I’ve seen the term, “luxury redefined” written in brochures, broadcasted on different websites to describe a wide array of products, services, and accommodations. However, the phrase never crept into my mind before visiting the Grand Velas resort in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. The resort is a true, luxury all-inclusive resort. It stands in a class of its own; where most all-inclusive resorts offer complimentary room service, all-you-can-eat dining options, and bottomless alcoholic beverages, the Grand Velas takes it 10 steps further to create the first-rate service, fine dining, top shelf alcohol, and constant pampering that one would expect from a AAA five-diamond ranked property.
The hotel contains one of the “Leading Spas of the World” (Spa Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit) and the spa experience begins at check-in. I arrived at the resort Thursday evening, and within minutes, was treated to a 5-minute complementary neck massage in the lobby. The suites also contain spa-themed accents, such as plush bathrobes, his and her slippers, luxurious Gilchrest & Soames bath products, in-room Jacuzzi, and a private sauna (located in the presidential suites). According to the manager of the property, Rodolfo Gonzalez, “room service at the resort is referred to as “suite service” because of the vastness of the rooms (the suites are 900-1,000+ square feet and 95% have ocean views).
That evening, I had dinner at one of the hotel’s gourmet restaurants, Frida, named after the Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. All of the hotel’s restaurants have ocean views, and present unsurpassed luxury, down to the cushioned purse stools. The neutral earth toned décor coupled with the Frida Kahlo recipe inscriptions on the wall offered a very Mediterranean feel. I sampled their six-course meal, some of which included the aguachile duo salmon and sea scallops, fresh tuna in chili seed crust, marinated duck breast in local honey, and the traditional lime pie.
During the trip, I participated in a margarita tasting in the lobby bar, which featured all of the specialty margaritas that Frida offers. Out of the 12 sampled, I favored the Peanuts Signature Margarita, the Cilantro Coriander Signature Margarita, and Tamarind Mint Signature Margarita.
After dinner, I overindulged and ordered room service (their 24-hour menu includes prime selections, such as grilled flanked steak, beef filet in black pepper sauce, mahi-mahi medallion, Hawaiian pizza, and coconut shrimp in mango and mint sauce).
Despite the level of luxury presented throughout the property, the resort is very welcoming towards kids and families. The resort offers activities such as karaoke, guitar band performances, fiestas, and there is also a kids and teen club available. Some of the exciting inclusive activities located at the resort are windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking, cycling, tennis, aqua aerobics, boogie boards, as well as scuba diving demonstrations at the pool. There is also fitness center that offers exercise classes during the weekdays, such as Tae-Bo, Pilates, Hath yoga, Zumba, and Danza Polinesia.
In the mornings, I either ordered room service or dined in their beachside restaurant, Azul. The restaurant offers panoramic views of the Bahia de Banderas, and is open from 7am to 11pm. Cuisines offered are Mexican, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese, as well as grilled selections and seafood.
Friday evening, I dined at the Italian restaurant, Lucca. The interior is inspired by Roman design, and there was a live piano performance during dinner. The six course meal included items such as the Rustic Lucca style salad, poached artichoke carpaccio, tortelli in cherry tomato sauce, and baked zucchini.
The next morning, I experienced my much-anticipated spa treatment at the multiple award-winning Spa Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. I chose the Four HandSamunprai Massage, which included two massage therapists using hot compressions, exotic herbs, and medicinal heat to sooth muscles and release tension.The spa’s design was very calming, adorned with flowers floating in water, neutral earth toned décor, and a large marbled wall with cascading water.
Before my massage, I was treated with the complimentary hour long Hydrotherapy Ritual. This started with a revitalizing shower, followed by a visit to the herbal steam room, sauna time, Jacuzzi soak, followed by a dip in the two-temperature lagoon, with a final multi-jet Swiss shower. Currently, the spa is offering a special of purchasing one of their specialty massages, and selecting another massage for only $10.
My last night at the Grand Velas was spent dining at the French cuisine restaurant, Piaf. The décor was tastefully elaborate with breathtaking avant garde chandeliers, coupled with live violin music. Some of the selections from the menu included the tri-color cream soup (pumpkin, tomato, pea), grilled Scottish salmon in Chardonnay sauce, and the chocolate moelleux with English crème figs. My personal favorite was the Bourguignonne escargots, which were expertly prepared in a creamy butter sauce.
Besides the opportunity to overindulge in the resorts many premier food selections, the Grand Velas offers the ultimate luxury all-inclusive vacation. Take part in the many complimentary water sports and activities available, experience a massage in one of the Leading Spas of the World, and relax by the serene private beach and pool.