Hi all. I just want to start by saying that I have been to 6 other All Inclusives on the Riviera Maya so I can safely give an accurate report on this hotel.The main reviews that people talk about when they talk about this resort is how if you are a foodie you will love this place, it's all about how wonderful the food is. Well I am a foodie. I am a city girl and have gone to great restaurants my whole life. Food is my thing, I eat to live, not live to eat. I am also a baker who sells my treats so I promise, I know and love food!! The reason why I wanted to write this is to make sure people out there know what to expect as far as the food goes there so they can make an informed decision whether or not to come here. Here's the deal..... if you are an adventurous eater who likes unique and different kinds of foods and likes to try new things, then this is the place for you. HOWEVER..if you are looking for a place with amazing food that is normal/regular not TRYING to be unique or weird, this is NOT the place for you. Like I said, I love food but there were so many things at all the specialty restaurants that were too weird, I swear I could barely find anything on the menu that I would like eating. It was almost like they are so set on making themselves known for being such a foodie kind of place that they would take something good and normal and by the time they got done adding all sorts of spices and wierd extras with it, it no longer was the dish that you were hoping it to be. I went with my parents who was celebrating their 50th anniversary, my family which included 2 kids 12 and 9 and my sister and her husband. We are all are in our 40's. None of us really are adventurous eaters so we were all so dissapointed in the food selections. My husband I have to say was the only one who did like the food and loved trying things but the rest of us were bummed out. The Sen Lin (asian) which actually was like more than just Asian maybe Indian and such, was really hard for me to find ANYTHING I liked. I ended up with plain noodles with some sauce on it from the kids menu that wasnt even very good. HOWEVER, the one restaurant that had the most normal good food was Luca the Italian restaurant. I mean really, how could you go wrong with Italian and they didnt add weird stuff there. The cannolis are the most delicious things you have EVER tasted!!! A bit different with the shell but better and amazing!!!! We ended up eating there 2 or 3 times just for those. Than that Cocina Author which apparently has been written up in Food and Wine magazine was SOOOO bizzare with such tiny little portions of weirdness, I wanted to go AFTER to the other restaurant because I was still hungry and I didnt like so much of it. Everyone says, "oh but it is an experience to go there" well, frankly just give me some good normal food and i will be happy to forgo the "experience". Lastly, what was dissapointing was that we were there the week before high season, so one whole restaurnat was not even open all week, 2 of them are adults only which to me is weird bacause they bill themselves as kid friendly but clearly having 2 restaurants taken out of the mix plus another closed all week was a major bummer and then the other restaurants are only open certain nights of the week. So between all of that there would be like 1 or 2 to choose from at night which I thought wasnt great. Because one restaurant was closed, we were down to just ONE buffet breakfast place. That got very old after a week. I have never been to an all inclusive where there was just one breakfast place. The breakfast was ok, but i have to say the foods that were normal and for breakfast like the rolls, muffins bagels etc were NOT delicious as they should be if they are trying to make this place all about the food. They were so average. It didnt make sense to me. The other odd thing was usually for dinner there would be a buffet somewhere on the property if you wanted but this place had no buffet for dinner! There were only the specialty restaurants or the Azul where you didnt need a reservation but I think there should have been at least one buffet for dinner especially with kids. I hate to go on about the food because the rest of the place and service was the most amazing of all the places I have been to, but I felt compelled to let people know what they are getting into. Even like the ice cream, ice cream how bad could that be?? At some of the places it was like frozen ice milk not creamy and delicious. Again dissapointed. Anyway, just wanted to share. The one last thing I will mention that needs to change and many people have commented on is this "bill/check" thing that comes your way at the end of a meal. There is a place to tip and people are not sure what this is. I know the management has responded on Trip Advisor to say you dont need to tip it is just a way of tracking you. REALLY??????????????/ It was way embarrasing and uncomfortable everytime, especially at the fancier specailty restaurants...they are CLEARLY expecting you to tip and one waiter even gave us a look at one of the less fancier restaurants when we did not tip. Hey, this is an expensive all inclusive. We are paying for their services in the price to be there. Sure if you want to tip extra be my guest but to be handed a bill thing and then you are made to feel uncomfortable if you dont is just ABSURD!!! When you arrive they should make that very clear. What it is and what to expect. I really was majorly turned off by that. When filling out the review upon leaving , I made sure to let them know that we should be made aware when we check in what and why we are getting this bill thing and why is there a place that says tip?? Oh, I didnt mention that the PRICES for each item on the menu is there as well??? Go figure that one out!! Anyway, I wrote this because I had wished that SOMEONE in all these reviews would have let me know what kind of food was offered here and how differently and strangley unique it was, I might have thought twice about going to this particular place. So I hope I have saved someone who is not an adventurous eater but just a person who loves great normal food!! By the way, I grew up outside of New York City and spent 15yrs in Boston so I have been around the block in the food department. Other than my food gripe, this place was truly beautiful, rooms were huge and amazing and I am now officially needing to by a Nespresso machine since I have become addicted to it since there was one in the room. The ONLY negative (other than the food of course) were that the rooms both at the Zen and Ambassador were really dark, not much overhead lighting. I am used to bright and cheery and ESPECIALLY at night walking around the Zen area it was SOO dark, kind of spooky dark being that you are walking in the jungle. The first 2 nights we were there I think there were about 5 other people in the WHOLE resort so it was especially creepy.Lighting is an issue. At the Azul for dinner it was so dark in the restaurant, they had to hand us FLASHLIGHTS to read the menu!!! If that itsnt a clue they need more lighting I dont know what else they need to realize that one!! Anyway I would be happy to discuss any any and all questions you might have you can email me at email@example.com I truly hope that this was a helpul review. Any questions about the Zen area vs. Ambassador, I would be happy to fill you in on as most of us stayed in the Zen but we treated my parents to the Ambassador section, so I have been in both. Thanks for taking the time to read this i just thought it needed to be said.
- 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 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