Grand Velas Riviera Maya is an all-inclusive luxury resort for families near Playa Del Carmen. Situated on a beautiful beach coupled with incredible service everyone will love staying here.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort
Grand Velas Riviera Maya, one hour south of the Cancun airport seated within 206 acres of jungle, is the only family-friendly all inclusive resort in the Mexican Caribbean to be rated 5 Diamonds by AAA. This resort is broken into 3 sections and you have access to any of them when staying at one of them. The three sections include an adults only oceanfront property, one family friendly property with an ocean view and a property with a Zen-like tropical setting in the jungle 1.5 kilometers back from the beach. All three sections offer some of the same amenities like feature fully stocked mini bars, plasma TVs, Wi-Fi, L’Occitane amenities, tequila, and Nespresso coffee machines.
My friend and I stayed in the Zen section for our birthdays! Our birthdays are one day apart so what better way to celebrate then heading to Mexico to relax and be pampered! In order to maximize our time at the resort, we made sure to arrive slightly before check-in. Check in starts at 3:00 P.M. and check out is at noon.
Zen is a smoke free portion of the resort set 1.5 kilometers back from the beach in the jungle. This part is family friendly. We stayed in the Caoba section. Each section is named after a local jungle tree. Zen is surrounded by jungle. It is a walk to get to any of the rooms in the Zen section. If you have issues with walking or stairs, I would recommend that you not stay in this section. It was a lot of walking just to get to our room each time.
No matter what section you stay in you have a concierge to help you with everything you need. All 539 designer-like suites are exceptionally spacious, more than 1,100 square feet each, all with balconies, and some with private plunge pools. (We didn’t have a plunge pool.) All feature fully stocked mini bars, plasma TVs, Wi-Fi, L’Occitane amenities, artisanal tequila, and Nespresso coffee machines. Bathrooms feature a walk in glass shower, deep soaking Jacuzzi tubs and marble interior.
This is the area we stayed in. I loved our room and the amenities in this area. It was surprisingly quiet and peaceful. Even the pool area was incredibly calm. There is no party scene in the Zen portion except for one bar. The only thing I did not like was having to catch a shuttle to the other part of the resort where the beach was. Next time I would prefer the adults only section on the beach instead.
Also found in this Zen section is a chapel, bar, restaurant, spa, kids club, and fitness center.
Koi bar is a sports bar near the Zen lobby and it’s an awesome spot to get a drink. They make a mean Lemon Drop. It is like a Vegas lounge. At night they play music videos and have dancing. During sporting events they show them on the large projector and yes, it’s family friendly during certain hours. Wnen we visited this bar we were the only people in there.
The fitness center is excellent and offers Yoga lessons, kick boxing, and more. All of this is included in your all inclusive fees. I did not try out any of their classes, but saw one family getting personal training. From what I observed it was great. I was really happy with the gym, we went every day and it was never crowded and the equipment is new. There is another large gym in the other section of the resort.
The kids club is included in the all inclusive fee. Kids can play in one of two kids clubs from 9 AM – 11 PM every day. Kids ages 4 – 12 years old can participate in arts & crafts, storytelling, movies, board games and enjoy a video area with gaming systems. This resort grows their own herbs and teach the kids at the kid’s club about it through a hand on experience. They also have mini golf, a bungee trampoline, zip lines, and a rock climbing wall.
During summer months the kids club offers a camp. Kids receive a little backpack, shirt, and a water bottle for camp. There is another kid’s club located at the other family friendly section. For children that are too young for the kid’s club they have babysitting available, but that is at an extra fee.
For kids too old for the kid’s club there is a teen club with video games, karaoke, and more. The teen club is for kids 12 and up. During the day from 11 AM until 6 PM families can come in and hang out together. From 6 PM to midnight it is teens only. The teen club offers a killer sound system, disco floor & lights, a bar, dance lessons and mocktail lessons.
The Most Baby Friendly Hotel in Riviera Maya!
For families traveling with a baby there is a baby concierge. They make sure you have everything you need to visit with a baby including toys. Baby amenities include a crib, stroller, baby bath, baby shampoo, bottle warmer and bottle sterilizer.
One morning while Lindsey and I were having breakfast, the family next to us was getting stressed out because their baby would not quit crying. I watched a staff member come over and intervene. The staff member entertained the baby and walked him around without ever leaving the sight of the parents. I was totally blown away by this. I have never seen this level of service before and I’ve been to a lot of family friendly resorts over the past 17 years.
After seeing the staff in action and all of the kid club amenities I feel like this would be an ideal place for grandparents to bring their grandkids on vacation. I know trying to find a suitable vacation to take your grandkids on can be a bit of a challenge. I feel like here if there was any kind of issue the staff would resolve it immediately. For example, if a kid got sick, they would arrange a doctor for you.
Our favorite part of this section was the Zen pool. It was peaceful and the bartender was awesome. The Zen pool is an assortment of pools with different depths of water, which is nice for kids. If you have younger kids you can stick to a shallow pool. I cannot tell you how much we enjoyed lounging poolside indulging in tacos, grilled shrimp, and cocktails. Two of the cocktail drinks we enjoyed the most were the Pink Panther and the Bumble Bee Shot.
