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“grand velas - the real deal on the food just so you are aware”

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Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Ranked #4 of 217 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed December 17, 2012

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 milehihair@gmail.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.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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13  Thank milehihair
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GVRM, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded January 20, 2013

Good afternoon.

first of all I thank you for the time it took to write these lines so important comments regarding our service.
I inform you that we are working every day to improve and facilitate feedback we be better every day.
we mentioned about the food, I inform you that every month we are making changes to the menus of our specialty restaurants to provide a high variadad food and different flavors to our guests.

commenting on the lighting in the area of zen, we inform you that the dim lus is because we have a wildlife animal to which we owe respect their lives. since they are part of our hotel.
tips about we ask the most sincere apologies if I bother, loas gratuities are included and no one was forced to offer an extra tip. always output even showed them his account of the suite for both parties we agree on what to pay.

we hope to have the chance to serve you again.
on behalf of the Grand Velas Hotel staff we wish you a happy new year 2013.

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Reviewed December 8, 2012

First I would like to start by saying that I have never felt impaled to write a review after staying at a hotel, but due to the overwhelming experience our family had I just had to. The pictures that are posted by the hotel seriously do not do this place justice you really have to be able to absorb the views because they are incredible!!!!!

We are a family with two boys 10yrs and 8 yrs.

Rooms: The rooms in the Master (Zen) where we stayed were quiet and relaxing. You could hear the tropical birds and animals every morning. NOTE: the Zen area is dimly lit (lighting) for a reason and that is to respect the wildlife that reside in the jungle area (bats etc...) which is impressive in our opinion.

Restaurants: I did want to mention something that I have seen, the restaurants almost always give you an appetizer courtesy of the chef...These are incredible!!!! It's a nice surprise you get at each restaurant. I also wanted to add that the seafood here is by far the freshest we have encountered.

Piaf, this restaurant was by far our favorite the food was to die for the wait staff were not stuffy but ready to explain each item on the menu. Try the chocolate souffle and the apple tart these are delicious!!

Lucca, this one was our second choice. I must mention the Tiramisu was wonderful.

Sen Lin, This was MY favorite just because of the seafood. We recommend the soft-shell crab (we have tried this at other top of the line restaurants and it tasted very fishy), shrimp appetizer and the coconut shrimp. The desserts are certainly not conventional, but surprisingly good.

Frida, This was a bit strange to write that this was our least favorite restaurant. This has absolutely nothing to do with the service meaning wait staff (Saaid and Roberto Awesome) etc..... They were incredible!! The food to be fair was good we recommend the tortilla soup and the Mexican bread one had sausage in it and the other had jalapenos.

Bistro, we had very good wait staff here Cristian and another guy who tried to learn a little sign language(our youngest son is deaf) feel so bad we forgot his name. The Cobb salad we had here was great!

Azul, the omlettes were great every morning a local suggested on our last day to eat Oaxaca cheese Quesadilla in a corn tortilla (the tortillas are not cooked until you order) and ham.... It is delicious the kids loved it too!

Spa, Thanks to Paulina she did a wonderful job on my massage!!! My favorite part of the Water Journey was the different rooms you get to go into for example the Clay, Steam, and Sauna these are the beginning of the treatment.

Zen Pool, Santiago was awesome here and he was always very attentive. When we were here there were never more than 3 other people here it really felt like a spa/tropical get away from the hustle in bustle of the beach portion of the resort.

Beach, AWESOME!!!!! white sand galore...the beach was pretty calm and the real thing is even better than the pictures, seriously.

Ambassador Pool, this pool is great the kids liked it here most.

All in all we are definitely going back and the staff from the bell boy to Martha (tried to teach me a little Spanish) who cleaned the banos by the pool were so friendly and not in an artificial way. The concierge Vanessa was great. Must do the Free Eco Tour they grow all herbs at the hotel and the chefs pick what they need everyday.

A quick note about the tipping issue: THERE IS NO ISSUE!! The service here is impecible and those who serve you either at the beach, pool, bar, room service, baggage...do not EXPECT a tip although they all deserve it. We brought $150 USD for tipping and would simply give a few dollars here and there for the service and it was ALWAYS appreciated. Yes, you need to sign for food service but we would always tip in cash and therefore put $0.00 on the tipping portion of the receipt and not once felt it was an imposition nor MADE to feel as such. Of course you can always give a tip on your receipt if you don't have cash so as not to neglect the gratuity for the workers as they all truly enjoy working here and serving the guest.

In our opinion, this place is by far the best, or at least one of the best All-Inclusive resorts you could find.

Room Tip: Room 2134 in the Zen area is on the 2nd floor with vaulted ceilings and is very nice. Shuttle servic...
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank AMCHOL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GVRM, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded January 18, 2013
Google Translation

Con el placer de saludarle.
le agradecemos su valioso que invirtio al escribir este comentario sobre nuestro hotel y sus maravillosas vacaciones familiares que pasaron con nosotros.
aun seguimos trabajando para ser siempre mejores, capacitandonos dia a dia, para siempre ofrecer lo mejor de nosotros, somos una familia atendiendo familias y sobre todo cumpliendo espectativas.
los esperamos pronto para asi tener la oportunidad y el placer de volverles a servir .
a nombre del staff de hotel grand velas riviera maya, les deceamos un feliz año lleno de bendiciones.

