Luxury At Its Best – Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Pool and Palm Trees, Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Mexico
Pinterest Image Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Disclosure: I was provided complimentary accommodations while visiting this hotel. All opinions are my own.

Have you ever dreamed of having a perfect vacation? One where your every request was fulfilled. Where the people working there worked efficiently to make sure they didn’t disturb you. Where the food was spectacular, the pools and beaches sublime and the drinks cool and refreshing to make you feel like you were a member of royalty. Your dream can become a reality thanks to Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

Grand Experience, Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and approximately 30-40 minutes from the Cancun Airport, Grand Velas Riviera Maya is a luxury all-inclusive resort that really is that – all-inclusive. You don’t have to worry about extra uncharges to go to certain restaurants, enjoy non-motorized water sports, use the mini bar or order mixed drinks. Which takes an extra worry off your vacation so you can enjoy yourself even more!

Arrival

After landing at Cancun Airport and collecting my luggage, I maneuvered my way through the timeshare salespeople in the transportation area (there are a lot in this airport so just keep your eyes straight ahead and keep walking) to the outside waiting & pickup area. It was a party atmosphere complete with a Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville stand and beer vendors. I found the Grand Velas employee waiting with my name on a sign and he walked me over to my driver, Gabriel.

Airport driver from Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Grand Velas uses their own cars and drivers, which is different from some resorts which hire car companies and you can get spotty service. Gabriel welcomed me, opened the back of his Chevy Tahoe and opened a small cooler to provide me with a chilled washcloth that had orange flower aromas and a cold bottle of water for the ride. The ride to the resort was smooth and if you have small children, they’ll provide car seats to use so you don’t have to cart yours with you.

Driving into the 85-acre resort you are greeted by a large white wall and a gate that is more of a wooden sliding wall.

After going through we pulled up to the Zen area of the resort where I was staying. As soon as I exited the SUV I was greeted by two women who were going to check me in and let me know about my stay. Imagine my surprise when one of them said she was my personal concierge!

Check-in

Yes, every room at the resort has it’s own 24-hour concierge. Obviously you wouldn’t get the same person every time (they’re not robots!) but your concierge makes sure you have everything you need to feel relaxed. After getting a non-alcoholic fruit drink and turning over my passport to get checked in, I sat back on the couch and took in my surroundings.

Concierge service at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The lobby areas of all the sections of the resort and the walkways are built in the western Mexican palapa style making it cool and a little dark. Not dark so you can’t see but dark enough to help you feel relaxed.

Walkways are built in the polapa style at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

After I was completely checked in, which took at most 20 minutes, I was escorted to my room.

Rooms

Grand Velas Riviera Maya has over 500 suites which are situated in three distinct areas: Grand Class, Ambassador and Zen. Each area has its own pool, restaurants and styles.

Family Experience

Are you looking for a family-friendly area of Grand Velas so you have closer access to the Kid’s Club? Stay at Ambassador which is located closest to the beaches. The Ambassador area has the restaurants Frida, Azul and Lucca (you can visit any restaurant at the resort, no matter what area your room is located in).

Relaxation Experience

Interested in a more secluded, relaxed vacation area a little farther from the beach? Surrounded with foliage, back patios that face a lagoon and resident monkeys that you might see lounging on the sidewalks during the hottest afternoons of summer, the Zen area should be your choice. The restaurants Chaka and Sen Lin are at Zen, along with the resort’s spa SE.

Romance Experience

On vacation because you’re interested in a romantic resort? Grand Class is for you. View the sun rise from your balcony while relaxing in your private plunge pool. There’s also an adult infinity pool where you can get a snack and a drink. The restaurants at Grand include Bistro, Piaf and the Concina de Autor.

I stayed at Zen, which was just that . . . zen. Rarely did you see your neighbors and I never heard them through the walls. Another thing you hardly see – the maids. It was amazing that I didn’t see any of the housekeeping team in the hallways during my 3 day stay. The Grand Velas team takes extra effort to make everything seem seemless.

