Grand Velas Riviera Maya


LOCATION: Set in eight acres of mangroves, this all-suite resort feels 

like you’re in the middle of the jungle, were it not for the magnificently well groomed, white beachfront of Playa del Carmen.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: For the ultimate high-end all-inclusive, look no further: it’s here, and there isn’t a wristband in sight. As soon as you step inside this resort you discover what super luxury is. With infinity pools that blend into turquoise seas, and huge fluffy towels that cover the deep-cushioned sunloungers, this resort invites you to unwind and relax. The spacious rooms with cream marble floors and high ceilings add to the luxury, and let’s not forget the walk-in wardrobe, enormous hydrotherapy bath and shower cubicle big enough for two. Little extras are important, and they’re all taken care of – from fragrant L’Occitane en Provence toiletries to much-needed bug spray, which comes in handy when leaving the windows open to take advantage of the plunge pool on the terrace.

THE FACTS: Grand Velas has three ‘ambiences’: Grand Class – 90 adult-only suites; Ambassador Class – 195 family-friendly suites; and Zen Grand Class – 254 tranquil suites set among the Mayan jungle. The resort is also home to award-winning restaurants. Frida is Mexican with a modern twist, including crickets in guacamole. Azul’s buffet offers everything you could want, and a waiter will carry the plate to your table. Or you could try molecular gastronomy at Cocina de Autor, a multi-sensory pleasure where each dish looks like a piece of art. Other restaurants include Bistro, Chaka and Italian spot Lucca, but my favourite was Sen Lin, serving Asian food so good you want to give them a round of applause. Falling asleep after such amazing meals isn’t difficult as the king-sized beds are the most comfortable you’ll ever sleep in. And in such a tranquil setting, I defy anyone not to be out like a light.

A GOOD BASE FOR: If you can drag yourself away, there are many things to do nearby. Recommend Xcaret Eco theme park to families and Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue to shoppers. Adventurous travellers will enjoy snorkelling and deep-sea diving. Historians should visit Tulum ruins, while crazy party people will enjoy nightclub Coco Bongo’s entertainment.

WOW: The spa often earns a spot on lists of the world’s best. There are 42 treatments, each with the option of a hydrotherapy circuit that includes a clay room, ice room and pool. If that doesn’t calm you down, nothing will.

BOOK IT: Rates start from $786 per night

Flora Ioannou

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