Originally published in July 2016
The tough decisions start just moments after you arrive at Grand Velas Riviera Maya. Do you want a traditional margarita, a tamarind margarita, spicy margarita, lychee margarita or mango margarita?
The decision is made easier by knowing you’ll be able to sample all of them and more during your stay at the luxury all-inclusive resort on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. Emphasis on the luxury – from checking in to dining out, enjoying the white sand beach, three pools or world renowned spa, not a single detail has been overlooked.
You’ll feel pampered, spoiled and blissfully relaxed. I know, as I had the opportunity to spend four days there and I’m ready to go back.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya is located near Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It’s about a 45 minute drive south from Cancun International Airport, an easy flight from just about anywhere in the United States.
The giant white-walled gated entrance offers a hint at what’s beyond. Pass through and you’re enveloped in the jungle, a drive that helps with the transition from work to pleasure.
The first section, or ‘ambiance’ of the all-suites resort you’ll come to is Zen. Designed to blend in with the surroundings, this ambiance is all about peace and relaxation. Palapas-covered raised walkways take you from the lobby to your suite, your escort a member of the staff assigned to assist you with anything you need during your stay. Each suite has a large spa tub and private terrace looking out at a lagoon and mangrove jungle.
The attention to detail is readily apparent. Sparkling wine can be arranged to be on ice in anticipation of your arrival. A bottle of Grand Velas Tequila sits above the fully stocked mini bar (raid it as many times as you like, it’s part of the luxury all-inclusive experience). There’s a Nespresso machine and high-end teas. L’Occitane bath and body products. An umbrella if there’s rain. And bug spray just in case (though as of this posting there has been only 1 case of Zika reported in the Cancun area).
I stayed in the Zen ambiance the first night of my stay. Waking up the next morning and enjoying coffee and breakfast on the patio was pure heaven. (In-suite dining is available 24 hours a day and included in the all-inclusive experience.)
Each of the three ambiances has a pool, gym, bars and restaurants. There are readily available shuttles to take you around so you can experience it all.
The family-friendly Ambassador ambiance is ideally located steps from the white sand beach and the resort’s largest pool. Nearby the Kid’s Club and Teen Club have been decked out with the latest in gaming and entertainment, guaranteeing they’ll have fun while you get to relax.
If you’re looking to reconnect with that special someone in the ultimate setting, you’ll want to stay in the Grand Class section. Exclusively for adults and teens 16 years of age and older, the Grand Class offers views, luxury and beyond, and you can enjoy it while sitting in the soaking tub on your balcony. Also worth noting, the giant spa bathtub that can probably fit six adults, no exaggeration.
I thought nothing could top breakfast on the terrace at my Zen suite until I was sipping bubbly in the soaking tub on my balcony looking out at the Caribbean Sea.
The all-inclusive portion of your stay at Grand Velas Riviera Maya feels like the most decadent indulgence. It’s the adult version of being a kid in a candy shop; eat and drink whatever you want, and you’ll want to taste it all.
First, the drinks. You’ll find premium liquors and high quality wines from around the world available throughout the resort, all included. Want an introduction to tequila or mezcal? Host an impromptu tasting yourself! Your bartender will give you a pour from all the bottles you’d like. Decide you want to switch from a mango margarita to a lychee one while lounging at the infinity pool? There are plenty of poolside servers, or my recommendation, float over to the swim-up bar.
Next, the food. You won’t find fine dining like this at any other all-inclusive resort. Choose among the restaurants offering Mexican, French, Italian or Asian cuisine. You’ll find dishes prepared to the highest standards, and flavors to match any top restaurant. In fact, Cocina De Autor, Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s signature restaurant, has been awarded the American Automobile Association’s Five Diamond award – it’s the only restaurant in an all-inclusive to receive this honor.
The fun continues late into the night at any of Grand Velas’ bars. Listen to live music at the Piano Bar, or belt out your favorite tune at the Karaoke Bar. Of course if you just want to sit on your balcony and listen to waves lap at the beach, that’s fine too.
A stay at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya is not complete without a visit to the spa. Appropriately located in the Zen ambiance, the region’s largest luxury spa incorporates elements of the natural environment in its two-level, 89,000 plus square-foot space.
Your treatment begins with a Water Journey. Alternating hot and cold treatments culminate in a warm water pool with bubbles, jets and waterfalls designed to help you sink deep into relaxation.
I enjoyed a Therapeutic Velas Maya massage during my stay. The deep tissue massage is uniquely tailored to each guest, with various techniques to help relieve stress and tension. The massage, coupled with the Water Journey, was easily one of the top spa experiences I have ever had. I was the most relaxed I had been in ages.
Spa treatments vary in price and are not included in the all-inclusive rate.
You could easily spend your entire vacation on the Riviera Maya at the Grand Velas resort. But there is plenty to see and do nearby. You can explore the shops and restaurants of downtown Playa del Carmen. Tulum and its famous ruins are located about 45 miles away, and a bit farther is Chichen Itza. Xcaret, an eco-archaeological park is about 20 minutes away.
Ready to book? Visit the website for Grand Velas Riviera Maya at rivieramaya.grandvelas.com.
If you’re looking for an excuse to visit in October, the Best of Mexico Riviera Maya will be held from October 5th to 9th. Five internationally-known Mexican chefs will team up for a 10-course tasting menu that will be offered over the four nights. It is included in the all-inclusive pricing.
The $250 million Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers 539 suites ranging in size from 1,184 to 3,767 square feet. Nightly rates start at $393 per person per night based on double occupancy.
Special thanks to Grand Velas Riviera Maya for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own.