by Bruce Parkinson
As with many resorts on the Riviera Maya, you enter Grand Velas Riviera Maya by turning off the main highway from CUN and driving through an elaborate facade. At other properties it’s just a short drive to the beachfront resort.
At Grand Velas Riviera Maya the drive is a little longer, both to the beachfront and jungle sections of this AAA 5-Diamond resort. And that’s a good thing. Sprawled over 200 acres, the property offers the luxury of space, and three distinct vacation experiences for your clients.
Zen suites are 1,100 sq. ft. of sumptuous luxury.
There’s the sumptuous romance experience at Grand Class, a pampering family sanctuary at the Ambassador – in separate beachfront buildings – and there’s the Zen Grand’s ‘secluded luxury’ experience in a glorious jungle setting a kilometre away from the beach section of the resort.
The party-sized Zen suite terrace.
That’s where Open Jaw settled in for three nights earlier this year. ‘Secluded luxury’ sounded perfect. And it was. But before we go further, here’s a little background on this unusual and much-awarded all-inclusive resort, frequently referred to with such plaudits as the ‘grande dame’ or ‘the Rolex’ of Mexican all-inclusives.
Walkways lead to Zen 'secluded luxury' accommodations.
Eduardo Vela Ruiz set out to do something unprecedented when planning the 539-room Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort more than 10 years ago.
His goal was to create an all-inclusive resort that would match the world’s finest European Plan properties in quality of cuisine, service, accommodations and amenities. A place where the world’s most discerning and demanding travellers would find their needs and desires met and exceeded.
Guests share Grand Velas's splendour with nature.
A decade later, this AAA 5-Diamond property has earned a long list of awards and accolades. This winter it’s a part of the Air Canada Vacations Ultimate Escapes Collection, featuring the operator’s most luxurious Mexico, Caribbean and U.S. vacation resorts – just 43 hand-picked properties in 15 destinations.
Our first taste of ‘secluded luxury’ came as we were led along thatched wooden walkways that connect buildings in the Zen enclave of 254 spacious suites. The buildings are set within the jungle, surrounded by lush tropical foliage, and birdsong is in the air. Along the way we checked out the beautiful Zen pool area, which lives up to the name with a Japanese-inspired collection of pools and bar area.
Several feet of iguana viewed from our Zen terrace.
Walking into our sumptuous, warmly decorated 1,100-sq. ft. jacuzzi suite was impressive. Soaking in the incredible jungle view from our party-sized terrace was equally thrilling.
As I took pictures of colourful birds and a giant iguana in the jungle mere yards from the terrace, I thought how easy it would be to hole up and get food and drink delivered to our amazing oasis for a day or two. But time was short and there was much to see.
Next: Diamonds On The Beach