If you’re looking for a top-rated luxurious stay in the Cancun area, the stunning Grand Velas Rivera Maya resort should be on your list. This elegant beach hotel has almost a perfect rating on almost 3000 Google reviews and 5000 TripAdvisor reviews, making it one of the most loved resorts in the Mexican Caribbean.
After seeing thousands of sparkling 5-star reviews in a row, editors of the Cancun Sun had to visit to see if the property lives up to all the hype. Below is our detailed spotlight review for the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, which gives you the honest pro’s and con’s about the property, what makes it different from other Cancun-area hotels, everything you’ll want to know about staying there, and most importantly, if this is a property you should book for your next trip.
- Year Opened: 2008
- Rooms: 539 designer-like suites, starting at over 1,000 sq ft
- Area: 15 minutes north of Playa Del Carmen
- 3 separate all-inclusive ambiances to choose from: Zen, Ambassador and Grand Class
- AAA 5 Diamond rating
Who Grand Velas Is For:
- Couples seeking a luxurious getaway, especially honeymooners
- Families who value quality and excellence
Couples, notably ones celebrating an anniversary or on a honeymoon, will enjoy the exclusivity and intimate nature of the property. Even the entry-level rooms are extremely spacious at over 1,000 sq ft, and the spread-out design of the grounds makes it feel quite private and personalized. Everything from the perfect grounds to the luxury spa experiences, to the lavish dining, is perfect for a romantic vacation.
Families will appreciate the convenience for everyone to have their own space and activities, with ample opportunities to get together and spend time as a family unit. The property has a baby concierge for those traveling with young ones, a kids club for ages 4-12, and a teens club for 13-18. The kids and teen clubs are no average hotel clubs either, featuring cool video game coves, social areas, and interactive activities that kids actually want to participate in.
Who Grand Velas might not be for:
- Solo travelers looking to meet others
- Party seekers / spring-breakers
- Budget travelers
Grand Velas is a discerning luxury resort and isn’t going to be the right option for those looking to party or meet other extroverted solo travelers. There are many opportunities for a solo traveler, especially those looking for immersive spa and wellness experiences, to have a memorable stay, but not in a social setting. Travelers looking for a beach-bash or late-night disco parties should look more towards the main strip of Cancun, as this resort is more of a calm and relaxed vibe. The Grand Velas does have a beautiful lounge and even a karaoke bar, but it’s more targeted for groups traveling together.
The Room – Grand Class Oceanfront Suite
- 1377 sq ft
- Oversize marble bathroom with double sinks and jacuzzi tub
- Oceanfront balcony with private plunge pool
- Mini-bar stocked with an impressive amount of drinks, snacks and Nespresso
- Walk-in closet with space for luggage storage
- Luxury linens, robes and amenities
- L-shaped couch with extra space for a massage table or in-suite dining
The Grand Class oceanfront suite is incredibly impressive, inside and out. The suites have recently undergone a minor cosmetic update and have also received a layout update, making the floorplan more open concept and spacious. While the ‘bones’ (things like tile, bathtubs, etc) were not renovated, they are still high-end and keeps the room feeling grand and lavish. The new area divider wall between the bathroom and bedroom area is so lovely and keeps the room bright and feeling stately.
Outside on the massive private balcony, there are 3 different types of seating, which I really appreciated. A lounge bed for laying and tanning, comfortable chairs for relaxing and reading, and dining chairs and table for eating al fresco. The private plunge pool with a view of the ocean is the very definition of romantic with sounds of ocean waves and falling petals of pink bougainvillea flowers.
The bathroom features a walk-in closet, separate shower and tub areas, and double sinks with a very spacious vanity. The amenities are Molton Brown and L’Occitane with everything you can imagine ranging from body lotions to bath salts, sewing kits to mouthwash. Visitors can definitely pack light as the hotel provides every type of grooming and personal care product. Bonus points for having not one, but two full-length mirrors.
PROS and CONS of Grand Velas
PROS at a glance
- Oversized rooms, even entry level
- One of the largest and most impressively manicured properties in Mexico
- Exceptional service from all staff
- Plenty of pool and beach chairs
- Award winning gourmet food
- Every last detail has been considered
What makes the Grand Velas different than many other Cancun resorts
Size and beauty of the property
Everything about the perfectly manicured property is awe-inspiring. From the hidden cenote to the gorgeous white sand beach, to the immaculate flower beds, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the effort put into the grounds at Grand Velas. It’s a vast contrast to any new resorts in the area that hardly have a mature palm tree on site, let alone a whole jungle of them. Nature lovers will really appreciate the biodiversity and care put into the entire property.
Incredible photo opportunities
On the topic of how beautiful the property is, the Grand Velas offers hundreds of picture-perfect photo opportunities around every corner. We understand now why they are popular for weddings, as I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to take photos. Even if you’re not getting married, the grounds are the ideal backdrop for Insta-worthy shots, no matter what your aesthetic is.
Attention to food allergies and restrictions
Upon entering any restaurant we were asked by the host and then again by the waiter if we had any food allergies, restrictions, or intolerances. They seemed very concerned with not only ensuring the dishes placed before us were exactly what we wanted, but they tried to remember our preferences for our next seating.
The massive spa
The onsite ‘SE Spa’ is not your average resort spa. This 5-star rated spa, one of only 6 in the entire country of Mexico to earn this rating, is a complete holistic journey into wellness. The spa itself is over 90,000 sq ft with an 8-step hydrotherapy water ritual complete with ice room, sauna, steam room, and more is sure to impress even the most pampered guest.
I had the opportunity to try out the spa firsthand and completed the water ceremony before my treatment, which took about an hour start to finish and was guided by my spa valet. Each room was a different sensational experience, with one of my favorites being the circular-shaped glass-tiled steam room that had twinkling ‘stars’ on the ceiling.
After the hydrotherapy water ritual, I indulged in the ‘Sounds from the Soul’ treatment, which mixes a massage with 432 Hz sounds made from vibratory bowls and tuning forks. The entire experience was incredibly relaxing and felt extremely soothing.
Cocina de Autor
While all the food at Grand Velas is worth writing home about, there is one of the restaurants that stands out from the others, Cocina de Autor. This avant-garde restaurant has won multiple prestigious awards, but its most impressive claim to fame is the fact it’s the first ‘all-inclusive’ restaurant in the world to win a AAA 5 diamond award.
Dining here, you completely forget you’re in an all-inclusive, but happily reminded at the end when no bill comes. We had the opportunity to sit through a chef’s tasting menu comprised of 8 courses, all beautiful to the eye and even tastier to the mouth. While many high-end all-inclusive properties in Mexico have ditched the dinner buffet and are offering gourmet a-la-carte options, most aren’t offering 8-course award-winning dining experiences.
Walk in closet
The Grand Class rooms at Grand Velas feature a walk-in closet, and while it may seem like a small feature to mention, for me it was a major perk. Being a travel writer I visit many properties, but when I find something that knocks my socks off I need to mention it. I loved the style, layout and luxury benefit of having a walk-in closet. It was so nice to fully unpack all my clothes in one space, as the closet even has drawers and cubbies. There were also shelves to hide away luggage after it was emptied, as to not clutter the room. There was more than enough space for all my clothes and shoes, plus my husband’s attire. It made me realize that I really value a walk-in closet or a formal dressing room in a hotel suite, and it’s a luxurious feature I don’t want to go without.
The in-suite mini-bar
Wow. I have never seen such a well-stocked in-suite mini-bar as at the Grand Velas. Still and sparkling water, sodas, juices, both red and white wine, and even a bottle of artisanal mezcal. Then I found the snack drawer with chocolates, cereal bars, cookies, and many other treats.
Pop-up cooking experiences and tastings
During our stay at Grand Velas we were able to experience some of their new feature offerings which include immersive beverage tastings and interactive cooking workshops. The tasting workshop is called the ‘Ancestral Beverage Tasting’ and takes guests on a tour into the past by sampling liquors that have been around for centuries, and how they can work in modern-day cocktails. The cooking workshop was a ‘Molcajete Cooking Class’ that had us mixing our own guacamole and salsas with traditional recipes that we could add our own twist and unique ingredients to. These workshops helped give me a deeper appreciation for Mexican cuisine and drink.
Main Pool = Massive
The main pool, where most of the Ambassador class rooms are situated around, is an absolute dream. The pool itself is one of the largest I’ve seen at a resort, has an infinity area overlooking the beach, swim-up bar, built-in lounge areas, and tons of seating all around.
Three ‘levels’ of experience: Zen, Ambassador, Grand Class
Grand Class Grand Class features suites with the highest level of luxury, the best positioning and ocean-frontage at the resort, all suites with their own plunge pools, and the main area featuring its own Grand Class pool.
Ambassador Class These suites are located around the main pool, with most rooms featuring ocean views. Some suites even have their own plunge pools.
Zen Class Zen Class suites are not near the ocean, and instead, are set back into the thick jungle of the property, with some featuring lagoon views. The Zen Class rooms, while not being on the beach, are very unique. The entire Zen area of the resort is quite exceptional and shouldn’t be looked over just because it’s not oceanfront. The Zen rooms are attached to the incredible Spa, very close to the gym, and they also feature their own pool area that looks more like being in Bali than in Mexico.
CONS at a glance
- Required signing of ‘bills’
- Sheer size of property might be a ‘con’ for some visitors
- Drinks at pool bar don’t feel as high end as they should be
The required signing of ‘bills’
In my opinion, the signing of bills at an all-inclusive is a very outdated way for hotels to track inventory/consumption at the inconvenience of the guest. Most newer resorts in the Cancun-area have gotten rid of this old system and simply allow guests to leave bars and dining tables without signing and I do wish the Grand Velas would do it too. However for now you’ll have to track down your server at the pool before you can leave the area.
Sheer size of property might be a ‘con’ for some visitors
While I personally found exploring the grounds to be one of my highlights, not everyone is going to feel the same. In order to get from the Grand Class to the Zen Class, like if you were heading to the spa for example, is going to require a walk and a shuttle. Not every type of visitor will want to be shuttled from one area of the resort to the next and might find the spread-out design to be a downside.
Drinks at the pool bar are not as high-end as they should be
Having over 2,000 hotel nights under my belt, I’ve experienced many a poolside bar. While Grand Velas offers guests top-shelf spirits and incredible drinks during dining experiences, the overall quality of the drinks at the pool left something to be desired. My husband is sober, so he was ordering frozen mocktails, of which he felt tasted low-quality and something very similar to a burn’n’churn 3-star all-inclusive. I tried a few poolside cocktails and was equally underwhelmed.
Summary of Grand Velas
All in all, the stay at Grand Velas was one full of fine luxurious details and intimate moments. If I had to give it a rating based on the combination of amenities, service, quality, value, luxury, and location, I would rate it 9/10.
Check Prices at Grand Velas
If you want to check prices and book a stay at Grand Velas, it’s best to check their official offers page which has discounted packages, extra spa credits and other perks.
Post Disclaimer: We stayed at the Grand Velas as a guest of the hotel for the purpose of having the experience to write a review for our readers, however, the opinions and feelings outlined above are honest and our own.
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