Okay, I have to admit, the thought of going to an “ALL INCLUSIVE” was not exactly my cup of tea. Yeah, I did the Club Med thing with a bunch of girlfriends in the good ol days but I am very spoiled now and the thought of eating at a buffet everyday makes me cringe. When I started hearing a buzz in my office about a great new all inclusive in the Riveria Maya that really was 5 star, I decided to check it out with my husband and three year old son. Well…., believe it or not, I was not disappointed and to be honest, it exceeded my expectations.
We arrived at the hotel very late at night (11PM). A few moments after settling into our 2nd floor room in the Ambassador Section my husband and I thought that it might be more convenient to have a ground floor room as we were traveling with our toddler. We called the front desk and they could not have been more accommodating to our request at such a late hour. It took them a few moments to locate a ground floor room which was available and ready for occupancy and quickly moved our luggage and settled us into the perfect room.
The rooms at the hotel are large and are well equipped and include everything one might require. The marble bathrooms are also large and have separate shower stalls and large soaking/Jacuzzi tubs. The hotel is only 2 years old so everything is fresh and new. The beds have pillow top mattresses with high quality sheet and duvets.
You must be very careful when booking this hotel as there are three sections to the hotel. The Master Suites, the Ambassador Suites and the Grand Class Suites.
The Master Suites are NOT located near the beach and require a 5-7 minute shuttle ride to go back and forth to the beach. This is reflected in the reduced pricing for these room categories however the actual quality of the rooms and the surrounding areas remains on par with the Ambassador Section.
The Ambassador Section runs along the beachfront and large pool area and are the preferred room category for families. The Grand Class Suites are considered Adult only and are located beachfront.
If you are a family and can afford to pay up for the Ambassador Suite, I highly recommend it. If you are a couple, and can afford to pay up for the Master Class suite you will benefit by receiving an improved room which is direct oceanfront in addition to being more plush with its décor including a large swivel plasma TV, oversized sofa in sitting area, huge bathroom and of course private plunge pool on your patio.
Now let’s get down to the things that really set this ALL INCLUSIVE apart from all other all inclusive resort. The FOOD and the SERVICE.
First, The Food – The hotel offers a diverse eight separate restaurants from which to choose. We tried each and every restaurant. Being that we live in New York City and are accustomed to fine dining on a regular basis we are spoiled and too often disappointed when we travel to the Caribbean and Mexico when it comes to food (even in the luxury properties). Well, all in all I have to say we were basically impressed by all of the restaurants except for the Signature Restaurant called Cocina de Autor. This restaurant is trying too hard to be a culinary experience to the point that it just doesn’t work. If you are staying at the hotel for only 3-5 nights I would avoid trying this restaurant. Piaf- the French restaurant was excellent – great steak and the best apple tart I have ever had! There are a diverse selection of restaurants for both lunch and dinner. Even the buffets were impressive at this hotel! They also did a nice job of offering a diverse selection of decent wines by the glass. They mix up the wine options between restaurants so that you didn’t feel like you were always drinking the same wines by the glass.
In addition to the restaurants, the hotel offers a full 24 hour Room Service menu which we did experience a few times during our stay. This service was operated as if you were staying at a 5 star property. The first night we arrived after 11PM and expected that we would have to scavenge around the minibar for some nuts and chips. Not so- we ordered a full dinner with wine from room service which arrived quickly and was presented as if we were at a 4 or 5 star property.
Now- The Service – Overall I really don’t have one negative comment about the service. Anything and everything we ever asked for or requested was addressed and taken care of with a smile and wonderful attitude. Every room is assigned a butler to assist you with any possible personal request you might have from needing a phone charger to making your restaurant reservations to arranging babysitting, etc. Our butler was always incredibly helpful and gracious. The pool and beach staff constantly inquire if they can bring you bottled water or a drink. I never felt as if I were searching for hotel staff when I needed something, there was always someone nearby to assist with any need I might have had.
The resort is an excellent family destination and we did take advantage of the kids club, kid’s pool, and baby sitting services, all of which were excellent. If you have teenagers they even offer activities at night for teens. If you are a couple, you might want to consider booking the Grand Class suites which offer an adult only infinity pool overlooking the ocean however even if you are staying in another section of the hotel you can still utilize the Grand Class section, which we did while our son was at the kids club during the day.
The hotel does not make you wear one of those miserable plastic bracelets to identify you as a paid guest. However, they do present a bill for food and drink and ask you to sign and add any additional tips. Which brings me to the point that gratuities are included in your room rate however should you feel the need, you can add additional tip.
All in all I recommend this property as a fantastic getaway for both high end families and couples. I hope to return to Grand Velas one of these days soon.