Pink Panther Cocktail Recipe
1 cup ice
1 ounce amaretto
1 ounce vodka
8 ounces pineapple juice
In a blender, combine ice, amaretto, vodka, pineapple juice and grenadine. Blend well and pour into a chilled glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Bumble Bee Shot Recipe
2 ounces Kahlua
3 ounces Rompope – Egg Nog Liquer
1 ounce Blue Curacao
1 ounce Vodka
1 ounce Cream
1/8 cup Ice
Blend together ice, vodka, and Blue Curacao. Set aside.
In a tall shot glass, layer: Kahlua, Rompope, and then top off with blue vodka mixture.
Around the property are various cenotes. This part of Mexico has 4,000+ cenotes. The one near Zen is an old cenote.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya Restaurants Reviews
Grand Velas has 8 restaurants, including 5 gourmet offerings, present a tour through Mexico, Europe and Asia. Unfortunately, we were only here two days, which was not long enough to try all the restaurants, but we did try several.
Cocina de Autor
Created by world celebrity chefs Bruno Oteiza, Mikel Alonso and Xavier Pérez Stone, holds the AAA Five Diamond Award, the first all-inclusive restaurant in the world to win this. It may be award winning, but we hated this place. We had a 10 course meal here and to be honest, it was the worst meal I have ever had. I found one of the couples I saw dining there and ask them what they thought and to my surprise they loved the place. I think maybe I am not fancy enough, I just don’t want to eat snails, duck liver, and raw fish. Funny coincidence: I was recently speaking with another travel writer and they began to describe the worst meal they’ve ever had. As they went on I thought to myself are they talking about this place. Sure enough, I ask them and it was!
Azul is the buffet restaurant near the beach with great views. We had the lunch buffet with a ceviche bar and the breakfast buffet here. I highly recommend checking out the breakfast buffet. We hit the breakfast buffet two days in a row, because I love a good buffet, and many of the items were not the same.
Frida serves Mexican cuisine and live music. The green chili and corn soup here is excellent. Everything we had at this restaurant we enjoyed. I recommend making this one of your dinners and if possible two dinners.
Grand Velas Spa
Grand Velas has a phenomenal 89,000 square foot spa. The spa is completely divided between men and women. At no point do they mix. They provide everything you could possibly need including a swimsuit. The best part of getting a treatment is the sensory experiences. If you just want the sensory experience and no treatment the cost is $80. The spa offers facials, body treatments, and massages. Massages cost around $235 for one hour.
Instead of us splurging on almost $500 worth of massages, we caught a cab and went into Playa del Carmen. There we each got a one hour massage. Total cost $45. A savings of $455. If you go to the main strip in Playa del Carmen you will see massage ladies all over the place. It’s easy to find a cheap massage. Oddly enough, most of them offer specials for two people.
Riviera Maya All Inclusive Resort Amenities
When Grand Velas says they are all-inclusive they mean it. What you pay to stay here includes everything!
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner à la carte or buffet at Bistro, Azul and Chakárestaurants
- Dinner à la carte at our 5 signature restaurants: Frida (gourmet Mexican cuisine), Cocina de Autor (creative-evolutionary cuisine), Piaf (traditional French cuisine), Sen Lin (Asian cuisine), and Lucca (Italian-Mediterranean cuisine)
- 24-hour gourmet suite service
- Minibar in the suite, stocked daily
- Premium-brand domestic and international beverages at the Sky Bar, Piano Bar, Karaoke Bar, Sen Lin Bar, Koi Bar, Aqua Bars and throughout the resort
- 24-hour Personal Concierge
- Pool and Beach Concierge
- Kids’ Clubs with daily activities program
- State-of the-art Teens’ Club
- Fitness Centers and fitness classes
- Recreational activities program for children and adults
- Snorkeling, kayaks and boogie boards
- Taxes and gratuities
- Water Sports – Kayaks & Boogie Boards
- Parking Lot & Valet Parking
Fun Fact: I took the bottle of tequila that comes with your room home with me and gifted it to my friend Bryan. He said it was the best tequila he’s ever had!
Taxi Recommendation: If you need a taxi while staying here, call Angel +5219842113197 2753. He was our taxi driver one day and we really enjoyed him. I know many people get nervous about traveling around Mexico, so if this is you I hope this will help you feel more at ease.
If you want to check out some Mayan Ruins nearby look at Tulum Ruins.
More About the Riviera Maya Area
- Cancun Travel Tips
- Pac Chen Mayan Adventure
- Selvatica an Extreme Adventure in the Mexican Jungle
- Coba Mayan Ruins
- Tulum Ruins
- Ventura Park an Amusement and Water Park
- Sea Trek at Aquarium Cancun
Helpful Guide Books and blog posts:
- Cancun Travel Tips
- Quintana Roo: The Ultimate Family Adventure
- Moon Yucatan Peninsula Travel Guide
- Lonely Planet Cancun, Cozumel, & the Yucatan Travel Guide
- Things to do in Cancun
Other places to stay in Quintana Roo:
- Live Aqua
- El Dorado Royale
- The Grand at Moon Palace
- Explorean Cozumel
- Riu Costa Mujeres: Riu Dunamar & Riu Palace
- Allegro Cozumel Resort an Ideal All-Inclusive Hotel for Families
Should You Get Travel Insurance?
Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a fan of Travelex insurance, because of the variety of options. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. I have gotten extremely sick twice now out of the country and Noah has had seizures in other countries, so I always recommend getting some sort of coverage. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.
If you are looking for a car rental I recommend getting the car at the Cancun Airport. It will make things easier. This entire area is easy to drive around in. Get a Cancun car rental for $11 a day!