Once in a while, you find a place that is more than just somewhere to stay. It is a destination, one that you would visit over and over again. That’s the Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

I remember when I first stepped into my room, removing my fave Costa tortoiseshell sunglasses so I could fully absorb the beauty of the ocean outside my patio door, but also to view the fabulous fresh floral arrangement nestled in a corner of the room.

The view and the flowers were only a taste of what was to come during my recent luxurious stay at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

The AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Maya, nestled along Mexico’s Caribbean coast, has earned many awards, including the Conde’ Nast Most Excellent Spa Hotel, Best Spa in the World by Virtuoso award and recognition from Spa Finder for wellness travel and family travel. I was here to learn firsthand why and to explore the world-famous spa myself. This is definitely a wellness travel destination near the top of any list, but I was extremely surprised at all this lovely resort had to offer.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Don’t worry if a spa day is not your thing! There are so many activities to please everyone, whether your desire is to relax by the pool with a cocktail or something a little more adventurous. The Riviera Maya region offers experiences where you can explore the Mayan culture with tours of the ancient 13th-century city of Tulum or for the more adventurous – a Jungle Maya Tour by Alltournative Tours, where one can rappel into a cenote, snorkel in a cave, and participate in an ancient Mayan purification ceremony – all in one afternoon.

In my room, the flowers weren’t the only thing that caught my eye. My foyer immediately delivered the view of my own private bottle of tequila. Guests can drink it during their stay, or the butler will wrap it up for guests to take home to enjoy.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Next, my eye caught what I feel should be in every luxury hotel room – a Nespresso espresso machine. I enjoyed it so much during my stay, that I purchased one for my home use upon my return. Most European luxury resorts see this as standard, but this is the only place in Mexico I have seen one supplied so far.

As a wellness travel writer, the most treasured room amenity is a locally handcrafted sunhat. This perfect fashion and skincare accessory is a VIP welcome gift for guests staying in Presidential, Family, or Grand Class suites at Grand Velas Resorts in Riviera Maya.

Also, my room was lined with lovely artwork, but what made me almost speechless was the expansive hotel room adorned with luxurious details without being pretentious – just perfectly comfortable. It was beautiful enough to make me almost stop and miss the view of the swaying palm trees and blue ocean outside my window or my own personal plunge pool on my beachfront private patio.

Often, five-star resorts try to shock-and-awe guests with over-the-top opulence. However, the Grand Velas takes a subtler approach with a finer touch.

Instead of dramatic marble grand staircases, guests enjoy a personal butler who sincerely expresses concern and care. Hiring the best staff is important to the Grand Velas; they only hire locals who express the heart for second-mile service.

In lieu of expensive statues, the Grand Velas practices smart luxury, using solar panels to heat the pool in the winter. They also aid in protecting the surrounding environment by maintaining their own thick mangroves. The mangroves are designed to protect not only the local terrain but also the multitude of animals that call it home. These mangroves are the perfect backdrop for the resort as you explore all it has to offer.

Back to the guests – the resort also exhibits its five-star service in the food and wine. One taste and I realized this was not your standard or even standard luxury all-inclusive. Many all-inclusive offers unlimited food and beverages, but you can rarely expect upgrades without extra costs. The Grand Velas doesn’t need to offer higher-quality brands for a charge. Their baseline inclusive items are top-notch. I even took pictures of the wine labels to make sure I could find them when I got home. Finding a new favorite wine while on vacation is one of my most treasured souvenirs.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

As if the room, the food, and the overall atmosphere were not enough, then I ventured to the spa. This spa is now at the top of my list of must-do wellness travel for anyone looking for an authentic spa vacation.

Undescribable. That’s all I kept thinking, as I first viewed the hydrotherapy area that went on forever. For a moment, I felt sad, knowing no words could do it justice – just one more reason you have to visit yourself.

The spa attendants here redefined the job. I have led around without a care of what I was to do next as they perfected my hydrotherapy circuit to my liking. I fell so in love with the clay room and the ice room that I could have stayed there indefinitely if not for the multiple hydrotherapy pools calling my name.

The $15-million spa at Grand Velas is the region’s largest spa, and it strives to embody cultural authenticity. The menu centers around seven travels — using a journey through ancient Mexico as the storyline. Treatments blend the finest modern amenities with the best of ancient practices, and the products center around ingredients important to the Mayan culture.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

I was treated to the Bacal Massage, an authentic Mayan body treatment using corn, one of the Mayan’s most sacred plants. The treatment was so soothing for both the body and mind. It uses a detoxifying honey exfoliation and an essential oil massage that utilizes Mayan corncobs for pressure. During my travels, I have had massages utilizing golf balls, bamboo, poultices, and more, but the corncobs seem to hold something in them that was unspeakable. They seem to take on a life of their own and embody the Maya Culture themselves.

Just how much did I fall in love with this spa? I would head back there on my own and schedule multiple days inside the spa and only leaving to not miss the ocean, waves, and amazing cuisine in the resort’s restaurants – including Cocina de Autor.

After my treatment, I was ultra-relaxed and ready to explore all that the Grand Velas Riviera Maya has to offer. The Zen-like white sand beach surrounded by a pristine jungle was calling my name along with mojitos at the pool bar.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

As mentioned before, the resort has upscale dining such as Cocina de Autor. It is the first All-inclusive resort restaurant to receive the Five Diamond Award by AAA. What led me there was due to the fact that Food and Wine Magazine names it as one of their “100 Best New Food and Drink Establishments in the World”. Foodies will want to know that each plate is evolutionary and creative cuisine making every course a memorable experience.

The resort truly exceeded my expectations, and I could deeply feel that Rodolfo Gonzalez, Grand Velas’ managing director, meant it when he said, “Grand Velas Riviera Maya is proud to offer guests a rejuvenating, inspiring, and serene haven that undoubtedly raises the bar for all-inclusive resorts.”

Rodolfo – I agree! Grand Velas Riviera Maya is a marvelous resort, which offers anything a guest desires. Even a seasoned luxury jetsetter will be amazed here at the level of luxurious hospitality. This is truly a place that will deliver a luxury experience of a lifetime!