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“Excellent, But Probably Wouldn't Book Again...”

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Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Ranked #3 of 211 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed 1 May 2013

Family of four (Dad, Mom, boy 11 and girl 9) stayed at Grand Velas for spring break. I had read all of the reviews, but it was word of mouth from a colleague that led us to booking there.

Net net, I found the resort to be excellent, with generally excellent service. However, would I book there again? Probably not. And I don’t say/type that lightly. For what it costs, I would feel compelled to try another luxury property in the area.

Beautiful property, kept very clean, magnificent lobbies in both the Ambassador section and the Zen section. Check in was very smooth (though we arrived around 12:30 pm and the room wasn’t yet available). Room itself was large, though, for some reason, not as spacious as I had envisioned based on website pics and how big I believed 1,000 sq feet was. However, it was plenty big enough for a family of four for one week. Balcony was nice, overlooking the pool with the sea in the background. I had twice requested a fourth floor suite in the Ambassador section, but we were assigned a third floor suite overlooking, as noted, the pool. We checked in on a Friday and perhaps there were no fourth floor suites available, since most who left checked out the next day.

When you stay at a place for 8 nights, and an all-inclusive where you’re having all, or almost all, of your meals on property, you’re eventually going to have a disappointing service encounter. Over a full week, you have several hundred “service encounters”, and, if your antennae are up, you’re going to have at least a few that leave you scratching your head. It’s just not possible not to. We were no exception. A couple of times in Azul, it took “forever” to get someone to provide the beverage order after we were seated. We ate at Lucca (the Italian restaurant) twice --- first time the service was out of this world, the second time (different service team, obviously) the service was really poor. Not rude, just incompetent. As an example, the first night at Lucca, I wanted an after dinner drink. The server (whose name escapes me) wheeled the after dinner drink cart to the table and explained what was available (they had to actually carry the cart down a few steps to get it to the level of our table). The next time at Lucca, when I asked about after dinner drinks, the server (or his assistant) just came back with some unknown drink in a snifter. We hadn’t yet seen the cart or, more specifically, ordered anything. All we had done was inquire about getting an after dinner drink, assuming the cart would be brought over or they would re-explain what was on the menu. Maybe what we were served was the “drink for those who aren’t quite sure what they want”! Wiliam at Azul (spelled with only one “L”) was fantastic and took very good care of us. He knew I was experiencing a stomach bug and made a point of asking me three days in a row how I was feeling. Beyond even that, he was very attentive and had a very pleasant demeanor. There to take care of you, but not overly obtrusive.

Room service – both the food and the service – was generally excellent. We ate dinner from room service one night as a family (basketball game – Go Cardinals!), and our kids had room service dinner on the two nights that Mom and Dad dined at the adults only restaurants. Otherwise, we had room service breakfast three times, I think, and it was very well done.

Pool side service was generally good. Tayde, who covered us when we sat close to the entrance to Azul restaurant, was especially good. Nice fellow. A couple of others (I won’t name names, though I do remember…. ) weren’t so good. Maybe they were new, who knows. Just seemed a big disorganized, it would take 45 mins for a margarita to arrive, etc.

Like another resort or two I’ve been to, towel service wasn’t good. Not infrequently they would be out of towels. On one hand, I can understand, especially if a single person takes 3 or 4 towels just for themselves. Multiply that by 200 and I can see running short. However, it seemed to happen too frequently, such that they should plan for it better. I was intrigued by the letter that was by the phone on the day of check in, explaining that people should rely on the pool concierge to set their chairs up when, and only when, they were ready to use the pool. No reserving chairs ahead of time. I mentioned this to a lady sitting next to me at the pool on our day of arrival, and she guffawed and said “trust me, you need to reserve your chair yourself, because everyone else is doing it, and no one from the resort is prohibiting it”, or words to that effect. So, almost every morning I would stumble out of the room, magazine and/or books in hand, and reserve a couple of lounge chairs. Maybe we shouldn’t have, but we did. I will say, the one day that we weren’t there early (went swimming with dolphins – expensive but worth it!), we “lucked into” two open and available lounge chairs in a desirable section of the pool (facing the setting sun).

Regarding the restaurants, Azul was fine for breakfast and good for lunch. They truly had some “gourmet” type entrees on the buffet for lunch – lamb this, pork that. We did enjoy Lucca, the second night service mishaps notwithstanding. Sen Lin (Asian) was good, dined there twice. Piaf (adult only) was good, but not great. Didn’t live up to its own lofty expectations. Cocina de Autor just wasn’t our cup of tea. Set menu, and I prefer to make my own selections from a menu. Eight or nine course meal, really small portions (which was ok), just a little too “out there” for my tastes. Blame it on my backwards upbringing. We did enjoy Frida, in retrospect, wish we had eaten there more than once.

