Grand Velas All Suites and Spa Resort Riviera Maya is a luxury all-inclusive resort located just north of Playa del Carmen. Catering to spa lovers and “foodies”, this Riviera Maya resort has accrued numerous awards and accolades since its opening in 2008 including the following more recent awards:
- “Best Luxury Resort Spa–Americas”, World Luxury Spa Awards 2014
- AAA Five Diamond rating 2014, the only family-friendly all-inclusive resort in the Mexican Caribbean to earn such an award
- AAA Five Diamond restaurant rating 2014 to Cocina de Autor
- Best “All-Inclusive” and “Family” resort, Hotel Awards Mexico 2014 by Travel and Leisure Magazine
- “World’s Best Places to Stay–The Americas”, Conde Nast Magazine Gold List 2014
- Best all-inclusive resort for 2014, Islands Magazine editor
- Member of the Leading Hotels of the World since 2009
Guests are meant to feel as if they are kings and queens at the resort, and this begins from the moment one sees the impressive entryway with it’s contemporary white façade, Polynesian roof trusses, and surrounding moat-like body of water.
The resort itself is divided into three sections–the family-friendly Zen Grand section located in the midst of the jungle about three quarters of a mile from the beach, the family-friendly Ambassador section which surrounds the beachfront Ambassador pool, and the oceanfront Grand Class section where ages 12+ are welcome. Each section has its own lobby and amenities, while restaurants and bars are scattered throughout the resort. Although it is relatively easy for guests to travel back and forth between the Ambassador and Grand Class sections, there is a tram service which runs continuously from the Zen Grand to other areas of the resort and back again (the wait time is typically five minutes at most).
The Zen Grand section is home to the Signature Spa with its 40 treatment suites and impressive hydrotherapy circuit–the hydrotherapy circuit alone is worth a trip to the spa. During this circuit, guests are guided through various spa experiences over the course of an hour including a sauna, color therapy steam room, clay room, ice room, sensation showers, hot tub and cold plunge, and the chlorine-free “great pool” with its various cascade jets, cervical jet sprays, and “bubble beds”. There are treatments classified under headings such as Ancient Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian, Aromatherapy, Men’s Journey, Inner Journey (how about 80 min. in a flotation pool or an underwater massage?), Romantic Journey, as well as individual signature treatments.
Part of Grand Velas’ reputation lies in its dining venues and menus; three of the eight restaurants are recipients of an AAA Diamond Restaurant Award (Cocina de Autor was just awarded Five Diamonds, while Piaf and Frida restaurants have already been awarded Four Diamonds). The dining venues are described as a “culinary tour” with innovative offerings from French, Mediterranean, Italian, Mexican, and Basque-inspired cuisine. Some restaurants have age restrictions, and one is open seasonally–a la cartes require dinner reservations and charge $5 per person for “no-shows”.
The resort recently started a program entitled “Digital Detox” which encourages families to unplug from the world in order to spend more quality time together. Upon arrival at the resort, participating families meet their “detox concierge” who is in charge of collecting all digital devices–iPads, iPhones, laptops, etc.–and promptly locks them in a safe. The concierge is also responsible for making sure the flat screen TV is removed from the guest room as well. In their place, the resort loans the family board games and hands out bracelets for participation in activities such as snorkeling tours, bicycle tours, ecological property tours, as well as certain spa treatments. Guests may hand in their bracelets in return for their electronics.
In a nutshell, here are the advantages/disadvantages of staying in each section:
- secluded jungle setting, but it is far from the beach
- staying in this section makes the Grand Velas more affordable
- has its own Kid’s Club and fitness center
- close to the spa
- close to the convention center for those attending business meetings
- site of the new Koi Bar with its nightly entertainment (DJ, dancing, very large screens for watching sporting events and shows)
- beautiful pool area with less guests vying for loungers
- lively pool area with shallower children’s section and built-in seating and drink stands
- all suites close to the pool and beach with ocean/partial ocean views
- close to the teen club; there is also a separate Kid’s Club here as well
- shares its fitness center with Grand Class section guests
- Cocina de Autor is in this section
- all suites have a beachfront location
- all suites have a private balcony/terrace plunge pool
- largest suites of the resort starting at 1,300 sq. feet
- most suites have electronic window shades
- most suites have in-room massage table areas
This luxury resort has “class”; staff will pamper you, the grounds are beautiful, and you will never want to leave.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Spa, cuisine, large suites
Con: Offshore breakwater hampers swimming, evening entertainment options, WiFi $ except for Grand Class guests, pricey
Best Suited For: Affluent adults/couples/families, destination weddings, honeymooners
No. of Rooms: 491
Room Amenities: King or two queen beds, large balcony or terrace with padded loungers and chairs, A/C, flat screen TV, sitting area, fully stocked mini-bar, in-room safe, Nespresso coffee maker, touch screen telephone, CD/DVD player, iPod dock, walk-in closet, ceiling fan, robe and slippers, iron/ironing board, umbrellas, pillow menu, hair dryer, dbl vessel sinks, Jacuzzi tub, rainforest showerhead, toiletries, and 24-hr. room service. WiFi is an extra charge except for Grand Class Suites. Suite categories in resort sections include the following:
(Zen Grand Section–206 suites, all with jungle view)
- Zen Grand Queen Suite: Two queen beds, desk and two chairs, two armchairs.