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Reviewed December 6, 2012

this place is amazing. They do not miss a beat. anything you want at anytime they will get find or make without a question. Food it like going out to a boston restaurant every day/night!

Make it happen and go, you will be so glad you did!

Room Tip: jungle for family beach side for couples
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Robynquinn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GVRM, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded January 20, 2013

Thanks ladies for your lovely comments.
is a pleasure to serve our guests and make them feel better than at home, we look forward to his presence again in this paradise.

on behalf of the staff of Grand Velas Riviera Maya we send warm greetings and wish you a happy 2013.

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Reviewed December 4, 2012

We were at Grand Velas for a wedding over the weekend for 3 days. Having just spent our Spring break here this year,it was such a treat to be able to come back again so soon. This is such a beautiful,classy,spotless and well run resort. It was nearly empty at this time and our wedding party and another wedding party were probably the only ones there.
Check in was smooth,food was good,the beach is super white,soft and super clean at all times and the pool is the best I've ever been to. We were in the Ambassador class and all rooms are ocean view here. The sea was pretty rough and the beach had red flags all 3 days we were there. The service at this resort is impeccable. Anytime you want anything or ask something,it's done right away or exactly at the time you want it done!
Although very short,we had a beautiful time at this beautiful property. We hope to be back some day again,maybe at their Nueve Vellarta resort as we haven't been to that one.

Room Tip: All ambassador and grand class rooms are ocean view.
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank smile_in
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GVRM, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded January 20, 2013

Mr. and Mrs..
thank you very much for your significant comments about their stay at Grand Velas Riviera Maya.
it was our pleasure to have had an opportunity of serving you and give them our best care in the service, all with the warmth that distinguishes us.
respect to the beach and this is seasonal flags, and it is precisely in high winds, but most of the time the sea is very calm like a pool.
the back hope to return soon to serve once again.
The Riviera Maya Hotel staff wishes you a happy new year. 2013

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Reviewed November 28, 2012

You cannot beat the Grand Velas Resort. Hands down, the best place I've had the privilege of staying during my time down south. Nestled between the coral reefs and tropical jungle of the Riviera Mayan. Photos don't do the resort any justice! You must experience it in person!

The suite was gorgeous with an amazing balcony view of the ocean, huge jacuzzi tub, and turn-down service every night. Each Suite has its own butler service available 24hrs. Room service is quick, friendly, and aways a treat. You even have a pillow menu with a dozen or so different types of pillows you can order for your bed.

The many restaurants at the resort were top notch, food was highest of quality, service everywhere on the result was immaculate. The resort was extremely tranquil and very relaxing.

Even though we were told there were over 600 guests at the resort, it never felt like it. We barely saw a 2 dozen people around at any given time.

If you have the chance, visit this resort. You will not regret it.

Room Tip: I understand there are some suites with a balcony containing a private pool. From what I heard these...
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  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank RunnerJT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2012

We have been to many different resorts both for family trips and business trips and the Grand Velas in Playa del Carmen has been the best resort yet! We went toward the end of October and it was not crowded at all. In fact there were several days when we were the only family out at the pool. We did spend a little extra to get the Ocean Front Suite with pool in the Ambassador section - well worth it. The restaurants were all excellent, but our favorite was Lucca (we ate their twice). Pool food was great too! Room service for breakfast out on your balcony is a must do! The service all over the entire resort was outstanding. My children loved it as well. We will definately be going back!

Room Tip: Must get the Ocean Front Suite with lunge pool in the Ambassador Section - soooooo nice!!!!
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank DawnMParker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 24, 2012

Words can't say or express the extent of 5 Star Service at this Hotel! The beautiful room (even though we were in a Zen Suite) it did not disappoint us. Our personal concierge Vanessa was a dream and so sweet to work with. She was instrumental in advice and suggestions and made us feel right at home. Thank you Vanessa ~ I wish all hotels had someone like you! You make the hotel and the connection with the guest genuine and sincere with first class expertise. Now, for the really cool part ~ our bartender Augusto at the Sky Bar ~ Wow! He should be in Napa as he discovered our personal likes about wine and found the perfect blend! His level of professionalism and true desire to make us happy made us feel like rockstars and the real rockstar is servers like himself! Way to go Augusto! We can't wait to come back and visit you! The rest of the staff must be mentioned...the drivers and service from arrival to departures are all outstanding! They truly love their jobs and have been wonderful and gracious hosts! Way to nail it Grand Velas! Best HOTEL EVER! Second time here since March and coming back soon! Love it!
Grace & Mark Nungesser
Dallas, Texas

Room Tip: Ambassador room but Zen is ok but must take the shuttle to get to the beach area.
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Grace M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GVRM, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded January 23, 2013

Dear Nungesser Family:

Thank you very much for choosing Grand Velas Riviera Maya in this second time as your Home away from Home.

Your kind comments inspire us to continue providing the best quality of service and keep doing our best effort in every detail. We also appreciate the time you took to recognize the effort of Vanessa and Augusto we will certainly share your comments with them.

We are looking forward to serve you in the future

Warm Regards

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Additional Information about Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Address: Carretera Cancun Tulum Km 62, 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 Green Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#4 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#16 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#17 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $726 - $1,601 (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 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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