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Grand Velas Riviera Maya
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Reviews (3,603)
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Reviewed January 10, 2013

I really wanted this resort to impress me. I wanted to feel like a 5 star guest. I certainly expected to have the 5 star vacation I paid for, but sadly, no, oh no, no, no… Was I expecting too much? I don’t think so. When I pay 5 star prices and the resort has glowing 5 star reviews, including Forbes top 10 ranking and AAA among others, then I expect 5 star quality. GV is not a 5 star resort, at least not while we were there (Dec 30/12 to Jan 6/13). I have the stories to back this up so please read on. Don’t let the good reviews fool you into thinking this is a high-end resort. Maybe it used to be?

First, I would like to mention that my husband and I and two adult children have travelled considerably and have stayed at 5 star resorts and hotels around the world, so we know what 5 star quality is supposed to be. We chose the Zen area which was lovely and quite and we are so glad we didn’t pay thousands more for two suites in the Grand Class adult section since we would feel ripped off even more. Some reviews have suggested the Zen area is not good, but I would say that it is a great choice for the nature lover, very quite jungle atmosphere with very few kids.

The good stuff: #1) the design of the resort and the architecture of the buildings and surroundings are beautiful and verge on outstanding #2) the suites are very large including the spacious bathrooms #3) the landscaping is lush and wonderfully maintained #4) the beach has lovely white sand, its deep, wide and clean (small amounts of seaweed wash ashore that is cleaned daily).

The bad stuff: #1) the inconsistent service ranged from very good (but definitely not excellent) to very poor and neglectful #2) the inconsistent quality of food ranged from excellent to very poor #3) there were problems with our two rooms (including mold) while switching rooms was an exasperating experience #4) we all got sick at this resort.

It is the glaring inconsistencies in service and food that do not make GV a high-end resort. A true 5 star resort would not tolerate poor service from its staff and poor quality of food from its chefs. Furthermore, an abundance of clearly visible mold in the shower grout of our bathroom, mold on the bath mat, and mold in the air conditioner (strong moldy smell circulating in the air) that gave me a headache and sinus problems, would not be tolerated at a 5 star resort, even in the jungle area. While the concierge should have handled switching rooms quickly and professionally, it was not so, to say the least. The front desk switched one room easily, but the second room was a problem. A 5-hour ordeal ensued which included giving us keys to a completely messy room that had not been cleaned at all after the previous guests left. There is more to this story, but I don’t have enough room to write it all. In the end, we moved to suites in the same Zen location that did not have any mold problems. Mold in a 5 star resort suite should not be tolerated. And then we saw the staff give that same room to the next guest…

On getting sick: We have travelled quite a lot and have never been sick on a vacation before, including our many vacations at more than a dozen different islands in the Caribbean and around the world. We took precautions, however, my son got very ill with diarrhea and as a result was unable to scuba dive at all during our trip. He was very disappointed since that is all he wanted to do. I was nauseous for a few days, so was my husband, and my daughter got sick with diarrhea at the end of our vacation. This was not the flu, as I get the flu shot every year and none of us had any aches and pains normally associated with the flu. Don’t think its because we are not used to eating different food. Not the case here, as we have travelled extensively and have never been sick on a vacation before now.

Inconsistent service: Beach service at the Grand Class adult section was poor. Not enough staff and poorly trained. Often had to wait a long time for drink and food orders. Often had to flag down a server to take our order. Sometimes they never returned with our orders. And we were tipping! It didn’t seem to make any difference in service whether you tipped or not. It was poor regardless. We were tipping fairly well since we thought tipping would improve service. Nope. Furthermore, I don’t know how many times we had to ask for cutlery or missing plates or coffee mugs or drink refills at various restaurants. One lunch at Bistro, the service was so bad, that for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I decided not to tip at a restaurant. Then, when I asked for the bill, I was told the computer was down and so we didn’t have to sign this time. Well, that probably explains the terrible service. Since they new they were not going to get tipped, as most guests add it to the room bill, they made no effort to offer any semblance of decent service. On the other hand, sometimes our waiters were very good. It was just so inconsistent.

Inconsistent quality of food: I was looking forward to having great food since the reviews had been very good. Not so. It was hit and miss most of the time. We ate at every restaurant. Sometimes it was good, even excellent, but sometimes it was terrible. Overall, it was a mediocre food experience. Not 5 star quality due to the inconsistencies. I have a pretty well developed palate and there were some issues even at the high-end restaurants. Disappointing.

To summarize: I think this used to be a 5 star resort based on the reviews, but it’s not anymore, certainly it was not our experience. We left feeling that we had been ripped off. I actually could write more about other problems including the New Year’s party, which was not good. I had to convince them we did not have to pay an extra $150 per person for the party since we stayed 7 nights (shouldn't staff know their own policy?) I think this resort could be great, but it's not. For the first time ever in all the many vacations I have taken, I actually wanted to go home early because I was so disappointed. GV is not a 5 star resort!

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with family
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36  Thank S Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2013

Attended this trip via a company allstar trip. Very beautiful resort and friendly staff. I was really impressed that each room had its own conceirge service. Food was great as was the spa. Only downside to the resort is that its huge. You will need to take a shutltle van to get to different parts of the resort.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled on business
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Thank jason 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 17, 2013

On behalf of Grand Velas Riviera Maya, We would like to thank you that you have honored us wih your stay.Our mission is to exceed the expectations of our guests.

