On my last trip to Mexico, each time I passed the Grand Velas Riviera Maya on the way to or from my own hotel (see my previous post on Esencia), I would attempt to peek beween the vast white walls marking the entrance to the hotel just to get a glimpse what was beyond the impressive stone facade. Our friends had stayed there the week prior to our own trip and came back raving about the place and I wanted to know more. My curiosity was piqued.
Typically, I shun away from “all-inclusives” – they usually conjure up images of Club Med (a blur in the post-college years that I’d prefer to forget), Sandals or Beaches – large resorts with mass-produced food and cheesy pool party games. Certainly, Grand Velas is not intimate with 491 suites resting on over 200 acres… but, with five diverse restaurants, spacious luxury accommodations and service befitting any 5-star resort, this fairly new property (built in 2008) appears to have taken the all-inclusive concept to a new level (another new all-inclusive worth checking out is The Veranda Resort in Turks & Caicos, the same owners of wonderful Grace Bay Club). In fact, Grand Velas (also a Leading Hotel of the World member) is the ONLY all-inclusive family resort in the world to receive the coveted AAA’s Five Diamond Award.
When two friends recently asked me for suggestions of family-friendly places in Mexico, I suggested they take a look at Grand Velas, which is only 30 minutes from Cancun and 5 minutes from Playa Del Carmen. They both did..and went there. Both came back with the same incredible reviews as our first friends.
A tremendous thank you to my friend, Roxanne, for her thorough review below based upon her recent stay!
“Because we live in New Jersey – where winters are long and cold –my husband, two children (ages 9 and 6) and I look forward to spring break with great anticipation. Which is why when we finally take a trip, we want our vacation to be perfect. Our last holiday at the Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico met all our expectations and more, and quite possibly was the best holiday yet.
I must begin with the personnel. Whoever trains the staff at Grand Velas should do so for hotels and restaurants around the world. Every single person we met was smiling and friendly – whether it was the busboy, the concierge, the cabana staff, our personal butler (yes, every guest is assigned one), the front desk or the cleaning staff. We were constantly asked (politely) if our needs were being met, and we were never empty handed at the pool or beach (who doesn’t love a frosty beverage while enjoying spectacular view?).
The hotel itself is breathtaking. There are two sections – an Ambassador section (near the beach, which is popular with families) and the Master section in the lush mayan groves (which is a shuttle away but within the compound, and just as lovely). We opted to stay in the Ambassador section (a friend wisely suggested we do just that) and we were so happy we did. The pools overlook the azure waters and white sand beaches. Bougainvilleas decorate all the balconies and a manicured garden surrounds the poolside. Rooms are spacious and have awesome sea views. Beds are extremely comfortable (a first for me, who usually tosses and turns when staying in hotels), and because it is an all-inclusive, virtually everything – from the mini-bar to snacks and drinks on the beach – is included in the rate.
The pool and beach were both wonderful, but those who want to body surf or go swimming should know this is not that type of beach. Waves were small (perfect for my young kids but not for older ones who want more of a challenge) and the water was a bit rocky and rough (despite being beautiful to watch). However, the sand felt like flour between our toes. We enjoyed long walks along the beach, but a note to the hotel – there was a bit of litter in some places that had washed up from the sea.
Now for the restaurants – we have never enjoyed so many delicious and varied gourmet meals in our lives (people with picky kids need not fret – there is something for everyone at each eatery). The food was simply fantastic. Breakfast – which is a buffet served in the main restaurant – was always fresh and delicious, featuring fresh, ripe fruit (of almost every kind imaginable), various savory and sweet dishes, toasts, coffee and more. (In fact, it was the best breakfast hands down of any hotel we have ever stayed in.)
Travelers with young children will be thrilled with the Kids Club. My husband and I felt very safe leaving our girls with the staff because they entertained them well and were so friendly and polite.
|Rooms to Get||Tips|
There are two sections – an Ambassador section (near the beach, which is popular with families) and the Master section in the lush mayan groves (which is a shuttle away but within the compound, and just as lovely).
Grand Velas, Riviera Maya
Carr Cancun-Tulum Km 62,
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
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