I stayed at the Grand Velas with my 2 daughters for 5 nights from April 6th. We spent a long time researching our holiday and were looking for a luxury hotel with good food, good service and lots of sunshine! After weeks of trawling through various Trip Advisor comments, we stumbled across the Grand Velas, which ticked all the boxes. The good news is, when we arrived the boxes remained ticked!
We booked our room through the hotel directly, which appeared to be the cheapest option. Maude and Marlem at reservations were very helpful and made this process very easy for us.
After a long and stressful flight from London via Miami, we arrived late at the hotel. The taxi service that was arranged through the hotel was waiting for us at the airport – a large white van that could accommodate several people if needed! We were greeted in the lobby by the lovely Orlando with drinks and the obligatory registration. Sadly we were just too tired to appreciate how gorgeous the open plan reception was, and declined his offer on the hotel tour.
Our room was vast – two large twin beds, modern interiors, and a large, spacious bathroom with plenty room for the 3 of us to relax and spread our girlie stuff round the room. The beds were really comfortable, the sheets soft and the pillows were squishy and fantastic!
In the morning we initiated ourselves with breakfast at Azul. We were warmly greeted by all the staff but notably Omar who very quickly learnt that we liked our coffee after we collected our food from the buffet and that we didn’t like our plates taken from us en route to our table from the buffet. This was the only thing we could criticize Azul for – there were loads of staff to the number of guests staying at the hotel, and though it shouldn’t sound like a criticism, they were falling over themselves to carry our plates back to the table. Maybe as a Brit, this is something we didn’t like. Breakfast was consistently good and the fruit juices were particularly good! The eggs were freshly made to your order and there was plenty of variety.
Each group of rooms is assigned a “butler” to oversee your stay. We had Ana who we could not fault. She was friendly, sincere and helpful. Each day we told her which restaurant we would like to eat in and she personally reserved a table for us. We also needed more amenities for the room such as towels, hangers, another robe and slippers and also some more water. It would’ve been nice, as they were expecting 3 guests for the room to have already had these but Ana very quickly accommodated us.
As the hotel was only 50% capacity (or less), it was not too difficult to find sunbeds round the pool. However, hardcore holidaymakers clearly get up early there and several of the best-positioned beds were hogged by about 8am. If the hotel was more full, reserving a bed should not be permitted. The pool staff were again, numerous and very willing to help if we needed a drink, some snacks or just erecting a parasol for us. We particularly bonded with Carlos who was extremely friendly and very helpful catering to all our needs. Tadye was also lovely, and was happy to pull 3 beds into a new position for us as it was so busy by the pool. We also really liked Kaspar the barman who serves up wonderful drinks all day long. 1 criticism was that the pool water by the bar was a little too cold.
On to the restaurants! This was the most surprising aspect of this all-inclusive hotel. The restaurants were mostly a far better standard than we had ever expected – sometimes a little too pretentious perhaps. As a caterer myself, we found the Cocina del Autor to be the most original and experimental. We entered into the spirit of it by having the taster menu. The staff were great and explained each dish and also pointed out that should we want more of one thing, they would be happy to accommodate. In fact, they couldn’t do enough to please us. The second restaurant we went to was Sen Lin in the jungle area of the hotel, which we got to with a courtesy bus. The menu was unusual and interesting and probably one of the busier restaurants. Again, the staff were incredibly helpful and the food was delicious and beautifully presented. I had the crocodile and my daughters had the duck. The third night we went to Frida. This one of our favourite restaurants. Again original, beautifully presented and the staff, though a little more subdued, were helpful and polite. The lamb shank, recommended to me by the waiter was delicious. The fourth restaurant, Piaff, was possibly the most disappointing and also the quietest. The room was decorated in dramatic black and red with chandeliers and mirrors – Bordello style. We were assigned a waiter, who was slightly creepy and seemed disinterested from his job. We then got assigned another, and although friendly and helpful, we felt he was a little bored. Perhaps the lack of customers was not helping this. The food was ok. Living near France, we are very familiar with French food, but this was the restaurant we felt didn’t hit the mark. We had 1 lunchtime in the room as it was so busy by the pool and we ordered room service. It was delicious, arrived quickly, and was again beautifully presented. We also had 1 breakfast in the room which was different to the type of breakfast we would’ve had in Azul and we were very impressed with the standard of it.
The hotel was clearly eager to please their guests and we felt a 5 diamond award would be duly deserved. After we left the Grand Velas, we stayed a further 5 nights at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun, considered to be the best hotel on the strip. Compared to the Grand Velas we felt let down and we really missed the Grand Velas and the staff and would’ve happily returned there.
The grounds were phenomenal and the gardeners constantly tended to the lawn and the beach was beautiful and cleared of debris every morning.
I was with my daughters aged 21 and a very grown up 14 yr old. Obviously we didn’t qualify for the “adult” section of the hotel, but similarly we felt we did not want to be played with families with young children either. Something maybe the hotel should look into or rectify in someway? The only other comment we have is that at the end of each meal, we were unsure as to whether or not we had to keep tipping. We were presented with a bill to sign and felt obligated to leave a tip, which we did. I do believe that when the staff are working so hard and are so pleasant, they do deserve one, whether or not it’s an all-inclusive hotel. We didn’t feel that they were working so hard to receive a tip, sadly something we felt the Ritz Carlton did a little too often!!
The criticisms we make really aren’t that bad as the standard was so high. In the past we have stayed in Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental’s in other parts of the world and felt Grand Velas could hold its own up there with the best of them. Although this was not a budget friendly hotel, we felt in this instance you get what you pay for and at the Grand Velas you are able to get a lot.
We have not posted any photos with our review simply because photos do not do this hotel justice. Rest in the knowledge that when you arrive, you will be more than happy with what you receive.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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- 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 Hotel Riviera Maya
- Grand Velas Riviera Maya Playa Del Carmen, Mexico