I travel frequently, am fortunate enough to stay in great hotels when I do so, and consequently have fallen out of the habit of writing reviews. My stay at Grand Velas, and the rather wildly conflicting reviews of this property, leads me to think it may be a good time to weigh-in on this hotel. In short, this property can be heaven, hell, or both. I hope my experience, and the following rather lengthy explanation, will illuminate the conflicting reviews.
We booked a Zen room, and were accommodated with an early check-in. The common areas of the hotel, throughout, are unquestionably beautiful and well maintained. We were escorted to our room by our "concierge," who led us to a room that smelled like a basement -- in an old farmhouse. When we commented on the smell, he indicated that "it was the jungle," and that housekeeping would come by to spray the room and that the air-conditioner would also help. Off we went to the beach; returning at dusk. Housekeeping hadn't arrived, the room still stank, the air conditioning had made no difference at all, and even the sheets felt damp. After numerous calls to housekeeping and our so-called "concierge," all of which promised immediate attention (which was never delivered), we decided to get dressed for dinner and deal with the room issue later. Unfortunately, the room was so damp the iron was internally rusted and steamed brown streaks on our clothing. At this point, after having been ignored by the staff despite promises to the contrary, I went to the lobby to speak to the manager. As one would expect, he promptly said he'd move us, and have the clothing cleaned. This room must have magically appeared because the "concierge" had previously told us the property was fully booked, which we later learned was untrue, by both personal experience and conversations with other staff. (I might add that, contrary to the hotel's suggestion, when we stayed in a "jungle" room at the Mandarin Oriental, it smelled like clean sheets -- not a basement.)
Incredibly, the post-beach complaint and moving process took nearly 3 hours to resolve; jeopardizing our dinner reservation. Even though a faulty room (which simply should never have been placed in service) was the cause of our delay, neither the restaurant itself, nor the concierge seemed able to accomplish the simple task of postponing our dinner reservation. Seriously. Again, we had to contact the manager to get the restaurant to accommodate our 15-minute late arrival; and he did so. The last time we saw the "concierge" was on our way to dinner, when he stopped by the room to pick up the stained clothing, assuring us he didn't need a dry-cleaning ticket and that the clothes would be "in our room tomorrow." Feeling relieved that our arrival stress was now over (9 hours later), we went to dinner at
Concina del Autor. I liked it, my companion thought it was so-so.
How was the rest of our stay? Pretty good! The pools are lovely, well heated, and with one surly exception, the pool staff was great. The spa is beautiful, and our treatments were good; but nothing to write home about.
The food was pretty good as well. Piaf was very good, Frida was very good, Concina a mixed-bag, and Lucca a pretty marginal Italian. Service was good, except at Lucca (where I believe we had a trainee). While we didn't eat at Sen Lin, we had drinks there nightly and the staff was top-notch. Unlike some reviewers, we didn't find the menu prices exhorbinant, and tipped accordingly.
Our dry-cleaning never appeared. Daily calls to the laundry and our "concierge" were met with promises that it was "on it's way". Finally, on our last night, we called the manager, who said he'd look into it. Upon check-out, the clerk told us the clothing was lost and they comped its value.
Having lived all sides of Grand Velas, I can understand why AAA could give it 5 stars while other seasoned travelers give it 3 stars. The hard product (with the notable exception of our original room) is good. They've spent the money to build what could be a five-star hotel. If you only eat at at Piaf, sat by the pool, and had no need to request anything out of the ordinary, you will be pleased. If, on the other hand, you've got an issue -- no matter how well grounded -- you will be frustrated and astonished at the lack of responsiveness. While staff has certainly been trained to say "right away" and "my pleasure," they plainly have not been trained (or perhaps empowered) to promptly provide for the guest's satisfaction. This property's service is certainly not of Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental quality, is not as good as the worst Ritz-Carlton, and reminded me of unfortunate visits to marginal airport Marriotts. That's a real shame, because the hotel can undoubtedly provide some great moments.
Having said all this, would I book again? Maybe; depending on the price. I dont feel ripped-off by staying there. The manager took care of our problems; it just should never, ever take so much effort to address basic issues in the first place. For rack-rate to rack-rate, however, I'd definitely take the Rosewood or Banyan Tree. Hope this helps.
- Also Known As:
- Grand Velas All Suites And Spa Resort, Riviera Maya
- Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya Hotel
- Grand Velas Hotel Riviera Maya
- Grand Velas Riviera Maya Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Opened in 2008, the luxurious All Inclusive Luxury Resort Grand Velas Riviera Maya is one of the newest resorts to distinguish Riviera Maya as a premier vacation destination. The uniquely Mexican world-class hospitality we provide is "Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond All Compare", and we are proud to be the only family-friendly All Inclusive resort in the Mexican Caribbean to have been rated Five Diamonds by the AAA. ... more less
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