One of our biggest disappointments in the entire place was the kids’ club. Despite their best efforts to convince you that its an activity packed, creative imaginarium by showing you the hour by hour list of things going on, it’s really just a pen to house your kids so the parents can get some alone time. Even though the official schedule showed X Box time for only an hour per day (11 to noon, generally, I think) and movie time only at set times, almost every single time I walked by there, there were half a dozen kids lined up on cushions zoning out on the video games, and another group watching Wreck It, Ralph for the umpteenth time. I’m not necessarily blaming the girls working the place, because they seemed nice enough, but we’ve stayed at other places (Beaches in T&C, comes to mind) where the staff actually took the kids outside, into nature, even if only to organize soccer games, hunt for sea shells, etc. I never saw any craft activities going on, just video games and movies. I will say that there was a performer of some sort that was on the schedule every day, I think. The clown that performed on the Monday that were there was pretty good.

Finally, the big topic that a lot of people write about here….tipping. I agree, if you want to stand on principle, you would say “my goodness, for what this place costs, as an ALL-inclusive resort, I’m not going to tip. That’s what all inclusive means!” I understand that. However, the flip side to that is “for what this place costs, is tipping a couple of hundred bucks over the week really that big of a deal?” I concluded that I’d rather bring a pocket full of singles, fives and tens and help make people happy. And, by doing so, I make myself happy. The first service of the day at poolside got the server a $5. And more $5s or singles would follow for follow up service. If the service was good at breakfast, I left a $5. If it was good at lunch, I left a $10. If it was good for dinner, I left a $20. I didn’t try to calculate a percentage of the bill, in fact I never even looked at the bill, didn’t sign anything, etc. For the one night that we had poor dinner service, I left only $10, and for only one breakfast did I leave nothing, because the service was no mediocre. I thought that my approach was fair and evenhanded to all.

Again, all in all, it’s an excellent resort. It really is --- good to great food, good to great service, very nice infrastructure. In a vacuum, it’s excellent. However, given the price, I would likely try someplace else on our next visit to Riviera Maya.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with family
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7  Thank dtgdallas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GVRM, Gerente at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 17 June 2013

Dear guest,

We would like to thank you for your visit to Grand Velas Riviera Maya. Your constructive comments are truly invaluable since it helps us to detect the points of our service that need to be enhanced and to keep up with the ones that we have succeeded in. Thank you for taking the time to send your impressions, they will be shared.

Looking forward to have the opportunity to serve you the future.

Best regards,

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 30 April 2013

Went for a long weekend down to PDC and came across the Grand Velas on the web.

There were so many choices but the Grand Velas stood out. Simply put this was the finest resort I ever stayed in. Upon arrival you dont stand on a check in line, they have a host great you and have you sign a pre filled check in form, they pretty well tell you that whatever you need done can and will be done.

The room is amazing, clean, fresh, bar was well stocked, all included. Dining was incredible, food was top of the line whether it was buffet or the pool, or the restaurants it was all incredible, even room service was great.

The staff was friendly, polite, always helpful. This resort is a real 5 star, not one pretending to be.

The only bad thing about the resort is at some time you have to go home.

Room Tip: We stayed in the Zen section, not on the water, but very quite and enjoyable.
  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank sircaralot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GVRM, Gerente at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 17 June 2013

Dear guest,

Warm greetings from Grand Velas Riviera Maya! We would like to thank you for your visit on your most recent stay in paradise and for your invaluable comments. We hope to have the opportunity to serve you in your next vacations!!

Best regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 April 2013 via mobile

We absolutely loved it here! From the moment we stepped out of the car everything was first class all the way. We stayed in the Ambassador section and our room was HUGE!!! Even the balcony was great. We ate at Azul for breakfast and lunch, and both times were good. We had dinners at Autor, Piaf, Frida, and Bistro. We weren't wild about Autor.. Our favorite was definitely Frida. You HAVE TO go there for dinner! Everything was absolutely delicious, including their coconut margarita. Wow! We also had room service bring us breakfast one morning and it was out of this world! Definitely better than all of the restaurant breakfasts we had there.
Service was top notch. We never had one single issue. They all went above and beyond for us and we all so pleasant.
We spent one day at the Zen section hanging out in the pool. It was beautiful and was very quiet the day we were there. It's definitely worth checking out.
All in all, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Grand Velas Riviera Maya and would highly recommend it to anyone.
My only complaint is that there was no full length mirror in our room. But if that's their biggest downfall, then I guess I can't hold it against them too much.