Relaxing view at Zen Experience room

While I was at the section of the resort farthest from the beach, there was no need to worry. Zen has a shuttle stop to pick up the resort van over to the Grand and Ambassador areas. It’s not walkable but I never had to wait more than 2 minutes at each stop for a van and it only took a few minutes to get to each area. A van was even waiting for me at 7:30am one morning when I woke and decided to watch the sun rise.

My room itself was 1,100 square feet (!) that included the bed, a work area, a relaxing chair area, a spacious bathroom with both a walk in shower and a separate jet tub, and a back patio with chaise lounge and two large chairs. There was also two large closets that had a beach bag, iron, robes, slippers, safe and laundry basket.

Room view from Zen Experience room at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Jet tub at Zen Experience

The bathroom amenities are from the French company L’Occitane. With a lemon verbena scent, they smelled wonderful and I especially appreciated the thick lotion that was there.

L'Occitane soaps and shampoos hotel size

Did you forget to pack something? Remember that concierge you met when you checked in? All you have to do is give them a call and they’ll hep you out. I forgot a charging cord for my portable battery pack I use when I’m on vacation. If this happened at most other hotels, they’d  directly you to their gift shop to make a purchase. My concierge found a comparable charger and had it delivered directly to to my room. All I had to do was sign for it and return it when I checked out. Now that’s service!

Tip: If you’re celebrating a special occasion be sure to ask for the resort’s chocolatiers to create a special gift for whomever is celebrating. I was surprised to find a picture of myself waiting for me – the entire thing, including my image and the frame, was constructed out of chocolate!!

My Cornacopia in a chocolate picture frame at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

All-Inclusive Services

When you visit most all-inclusive hotels, all-inclusive will come in different levels to accommodate different price ranges. While in theory this is great, when you’re actually on vacation it ends up that you can’t visit certain areas of the resort, have to pay extra to visit select restaurants or only can order select drinks and have to pay for an upgrade. This is where Grand Velas Riviera Maya stands apart from the rest.

95% of the amenities at the resort are included in the cost of your room. That includes:

  • 24 hour room service
  • Everything in the room’s mini bar which includes pretzels, chips, nuts, sodas, beer, mini bottles of wine, coffee, tea and water
  • All restaurants and meals ordered poolside
  • Kid’s and Teen Clubs
  • Kid’s Glamping
  • Beach & poolside service
  • Kayaks and boogie boards
  • Fitness classes
  • Beer, liquor and most wines
  • Wi-Fi

You’ll notice I said most wines. There were about 5% of the wines available that charged an upgraded because they were so high end. Don’t worry though wine lovers; there was still a wide selection available to choose from. I enjoyed wines from many regions of the world, including Mexico, that were part of the all-inclusive package.

What else isn’t included in the all-inclusive package? Jet skis, babysitters for kids, laundry services, transportation to and from the airport, and the spa.

Food & Drinks

The food and drinks at this resort were unbelievable. With 7 restaurants to choose from, 24 hour room service, poolside food and drink service, the mini bar and several nighttime bars/clubs, including a karaoke bar and a sports bar, to go to, there is never a reason to be hungry while at Grand Velas Riviera Maya. There are even several restaurants in the resort that are AAA Diamond rated so if you thought all-inclusive food wasn’t tasty or unique, think again!

Mixed drinks at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

I was lucky enough to have dined at four of Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s restaurants, including two of the four AAA Diamond rated restaurants on site, Frida and Cocina de Autor. All of the meals were excellent and again, attention to detail played a big role since several of my group had food allergies, including one who is gluten-free. Every waiter asked about any allergies after introducing themselves and answered any questions about ingredients they could. Anything they couldn’t answer, they went straight to the chef for a full list of ingredients. We didn’t have one allergy incident during our stay.

