The Grand Velas Riviera Maya is hands down, one of the most AMAZING resorts I have ever been to…no, seriously, it is AMAZING!!! AAA should create a 6 Diamond class for the Grand Velas and maybe also (just maybe) the Burj al Arab in Dubai – other than that, it stands alone in my book. The resort is divided into three distinct sections, or “ambiances”, the Master, Ambassador, and Grand Class. All suites in all sections are very spacious at over 1k sq feet, offer either a king or two queen beds, a private two person jacuzzi tub and separate rain shower cabin, private furnished balcony with either a spectacular ocean, lagoon, and/or jungle view, a very nice 42” plasma TV w/DVD player and satellite cable, iPod docking station w/speakers, fully stocked mini-bar, and GREAT 24 hour room service with a full menu. The beach is extraordinary, the service was impeccable from check-in to check-out, the drinks were amazing (especially the flowering teas), the beds are extremely comfortable with a good pillow menu, and I could go on and on. If you want an all-inclusive resort experience that will change your perception of what all-inclusive resorts are all about and will destroy any notion that all-inclusive food means sub-par, the Grand Velas Riviera Maya is definitely one to check out.
The Master ambiance/section is almost like a separate resort, set back in the jungle, with all its own facilities (pool, bars, restaurants, gym, and kids club) and it is where the most amazing resort spa (89k sq feet!!!) I have ever visited is located. I could write a book about the spa or talk about it four thirty minutes, which I won’t, but it is truly extraordinary. It is about 3 minutes by shuttle from the beach. We went back and forth between the Ambassador, where we stayed, and Master ambiance several times and never waiting more than 3-5 minutes for a shuttle, and they were often immediately available. My wife and I both felt as though the Master ambiance would be the best fit for many, as we found it to be otherworldly quiet, very lush, tranquil, and tropical. The pathways between the main building, rooms, and spa are thatched roof covered wooden boardwalks through the jungle and either side is covered with lush foliage and even a really neat cenote. All suites in the Master ambiance face a lagoon and jungle, which really is nice and relaxing. All suites in the Ambassador ambiance have an Oceanview or Partial Oceanview and all suites in the Grand Class ambiance are Oceanfront. There are suites in the Master and Ambassador ambiances that have private plunge pools on the balcony available and all suites in the Grand Class section have a private plunge pool on the balcony. The Grand Class ambiance (rooms, pool, and restaurant) is reserved for guests 12 years old and up whereas the Master and Ambassador sections are for all ages.
Now…what really, really, really sets the Grand Velas apart in my book is that I found, being a bit of a foodie, they have the best food at any all-inclusive resort anywhere – I mean the best food by far, incomparably, and without a close second that I have found traveling to some of the best in the world. For room service, they had great burgers & fries, sushi, salads, sandwiches, deserts, drinks, fruit, steaks, etc. – we tried room service three times and all three times got really good stuff. The beach and pool side wait servers and swim up bars also offer a similar menu with really something tasty for everyone available. You can sit in your room, by the beach, or in the pool all day and always get something good to eat, which I loved. However, the a-la-carte restaurants for dinner really STOLE THE SHOW, in my book, especially Cocina de Autor (which was recently ranked by Food & Wine magazine as one of the “100 Best New Food & Drink Experiences” in the world). We ate at Cocina de Autor (Spanish haute cuisine & an exciting experience), Piaf (French), and Frida (Mexican) and all three were outstanding. The passion and attention to detail really shows in the food including the presentation, service, décor, and especially in the food, which rivals the best food I have ever had at great restaurants in NYC, LA, St. Louis, Cancun, Honolulu, etc. The veal chops at Cocina de Autor which are roasted for 36 hours at 70 degrees were truly a revelation and one of the absolute best things I have ever eaten…anywhere…ever…period.