Not only can a badly handled food allergy blight a holiday, as well as seriously damage a luxury villa vacation business, it can, in some cases, be life-threatening. Dining on holiday can increase the risk of a reaction for those who suffer with food allergies, which can make eating out on vacation a stressful experience.
One solution for holidaymakers is to avoid random restaurants and busy resorts catering for a glut of guests and instead relax in a luxury villa rental with your own personal chef. Being able to create customized menus is a plus point for guests as well as for villa owners looking for a niche market to appeal to. Personalized menus that eliminate allergens can avoid mild, yet unpleasant reactions as well as severe symptoms such as anaphylactic shock. Even food intolerances and sensitivities, such as gluten, can seriously turn a dream holiday into a nightmare
Unappetizing Understanding of Allergies
Whilst many restaurants are savvy to dietary requirements, a 2011 UK study in Brighton published in the Clinical and Experimental Allergy journal, revealed a lack of understanding of food allergies. The findings suggested that 38% of those surveyed within the restaurant industry believed drinking water would dilute an allergen in a person experiencing a reaction. Some 23% of study participants thought that it was safe for diners to consume a small amount of an allergen. Both of these beliefs are false and it is this lack of knowledge about food allergies that puts many sufferers off eating out at all.
Tips for Villa Guests
As a villa guest, you can relax more easily if you follow some straightforward steps in ensuring your vacation or holiday is food allergy-free. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Inform the villa owner, managers, and your chef about the extent of your allergies are and draw attention to products that contain allergens, especially if these are not immediately obvious.
Ensure information is clear to avoid language misunderstandings and be precise. If you are allergic to milk, then you are actually allergic to dairy products, for example.
Offer suggestions on food alternatives as this can also give a villa chef an idea of the types of dishes you like and are used to.
Ask the villa management questions to check understanding by asking them, repeat your requirements back to them.
Request a menu plan beforehand so that you can veto any dishes and also check that the villa team is competently handling your needs
Let villa staff know what to do in case of a reaction so that you receive the right care immediately even if the allergen came from a meal outside of the villa.
Check where the nearest clinic and A&E is and contact the villa about transport should you need to reach a doctor and medical assistance quickly.
Make sure you are insured as you may have to pay a premium if you want anaphylaxis cover or have received hospital treatment recently.
Tips for Villa Management
Villa management and staff such as chefs, butlers, and housekeeping have a responsibility to look after guests. Follow these tips on how to create and keep in place your villa vacation food allergy management plan.
Ask about any dietary requirements so that you are instigating any discussions about food no-nos.
Communicate so that everyone understands fully what actions need to be taken and the information is not lost between management and in-villa staff.
Be prepared with an allergy-free menu that has been guest-approved. Where necessary research and seek professional guidance on creating an appetizing menu without certain ingredients.
Clean surfaces and food preparation areas thoroughly to avoid contamination and make sure staff do not bring their own contaminants into the villa during the guest’s stay.
Discuss and clarify guest needs so that you know what they expect and what you can deliver, thus avoiding misunderstanding and disappointment.
Write down any allergies and place in a visible location away from guests to act as a constant reminder to staff.
Be aware of common allergies so such as dairy, eggs, and nuts, sesame, soy, and wheat as well as fish and shellfish.
Let guests know what food-safety procedures from sourcing ingredients to food preparation.
Take responsibility as lack of care could result in legal action through negligence and ignoring the duty of care you have toward guests.
Be aware of small details such as not adding garnishes and sauces containing allergens or products with allergen ingredients.
Devise an action plan in case medical treatment is needed and learn first aid to deal with allergic reactions such as lying patients down.
Communicate with a guest on what to do if they suffer an allergic reaction since symptoms can seem less severe or more serious than they actually are.
Guests who communicate allergies before arriving at a villa can immediately feel at ease and enjoy the maximum benefits of a luxury retreat. At the same time, villa managers who respond to allergies in an informed, intelligent, and proactive way build up trust with guests and will find they are recommended.
The best villa holidays are about sharing great times and wonderful dining experiences with loved ones, without the threat of an allergy striking. A luxury holiday is an allergy-free holiday. For more tips and information about renting a private villa, read our villa rental guide.