Sunrise at Azul Restaurant, Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Food at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Even room service was excellent. One morning I had to be ready early for a planned activity. I asked for delivery at 7am; they were 10 minutes early, which was perfect and everything was laid out on a rolling cart for my enjoyment. This was my first time having eggs Benedict and although the biscuit underneath was too sweet for my tastes, the eggs were perfect, the orange juice fresh squeezed and the fruit was amazing.

Eggs benedict from room service Grand Velas

Spa

While SE,  Grand Velas Riviera Maya spa, is not included in the all-inclusive package, it’s something I would suggest that everyone splurge on. Included as a Forbes Star Award winner, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

SE Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

When you enter the spa you’re greeted at the desk and quickly checked in. You’re then escorted into the back area which is divided in half; one side is for males and one side is for females for complete privacy. There are couples massage rooms if you choose to schedule one, but otherwise I didn’t see anyone from the male side the entire time I was there.

Massage room for couples at SE Spa

If you’re going to experience only one thing I’d suggest the Spa Water Ceremony. 75 minutes of our relaxation, you are treated to shower, a sauna, the Ice Room (to help shrink pores), the Clay Room and then the sensation pools. The water ceremony is included if you purchase a massage or facial but has an additional cost if that’s the only treatment you experience during your stay.

Sauna room at SE Spa

Water treatment at SE Spa

Beaches & Pools

With three pools (the pool at Grand Class is an adults only pool) and a beautiful beach, there are plenty of water activities to participate in.

Zen pool at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The pools all have food and drink service and a pool concierge will take your order at your chaise lounge and deliver it to you.

Pool concierge brings blue drinks by the pool

The beach meets the edge of the Caribbean Sea and is right in front of a coral reef, making it perfect for snorkeling and SCUBA diving. The resort also has water crafts such as jet skis, catamaran sailboats and kayaks.

Catamarans on beach - Grand Velas Riviera Maya

If you’re in search of a getaway, wedding destination or business retreat where you can completely put asides worries and concerns and be in the moment, Grand Velas Riviera Maya is the place to go. I was completely taken aback at how seamless and relaxing this vacation was. While there were a couple of hiccups, both involving an inconsiderate guest, the team at Grand Velas Riviera Maya was always on top of everything and took any concerns to heart and worked discreetly with their guests to ensure everyone had a wonderful experience.

I honestly cannot recommend this resort enough and am anticipating one day visiting another one of their Mexican locations. It was a sublime adventure and I promise, you’ll leave dreaming of the day you can return.

Pinterest pin for Grand Velas Riviera Maya

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Family Vacation At Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres

Contemporary architecture - Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres
Mexican beaches at Grand Palladium
Pool View at Grand Palladium Mexico
Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre
Disclosure: I was provided complimentary accommodations while visiting this hotel. All opinions are my own. 

Family vacations can be a bit like the novel A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . ”

That’s because we plan trips that don’t account for everyone getting a little time together and a little time alone which can cause fights, resentment and sometimes can ruin a long planned family get together. A visit to Mexico’s Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres covers all your bases so you don’t have to worry about anyone of any age being left out.

Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres is located at the tip of the state of Quintana Roo, just north of Playa del Carmen and Cancun. With it’s own wide strip of beach, contemporary design and a large resort style feel, it’s a nice place to go on a family vacation without worrying anyone will be bored.

Family Selection Section

Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Family Selection sign

The Family Selection section is a great place to stay for anyone with children under the age of 12. With a selection of traditional rooms or two-level lofts for more privacy, the Family Section offers exclusive services not available in other parts of the resort including each guest getting two pieces of clothing laundered for free during their visit (perfect for babies and baby’s parents!), 24 hour room service and a personal babysitter available during your stay to give parents a little alone time whenever they need it. The kids get a welcome package and have a special towel they can use through their stay.

Tub in Family Selection of Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres

There’s also a kids club area for different age groups; one for ages 1-3, another for ages 4-11 and a teen’s club for ages 11 and up so your kids can even get a break from each other and play games like Xbox One.

