Food is the #2 expectation of Sandals and Beaches guests, according to a recent survey. (Relaxation is #1.) Good meals and good service may be enough for all-inclusive resorts, but not for the luxury-included Sandals and Beaches Resorts.
Sandals has up to 15 gourmet restaurants and 10 bars at each of its resorts. Most restaurants are full service à la carte. Some resorts offer a choice of up to 50 entrées for dinner.
When chairman and founder of Sandals Resorts, Gordon "Butch" Stewart, decided to open a wood-fired stone oven pizzeria at Sandals Dunn's River, he sent staff to Italy to hire pizza makers. The pizzeria was so popular that Sandals now has several more.
Lighting, décor and music are critical to the Sandals dining experience. Stewart circled the globe from Hong Kong to Dubai to find the trendiest china for Sandals and Beaches Resort restaurants. The bottoms of the new dishes are labeled: "Crafted exclusively for Sandals and Beaches Resorts."
Specialty food and drinks at Sandals and Beaches Resorts include: Authentic French pastries, crepes and chocolates in Café de Paris at Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica. Real cappuccino in Valentino's Restaurant at Sandals Ocho Rios. Fresh sushi at Sandals Grande Antigua.
The most popular culinary draw at Sandals is its alliance with Beringer Vineyards in California. Diners can choose from four free Beringer house wines: a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.
For example, Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay, which sells for US $9 per glass at Magnolia Wine Bar & Restaurant in Turks and Caicos, is free to diners at Sandals and Beaches. Resort diners sip 120,000 bottles of Beringer wines per month.
Beringer Vineyards is part of a premium wine portfolio owned by Foster's Americas, which includes wines from California's Chateau St. Jean, Australia's Penfolds, Rosemount and Wolf Blass, Italy's Castello di Gabbiano and New Zealand's Matua Valley.
A Manager's Wine List at signature Sandals and Beaches restaurants includes these wines and other French wines for an additional cost. For special occasions, A Chairman's Wine List of special wines, also at additional cost, includes wines from Chateau St. Jean, Etude, Penfolds and Stags' Leap Winery.
Guests at Sandals and Beaches can learn more about wines with seminars on wine pairing, free wine and cheese receptions every week and wine trivia games. Once a week, guests can sign up for a five-course Vineyard Dinner.
At the Vineyard dinner, three to eight couples enjoy food paired with wines from the Manager's Wine List, along with a commentary on how the wines match specific foods.
Sample vineyard dinner menu
Smoked Salmon Roulade with Dill Creme Fraiche
Mini Beef Wellington with Horseradish
Beringer Sparkling Rosé
Lobster Ravioli with Cognac Saffron Cream
Chateau Souverain Chardonnay
Mesclun Mixed Greens with Goat's Cheese and Mixed Berry Vinaigrette
Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir
Range Ostrich Steak with Wild Mushrooms in a Red Wine Reduction and Baby Bok Choy
Stags' Leap Cabernet
Mixed Berry Tart with Almonds and Caramel Drizzle
Because knowledgeable employees are critical to the food and wine experience, all servers and bartenders at Sandals and Beaches Resorts attend the Beringer Platinum Wine Certification program. The first level of certification, mandatory for all wine-serving employees, includes tableside service, glassware selection, wine list advice, winemaking, grape growing and wine appreciation.
Employees that pass the quizzes and evaluations can progress to second level studies at the Nightingale School in Napa, California. Top U.S. master sommelier instructors teach master sommelier Level I in the third level of wine training.
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