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“Killer Food, but wouldn't do Jungle area again.”

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Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Ranked #3 of 211 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed September 23, 2012

Let me start by saying this review is for the jungle section only, and also comparing GV to a previous, Iberostar Grand experience.

The food was ridiculously good at all times. We went to Piaf (french restaurant) 4x during our stay as it was that good. We enjoyed bottles of Le Cetto with our meals. The filet mignon and accompaniments were all excellent. Tip: make sure to get the gruyere pastry appetizer and ask for habanero cream sauce with your meal! The chef made this specially for us!

The ala carte lunch restaurant in the adult section was always spot on as well! I would recommend the salmon dish as it was executed perfectly every time. The habanero relish it came with was very hot!

Other things I enjoyed were the freshly squeezed juices brought up to the room and the ceviche on the beach.

So, why 3 stars only? Well, I didn't particularly enjoy the service. Like many others have experiences, displaying the bill after each meal was made us feel like we were obliged to tip 15-20% of the total which is not what anyone should feel like at an AI. We still tipped at every meal, but I felt the service wasn't NEARLY as good as the service I experienced at Iberostar Grand (as a result of the receipt display process). Some of the staff were really nice, while others seemed cold and expecting a tip for anything they did.

Staying in the jungle area also took away from the 'I'm staying by the ocean' feeling you normally get from a beach vacation. Don't get me wrong, the shuttle was efficient but nothing is better than seeing the ocean from your room or being able to walk out to it in a matter of steps. Yes, I know I could have paid for an ocean view room, however, the price difference is not attainable for many people. I think it was like 3k more for that which was what I paid to be at GV in the first place.

If you are a foodie, this is definitely a place to consider. My wife and I thought we were foodies when we came here, but later decided that we prefer to have B+ food with great service, affordable prices, and being near the ocean at all times instead of just A+ food.

Room Tip: Get ocean front if you can afford it, I couldn't! :)
  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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16  Thank HawaiiLover81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 23, 2012

We vacationed here in the Summer of 2011 on a company sponsored awards package. I spent a week at the Grand Velas with my wife, our two teenaged boys, and our six year old son. The food at all the restaurants is excellent and I would highly recommend their signature restaurant, Cochina de Auture (sp?) and their Mexican themed restaurant. Service is this resort's claim on greatness. When we finished our meal at the Mexican restaurant, the Host brought out the Head Chef from the kitchen to ask our party if we had any questions or comments about the dishes that we had been served. My entree seemed more like a Thai dish, so I asked about this, and the Chef gave us a short lesson on the different spices that he had used to created this traditional Mexican dish that I had enjoyed so much.
I had resigned myself to eating dinner only at the "family" venues, because I did not want our youngest son to miss eating dinner with the entire family. On our second night of the vacation, I walked down to the opposite wing of our building to check out the second work out facility on the premises. My six year old accompanied me. We passed a nice glassed in facility where a dozen or so young children were playing video games on huge flat panel TV's. My son's reaction was "WOW, HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GO IN THERE!" I told him it was included in our package, but it was almost closiing time (11 PM?). The next evening, when we came in from the beach, he was the first one out of the shower, dressed and ready to go for his evening out at the "Kids Club". They feed the kids Pizza, they have several certified young daycare attendants, and they play all kinds of different games with the kids. He begged to go to the Kids Club, every single night. My wife and older sons got to enjoy some fabulous adult dining without having to feel guilty about leaving baby brother behind.
The pool waiters were excellent. If they do not understand what you want (my wife's favorite is a frozen Margarita), do your best to explain to them what it is you are asking for... I promise, they will do everything in their power to make you happy.
The room accomodations were excellent. The on location dive company was great, had a nice two tank dive with one of my older sons. The only negative I can say about this location, is that when we went, the beach still had some rocks that were quite large in the water...easy to hurt your feet if you weren't careful. Besides this, I can't give enough positives on this location.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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6  Thank Cajun0ne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 20, 2012

