Conveniently located in the sleepy fishing village of Puerto Morelos, midway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the all-inclusive, family-oriented Grand Residences Riviera Cancun offers an authentic Mexican experience steeped in personal service.
That special treatment begins even before arriving at the property with private, round-trip, airport transfers in a luxury vehicle for the roughly 20-minute ride from Cancun International Airport. The resort, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, welcomes adult guests with complimentary margaritas and children with juices. At check-in, we were issued resort bands, which were easily removable for taking a shower – unlike many other resorts, which clamp them on your wrist so they can’t be removed until departure.
Spacious suites with stunning views
The Grand Residences’ hacienda-style resort architecture reflects and embraces Mexican culture and heritage. So, too, did the welcome gifts waiting in our one-bedroom master suite: an artisanal handbag, a hat, a traditional necklace, and a bottle of Mezcal.
Our suite comprised a full kitchen, 1.5 bathrooms, a living room, a dining room and a master bedroom. Three Murphy beds made it possible to comfortably sleep five people. Premium bedding, a pillow menu, and turndown service enhanced our sleep. We opted to decline the turndown service both evenings, as we were enjoying the terrace Jacuzzi at the time. The housekeeper left a small trinket for us each night as a token.
Overall, our living space was a generous 1,798 sq. ft. (The smallest studios are 646 square feet). Like all suites at the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, ours had a spa bathroom with a separate Jacuzzi, shower, and double vanity – essentially a “His and Hers” vanity area, with Bulgari toiletries, robes, slippers, and over-sized plush towels. We also had “His and Hers” separate closets.
Out on our spacious balcony we had chaises, a table and chairs for casual dining while enjoying the ocean view, and an outdoor Jacuzzi. The Caribbean was less than 150 yards away, so we enjoyed the sound of the waves from the comfort of our balcony.
The kitchen, equipped with Sub-Zero appliances, would make any gourmet cook happy. In addition to the usual, it offered a wine fridge, two coffee makers (one regular, one Nespresso), quality knives, a dishwasher, and a washing machine. Bottled water, sodas, and beer filled the refrigerator. Each day, we received a basket filled with fresh and sun-dried fruit.
At check-in, we were given a printed list for reference of the top shelf, complimentary liquors available under the all-inclusive plan. Tequilas, for example, include Don Julio Blanco, Don Julio Reposado, Sauza 3 Generaciones Silver, Sauza 3 Generaciones Reposado, Jose Cuervo Tradicional and Herradura Reposado.
We dined at each of the resort’s three dining venues. The El Faro Grill serves world cuisine that includes Mexican, Italian, fresh seafood, prime steaks, and grilled dishes. It also presents an excellent breakfast. The croissants were some of the best I have had outside of Paris. Open for lunch as well, it serves a tantalizing selection of seafood and Mexican dishes. While the atmosphere is sophisticated casual, the service is most attentive.
Flor de Canela, open for dinner, serves a combination of traditional and contemporary Mexican dishes. Reservations are required for dinner, as this is fine dining elegance complete with the low lights and a romantic atmosphere. A live Mariachi band enhanced our dining experience with lively and romantic music, some tunes recognizable and some not.
Outside, by the pool area, the casual Heaven Beach Bar & Grill satiates those who prefer to enjoy lunch or a snack by the pool. Heaven made it easy to enjoy snacks, lunch, and drinks without having to leave our poolside chaises.
Relaxation and recreation
The Grand Residences Riviera Cancun features an oceanfront infinity pool – a central pool with two-tiers: the lower tier is for families while the upper tier includes a swim-up bar and is reserved for adults only. A lap pool is off to the side as are several hot tubs.
We enjoyed taking dips in both pools but found the adult pool a bit crowded when the water aerobics class was taking place. We opted instead to enjoy signature margaritas from our chaise lounges as we relaxed by the pool. (Beach lounges are also available.) Pool concierges pampered us with ice lollipops, fresh fruit skewers, and Evian facial spray.
An on-site spa and gym are available. Be sure to take advantage of programmed activities such as Spanish classes, cooking demonstrations, water aerobics, bike rides into town, arts-and crafts-workshops and a variety of sports and games.
We really enjoyed our guided bike ride into town, where we had the opportunity to walk around the small fishing town and buy local souvenirs. We made our own souvenirs during the arts-and-crafts workshop, which I highly recommend for all ages. For a small fee, we picked out and painted clay figurines, with the instructor readily available for suggestions and guidance. We left the unbaked pieces of art to be fired in a kiln and returned the next day to retrieve them.
On our last morning, we took one more look at the sunrise and felt as if we were leaving a place that had come to feel like home.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- This is luxury at its best with an emphasis on families. I saw many families that included grandparents, parents, and children enjoying the property. Personalized and small welcome gifts are provided for children.
- Wi-Fi was fast, reliable, and complimentary.
- English and Spanish are spoken by Grand Residences employees and staff.
- All guests pay a nightly green (environmental) tax. At the time of our visit, the amount was $26.06 Mexican pesos for a 1-bedroom suite. Based on the exchange rate, that is about $1.30 USD per night. A small price to pay for environmental stewardship.
- Be sure to wear sunglasses, a hat and apply sunscreen. The sun can be intense on the Riviera Maya. While Mexican winters in Cancun are nice, the summers can be quite hot and humid.
A COVID-19 update: What you need to know
- Americans are permitted to travel to Mexico, but the most current (2/2/21) Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Travel Health Notice advises travelers to avoid the destination due to the very high level (Level 4) of COVID-19. Be sure to check the CDC website for updated information. Also, review the most recent travel advisories and alerts from the U.S. State Department.
- Effective January 26, the CDC requires a negative COVID-19 test for all passengers flying into the United States. (This applies even if your final destination is another country, if you are on a connecting flight that first enters the United States.) The viral antigen nasal swab test is required. Children aged two and older must also be tested.
- The hotel is taking a number of health and safety precautions to protect its guests. See the hotel website for details.
- To help guests comply with this new testing requirements, Grand Residences, through a certified independent laboratory, is now making onsite COVID- 19 viral antigen nasal swab tests available at no cost. This policy is valid until July 17, 2021. It is important to note that free, one-time-only testing is exclusively for Grand Residences owners, members and guests, and is limited to those who have no symptoms. Results are available in 12 hours.
- Reservations are required for antigen testing and can be made through the front desk or concierge upon arrival at the resort. If you have symptoms, you must contact the front desk or the medical service to make arrangements for in-room testing.
- If your country requires a PCR test for re-entry, this is also available at Grand Residences through a certified independent laboratory, for a fee of $2,200 pesos (approximately US$110) per person. Results are delivered in 52 hours.
All photo credits: Karin Leperi
The author was hosted by Grand Residences Riviera Cancun for purposes of this review. Any opinions expressed are strictly those of the author.
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