High season can see the resort jam-packed with people
Some items at the restaurants cost extra
Wi-Fi can be a bit slow by the pool
Reservations required for a la carte restaurants (can be handled by concierge)
The luxurious, 265-room Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit sets the bar for what all-inclusive resorts in Nuevo Vallarta should be striving to achieve. Every room here is a suite, offering extra living space, a balcony, ocean views, and luxurious touches such as Nespresso machines. The impressive features include an infinity pool with three levels overlooking the beach, a decadent spa, a kids' club, and five restaurants with excellent food (especially for an all-inclusive). There's little wrong with it, except for the occasional crowds around the pool during high season. If the prices are out of reach, consider less expensive sister property Velas Vallarta.
A luxurious resort with a stunning
pool, extensive spa, and fine dining
The Grand Velas is one of the crown jewels for the Velas Group. It’s a family-friendly, all-inclusive resort that is thoroughly luxurious throughout, from the suites, to the gardens, to pool, to the spa. The resort dates back to 2002, and was the second property the group built after the Velas Vallarta. Despite its age, it’s hard to find anything out of place. Maintenance and renovations to the property are part of normal operations, and there were significant renovations in 2015, during which the hotel updated two of the restaurants, the lobby, around half of the suites, and the teen’s club. The hotel is also adding an art gallery in late 2016 to match that of the sister property in Cabo.
The lobby is set inside of a massive thatch-roofed palapa, and the wings of the hotel sweep out away from the lobby and curving toward the ocean, with the gardens, pools, and restaurants nestled in between. The layout means that every room has pool and ocean views. Wide-open spaces, high ceilings, marble and granite accents, wood beams, and plenty of contemporary Mexican artwork define the architecture and decor.
In terms of service, it's the little things that help the Grand Velas stand out. Check-in is one of the best you will ever experience -- rather than standing in line, you'll be seated in the beautiful lobby and treated to a head, neck, and shoulder massage, a beverage, and a cool towel. By the pool, someone can clean your sunglasses and bring you ice pops. Guests all have a personal concierge who can help with a la carte restaurant reservations, transportation requests, and decorating rooms with rose petals for special occasions. A band of peacocks roves the grounds.
An isolated section of Nuevo Vallarta that's serene but far from the action of downtown Puerto Vallarta
The Grand Velas is in Nuevo Vallarta, a newer area of high-end homes and beachfront resorts in the far northern section of the Puerto Vallarta. There’s not much as far as nightlife goes, and nothing within walking distance, but the serenity is second to none. The airport and Marina Vallarta are a 20-minute drive south, and downtown Puerto Vallarta is 10 to 15 minutes farther.
Huge, elegant suites with ocean views and plenty of luxe amenities
All 267 rooms at this resort are suites, with separate living and sleeping areas. These huge suites start at 1,000 square feet, and are filled with elegant wooden furniture (some teak, and imported from Bali). The overall aesthetic is streamlined and modern, and there are subtle tropical accents. The cream tiles and white linens (which have attractive patterned throws and runners) keep things light and airy. All rooms have nicely furnished balconies with views of the pool and ocean.
There are a number of thoughtful amenities, such as the 12-option pillow menu, loaner beach totes and umbrellas, and Nespresso machines. On the tech front, there are 42-inch flat-screen TVs, iHomes, and free Wi-Fi that's covered in the all-inclusive rate. Marble tile bathrooms have either shower/tub combos or jetted tubs and separate walk-in showers; L'Occitane toiletries are provided, as are robes and slippers. Minibars are well-stocked with sodas, beer, and snacks, and replenished daily; room service is available 24/7.
The Master Suites are the entry-level category, and come with a single queen-size or king-size bed; Parlor Suites have separate living rooms. There are a number of massive high-end suites on offer as well. The Governor Two-Bedroom Suite clocks in at a massive 3,000 square feet, while the Imperial Grand Spa Suite has an unbelievable 6,636 square feet of space. The Wellness Suites are mind-blowing, and come with their own special set of amenities, such as exercise bikes, a Nikken Kenko pillow and comforter, LED sunlight lamp with clock and timer, Manos que Curan soaps, an Alchimia Apothecary Aromatherapy Kit, and a personal spa concierge. Don’t forget the Vitamin C infused water in the showers! The entire first floor at the Grand Velas is made up of ADA compliant rooms.
Multi-tiered infinity pool, luxury spa and fitness center, and comprehensive kids’ programs
At the heart of the resort is the massive three-tiered infinity pool, with the upper and lower portions heated during the winter months. Attentive pool waiters can bring food and drinks to the loungers, and the vibe at the pool is peaceful and quiet. The beach is miles long, nice for long walks, and water sports equipment such as snorkels and boogie boards are provided for free. There are also beginner surfing lessons.
The spa has 20 treatment rooms for individuals and couples, with over 30 holistic treatments available for guests, plus an ice room, plunge pools, exfoliations, and hydrotherapy. All products used are natural and use plant extracts. There are also a beauty salon and a kids' spa for kids and teens, plus a fully equipped fitness center with modern equipment, and daily Pilates, Zumba, yoga, and Polynesian dance classes.
There are two separate clubs for kids; one for kids ages 4 to 12, and one for teens. The kids’ club has organized activities such as sandcastle building and arts and crafts, while the super stylish teen’s club has video games and pool tables. Though there is no babies club, a baby concierge can provide parents with strollers, baby bathtubs, and baby carriers, among other bulky items parents may prefer not to lug on the plane.
The resort has more than 10,000 square feet of indoor convention center space for up to 1,300 guests; the gardens, terraces, and beach can also be used, for a total of more than 32,000 square feet of space. It is in use throughout the year.
Excellent food and five restaurants, and 24-hour room service
The resort strives for high-end gourmet dining, and food is decidedly high quality for an all-inclusive resort. Options include an all-day, open-air beachfront buffet restaurant and a poolside cafe; for dinner, there are a la carte French, Italian, and Mexicanrestaurants that require reservations. The all-inclusive wine list is extensive, though some options cost extra. Note that only children over 12 are allowed at the French restaurant. Room service is also available 24 hours a day.
There are a swim-up bar for cocktails and snacks, and a swanky lobby bar that often has loud music playing in the evenings, as well as special events like karaoke or casino night. Live music is often offered in the restaurants.
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