This Beachfront Mexican Resort From ‘Love Is Blind’ Is An All-Inclusive Upgrade

Set on 206 lush acres, Grand Velas Riviera Maya is an elevated all-inclusive option on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

(Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

The road south from the Cancun airport is not always the most promising sight for a seasoned traveler or fan Mexico’s natural beauty. One is immediately greeted by a string of all-inclusive resorts with flashy facades, blocking the Playa del Carmen. You can almost taste the cold buffet hollandaise.

And then? Like magic, there’s a break from the monotony (and, frankly, from the vague sense of other tourists being ripped off), in the form of the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, set on 206 lush acres. This beachfront hotel features an arrestingly massive and simple curved white wall, visible from the road, which rises up from shallow water, creating a welcome sight. It caught our eye before we registered that the air-conditioned van, provided courtesy of the hotel, was turning up the drive. 

(Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

An AAA Five Diamond property (think: pace-in showers, not walk-in showers), Grand Velas Riviera Maya is highly photogenetic and unusual for an all-inclusive resort. Hand-woven hammock over white sands, anyone? How about a personal plunge pool on your balcony? It’s no wonder the reality show, Love is Blind, filmed episodes there, inspiring the hotel to offer a luxe “Love is Blind Experience” for two.

(Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

Upon entering, there’s a long road through the Yucatán jungle that leads to one of three massive properties and, through the airy lobbies, a pristine beach with water that remains confoundingly clear as you wade into the sea.

(Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

With three options for lodging, including a blissfully calm adults-only hotel, one can easily schedule a whole day where the biggest questions are “how much shade do I want over my cabana?” and “should I get to the spa early for a swim?” Yes, you should. And while you’re there, try the authentic Paak’am massage with incorporates relaxing and ancient Mayan rituals and scents and ends with a heated robe. 

Ambassador Lobby (Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

The gift of an all-inclusive resort is the only actual decision is what to have for dinner. There are myriad of restaurants to choose from, including the sleek Cocina de Autor. If a ten-course meal in a major city is nothing new to you, you might find the menu a tad dated, but it’s still delicious and features cuisine crafted with care (the restaurant even makes its own honey and citrus mead).

This is a far cry from your momma’s “all-inclusive resort.” You just might have to decide if the man in the corner, playing “My Heart Will Go On” on the clarinet, is the kind of thing you want to hear while you eat. Have we mentioned the open bar?

Frida (Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

The eponymous Frida, however, is unsurprisingly fantastic. With flavorful and varied takes on Mexican dishes, it scratches the exploration-itch one might have after staying in what is, essentially, a very luxurious beached cruise ship.

Frida (Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

It’s not as flashy as some of the other restaurants at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, but you can immediately taste the alignment between the rich local cuisine and world-renowned chefs in every bite of octopus taco and guacamole (and, for the more adventurous, a sprinkle of perfectly crisped crickets).  

Ambassador Pool (Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Grand Velas Riviera Maya is the juxtaposition of the humungous with the personal. No sooner are you searching for a straw for your Piña Colada than one appears. Bottles of water, shuttles between resorts, restocked minibars and turned-down beds are never more than a minute away.

(Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

At the same time, such a place, even at the highest level, invariably exists somewhere between Dubai (there are echoing atriums, gift shops selling Dolce & Gabbana beach heels and a karaoke bar called Karaoke Bar) and the movie Defending Your Life, in which Albert Books winds up in a purgatory.

But if it ever gets too overwhelmingly manmade, there is always nature: the sound of Caribbean waves, lulling you to sleep after another blissfully blank day.