking class. www.sixsenses.com

New Zealand: Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown

Matakauri Lodge, an acclaimed alpine resort perched at the edge of Lake Wakatipu, offers guests a taste of modern New Zealand cuisine. The kitchen sources local produce several times a week, in addition to the Matakauri garden bounty – expect the chef’s own globe artichokes, squash and even fish caught on his regular fishing trips. Plating is elegant and the daily degustation menu exemplifies New Zealand fusion cuisine. Dine in the library or courtyard, or opt for a staff-selected secret location for a touch of drama. www.matakaurilodge.com

North America: The Restaurant at the Meadowood Resort, California

Within the tranquility of the Meadowood Resort in the Napa Valley, three-star Michelin The Restaurant has built a reputation around the finest food and wine, in conjunction with the relationships with community foragers, farmers and winemakers. Dining here melds terroir on the plate, and in the glass in highly conceptualised visuals. It is New Napa Cuisine, the title of Chef Christoper Kostow’s cookbook. If fantasy landscapes on fancy plates appeal, you’ll be right at home. Smack-bang in wine country, expect the best regional wines. In accordance with the restaurant philosophy, do away with the menu, and stay for the experience. www.therestaurantatmeadowood.co

South America: Altamira and Sushi Amor at Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens, Costa Rica

Encircled by velvety forests and overlooking the commanding Arenal volcano, an adventure-lovers paradise, multi-award winning Nayara resort provides relaxation in secluded surrounds. It also offers a taste of carefully composed local flavours at Altamira. Costa Rican-style ceviche, spicy prawns, black bean soup and chicken tamales – traditional food with refined twists make it onto the menu. Popular South American Japanese-fusion sushi, ceviche and cocktails can be enjoyed on ornately designed turquoise chairs and tables at Sushi Amor. www.renalnayara.co

Asia: Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at Conrad Rangali, Maldives

At Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, you’ll marvel at the marine life gliding all around you at the world’s first all-glass submerged restaurant, five meters under the sea to be precise. However, you don’t need to dive the depths to get there – a convenient spiral staircase at the end of the jetty is your port of entry. Accommodating just 14, seats are limited. Mediterranean and Asian food dominates the menu choices, with bold fusion and pricey items like caviar and lobster, but first you’ll need to tear your gaze away from the 180-degree panorama of marine life entertainment. www.conradhotels3.hilton.com/en/hotels/maldives/conrad-maldives-rangali-island-MLEHICI/amenities/restaurants_ithaa_undersea_restaurant.html 

Buffets rebuffed resort restaurant feature article - 2

Europe: Restaurant at Le Chabichou, Savoie, France

At majestic whitewashed Le Chabichou ski resort, the two-star Michelin Restaurant at Le Chabichou serves luxury gourmet French fare, placing local ingredients and refined hospitality at the fore. On sunny days and starry nights opt to eat on the terrace. Lobster, venison, spectacular cheeses and pretty desserts await the epicurean. There’s a bistro for more relaxed dining, and you can arrange for a cooking class if you tire of the slopes and the pampering. www.chabichou-courchevel.com

Australia: Long Pavilion at Qualia,Great Barrier Reef

In Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, and tucked between Eucalyptus trees and coral reefs, Qualia Luxury Resort blends into nature. At the Long Pavilion restaurant, the tasting menu comprises exciting courses of mainly freshly caught seafood and in-season vegetables paired with fine Australian wines. The gastronomy here bears testament to executive chef Alistair Waddell’s “nature cuisine” ethos. Most exciting, though, are the private taste-and-talk experiences with internationally crowd-pleasing combinations like “oysters and champagne” and “sake and sashimi”. You’ll leave with both belly and mind well sated. www.qualia.com.au

Africa Royal Malewane Safari Lodge, Kruger Park, South Africa

Known as one of the most exquisite safari lodges in southern Africa, Royal Malewane offers a bush experience second to none. Exemplary dining lies in the details. After a long day of safari and tracking, or spa spoils, dinner is served under warm African skies, at the waterhole where the game-watching continues. Lavish braais or barbeques of local buck, ostrich and warthog take place at the boma, as a fire meets the sky’s stars. Moroccan dining at the Bedouin tent brings in the flavours of the north, while the impeccable indoor restaurant offers tasteful banquet dining with hyperlocal ingredients. It’s the only fully certified kosher safari lodge in Africa. www.royalmalewane.com

Caribbean: The Caves, Negril, Jamaica

Daringly positioned on the edge of limestone cliffs in Jamaica’s West End, the spectacular location lends itself to the setting for outstanding dining. Sheltered at the oceanfront gazebo on the cliff’s edge or within the romantic candlelit caves for a private dining experience, feast on Jamaican traditional food with punchy flavours and sophisticated touches – like stuffed black crab or rock shrimp in coconut sauce with plantains. Ingredients are local and the reviews consistently outstanding. www.islandoutpost.com/hotels-and-villas/the-caves

Middle East: Hakkasan at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

Highly acclaimed London restaurant Hakkasan, has found several global homes, including one within an opulent 16 000 square foot space at the decadent Emirates Palace. Modern, upscale Chinese cuisine, adapted with flourishes for the Emirati palate, such as sweet and sour chicken with pomegranate, is served within the restaurant or the private dining rooms. The décor is moody but edgy, service upscale and longstanding patrons return for the crisp-skinned Peking duck with caviar and buttery Wagyu with king soy sauce. www.hakkasan.com/locations/hakkasan-abu-dhabi/