Kids playing Xbox One at Grand Palladium

Grand Palladium is an eco-friendly resort so you can be sure that the cleaning products used around your little ones are safe. And if your kids have the habit of of opening doors and not adjusting the air conditioner, don’t worry – all the rooms at the resort have eco-friendly air conditioners that turn off when you open a door and turns back on when the door is closed. The Family Selection area even has a family friendly pool exclusive to that area.

Pools

Poolside at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres

With 4 fresh water pools, including one that is exclusive to families, and a kid’s water park area, there are plenty of opportunities to get some of that great Mexican sunshine. The family pool has it’s own bar and soft serve ice cream machine. The other pools have swim up bars and plenty of lounge chairs.

At the kid’s water park area is Play at Palladium With Raggs which is a kid’s activity area themed around the animated  tv show Raggs.

Play at Palladium with Raggs

And the water park, with its dump bucket, slides and hoses shaped like flamingoes will keep the children occupied for a long time.

Dump bucket in kid's water area of Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres

Beaches

The beaches are divided into an adult side and a side for everyone. This is perfect for anyone staying at TRS, which is the adults only section of the resort, or even for parents who might want a little time without the kids. The beaches at the resort were wide with lots of sand, cabanas and lounge chairs available so you can relax and take a dip into the Gulf of Mexico.

Cabanas and beach at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres

There are also stand-up paddleboards, small sail boats and SCUBA lessons & tours available. The beach activities area is located in the huts at the north side of the beach. Just look for the SCUBA flag.

Walkway to beach

Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre

Looking to get a little tennis in while you’re in Mexico? The Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre just opened at Grand Palladium Coast Mujeres. Inspired by and facilitated by the Rafa Nadal center in Spain, the center immerses students in instruction with professional tennis players. There are programs available for children and adults so all of your family’s tennis lovers can receive expert advice.

Entrance to Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre, Mexico

Anyone a Rafa Nadal fan but not a tennis player? Be sure to visit the museum on site that houses Nadal’s shoes and trophies and also artifacts from some of his tennis compadres. There’s also a cafe and shop on site.

Rafa Nadal's 2005 trophy from the French Open

Electric Boats

Need to get around the resort and a little tired of walking? Try one of the electric boats that go along the canals that were built in the center part of the resort. There are 8 stops to help you get from place to place. The kids will love them!

Alternative Transportation at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres resort

Tours and Things To Do Off Site

If you need a little break from the resort or you just enjoy going out to see other things on your vacation, Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres has a tour desk to help you set up excursions. You can also take a taxi from the resort and head into Cancun or even to Isla Mujeres, which you can see from the Grand Palladium’s beach.

Dining

With 7 different restaurants to choose from, everyone will have a favorite meal while at the resort. There are choices from Mexican to Italian to Indian. We ate at Portafino, the Italian restaurant, while we were there.

Portofino Restaurant

The food was very good but they did run out of tiramisu.  I found that a little strange since it’s the quintessential Italian dessert. The resort was only a few months old when we visited so they were still working a few kinks out.

Caprese Salad

Meats and Cheeses Tray

For breakfast there are only a few restaurants open. Some are buffets and some you can order off a menu.  I’d suggest getting your game plan ready the night before since the resort is so large and no one will want to wander around hungry in the morning.

Need a coffee fix? Stop by Piacere Coffee Shop which is located in the village. Lots of great coffee selections and plenty of seating if you want to get away alone to relax or maybe meet up with the family in the middle of the afternoon.

Coffee break at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres

Room service is available 24/7 for those who are under the all-inclusive plan. For other guests, room service is available from 11am to 11pm.

Nightlife & Bars

If parents need to get out alone after dinner, the nightlife at the resort is a lot of fun. There was a casino party one night we were there and there are also a few bars including a roof top champagne bar and there’s a sports bar as well. The sports bar has pinball machines, a full liquor bar, televisions and activities hosted by the resort.

Pinball Wizard

One great thing that’s available to adults only is the cabaret show, Chic. A 2 hour dancing and singing extravaganza, it’s a fun way to get some adult time together. Reservations are required and limited to 100 people per night so I suggest you make the reservation as soon as you book your room. Note: there is an extra cost to attend the Chic show.

