Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort

Continued from March | April EAT magazine’s Best of Asia in Mexico.

by Shelora Sheldan

The morning after the Taste of Asia event, after numerous bracing cups of strong coffee and interview sessions with the chefs, we slowly ambled out on to the lawn of the Sen Lin restaurant, where we’re treated to a celebratory Japanese and Thai feast. Overseen by chef Light Wattanakamin and his team as his thank you, live music set the tone with libations and a display of Muay Thai boxing. We sat back and savoured a taste of Asia in this tropical paradise. 









I was one of four writers who were invited to take part in this event and to experience the Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort, owned by the Vela Ruiz family. The resort is seamlessly integrated into 206-acres of pristine jungle and manicured mangroves leading to a private white sand beach. The jungle-to-beach destination boasts 539 spacious designer suites with three separate ambiances, including oceanfront, ocean view or a Zen-like tropical setting, many with private plunge pools. It’s a beyond-all-inclusive all-inclusive with 24/7 personal concierge service, including baby concierge service, in-suite mini-bar stocked daily, DIY in-suite taco bar and the region’s largest spa. Everywhere there’s a pool with poolside service and access to eight restaurants, each with its own international culinary focus, from French and Mexican and traditional to nuevo and Asian Fusion. Add in a three-staff-to-every-guest ratio – it’s all too dizzying to comprehend.

The hospitality seduction began with check-in when I’m handed a glass of bubbly and a cold towel to decompress after the long flight and 45-minute taxi ride from the airport. Next, my 24-hour concierge ensures I can contact her whenever I need to, and the 24/7 in-suite service provides any late-night cravings but also in-room breakfast every morning to accompany sunrise views.

I admit it’s disarming at first, but the hotter-than-Hades 30-degree-Celsius temperatures coupled with 59-percent humidity quickly melted me into being a willing recipient.

The spacious suites, all with balconies, feature fully stocked mini-bars, artisanal mezcal, Nespresso coffee machines, and L’Occitane amenities, robes and slippers, stylish sun hat and mosquito repellent, walk-in glass showers, deep soaker Jacuzzi tubs and marble everywhere. Along with the eight restaurants, including five gourmet offerings, and poolside food concierge service, my culinary curiosity led me to the mind-blowing breakfast and lunch buffet at Azul Bistro. The Bistro was not emphasized on my PR-led itinerary per se, but as a food writer, it was hard for me to overlook. The menu progressed from exacting traditional Mexican fare with a regional seafood focus to sushi and sashimi, a pitch-perfect charcuterie program – that rivalled what I had enjoyed at the famed Maison Verot in Paris – complemented by in-house Jamon Serrano, on-the-bone and sliced to order. The French accent continued with a solid patisserie and bread program that moved on to Asian-inspired hot dishes, cheese fondue and a Mexican hot chocolate bar, whisked-to-order. The menus change daily, with nothing repeated until after their two-week roster of menus is completed. In my 30 plus years of travelling, studying and eating in Mexico, and unaccustomed to the nuances of an all-inclusive, I have never experienced anything so astonishing in one location.

Invited to experience the resort for only a short and concentrated four days, the chef’s dinner event and subsequent lunch, along with the service, were enough to placate me into an almost zombie-like state of relaxation. But just a short golf cart ride away, I was offered another level of decompression at the resort’s SE Spa. As the region’s largest spa at more than 90,000 square feet, they’re renowned for their authentic Mexican treatments that incorporate traditional healing herbs, honey, and other sacred plants. Participants are encouraged to experience the ‘water ceremony’ an entire floor dedicated to various water sensations from a colour therapy steam room – very trippy – to an ice room, bubble beds, and neck massage jets, to name a few. From there, a personal concierge guided me to my ‘personal healer’ to indulge in the signature Bacal massage. Bacal is Mayan for corn, and the deep tissue treatment starts with a dried and ground corn and honey exfoliation followed by an essential oil massage with deep pressure applied by hot cobs – without the kernels. It was invigorating and unique. Almost levitating, with tropical bird songs as my soundtrack, I waited for the golf cart to whisk me back to my room.

Exceptional service, and finding the dedicated staff to execute its exacting standards consistently – is no mean feat. The Grand Velas Riviera Maya sets the bar high.

Toll-free in Canada: 1-877-418-2963










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