Let me start by saying I had very high expectations of this resort going into this vacation. I can say most if not all of them were exceeded during the trip. GV is truly a place to just relax and forget about the world around you. I will try to summarize the highlights:
Rooms
We stayed in the zen section, the room was more then we needed, considering we spent little time in the room other then to shower and sleep. A great touch was the rainfall shower that provided a nice relief after a full day out and about in the Mexican sun. When we arrived the mini fridge had a good array of soda and beer in it. The first day there we told room service that we we didn't drink soda and by the next day when we came back all of the soda had been removed and it was replaced with water and beer! Just a little touch but that was a theme for our entire week as to the level of service we received.
Tip: if you are traveling as a couple the zen section is fine, but if you are traveling with children this section would be an inconvenience because of the need to take the shuttle back and forth from the room to the pool/beach area.
Service
I will preface this section by saying when we were there the resort was only 10% full. The service here was like no other I received at any all inclusive, which includes royal hideaway, iberostar grand and secrets. Every single staff member we encountered throughout the week went above and beyond fulfill our every request. This brings me to what seems to be the biggest issue on TA, tipping. We went in with the intention only to tip if we felt we got exceptional service. I think it is something you really have to experience rather then me trying to explain it, needless to say we tipped and tipped often. But we didn't go out of control, a few dollars at the buffet, usually $5 if we sat down and ordered from the menu at lunch. Dinner we tipped more, but the service there was just so over the top we felt the staff really deserved it, especially at Autor.

Food
Breakfast: If we were able to eat at Bistro every day it would have been spectacular, but since there was such a low occupancy it was closed many mornings. Azul was ok but they really didn't change up the buffet often. We found ourselves ordering omelets everyday.

Lunch: again Bistro was great, Azul only ok.

Dinner: out of this world. We ate at all of the restaurants and none disappointed. I would rank them in the following order, Autor (this is not for everyone molecular cuisine takes getting used to but it was simply fantastic), Piaf, Lucca, Sen Lin, and ironically the one we liked the least was the Frida.

Pool/beach

The pool was the biggest I've seen, the pool concierges would come by as they told us every 7-9 minutes to see if we needed anything. There was one afternoon my wife and I were sitting on the daybeds having some drinks when Roberto came by and saw the ice began to melt in my drink. He quickly came back and replaced it with a fresh one. He said "you are on vacation you should not be drinking a warm drink"

The ocean is a bit rocky but there is an area right in front of the hotel the you can go in up to your waste and there is no need for water shoes.

Spa
Expensive but worth it especially the water journey. TIP: sign up for the fractional ownership tour (glorified time share) it literally takes 20 minutes, no pressure. They give you a $150 gift certificate to use at the spa, this really defrays the high prices.

Overall I would highly reccomend this resort for both couples and families, the price is steep but once you see what you get you will feel you have gotten your monies worth and more!

Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
10  Thank j-doc23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2012

My wife and I spent two weeks at this lovely resort for our honeymoon in June. I could wax lyrical about all of the aspects, but fear not I won't. Quite simply the resort is very good. The food was plentiful and very good quality. The buffet was very varied and we always found tasty stuff to eat. The other restaurants were also very good and you can book as many as you like, The sports bar was good for watching the football and the help yourself chilli chips and hotdogs was a nice change. Plenty of bars to choose from and we particularly enjoyed the beach bar on the adult section where the cocktails kept coming. The resort is very large and our room was about halfway between the beach and lobby. A basic room which was huge with a lovely bathroom and good aircon. Gardens are immaculate. It took us a long time to adjust to. the time difference and the flight is very long. All staff we encountered were wonderful and could not do enough for us. This brings me onto other guests. I will not mention nationalities as it was just people from a particular country. If you are rude to staff and talk to them like they are something on the bottom of your shoe you will get the reaction you deserve. The eating habits of some was disgusting and it is no coincidence that they were the rudest. The walk around resort was good and not a chore as others describe. Yes there are rowdy bars (party pool) but plenty of other areas to find peace and quiet. We took a taxi into town one day and strolled around the shops and bought our gifts there. Also stopped off at a roadside bar and had a meal. You are constantly hassled to go into shops and even at our table. There is also a thriving trade in exotic animals used to have photos taken with. Snakes, Iguanas, monkeys, tigers, Lions and leopards. I kid you not. I have been on Safari in Kenya and think I saw more Lion cubs along this shopping street. We personally think this is disgusting.Would we go back? Most definately, but there are so many places to see so probably won't.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Darbster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 13, 2012

