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“Luxury, wonderful service and picturesque, non high-rise, resort! Bliss...” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Grand Velas Riviera Maya

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Grand Velas Riviera Maya
5.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Carretera Cancun Tulum Km. 62 | Municipio de Solidaridad, Quintana Roo, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico   |  
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Ranked #9 of 200 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
London
1 review
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Luxury, wonderful service and picturesque, non high-rise, resort! Bliss...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2009

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.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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Los Angeles
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2009

We stayed at Grand Velas in March for 5 nights. Hotel is 30-40 min drive from the Cancun airport and 15 min drive from la 5ta. We arrived on a Tue and the hotel seemed to have low occupancy from Tue-Thu and only really seemed busier on Sat. We were the only guests in the restaurants Tue – Thu evening. There was also plenty of room poolside and on the beach. Everything about the resort was amazing, except for the customer service – which was disappointing enough for us to not be able to fully recommend this hotel. Read below for details.

Location: The hotel location is perfect for a relaxing vacation. It is far enough away from the loud, crazy atmosphere of la 5ta, but also a short drive from it.

Beach: The beach in front of the hotel is great. It is a little rocky in some areas, but there are still areas that are walk-able. Water was warm. The hotel cleans the beach and grooms the sand every morning.

Food: The hotel had the following restaurants open – Azul, Bistro, Cocina de Autor, Piaf and Sen Lin. The first 2 are the more casual family restaurants and are good. The latter 3 are the more formal restaurants that are “adults only” at night. Our favorites were Cocina and Piaf. I am vegetarian and the chefs were very willing to create special vegetarian dishes for me. Sen Lin was OK. The food at all the restaurants and cafes was excellent for an all-inclusive. And at Cocina and Piaf the food was pretty close to 5 star. Even the food at the poolside bar area was tasty. We also got room service for breakfast and it was very good.

Gym: New equipment, great personal trainer available.

Hotel: We stayed in the Ambassador Suite. The hotel room was very nice and spacious. Very comfortable king size bed, high-end furniture, nice flat screen TV, balcony, etc. The ocean and pool view was amazing. One thing to note: the room description on the hotel website is incorrect – there is not a couch sitting area (only 2 chairs) or remote controlled blinds in the Ambassador Suite. There was one issue we encountered with our first room. The air conditioner was making a strange noise, which we mentioned to our “butler” the minute we walked in, rather than switch us rooms they insisted on trying to fix it, 3 different times. In the end, we were moved to a room that was not as nice as our first room, but they said that was all they had available – which seemed strange considering it felt like a ghost town our first couple of days.

Customer Service: The food service people and “butlers” were very nice and helpful. However, that same cannot be said for the lobby and concierge workers. They need training in 5 star customer service – especially since they are part of the Leading Hotels of the World. In addition to the poorly handled room switch when we first arrived, we encountered 3 other service issues.

1) We booked via Orbitz and saw there was a promo for 2 free massages or golf per person per stay. We did not receive confirmation from Orbitz, got to the hotel and told them about promo, hotel said they were not aware of promo, we contacted Orbitz who told us it was a hotel promo, we spoke to the hotel and after furnishing a print out of the promo that appeared on Orbitz they said they would honor it, next day we were told after we booked the spa appt that the promo was not valid, I spoke to the same hotel lobby person who now said that his boss reviewed it further and decided it was not valid. Both Orbitz and Grand Velas were at fault for the runaround that we received, but the hotel had the opportunity to remedy the situation and instead made it worse. It was extremely frustrating and not 5 star service.
2) Hotel claims they will pay for the transportation into town, but that you pay the way back. The cab driver picked us up, dropped us off in town and was expecting payment from us because the hotel did not pay him. We paid him and paid the driver that dropped us back off at hotel. We told the hotel, they seemed confused and said they would look into it. Nothing happened. Not 5 star service.
3) In order to contact Orbitz, we had to use the hotel phone. Charge was $5 per connection. We tried calling 6 different times, but the phone would connect and then cut out 10 seconds later. The 7th time finally worked. At check out we were told we had to pay the $5 connection fee for the 6 calls despite the fact that their faulty line dropped our calls. No compromise, no apologies. Again, not 5 star service.

If you never have to interact with the Lobby help, you will love this hotel. If you do, don’t waste your time trying to clarify any issues, you will only end up frustrated.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Beautiful West Virginia
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2009

Please note that these comments apply only to the family friendly section of the resort.

On the positive side: A very safe-feeling atmosphere. Beautiful entrance, lobby, and grounds. Large, new, clean rooms and baths. Extremely comfortable bedding and pillows. Soft sheets and duvet covers that were changed daily or every other day. There was a good variety of TV channels. There was a DVD player and a roomy safe in the room. Great mini bar items which can be customized and restocked for free. Well decorated restaurants with great food and friendly service. Beautiful landscaping. Fantastic director at the kid's play center and friendly activities director for the children at the pool. The large, heated infinity swimming pool is designed extremely well for families. Drinking water you can trust. A fantastic spa with a wonderful, skilled staff (spa charges are all extra). Fun Karaoke bar with children's hour. The complimentary beach bags and slippers in the room were a real convenience.