Thank you for your kind comments, it has been a pleasure to attend you.

Looking forward to have you with us very soon!!
Warm regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 9, 2013

I need to do a little research before I decide if this was a decent value. We paid a premium to stay during the Christmas/NY week. Here are my positives and negatives/suggestions:
Positives:
Ambassador offered a beautiful and spacious room which included a large balcony with a double lounge bed and table and chairs. They even provided mosquito repellent so that we could enjoy the patio at night.
Mini bar is great - they will stock it with whatever you want (no soda, just water etc.)
24 hour room service (dinner was terrible but other meals/snacks were very good)
Even at full capacity, chairs were available at the adult pool and beach. The regular pool chairs were filled by 8AM!!! It was a little annoying that people would wake up early and take chairs but not show up to use them until much later in the morning. Whatever.
The service at the adult pool was outstanding - it was good to average at the beach. The person who waited on us at the pool did not present us with anything to sign so we brought $ to the pool each day for a tip. But it was not necessary and I think that our service would have been just as good without tipping.
I have a food allergy and the staff was extremely accommodating - all of my meals were made to order and they were very careful. A few people did not understand me in English but I was sure to learn how to explain my allergy in Spanish before the trip.
We made all of our dinner reservations before our arrival. A lot of people were complaining about availability but it was not a problem for us. Also, later is better because there is NOTHING to do at night. We had a snack at the pool around 4 or 5 and then ate dinner late.
All of the restaurants were very good. Sen Lin was exceptional. It is not required, but we added a $20 tip to our dinner bill (the bill is $0 but details your order). We tipped $5-10 for room service/other meals and snacks. Again, not required but we were pleased with the service and happy that they paid attention to my food allergy.
The spa is unbelievable. I suggest reading the website description because the hydrotherapy circuit which is included with most treatments was like a dream. My spa treatments were great too. You need to arrive at least an hour before your treatment to take advantage of the hydrotherapy.
We traveled into town one day - the hotel pays your taxi fare to town and the return trip (about $20) is your responsibility. It was a pleasant afternoon - I didn't think that the shops offered anything special but they have cute souvenirs. We had a snack at a restaurant and it was $90! Partly because we drank three bottles of water at $7 each. Oh well.
I have an interesting string of emails from the resort regarding their New Year's Eve event - first we were told that there was not an extra charge, then it was $75, then it was $150. We did not attend the event. I was surprised that there was not any alternative entertainment but we just ate dinner late and watched the ball drop on TV. Our two teenagers arranged to meet a group of people who they met earlier in the week so they were happy.
We have two sons, age 17 and 19 and it was a very safe place for them to stay out late with other guests. We had connecting rooms so we knew when they arrived back in the room at night. I don't think that they would have met many others guests their age during a non holiday week.
None of our room requests were completed - small things like a new key because our key wasn't working, scale in the bathroom wasn't working, we rented a movie and it wouldn't play (they charged us twice) - not a big deal but it would have been nice...
The exercise room was small and smelly. There was never cardio equipment available in the morning when we arrived, so we went for a walk on the beach.
We booked an excursion through the hotel and it was beyond terrible - we asked for a refund but I'm not sure if we received it yet.
Overall, it was a really nice trip. The beach and pool are beautiful and the food was very good, some of it exceptional. Also, all of the public areas were very clean.

Room Tip: Beach view vs pool view are quieter at Ambassador. First floor rooms near the lobby may be less quiet.
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank MC43054
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 9, 2013

My family and I spent a week in this resort and found it to be the most wonderful place. The rooms (mini suites, effectively) were luxurious, really well appointed and stocked with all sorts of goodies, including wine, snacks and even tequila! At many all-inclusive resorts, they scrimp on the quality of the drinks, but not here. Nothing was too much trouble - the staff were friendly and very helpful. The kids club was well run and always fun for our 5 year old. Our teenage daughter loved the water activities and the gym and we even got to watch a movie on the big screen while having dinner one evening, which was wonderful. The restaurant choices were fantastic and the quality was terrific - the food at Frida's in particular was outstanding. We will definitely be returning as it was unquestioningly one of the best hotels we've ever been to.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank MWC47
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 17, 2013

Dear guest,
Thank you very much for your preference on Grand Velas Riviera Maya; All your positive comments are certainly a reason to keep doing our best effort in every service we provide and encourage us to continue in our research for excellence.
Looking forward to serve you in future family stays.
Best Regards!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2013

We have been here a couple of times for business conferences. The rooms are superb with all amenities and service is exceptional. On our most recent visit we had a plunge pool on our oversized terrace, but unfortunately weather too cool to use. I ordered room service for breakfast at no additional charge. Set up by two and presentation of food was lovely. Resort restaurants are good although the decor of the Mexican restaurant leaves a little to be desired. I was staring at a brick wall. Even the buffet restaurant had superb food with an enormous selection. The spa is over the top, but quite expensive, and the water journey not to be missed. Well worth the $60 to partake in the sauna, steam, ice, clay and hot/cold shower prior to getting into the pools. Bubble beds, waterfalls, cold plunge pools are a great way to chill out and destress. Probably the nicest resort and beach front of any on this stretch of beach.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled on business
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Thank tmcdee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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