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Grand Velas Riviera Maya is an all-inclusive resort that delivers a unique meetings experience on the Mexican shore of the Caribbean near Playa del Carmen. Opened in 2008, Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers 491 spacious suites, international culinary options, comfortable bars, the best spa and state-of-the-art convention facilities. Grand Velas is an open air resort with amazing grand lobbies that reflect the resort themes and ambiance. And guest rooms, convention facilities and indoor restaurants are fully air conditioned. Here’s what you need to know if you’re traveling here for business, planning a meeting or simply want to enjoy 24 hours at Grand Velas Riviera Maya:

Grand Velas Guest Rooms

There are three sections for guest rooms at Grand Velas and all are impressive: Grand Class (89 rooms at 1,378 square feet), Ambassador (196 rooms at 1,270 square feet), and Zen (206 rooms at 1,270 square feet). Grand Class section is intended for adults and children 12 years of age and older, and Ambassador Suites are family-friendly. These rooms all have direct views of the ocean, and the building forms the shape of a wave. Zen Suites are surrounded by tropical jungle and mangroves with vegetation, and they are near the convention center. Two impressive gyms are also on property, offering sufficient equipment, training programs and classes (including yoga).

Zen Suites for Business

I stayed in a Zen Suite. The room was large with a Mexican marble floor and a totally comfortable king size bed (some rooms have two queens). As expected, it also included a large flat screen TV, desk (wireless internet is an additional fee) and a separate seating area. Each terrace at Grand Velas is fully private with extra seating and tables (36 of the Zen Suites have plunge pools), and mine faced the jungle and a stream. The bathroom was equally impressive with a walk-in rain shower plus hand-held shower fixture (and a top quality loofah), oversized jacuzzi tub, separate water closet and Molton Brown bath amenities. Zen has its own pool, and the spa is located in this section of the resort.

Grand Velas Restaurants

Forget any preconceived notions you may have about dining at all-inclusive resorts. Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers a terrific variety of gourmet and fine dining restaurants that feature cuisines of Mexico, Asia, France, Italy and Spain. There are also three all-day restaurants, five bars and three open air snack bars. I had buffet breakfasts at Chakka (Zen) and Azul (Ambassador) by the main pool which also faces the ocean. Both had terrific buffets, including Mexican and traditional options (I really appreciated the range of fresh fruit available). For dinner one evening I enjoyed an amazing French meal at Piaf — you’ll want to check out their glass chandeliers and a harpist was playing the evening I was visited. On another night I enjoyed a freshly prepared, authentic Italian-Mediterranean dinner at Lucca (which is called Chakka during the day for breakfast and lunch). Being here as part of a business meeting, lunch was served in an outdoor tent by the Zen lobby.

The Grand Velas Riviera Maya Spa

At 89,305 square feet and 40 treatment rooms (including a spa fish pedicure!), the Grand Velas Spa has been recognized by the Leading Hotels of the World and Virtuoso as one of the best. Many business travelers know the importance of finding a bit of spa time when they are on the road, and Grand Velas lives up to its reputation in this area. Arrive 90 minutes early so that you can fully experience the Riviera Maya Hydrothermal Journey, including experience showers, sauna, ice room, clay room and whirlpool. There’s also an experience pool (warm chlorine-free) with a sensory pebble walkway for your feet (hot and cold), waterfalls, water bubble beds, bubble volcano and cervical neck jet. To be honest, the pressure of one of the water jets is fantastic – I felt like I was experiencing the pressure of a fire hose to my lower and middle back. (How can I get this installed in my home, please?)

Remember, this is pre-treatment. I followed the advice offered by spa director Leticia Fernandez and experienced the Nik Te Ha Aquatic Massage. Nik te ha in the Mayan language means water lily. It begins with a Mayan ritual, followed by a unique underwater massage (80 minutes) that is guided by a spa therapist. Your muscles relax when you’re submerged in water and the spirit flows in harmony with the energy of the universe. To be honest, I actually fell asleep at one point during the floating portion of my treatment. It’s one of the more popular options for business travelers and meeting professionals who want a local treatment and to relax.

Events and Meetings at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The convention center is a state-of-the-art facility with two ballrooms and up to 32 breakout rooms that can host as many as 3,000 attendees. During my visit, WTTC The Americas Summit was held here, converting one of the ballrooms with staging and elevated theatre seating of white leather lounge chairs for its delegates (see, What is the economic impact of tourism?). Convention services including a full range of audio-visual services and the ability to create special theme parties throughout the property. There’s also a business center on site.

Sustainability at The Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Meeting planners and business travelers care about the environment, so you’ll be glad to know that Grand Velas Riviera Maya has been approved by Earthcheck, a leading sustainable travel and tourism certification organization. Some of the sustainable practices at Grand Velas include water and energy conservation initiatives, recycling waste, biodegradable cleaning products, sourcing locally grown food ingredients, and more. It’s also worth noting that Grand Velas participates in the Federal Sea Turtle Conservation Program, and it complies with regulations set by World Tourism Organization Global Code of Ethics.

Enjoy Playa del Carmen

While Grand Velas Riviera Maya is a luxury retreat and oasis with its own gift shop of local items in each section of the property, Playa del Carmen is a 10 minute cab ride away, and 5th Avenue is the place to go for a lively mix of local shops, restaurants and bars. 5th Avenue runs parallel to the beach, so I walked 5th Avenue one way and then the beach. Use your visit as an opportunity to get to know the local shop owners who are eager to show you what they have to offer inside. To be sure, most are worthy of souvenir tchotchke items, but you’ll also find shops with original artwork and native handcrafts here. You’ll remember your experience here. Tip for meeting planners: look for guest room amenity gifts in Playa del Carmen for yourselves during the site visit.

The Verdict?

It’s no wonder that Grand Velas is popular for business meetings and special events. Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers:

  • Large and comfortable suites that are designed for work and play
  • Convention facilities to host up to 3000 delegates
  • Gastronomy options from around the world
  • Patios and function spaces to create a range of intimate gatherings
  • Commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly standards
  • One of the best spas

Business travelers will probably be staying in the Zen Suites because of their proximity to the convention center and need for quiet — after all, you’re here to focus on the work that brings you to Grand Velas.

What makes Riviera Maya stand out from other beach destinations is how the region embraces its culture and history. There are a range of other off-site activities that you can incorporate into your visit and overall experience, including Xcaret Eco Park which is spread across 200 lush jungle and beachfront acres, and offers a coral reef aquarium, two underground cenotes, cultural performances and live entertainment, dolphin swim programs and more. Business travelers and meeting professionals should not be disappointed at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

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