On the flip side: the butler concierge was sitting at a desk in front of the elevators when we arrived at our floor and he escorted us to our rooms. That was done just for show as he was never again to be found there. There was tequila with limes over the mini bar, but the limes disappeared the following morning and were never re-stocked. Even though we offered to pay extra for it, the kitchen refused to prepare a box lunch for a 12 hour excursion to the Mayan ruins which was arranged for us by the hotel (cost of the trip was extra). We ordered room service sandwiches the night before, but there was no way to wrap them for the trip. The main hotel concierge spoke either in Spanish or in broken English. I can understand Spanish rather well but when she became frustrated with her inability to express herself in English, she began speaking Spanish so quickly and stridently it was impossible to understand anything she said. There was no DVD rental library. There was no wireless internet, although the hotel let us borrow an ethernet cable to connect to their high speed internet service. There weren't enough hangers in the closet. Despite artificial reefs, the ocean was really too rough for swimming or snorkeling, especially for children. The hotel imposed a fee on all telephone calls - cellular or from the hotel room, even if you used a telephone card. I never got to use the telephone card I purchased to call home because the telephone in my room never worked, despite multiple requests for repair. The wait staff at Azul restaurant descended on us like vultures at the end of the buffet so that they could take our plates from us and carry them the remaining 10 or 15 feet to our table (it was over the top and embarrasing). The wait staff also kept offering extras, such as cocktails, wine, bottled water, al la carte menu items, etc., so that they could build up the "bill" and increase their tips. The constant presentation of "bills" for the purpose of creating a basis for a tip to the wait staff at a supposedly all-inclusive resort was a bothersome distraction. Instead of presenting bills, they should just increase the room rates by a hundred bucks a day and use that to compensate the staff for their services. We weren't there to spend time watching TV, but you should know that, unlike other rooms described by reviewers of this resort, our flat screen TV did not pivot or swivel and it was not possible to watch TV from the sitting area.

While the above comments make it sound like there were more negatives than positives, it was really a great overall trip. I find that if I know the possible drawbacks of a resort in advance, I can adjust my expectations accordingly and have a more pleasant experience. I hope this review helps you in that regard. Also, please bear in mind that the resort is new and I'm sure it will continue to improve with the passage of time.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2009

We have just returned from a week long stay at The Grand Velas. We booked 3 suites under an opening promotion ( they opened in Nov,) which included a guaranteed upgrade to Ambassador Ocean View suites as well as message credits or complimentary greens fees. Transfer for the 40 minute trip from/to the Cancun Airport were included in our package.
In a word, it was FABULOUS!
Our suites were spacious and featured everything from a rainfall shower, constantly restocked minibar and a pillow menu. Each floor had its' own concierge who assisted with spa and dining reservations, excursions etc. Our concierge, Toni, was particularly gracious and helpful, especially when we needed a prescription faxed fron the States and filled at a local pharmacy. Nothing seemed to throw her.
In the family section there are 2 large infinity pools, one of which was heated. There are plenty of lounges and the pool concierge were never far away if you needed a drink, snack or an extra towel. They automatically gave you bottles of water in an ice bucket
There is a kids club which was a big hit with our 2 youngest.
The kids (ages 9,9 and 14) could eat in 3 restaurants while the adults had several additional options, We found the food to be uniformly excellent and far superior to other 5 star all-inclusives. Each of the restaurants have distinctly different personalities. Although the hotel we far from full we still made a dining reservation each evening.
We used the spa several times and we all agreed that it was one of the best we've visited. Allow enough time to use the hydrotherapy facilities. The spa credits won out over the free greens fees.
It was pretty quiet at night without much going on after dinner.The piano bar and karioke lounge were practically deserted. If you want some night life you can cab it into Playa del Carmen about 10 minutes away. The hotel paid for the cab to town but you were on your own for the trip back ( about $8 )
The thing that made our visit so special was the warmth and hospitality of the staff. You had the impression that everyone was doing their best to make your stay enjoyable. It was a great feeling.
We are already planning our return!

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, IL
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2009

We visited this resort over Spring Break with my nine year old son. We had a great room with ocean view and pool on the terrace. The resort was not booked and had no troubles with reservations for dinner, finding pool or beach chairs, etc.

The restaurants were outstanding. We loved the Frida's menu and could have gone there every night. The red snapper and all of the soups were outstanding. However, our son loved Azul because it wasn't quite as formal, and the food was also very good. We had room service a couple of times and thought they had a great selection and the ceasar salad was unique and delicious. The breakfast buffet was the only buffet we went to and it was great. For lunches we usually ordered pool side and loved it was well. I usually have much lower expectations of food at all inclusive resorts and this was the best ever. The only unusual thing was that all of the menus had prices. We figured out half way through our stay that the "bill" was presented to you for tipping purposes. Some guests we talked to did not tip, but once my husband started tipping, they made sure to get us our bill.

The pools on the kids side of the resort were great. They were heated at various temperatures, with the very shallow pool for the small kids being the warmest. Plenty of room and great to look over into the ocean. Bar service at the pools was friendly and prompt.

The spa was unbelievable. The water treatments that you can access with any treatment were fantastic. Two different kinds of showers, a clay room, a sauna, a steam room, an ice room, the pools with different sprays and jets, the walk of pleasure/death....Can't say enough about it. They were still working on the spa which was distracting for the treatment itself, but once it is completed, it will be one of the best in the region.

The only recommendation I would make is to have a few more activities during the day. We were wanted to walk on trails that were advertised, which were not available. It was very relaxing, but a little more activity would have been perfect.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Address: Carretera Cancun Tulum Km. 62 | Municipio de Solidaridad, Quintana Roo, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#6 Business Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#8 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#9 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#9 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#16 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#22 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Grand Velas Riviera Maya 5*
Number of rooms: 493
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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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

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