  • Stayed: April 2013
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1  Thank Reese5033
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GVRM, Gerente at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 17 June 2013

Dear guest,

We would like thank you for choosing us as your destination on your most recent business trip. All your wonderful comments are very appreciated and motivate us to continue offering the highest quality services to our guests in search for their satisfaction!

We are so looking forward to have you with us in a near future!

Sunny regards,

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2013

For the other reviewers saying that you shouldn't pay attention to the negative reviews, I completely disagree. It's all about personal experience and perspective. What could be a fantastic vacation for some is a tremendously disappointing one for others. I really wish we had a wonderful experience like the others, especially for the amount of money we dished out for this vacation. We, along with two other families, stayed for a week at Grand Velas in February when it was pretty dead. Occupancy was very minimal. Needless to say, we will never return.... especially when there are so many other resorts that don't cost so much with much, much better service. If I were to rate it strictly on the property alone, it would be 4 stars but the service inconsistencies truly made us regret booking here.

Our family travels to Mexico twice a year, primarily to all-inclusives and we've been doing so for the last 6 years. We were really looking forward to staying at Grand Velas as we had heard about how great it was. We'd been told in the past that it was one of the top resorts in Riviera Maya. It is pricey and as such, we expected top notch service and amenities which unfortunately, we did not get. Rather than repeat what other reviewers have said, I will try to break down the differences/ comparisons to other all-inclusive resorts we have stayed.

The POSITIVES of staying at Grand Velas that you won't find at other all-inclusive resorts:
- no wristbands to indicate what kind of guest you are, therefore no harassment to sit down at a time-share presentation
- real hand towels in all the bathrooms (not paper towels)
- no towel cards (towels are already on the beach and pool chairs)
- nice plastic stemware/cups for your cocktails poolside/beachside (not the cheap cup kind)
- covers for the poolside/beachside food so that you can protect your food from the annoying, hovering black birds that end up pooping all over your stuff
- Nespresso machines in the rooms
- a great variety of snacks in the minibar
- straw beach bags to use for the pool/beach
- buckets of ice filled with bottled water poolside/beachside
- no vendors trying to hawk their wares on the beach

The POSITIVES in general:
- Bistro for breakfast and lunch... so much better than Azul but no kids allowed (we took turns going)
- the ZEN pool- such a relaxing, peaceful vibe compared to the main pool
- the bread at Piaf- delicious... could've eaten the whole basket

The NEGATIVES of Grand Velas which ended up outweighing the positives which is why we will never return:
- service was really inconsistent... we always tip at all-inclusives (we bring about $200 in singles/fives per week solely for tip)... some of the staff were excellent and eager to please but the majority were awful and could care less about their job... an example: on our first full day, after breakfast, we were at the pool. I walked up to the bar by the pool and asked for an iced tea with Equal or Splenda. The waiter acted like he had no idea what I was talking about... so I clarified "fake sugar? Saccharin?". He replies "we don't have that here." I said "yes you do. I had it with my coffee at Azul." He says "they're separate from us. You can get it there...[pointing to Azul]" with absolutely no offer to go get some. I mean seriously?! Any of the other resorts we've stayed at, the waiters would have run to go get some. I really was stunned as I walked to Azul to get my Equal.
- dinner at Azul is so dark (need a flashlight to read the menu and then you can't really see what you're eating) and so so slow... dinner food at Azul is not good. It could be so much better too if it was buffet.
- even lunch at Azul, the waiters stood around chatting with each other or setting up empty tables rather than paying attention to occupied tables, which as I stated... about 10% of the tables were occupied since the resort was empty... ummm, we'd like some water or drinks please...
- the "bill" at the end of meals that many of the other reviewers have complained about... not only is it super annoying BUT be AWARE... there were two occasions that the servers added a tip which we discovered at check-out which we never included since we pay all our tips in cash. Pay attention to your check out bill and to be safe, cross out the tip section and write the final amount on the bottom so this does not happen to you...
- food was very inconsistent at their "top-rated" restaurants. We were three families that split up for the adult-only dinners so we could try each restaurant and one group would have a fantastic meal where another group would not... all within the same night... at the same restaurant. We found many of the dishes to be overly salty. Some dishes were fantastic and some really tried but the accompanying sauces were not so good.... trying to be unique but not complimenting the dish.
- internet- super slow, especially when you have to pay per device... for the price of your stay, internet really should be included...
- "top shelf liquor" is watered down. We know our bodies and our alcohol limits and know how many drinks it takes to get a buzz... when you're drinking throughout the day to enjoy your vaca and you're not catching a buzz... c'mon now.... this is pretty typical at ALL the all-inclusives we've been to but expected different due to the hype of this 'high end' resort.
- the in-room safe is not secured... it should be bolted down or secured in some way but it is not... hence, it can easily be removed from the room... no surprise that other guests have had stuff stolen.

