The World Awaits Travel, LLC
"the educated way to travel"
by Camille Sperrazza.
If your idea of a vacation means quiet isolation amid a tropical paradise - and have a budget of at least $500 per person per night - the all-inclusive Grand Velas in Riviera Maya may be for you.
Don’t expect games by the pool, foam parties, poolside music, or much night life because it is not that type of place. The family-friendly, sprawling, all-suite, all-inclusive complex is divided into three sections - Zen, Ambassador, and Grand. Staying at the latter area can run as high as $1,000 per person per night. For that you will get slightly more space, a room that’s different in design, and closer access to the beach. But all suites - no matter where they are located - are spacious and modern, offering complimentary in-room snacks and televisions that carry ample American channels. Each also comes with a personal butler who will handle chores such as making dinner reservations, reconfirming flights and transfers.
The resort is so large and spread out - and particularly if you stay in the Zen area - it is necessary to take a van to access the beach and some of the restaurants, as there is no walkable path. The vehicles are fully air-conditioned, so riding in them can offer a refreshing reprieve as the lobbies and public spaces of each section of the resort are open air —lovely...tropical...but hot! Intended or not, this deters socialization among guests. When I was there during the month of July, the weather was way too humid to sit in any bars, and none appeared to be open during the day anyway. In the evening, when an occasional musician sang some songs, the open-air venue was so stifling, the musicians, drenched in their own sweat, performed to an empty room.
If you stay in the Zen building, be prepared for long walks beneath an outdoor canopy-covered wooden walkway to access your room. The Ambassador was the livelier section of the three, but “lively” is barely the right adjective - perhaps “most populated” is a better description. It was surprising to find so many families at such a high-end, quiet resort, but there is a kids’ club where children can spend the day.
The complex boasts a 6-diamond restaurant called Cocina de Autor, featuring a unique daily tasting menu. No one knows what will be served until the chef sends the plates to the tables. The night I visited included items that were a bit too exotic for my liking - foie gras, chopped conch - and these are some of which I can name. After the first few courses, not wanting to waste any food, we surrendered our white napkins, and moved on to the 4-diamond French restaurant, Piaf, where we had salmon and veggies.
The next night, confident that Mexican food was the way to go, we decided to try the Mayan fare at Chaka. The server presented the restaurant’s signature appetizer that she called a fish taco. But she made no mention that whole crickets were part of the recipe. Fortunately, I was able to see their legs protruding, even without my reading glasses.
The following night, we headed straight to the Italian restaurant and ordered a pizza.
Eventually we did find some American-friendly cuisine. Breakfast, for example, offered options like fresh fruit, eggs prepared to order, perfectly crisp bacon, and muffins.
Service is impeccable. If “getting away from it all,” for a bit of pampering is on the agenda, this may be the place.
Interested in traveling here or learning more? Contact me today.
This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!
Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza