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“From the Best to the Worse....What Happened?”

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Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Ranked #3 of 211 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed January 4, 2013

My wife and I came to Grand Velas 3 years ago, and was in absolute awe at how a place so big, could be so exceptional in terms of quality, and service. The All-Inclusive Resort is NOT cheap, but 3 years ago, the expense was worth it.
Grand Velas is divided into two resorts, basically, one side offering a family atmosphere for kids <16 years old; and another that is for people like my wife and I who wanted to escape from our kids, and relax, offering to pay a little more for the incredible suites - on the "adult side."
3 years ago, the service was impeccable, with the staff greeting you every morning by your first and last name, and your own private "butler" to help organize your day. The following explains our trip this year. In fact, I am writing this inquiry from the hotel suite.
We arrive to resort, and the room is not ready. They seemed more eager to get our "hotel.com" reservation number than they did getting our room ready. After waiting almost an hour for the room to be ready (told it would be 20 minutes), we were amazed that our luggage was not stowed away in the suite. Instead, we had to call down and ask for luggage which took another 20 minutes to arrive.
In the past; the waiters, bartenders and servers, greeted you with a smile. This trip seems like you have to wave them down to get their attention, then feel like your putting them out by asking them for a drink. The food is terrible, and most restaurants are booked, or only give you a "tasting." No chance of ordering off the menu; for dinner, or breakfast. Lunch can still be served from a menu. The bar was stacked with empty glasses and dirty dishes; because the bartender was overwhelmed with guests.
The final straw was that last night they called my room offering a $300 spa voucher if I would listen to a "time share" fast talker for 40 minutes. I told them I would do it for $1000 ( knowing that they would decline - never heard back from them). Not sure what happened. Not coming back. Sad....

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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26  Thank Colbystew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 3, 2013

We went as a group of 12 as an extended family outing and stayed in the Zen portion of the complex. The experience is very unique as the Zen portion is literally in the jungle area. If you prefer to be on the beach, I would recommend one of the other two sections (both on the beach). From the Zen, it is a 2 minute ride to the beach. In our 7 days there, the van was always there except for 1 time (we waited about 3 minutes) to get to the beach. The service was exceptional and the pools and beach areas are very nice and spacious (much better beach area than Banyan or Rosewood beach areas in my opinion). We went during the busiest times and the hotel was at capacity. Even so, it's so spacious that you don't really feel that it is crowded (like in most resorts). I would say the only downside I found was that since we were a large group, it was difficult to get lounges on the beach for everyone. In every case, we did eventually get them, but it would have been nicer to know we would have them available every day (there is certainly enough room on the beach for more lounges).
Prior to going on the trip I did read many of the comments regarding tipping and I was very conscious of it while I was there. I tried both approaches (tipping and not tipping) and did not see any difference in service and/or attitude. In one case, we asked for more hangers and I gave a small amount to the lady who came to bring them. She actually said "It's not necessary". Either the hotel has different people now or those who felt "pressure" to tip were misreading. When someone asks you multiple times if there is anything else they can get you or are very service oriented, being used to the US culture, you feel that a tip is warranted. In fact I found myself feeling guilty when I didn't. My advice is to bring tip money (it's a small amount of the total cost of the trip) and tip a small amount (I tipped $5 mostly and in rare cases $10) every time you are getting great service. In the end, you will feel a lot better and some very hard working people will go home with a little extra money in their pockets.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank LouisL100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2013

Very nice room , food are the best you can find in all inclusive(in fact most dinner at velas will be better then anything you can go eat in playa del carmen or cancun!) , service is very good , now dont go there if you want to party or a place will a lot of activity it really quiet and at 10pm it feel like they turn the place to OFF , other complain i will do is about the pool they heat the small one wich is far from the ocean and the infinity pool is cold so no one use the nicest pool(if you go in summer i guess it should be ok) overall , velas is really on it class , now do it worth the price?? yes and no it all about what you expect .

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with family
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Thank Dannyreeves
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 25, 2013

Dear Guest,

Thank you for sharing your experience at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, we are pleased that your stay was pleasant and enjoyed the culinary tour for which we are renowned. We hope on your next visit to Riviera Maya have the pleasure to welcome you again.

  kind Regards

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2012

Grand Velas has nice large rooms on a pretty beach, but poor food and service make this resort not worth the cost.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the resort nicer looking than I expected from looking at the website. The large room, balcony and view were all very pleasant. One word of warning though, the resort misleadingly calls every room a "suite". Where I'm from in the US, the word "suite" implies there's more than a single room, but all the "suites" in this resort are a single (large) space + bathroom. This didn't make a difference to me, but did for others who were sharing with children and thought they'd have more privacy in their "suite" than they actually did.

The service and food are the reason I wouldn't come back

Service: while the friendly staff were helpful with small immediate requests like "could I please have a fork", more complex ones tended to end badly. For instance, the hotel failed to arrange transportation to pick me up at the airport even though I contacted more than 24 hours in advance per their policy. Another example was when the resort took my girlfriend's money to set up a windsurfing lesson, but then no one showed up the next day at the given time. After she finally managed to get her lesson, the resort staff forgot to bring her back leaving her stranded with just her swimsuit.

Food: the food was surprisingly mediocre given all the other glowing reviews. I've stayed at much cheaper places with better food. Also, the selection for breakfast and lunch was much more limited than I had expected. The resort has a bunch of restaurants for dinner but most of them are closed before then, and the ones that are open basically all serve the same mediocre buffet. I ended up taking taxis to the town for cheap Mexican food that was much better than the stuff at the hotel. Also be aware the servers do expect tips even though it's all inclusive (or be prepared for some really sad looks). On the plus side, the mixed drinks were all included and fine.

