The Riviera Maya region of Mexico, located on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula near Cancun, has become a leading vacation destination. Sunshine, lush jungle, ancient ruins and turquoise waters combine to create the perfect setting for a number of highly rated resort hotels that dot the coastline. Among the most praised of these luxury properties is the Grand Velas, recipient of the coveted AAA Five Diamond award.
We had read that the resort prides itself on maintaining the highest standard of eco-friendly hospitality in Latin America. That respect for the environment was evident throughout. Because it is Mexican owned and operated, every aspect of the resort reflects the culture, history and flavors of Mexico. Amidst all the pampering and the luxury, which stretches the imagination of “all-inclusive,” we were never without a sense of place.
The entrance to the Grand Velas is the first of many “wow” factors that we would encounter. Entering the resort through a palatial gate, over a modern-day moat, we found ourselves surrounded by jungle. A manicured lane led to our destination—the Grand Class section of the resort.
The Grand Class is one of three main sections of the hotel, each with a distinctly different ambiance. It is for adults only, featuring beachside suites, lounges and restaurants. The Ambassador Class is family friendly with a sprawling pool and access to Kids and Teen Clubs. The Zen section is located in the jungle, and features covered walkways through tropical vegetation, connecting guest rooms with restaurants, pools, and a world class spa.
We checked into our suite, 1300 square feet of comfort and elegance, complete with original Mexican artwork on the walls. Within minutes, we were sipping a delicious Rose in the plunge pool on our private terrace. Let the de-stressing begin!
As mentioned, Grand Velas takes the all-inclusive concept to a new level. For starters, there is a wide choice of award winning restaurants and an international cadre of esteemed chefs. Our favorite, Cocina de Autor, is labeled as “Creative Cuisine” and features a fixed menu of 10 or 12 courses. It is one of only seven restaurants in Mexico to have been awarded Five Diamonds.
With a ratio of three staff members per guest room, we were never without personal attention. Each guest is assigned a personal concierge who is charged with attending to every wish. Being bored is simply not an option.
In fact, there is a daily published schedule of activities and entertainment. Various types of water toys including small sailboats, jet skis and windsurfers were available. Your concierge can arrange for other activities such as parasailing, water skiing or deep sea fishing. The area is also well known for its world class scuba diving. Repeat, being bored is simply not an option.
The Grand Velas rightly describes its architecturally striking spa as “Dramatic meets organic” It is over 90,000 square feet incorporating the unique terrain and materials of its jungle and seaside location, complete with a living rock wall with plants and flowers, and a small stream running through it. How about a “water journey” consisting of sauna, ice room, steam room, hot/cold showers, and a clay room? Then into the pool featuring a series of “waterfalls” to massage specific areas of the body. After an hour or so in the water, a spa concierge offered us tea and fruit while we awaited the main event—a Mayan ritual-inspired body massage. Suffice it to say it was delicious.
And for golfers, the Riviera Maya region has a roster of highly rated courses—17 to be exact! Your personal concierge can arrange tee times at most regional courses including the PGA Tour course at the El Camaleon Marakoba just next door, which was designed by Greg Norman. The resort also has a partnership with another gem, the Grand Coral course designed by Nick Price.