I usually have a pretty good picture in my head of what I want to write about after reviewing a place. Yet, this time gathering all my thoughts while trying to organise them in writing has been rather challenging! The main reason is the fact that we experienced so much within the four days we spent at the brilliant, brilliant, brilliant Grand Velas Riviera Maya. The entire resort is a dream built right where the Yucatan jungle meets the soft white sands washed by the Caribbean Sea. It is a luxury 5-star resort (I’d personally give it 7* and I know this is bold to say but keep reading to hear me out) 😉
First things first! This is truly a luxury all-inclusive resort experience! Tell me, what crosses your mind when you hear the words all inclusive? All food you can eat? All drinks you can drink? Well this is where all of us would be completely wrong (by us I mean myself before staying at Grand Velas and possibly everyone else who didn’t make here yet). The all inclusive feature of this place is actually an inclusion of treating all your senses: all inclusive food & drinks, yes, of course, but above these it’s the incredible service of the beautiful people working there, the stunning ocean & pool views, the clever way of building everything around nature which doesn’t look forced or disturbed by the final result. I mean even the straws you’re given for your drink are made of avocado seeds! The water is cleverly filtered and recycled within the resort. There are many green initiatives that made me soooo happy throughout our stay (I asked the staff endless questions about what and how they are managing to sustainably maintain such a beautiful place without interfering much with the element of nature – plus the 18k trees that have been cut in order to build the resort have been replanted!). There’s more to this I’m sure I’ll get back to as I’m writing my thoughts down.
We stayed in one of the two-bedroom family-friendly suites in Riviera Maya. As soon as we entered the rooms, we were blowed away first by the size of each room, then by all the treats for the children. They really thought of everything! We found personalised bathrobes for each one of us, feeding accessories for Amelie and even a pram! Kids jumped for joy when they discovered a teepee and welcome bags of beach toys. So did we when we had that first glance of our private terrace, overlooking the infinity pools and the ocean.
I did mention all inclusive food throughout our stay…
But one should know that all restaurants at Grand Vela’s are world-class, with Michelin-starred chefs and 5 Diamond ratings. The presentation of good is absolute perfection and each restaurant is focussed on a different theme. The staff is more than friendly and accommodating and their attention to detail is astonishing. For example you know the moment when you’re going to a fancy place and you have your phone, clutch or camera which simply don’t seem to belong on the table next to your husband’s holding hand and the beautifully plated food? Well, they thought of it and a very tiny thing like a footstool is placed discreetly next to your table, I’d say this is such an elegant way to keep all distractions on aside! They got me at all these little things!
Nonetheless food here is the best I’ve ever had. I can’t say I didn’t have lots of culinary surprises in the past, I’d lie! But here, even though we only spent 4 days, we had surprise after surprise despite the fact we didn’t get to try all restaurants as I initially hoped for.
Here’s what we tried…
The place where a meal quickly ‘transforms into a culinary experience for all the senses’, but what we got to see and taste was beyond any great expectation we already had. The well known sommelier Eduardo Quiroga Gomez was the cherry on top, a truly whimsical experience for both of us Justin @alldadstalk and myself. Keep in mind that minimum age is 12 years. Youths ages 12 and over welcome at seatings up to 6:30 p.m. but after 7:00 p.m., guests must be age 16 and over. Not a problem if you’re traveling with small children, the hotel has a great babysitting service we used twice during our stay.
In case you didn’t know or couldn’t remember, the well known artist Frida Kahlo was Mexican and she is the inspiration behind Frida, Grand Vela’s tribute to local cuisine but with a contemporary twist. It’s a family-friendly restaurant with great ocean views, and the food is…I’m running out of adjectives…well, simply beautiful! Must try the cappuccino soup!
If international cuisine is your thing, then this is your pit stop. We made it here a few times already as it’s the closest to the beach and who could resist a great al fresco dinner? There is a exquisite buffet for breakfast and lunch. Dinner is a la carte and the menu is so creative. Out of all restaurants, we found Azul to be the most informal, although informal may not be the exact word describing this place if I recall our last dinner correctly 🙂
Glorious! Had breakfast and one lunch in our room because the jetlag was slightly confusing for all of us. On our first day we ordered breakfast for room service at 5at, and a few hours later, after a lot of splash in the pools with the kids, we wanted to go for lunch, but breakfast was still being served in Azul. So we ended up having breakfast twice (not that we mined!)
Unexpectedly brilliant! The pools by the Ambassador where we stayed are bigger and buzzing (but more kids friendly) while the Zen Pools are still kids’ friendly, but more quiet, so pretty great if you bring a book along. Whichever you choose, it’s still the best experience by the pool I personally had! The guys will surprise you with little gestures and services such as cleaning your sunglasses! That’s another tiny attention to people’s needs (who don’t really know they even need the service).
No wonder it was named one of Forbes’ 30 Most Luxurious Spas in the World! What I find amazing (and unique in every way) is that the SE Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Maya has also been certified by the Wellness for Cancer, an organisation that trains spas and wellness centres to provide personalised services to individuals touched by any type of cancer.
Upon arrival, guests who have booked a treatment are shown to the locker rooms (which is a pretty exciting experience itself!) and invited to enjoy the great hydrotherapy areas as a complimentary service. It’s absolutely astonishing to learn that there are separate facilities for men and women and they are mirror images of each other! The spa is very generous space and somehow still so intimate!
One of the best spa experiences I ever had was also due to the Riviera Maya Water Ceremony, combined with the therapies in the Experience Sensation Pool. Here’s what I tried for approximately 10 minutes in each one:
- Dry Sauna – meant to cook out the impurities moving on to the…
- Ice Room – ice cold room with frozen tile chairs while self applying aloe vera all over my body followed by…
- Sensation Shower – alternating sprays of hot and cold water moving on to the…
- Colour Therapy Steam Room – more sweating, but loved this one, such an eye treat!
- Clay Treatment – full body treatment, self applying clay all over my body, followed by
- Sensory Pebble Foot Therapy – walking troughs of hot and freezing cold water,
My therapist then led my to my treatment room, which was luxuriously zen! There was a side table with my name written in cocoa and honey which was such a pleasant surprise. Who would actually expect this? The rest is pure relaxation…
The price is definitely worth the experience, memories are made here.
Room rates at Grand Velas Riviera Maya are from US$854 (approx. £663) per night. This is based on double occupancy and includes all taxes and fees. When you consider this price is all-inclusive with 5-star restaurants, activities, and alcohol included, I believe guests really get a lot with their stay. Not to mention the largest suites we ever stayed in!
If you’re like me and like to check out the property’s every exciting feature, here’s the image library.
I’ll leave you here with a few of our own Mexican memories…
This article has been written in partnership with Grand Velas Riviera Maya and Massey Travel. The 4 nights accommodation and part of the flights have been covered by the resort in exchange for an honest review.