Chic Cabaret Signage

Getting tickets to Chic is actually like getting two shows. There’s a pre-show in the resort’s conference center that includes some of the dancers. You’ll have a few appetizers and drinks to get in the mood. There was even a mermaid in a tub serving some drinks!

Mermaid in a tub!

Pre-show at Chic Cabaret

Afterwards you head over to the Chic theater where you are served dinner and drinks between sets of popular music and acrobatic dancing. The food was very good and so were the drinks. I didn’t partake of the shots between each course because I wanted to keep my wits. If you are a non-drinker I suggest you also skip. We had someone who didn’t drink alcohol in our group and when we asked if there was alcohol in the drink, in the confusion of the serving someone told us no. But I could taste it. It was also a little dark in the theater to completely see what you were eating but if you bring a little pocket flashlight you can peek at the menu. They were accommodating to those of us who had any food allergies.

Cabaret show at Grand Palladium

After the show the singers and dancers come into the audience to meet the guests and take pictures. It was a blast and probably one of my favorite things about the resort.

Multi-Generational Travel

So if you’re looking for a resort where you can spend time with the kids and also some time alone, check out Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres. It’s a great place to have a family reunion or multi-generational trip because traveling together is great but so is some time alone to rejuvenate!

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Travel Mastermind to the Riviera Maya

Color images at the Cancun airport in Mexico
Preparing for a mastermind can be exciting and a little scary at the same time. #travel #mexico
Taking a mastermind trip is a great way to meet with people working on the same goals as you and learn new things. #travel #mexico #blogging

Travel and writing have both been a part of my life for as long as I can remember but never together. I loved to travel and I loved to write but I never thought of combining those two things until a few years ago with this travel blog, My Cornacopia. Now I’m at a point where I’m ready to go network and brainstorm with other travel writers and  I’m attending my first mastermind which will take place in the Riviera Maya of Mexico. Here’s what I have to look forward to:

Hotel

Air view of Grand Velas Riviera Maya

We’ll be having our mastermind at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya. Offering guests 3 unique room experiences (The Grand Class (romantic), The Ambassador  (family friendly) and The Zen Grand (relaxation)), Grand Velas Riviera Maya is an all-inclusive resort with something to offer for everyone. With 8 restaurants (some family friendly, some adults only), pools, activities, a world class spa and beachfront property it seems you can’t do anything but relax at Riviera Maya. I will be there mainly to learn and work, but I’m hoping to get a room in the The Zen Grand, eat at least one meal at their French restaurant Piaf and get a little time to experience their spa water treatment!

Adventures

Part of our travel bloggers mastermind includes experiencing things so that we can share them with our readers. To help us do that we’ll be taking an all-day excursion with Alltournative. Created to help tourists experience the natural beauty and history of the Riviera Maya, Alltournative is committed to preserving its environment in an eco-friendly, respectful way. This includes only allowing biodegradable sunscreens and bug sprays on their excursions to help protect the coral reefs and visiting authentic Mayan communities. We’ll be doing the Coba Mayan Encounter. I’m not going to lie – I’m a little scared to do the zipline. But if my 10 year old can zip line at Girl Scout camp, I think I can give it shot! What I’m really looking forward to the traditional Mayan meal, swimming in a cenote and learning more about the Mayan culture.

Mexican sinkhole or cenote

Traveling Solo

Truth be told, I need to admit that I’m a little nervous about traveling without my family. Not because I’ll be a female flying to a foreign country alone and meeting up with 9 other people I only know through Facebook and conference calls. That’s the least of my worries since I’m prepared with travel items that will protect my well being and I plan on being very alert while there. What I’m concerned about is having to leave a day early so I can get a hotel in Orlando to catch an early morning flight the next day, the flying part itself and also I feel a little guilty for leaving my family for so long.

