On the powder-soft shores of MexicoÂ’s Riviera Maya, Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort is a one-stop shop for sand, sea, sun, and pure pampering. By Lindsay Lambert
Upon pulling up to the AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, the resortÂ’s dramatic entranceÂ—a giant, sleek white wall looming over a modern-day moatÂ—indicates the luxury to come on the other side. Indeed, Grand Velas offers just that, from its spacious suites to its fail-safe service.
Grand VelasÂ’s 491 suites are divided among three areas: the premier Grand Class areaÂ’s 89 oceanview suites have private plunge pools and Jacuzzis; the Â“family-friendlyÂ” area offers 197 oceanview suites with terraces, sitting areas, and, in some, private plunge pools; and a Â“jungleÂ” area offers 206 suites amid lush vegetation.
All suites have private terraces, as well as amenities like whirlpool tubs, flat-screen TVs, wireless Internet access, and 24-hour room service. Some might find it easy to while away their stay in the confines of their suite, but Grand Velas offers plenty of reasons to venture out as well.
Resort guests would be well advised to start their stay with a visit to its world-class spa. A member of The Leading Spas of the World, the 99,000-square-foot facility is complete with a sprawling space dedicated to the Riviera Maya Water Journey, which includes hot and cold plunge pools, deluge showers, bubbly underwater beds, saunas, steam rooms, and an ice room. Spa treatments includes massages, facials, and skin and body therapies using local and international ingredients and techniques. (The Oxygenating Facial felt refreshing after a weekend in the sun.) Treatments are customized, and spa therapists send spaÂ–goers home with a list of products from their treatments should they want to prolong the effects.
Another place to recharge is at one of Grand VelasÂ’s many restaurants. Venues like Azul and Chaka are laid-back and offer buffet-style dining during the day, ideal for a quick breakfast before hitting the beach or lunch between activities. True standouts include Piaf for fine French cuisine, Sen Lin (located in the Riviera Maya Convention Center) for upscale Asian dishes, and the signature restaurant Cocina de Autor, which produces Spanish haute cuisine.
When itÂ’s time for fun in the sun, guests can stake their claim on a spot by the resortÂ’s tiered beachfront swimming pool, take a pair of giant-wheeled water bikes for a spin, snorkel along the shoreline, or take a day trip to a number of nearby attractions. A dedicated concierge team is at the ready to make guestsÂ’ every wish and whim come true at Grand Velas. engrivieramaya.grandvelas.com.
Xcaret The park offers swimming with sharks and dolphins, snorkel and sea-trekking tours, Â“snubaÂ” diving, and eco-education. Xcaret also hosts cultural events, like The Sacred Mayan Journey in May and, in November, The Death and Life Traditions Festival, which coincides with MexicoÂ’s Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrations. xcaret.com.
Chichen Itza and Tulum The site of this pre-Columbian Mayan city was voted one of the seven new Wonders of the World in 2007. Explore its stone buildings, its network of sacbeobs, or once-paved roads, and its Cenote Sagrado, a large natural sinkhole. Or, head to Tulum, site of a pre-Columbian coastal Mayan walled city. chichenitza.com, travelyucatan.com/tulum_mexico.php.
Cancun and Cozumel Cancun is famous for its beaches and touristy hotel zone, rife with shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. Ideal for a more nature-based excursion, Cozumel, MexicoÂ’s largest island, lies 12 miles offshore and is replete with coral reefs that offer some of the regionÂ’s best snorkeling. visitmexico.com.