We met another family on this trip who shared with us that they too were really disappointed with this resort... their neighbor had raved about this place and this family we met could not, like us, understand why. I imagine service must have been better in the past. For this kind of money, I wish I had booked Fairmont Mayakoba or Banyan Tree instead. Live and learn...

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with family
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9  Thank mjs29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GVRM, Gerente at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 7 May 2013

Dear guest,

On behalf of Grand Velas Riviera Maya, we would like to thank you for your preference last vacation trip. We certainly appreciate your comments, all of them provide us with the opportunity to improve our services. Rest assured that your feedback will be shared to the concerning areas for its consideration. As per restaurants we are sorry that you had such perspective since all of them are very recognized and popular among our guests.

Kind regards,

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Reviewed 28 April 2013 via mobile

We stayed in February for a birthday celebration and the property was magical!!! VERY romantic and secluded. Not commercialized at all which is wonderful compared to many resorts in Mexico. We stayed in one of the suites and the room was fabulous. My only complaint about the room would be that we had ANTS bad! Also the staff were not very attentive and good was mediocre. Our room overlooked the ocean and was quite expensive but we took a tram over to the jungle rooms which would have been half the price and they looked nice. I would not recommend the restaurant with the tastings it was not good whatsoever!! I loved the gourmet Mexican restaurant

  • Stayed: February 2013
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1  Thank Pradaprincess2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GVRM, Gerente at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 7 May 2013

Dear guest,

We would like thank you for choosing us as your destination. All your wonderful comments are very appreciated and motivate us to continue offering the highest quality services to our guests in search for their satisfaction!

We are so looking forward to have you with us in a near future!

Sunny regards,

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2013

My husband and I stayed at the Grand Velas for a couple of nights on our way to Cancun. I wish we had stayed longer and forgotten all about Cancun! This is a truly first-class resort with luxury appointments and decor, and wonderful service. Our room was magnificent. And you have a view of the beach and ocean beyond from the bathtub!

From the moment you arrive, you can see the ocean (past the infinity pool) from the open air lobby.

The food was fantastic, as was the service. I have allergies and they accommodated special requests gladly and with many smiles.

I would rate the spa and salon as better than good, but not five star.

We had a wonderful stay. I would go back in a heartbeat!

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Cyntamar52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GVRM, Gerente at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 7 May 2013

Dear guest,

We would like thank you for choosing us as your destination on your most recent business trip. All your wonderful comments are very appreciated and motivate us to continue offering the highest quality services to our guests in search for their satisfaction!

We are so looking forward to have you with us in a near future!

Sunny regards,

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2013

We were fortunate to have this vacation given to us by my husbands company. It is expensive but if you can afford it you will not be disappointed. The resort is modern, clean and beautiful. Our suite was very large with sunken tub, sitting area, snack and mini bar, balcony with chaise lounge and breathtaking views. The pool is enormous with vanishing edge all the way around and a swim up bar. The service was excellent with most employees speaking very good English. The spa is not to be missed! Make sure you go early to do the water experience. The food and restaurants were very good. We took an excursion to Xel ha which was really fun. I hope that we can go back again, definitely recommend this resort.
.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank hhhoff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GVRM, Gerente at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 7 May 2013

Dear Guest,

Warm greetings from Grand Velas Riviera Maya! We would like to thank you for your visit on your most recent stay in paradise and for your invaluable comments. We hope to have the opportunity to serve you in your next vacations!!

Best regards,

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Address: Carretera Cancun Tulum Km. 62 | Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Phone Number:
Region: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#2 Green Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#17 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: £554 - £1,315 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Grand Velas Riviera Maya 5*
Number of rooms: 493
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Grand Velas Riviera Maya is one of the newest resorts to distinguish Riviera Maya as a premier vacation destination. The uniquely Mexican world-class hospitality we provide is "Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond All Compare", and we are proud to be the only family-friendly All Inclusive resort in the Mexican Caribbean to have been rated Five Diamonds by the AAA. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Grand Velas All Suites And Spa Resort, Riviera Maya
Grand Velas Hotel Riviera Maya
Grand Velas Riviera Maya Mexico - Playa Del Carmen

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