- Zen Grand King Suite: King bed, desk and two chairs, two armchairs.
- Zen Grand Queen Pool Suite: Two queen beds, sofa, desk and two chairs, terrace plunge pool.
- Zen Grand King Pool Suite: King bed, sofa, desk and two chairs, terrace plunge pool.
- Presidential Zen Grand Suite: This two-bedroom suite includes a king bed in one room and two queen beds in the other, sofa, armchairs, marble dining table with eight chairs, coffee table, three flat screen TV’s, three telephones, electric window shades, two full bathrooms, private outdoor shower with rainforest showerhead, terrace plunge pool, private butler and maid service, 50-min. massage per person per day, and complimentary transportation to/from the airport.
(Ambassador Section–195 suites, all with pool and/or ocean view)
- Ambassador Queen Suite: Two queen beds, sofa or two armchairs, desk and two chairs, balcony/terrace with daybed, table and two chairs.
- Ambassador King Suite: King bed, sofa or two armchairs, desk and two chairs, balcony/terrace with daybed, table and two chairs.
- Ambassador Queen Pool Suite: Two queen beds, sofa, desk and two chairs, terrace plunge pool.
- Ambassador King Pool Suite: King bed, sofa, desk and two chairs, terrace plunge pool.
- Ambassador Governor Suite: This one-bedroom suite includes a king bed, sectional sofa, desk and chair in the bedroom, a balcony with plunge pool and lounger off the bedroom, living room with sectional sofa, two armchairs, work table and six chairs, breakfast bar with four chairs, two flat screen TV’s, in-room massage area, additional half bathroom, electric window shades, beach bag, private butler and maid service, 50-min. massage per person per day, and complimentary transportation to/from the airport.
- Ambassador Presidential Suite: This two-bedroom, two bathroom suite includes a king bed, loveseat, table and four chairs in one bedroom while the other includes two queen beds, several armchairs, and a desk with two chairs–there is a balcony plunge pool and lounger off of each bedroom. The living room has a sectional sofa, two armchairs, coffee table, work table with eight chairs, breakfast bar with four chairs, and its own balcony area. Within the suite there are three flat screen TV’s, in-suite massage area, three shower areas, electric window shades, beach bag, private butler and maid service, 50-min. massage per person per day, and complimentary transportation to/from the airport.
(Grand Class Section–90 suites, all with oceanfront views. Children ages 12-17 are allowed on the second and third floors only. All Grand Class suites include an in-room massage area and complimentary WiFi).
- Grand Class Queen Suite: Open floor plan with two queen beds, sofa and ottoman, balcony/terrace with plunge pool, two padded loungers, table and two chairs.
- Grand Class King Suite: Open floor plan with king bed, sofa and ottoman, balcony/terrace with plunge pool, two padded loungers, table and two chairs.
- Grand Class Presidential Suite: This two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite features an open floor plan in each bedroom with king bed and sofa in one room and two queen beds and sofa in the other. Off of each bedroom is a balcony/terrace with plunge pool, padded loungers, and table and chairs. The living room has a sectional sofa, loveseat, coffee table, bar area with four stools and Don Julio tequila setup, mini-bar stocked with premium liquors and bottles of wine, and a work table with ten chairs. There is a separate balcony area with padded chairs just off the living room. Within the suite there are two flat screen TV’s, three shower areas, multiple telephones, in-room massage areas, electric window shades, beach bag, private butler and maid service, 50-min. massage per person per day, and complimentary transportation to/from the airport.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Throughout the resort there are three pool areas (each resort section has one–two are beachfront infinity pools and all have their own swim-up bar), world class spa, beauty salon, two fitness centers, non-motorized water sports, two Kid’s Clubs (ages 5-12), teen club (ages 13-18), digital detox program, karaoke bar, sports bar/disco, resort shuttle service, pool and beach wait service, pool and beach cabanas, concierge, tour desk, car rental, gift shop, ATM.
Restaurants/Bars: There are eight restaurants; a la cartes require reservations for dinner. Here’s the list:
–Chaka: Family-friendly, open seasonally for breakfast and lunch only.
–Lucca: Family-friendly, Italian-Mediterranean cuisine. Only open for dinner.
–Sen Lin: Family-friendly, Asian cuisine. Only open for dinner.
–Azul: Family-friendly, international fare, buffet and a la carte offerings. Open from
7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
–Frida: Family-friendly, Mexican cuisine. Only open for dinner.
–Bistro: Ages 12+, French cuisine. Open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
–Piaf: Ages 12+, French cuisine. Only open for dinner.
–Cocina de Autor: Ages 12+, Basque-inspired cuisine. Only open for dinner.
(Bars): There are three swim-up bars, the new Koi Bar and Sen Lin bar in the Zen Grand section, a piano bar and karaoke bar in the Ambassador section, and the Sky bar in the Grand Class section.
Entertainment: DJ’s and dancing at the Koi Bar, live music at the piano bar, and karaoke.