Overpriced Wi-Fi: the wi-fi was really slow and expensive. It was $65 (USD) for 5 days per device. That means that if a couple each has a phone, tablet/e-reader, and laptop to connect to the internet, the resort will charge ~$400 for 5 days of wi-fi. That's crazy. Why not charge a lower price per room instead of per device, or better yet why not make the wi-fi part of the "all-inclusive"?

Room Tip: "Suites" at this resort just mean large hotel rooms instead of multiple rooms
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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7  Thank AaronNYC_USA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2012

We just returned from a week at Grand Velas Riviera Maya. We stayed at the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit in Puerto Vallarta five years ago and absolutely loved it. These are the nicest resorts in Mexico or the Caribbean. The service is truly 5 star. There is a small army of employees whose only goal is your comfort and pleasure. I have never been around a more pleasant, friendly and gracious group of people on vacation and we have stayed at numerous resorts in the tropics. The food was incredible with many restaurant options. The beach is private and exclusive as there are no other resorts close by and no public access points, which is unusual in Mexico. The resort is surrounded by a beautiful mango forest preserve which I would walk through each day.

Tips: Arrange private transportation from airport through the resort, $150 round trip and worth the money. Stay in Grand Class if you have no small children, 4th floor is adults only otherwise can have children 12 and over. Book dinner reservations well in advance, most restaurants are booked until 9 PM by the time you arrive. Azul and Lucca are geared toward families with small children. Lucca was the only disappointment regarding dining. I had read Cocina de Autor was the best but unfortunately they only had one item on the menu the entire week, a 9 course tasting which was excellent but you don't need to do it more than once. I had reservations for three nights and had a difficult time switching to another restaurant during the week. We did not eat at Frida or Chaka but the others were superb (Bistro, Sin Lin and Piaf). Many have written about tipping and I was a bit confused by this when we stayed at the other Grand Velas. You have to sign a check after dinning, total bill is in Pesos but is included in resort fee. There is a line for tipping which is optional. I tipped $5-10 for breakfast and lunch and $20-40 for dinner. Once you experience the service you will want to tip but is not required. We booked one excursion through Aventuras Mayas, an excellent company. The resort has an excursion office which will handle everything. My family did not want the 8 AM to 5 PM excursion so we did a short one from 8 AM to 1 PM with snorkeling in Cenotes, the underground rivers and caverns, zip lining and rappelling followed by a great lunch in screened in area in the jungle. Definitely recommend this one. Our guide, Juan spoke perfect English, had lived many years in the states and was helpful and entertaining (and safe).

I would rate this resort 5 star and have never experienced service this good. Perfect for both families and couples. Easy to reach, 30 minutes from Cancun Airport, a nice and user friendly airport. Both Grand Velas resorts are superb and I have found the Mexican people to be much more friendly compared to many places in the Caribbean. I would return in a heartbeat.

Room Tip: Stay in Grand Class if a couple or have children 12 and over. Request 4th floor if no children. In...
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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Thank OceanLover7575
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 29, 2012

The common spaces are open and impressive, and the rooms in the Grand section are modern, spacious and clean, with nice views of the water. So what is wrong? Well, the sand is OK, but the beach is not the nicest in the area. The water is shallow, and rocky underfoot. The food at the restaurants varies from good (Autor) to poor (Lucca). There are hardly any vegetables. The drinks are mediocre. The liquor is not top shelf and the mixes are their equal. Real fruit juices are hard to come by at this resort. The service is uniformly slow or even inattentive. The staff is plentiful but seem to be on auto pilot, and have no understanding of the needs of the guests. This may be fine for a family, but definitely not for the discriminating traveler. Our first foray to an all-inclusive resort, this will be our last.
A spoiled New Yorker?

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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11  Thank Anita S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 21, 2012

My husband and I spent our honeymoon at Grand Velas the second week in December, and I cannot fully express how wonderful it was there. We were in the Grand Class (a must!) and our room was amazing. Spotlessly clean, and very modern and open. When we arrived, (six hours after our scheduled arrival, never flying Delta again!), the staff had a hot bath with rose petals waiting on us in the room. Our butler concierge Alejandra was so nice and helpful, and immediately made us feel welcome. After we would return to our room for the night, the staff had left a little surprise for us almost every night. Once it was champagne, once a special dish of fruit and chocolates. The weather was rainy and stormy, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the resort. The guys at the pool would fix our umbrella so we could still stay out there even in the rain. The beach and the pool area were not crowded at all, although we were approached numerous times by people from other resorts who were walking by and wanted to know the name of the resort because it is so beautiful and quiet. Everyone was very envious of our resort, and if you walk down the beach to the other resorts, you will see why.
Now, the absolute best part of the trip--THE FOOD! Every single time I had a meal, I would say that it was the best thing I had ever eaten. AMAZING food. Everything was so fresh and so well-prepared. The waiters were incredible, and seemed genuinely concerned with how you felt about your meal. At every restaurant we received a chef's welcome, which is basically a small appetizer. Also, after every meal when we finished our dessert, they brought out another dessert with "Happy Honeymoon" written in chocolate. Needless to say, we both gained some weight on this trip!
We also went to the spa for a couple's massage, and it was fantastic. The spa area, and the Zen class, are must-sees, as they are beautiful in a completely different way from the Grand and the Ambassador.
I cannot wait to go back to GV!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Alison L
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

On behalf of Grand Velas Riviera Maya we would like to thank you that you have honored us with your stay and chossing us as your honey moon destination.
We are so delighted to hear you enjoyed our amazing staff, we will forward your comments to Alejandra, Impressions like yours motivate us constantly to do our best.
Thanks for sharing that memorable moment in your lifes with us
We would love to host you again!
Best regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#17 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $751 - $1,839 (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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