I have been to about 7 different all inclusives on the Riviera Maya. All of them benefit from the beautiful clear ocean and breezy beaches. But Grand Velas was exponentially better than any place we have stayed. The service was impeccable and the food was so creative and delicious. We stayed in the Grand Class (adults only) area and it was amazing -- quiet and peaceful --feels like miles away from the very active/loud family area. We tried all of the dining options and honestly loved them all. The evening entertainment was limited, but sufficient. Most nights we just relaxed in bliss on our private patio gazing at the moon reflecting off of the ocean. Heaven!!

Room Tip: If you are looking for romance, the Grand Class section is worth the extra money.
  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Shera14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2012

This hotel was magnificent, went there last week and I must say it is the best hotel I have ever stayed at. Everything was clean and breathtaking. The restaurants all serve excellent food.
If I ever go back to Playa Del Carmen will not even consider another hotel. Just take a short stroll to the west at the beach and see the princess hotel and you will see how incredible the Grand Velas is.

Main concern I want to address here is the tipping, let me say I almost cancelled my reservation due to the reviews I had read at TA about the tipping and thought I was already spending enough on the vacation to then have to worry if I had to tip or not and if too little or too much. Believe ideally the hotel shouldn´t really give the option to tip if it were completely all inclusive, however my view is they absolutely have the best personnel possible, so taking the tipping option out of the check, or not giving the option to tip would likely make them lose the best people. At the end we did tip on every meal abt usd 10 each and we had great service. I think even if we hadn´t tipped we would have had the same service, but believe me, everyone goes out of their way for you so it is well deserved. We stayed beginning of Sept and the hotel was maybe 15% occupied.

Room Tip: If staying on the Grand Class suites, push to get on the 3rd Floor, the terraces are phenomenal.
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Santiago A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2012 via mobile

Pros:The resort itself is beautiful and clean. Wonderful job with my friends wedding. Food is surprisingly good for an all inclusive. Room service is awesome! Molton brown bath products-thumbs up. Buggy rides at certain locations is nice but no door to door service. 

Cons: Pools close at 7pm. A few of our luggages were sent to the wrong rooms so the staff had to go around and find them. One of the rooms (shared by two guys) were suppose to have a double bed but the room wasn't changed until the last night of our trip (I believe the third night so one guy had to sleep on a small cot). Service is okay-not all staff were all smiles and helpful which I expect in a 5 star resort. Lots of Mosquitos! I ended up with about 8 scars. Mosquito repellent (provided by resort) did not help. The outdoor garden/shower is useless because you will be eaten alive. 

The most disappointing part of the trip was the lack of professionalism from the management/security department regarding stolen property from our room.

To make a long story short, we were at Grand Velas for a wedding reception and to save money, 3 girlfriends of the bride decided to room together. One of the girls stole money from the wallet of another from the safe box. The issue was reported to Orian/head security and we were promised a report of the safe box log-in/out and door log the next day (because the girl had made up a whole story about how the door was left open, etc). The next day came and the staff just gave us the run around (head of security not in, wrong dates for log, machine was broken so they had to do it over) but that was already our checkout day so I was told that the reports would be emailed to me the next day. Of course I did not receive anything from them. We emailed back and forth a few times but it wasn't until we called and threatened them with bad reviews on all the Internet travel sites that we finally received the report via email as promised about 3 weeks after our promised date. The resort obviously did not take us seriously as they knew it was an "inside job" but we just wanted the proof to show the bride. Anyway, the girl eventually gave the money back and made herself many enemies. No Vegas story can beat my Grand Velas story!

  • Stayed: May 2012
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1  Thank Wendy W
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 | Riviera Maya, 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:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#2 Green Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#17 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $745 - $1,769 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Grand Velas Riviera Maya 5*
Number of rooms: 493
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
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 & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Grand Velas All Suites And Spa Resort, Riviera Maya
Grand Velas Hotel Riviera Maya
Grand Velas Riviera Maya Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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