Mayan Marvel

Grand Velas Riviera Maya Offers Exploration and Escape From the Ordinary at Every Turn

Mexico has become a hot spot for Valley residents, especially Cabo San Lucas, Rocky Point, and Cancun. But there is another emerging region—one made for those looking to escape the mundane and where adventure always abounds. It is the Riviera Maya’s Playa del Carmen.  

The region, a massive jungle along the Caribbean Sea, was discovered by the Mayans in approximately 600 B.C. Today, much of the area remains untouched, save for the preserved ruins, swimmable cenotes (underground caves), and responsibly built resorts nestled along the water.  

The 206-acre Grand Velas Riviera Maya is among the most opulent all-inclusive resorts in the area, especially for those who love the outdoors. The modern, all-suite resort is divided into three sections—Grand Class, Ambassador, and Zen Grand—each with its own distinct look and feel.  

The 90 suites in the Grand Class section, restricted to guests 16 and older, boast ample oceanfront terraces, and their own personal plunge pools. The 2,793-square-foot, two-bedroom Grand Class Presidential Suite is especially perfect for a getaway with friends. Guests in this room enjoy one 50-minute Velas Maya Therapeutic Massage per person, per day. There are also welcome bottles of mezcal, as well as a full bar, and personalized concierge services to help plan on-site activities kayaking, flyboarding, and in-room star gazing, plus off-site adventures—many in partnership with the award-winning Cancun Adventures—including snorkeling through giant turtle habitats, swimming through caves, and even zip-lining through the jungle. The concierge team can also set up your group with a trip to the nearby Gran Coyote Golf Course, which was designed by three-time PGA Major champion Nick Price.

While the Grand Class is perfect if traveling with friends, the Ambassador experience is made for those vacationing with the family. This section of the resort, 195 suites in total, features a baby concierge and is close to both the Kids' Club and Teens' Club. Amenities here include everything from in-room teepees and kid-sized bathrobes to beach toys and family photo sessions. There are even two-bedroom suites tailor-made for families (complete with stuffed animals), not to mention ample nearby kid-friendly dining and optional en suite plunge pools for those with older children.

As with the Grand Class, there are also specialized concierge teams. Notably, they help plan the resort’s dolphin swim programs and newly launched Jungle Adventure Experience. This guided eco-educational tour, given in the resort's private Yucatan jungle, showcases the area's remarkable wildlife and natural wonders. It offers families the chance to see mangroves, animals, and a freshwater cenote before learning how to make their own eco-friendly paper and to take part in both a butterfly release and fish feeding. Through December, there is also a golf enhancement package for those staying in the Ambassador suites, which includes a round of golf at the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleón, the first PGA Tour golf course in Latin America.

Finally, the Zen Grand Class is for those looking to escape from it all. Set just off the main resort, with shuttle service back-and-forth nearly 24-hours-a-day, each of these 254 suites features indigenous stone and wood, and comes complete with a plunge pool overlooking the actual Mayan jungle, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows to make you feel wholly enveloped by nature. The best way to describe it: A boutique property in the middle of Disney’s The Jungle Book. Given its distance from the main resort, the Zen Grand section boasts its own dining experiences and pools, as well.

Those staying in the Zen Grand Class have access to all the amenities on the main property, just as guests of the main property may come to the pools and restaurants at the boutique space. In total, there are eight distinct dining experiences at the resort, including Piaf, meant to transport you to 1940s Paris; Sen Lin, a fusion of Asian delicacies; Lucca, a modern interpretation of Italian favorites; and Cocina de Autor, the first all-inclusive restaurant in the world to win the AAA Five Diamond Award. Sporting events are broadcast nightly from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Koi Bar, and there is also an open-air sky bar on the property’s rooftop, as well as piano bar, mixology lounge, and nightly karaoke.

Adults may also enjoy the 90,000-square-foot SE Spa, named one the most luxurious in the world by Forbes Travel Guide, lauded for its one-of-a-kind hydrotherapy circuit featuring a clay room, ice room, polar pool, color-therapy showers, and a co-ed experience pool with massaging neck jets, bubble beds, serene waterfalls, and more. The circuit is recommended before any treatment—including the newly launched 80-minute CBD spa experience that focuses on the seven known benefits of Cannabidiol—or on its own. 

So, who is ready to play in Playa?

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