However I’m very, very excited about learning more about travel blogging, getting to meet and learn from bloggers I’ve only known online and getting a little time to myself after a really rough year. So I’ll be sharing all my experiences with my readers and social media followers from the time I hit Orlando in a few days to the time I return. Stay tuned!

Mexican jungle viewed from Coba pyramid

Want to see my adventures in Mexico and how my first mastermind went? Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Have you ever been on a mastermind? Let us know if the comments what the topic was and how you benefited from attending.

Note: this post contains affiliate links – we may receive compensation from purchases made through those links.

 

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5 Reasons I Love Traveling To Havana

People are surprised when they hear I went to Havana, Cuba for the first time and then returned 4 months later. Their first question is usually ‘How did you like it?’ and their second question in ‘Why did you go back so quickly?’ There are a lot of reasons I went back so soon, but here are the top 5 reasons why I love Havana:

It’s Easy To Get To – Taking a flight from Havana, Cuba to Florida is quick and easy! #travel #flying #CubaMy flight takes the same amount of time it takes me to commute to work every day. Yes, you read that correctly – the time it takes me to drive from my home to my office is the same time it takes me to take a flight to Cuba. How can I pass that up?! The entire process is simple and may airlines including Southwest and JetBlue fly to a variety of cities in Cuba.

Architecture – Havana is a great place to see a variety of architecture. Driving through the streets is like taking a step back in time. I love seeing the old buildings and while there are some buildings that have been ignored and are deteriorating, the Cuban government is working on preserving a lot of these old buildings so Architecture in Havana, Cuba is beautiful and yes, you can still see the 1950's American cars on the road! #travel #Cuba #Havanagenerations in the future will be able to

 

to enjoy them.

They Pronounce My Name Correctly! – It may not seem like a big deal, but it was fun not having anyone ask me how to pronounce my name! In the U.S. people have always asked how to say my name – in Cuba everyone said it the way it’s intended. I didn’t even notice until I got back to the States but it was just another reason for me to love Havana!

BTW my name is of Jamaican origin. The correct pronunciation is MAR-see-a. I’ve told people since kindergarten it was Mar-SEE-a because it made it easier for others to understand. You’ll know how long someone has known me by the way they pronounce my name : )

Mojitos – Reputed to have been created in Havana, you can find a mojito at any bar in Mojitos were invented in Cuba and they're fairly inexpensive to drink down there. #mojitos #CubaHavana. Citrusy, sugary and refreshing, the mojito is perfect on a hot day. It’s also fairly inexpensive to drink while there (you can find basic ones for about $2.75), come in a variety of flavors and it’s easy to make one of your own when you get home.

The People – The Cuban people are very helpful and enjoy sharing their country with visitors. If you’re not proficient in Spanish (like me), you can download an app like Google Translate to help you since it’ll work even while you’re offline. No one looked at us oddly for not being fluent in Spanish and some wanted to practice their English with

Those are just some of the reasons I love Havana – where are some places you love to travel to?

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Cuba Travel On My Mind

Traveling to Cuba had been on my bucket list for years. My dad was from Jamaica and had talked about his visits to the largest country in the Caribbean so that’s probably where I got my desire from. Since visits had been closed to Americans for over 50 years I never got the opportunity. Living in Florida off and on for the majority of my life made it even worse because it was so close.

Once Barack Obama said that travel to Cuba would be open in late 2016, I called my mom (who also was dying to go) and we immediately booked a flight to Havana with my husband and then 8 year old daughter. We planned on staying 4 days over Spring Break and had no clue what to expect.

What we found out was that Havana and the people of Cuba were amazing! We visited museums and art galleries, drank mojitos and local beer and met lots of great people. The trip was so great that I’m headed back with a girlfriend to experience it again.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen with US/Cuba relations in the future but I do know that keeping those relations open would be beneficial to both sides getting to know each other better. There are many reasons why some don’t want the relationship to continue. What I know is that Cuba got in my blood and I want to get to know it even better.

I’ll have another blog post about my second trip to Cuba after I return!

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