Hands up if you’re spending hours on Pinterest looking at beaches and dreaming of a luxurious retreat with nothing to do but sunbathe, relax and be pampered?
I admit doing the same, but more than found the solution with the five-star Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Mexico.
Just 40 minutes from Cancun airport, this luxury all-inclusive resort is spread across a gargantuan 206-acre plot of Yucatan jungle and mangroves just beside the Caribbean Sea.
The resort is split into three sections depending on your preferred holiday vibe: a family-friendly, tropical Zen Grand section, set in the Mayan jungle with glorious green views, the equally family-friendly Ambassador area with gorgeous beachfront suites (pictured) and the luxurious Grand Class part, which has dreamy family-friendly sea view suites and adult-only restaurant and pool areas.
Throughout the resort, there are several pools, beaming staff members to whip up whatever you feel like drinking or eating, and best of all, 70 percent of the hotel’s enormous plot is natural, so you’re always close to a pristine beach, rows of neat palm trees or the lush, verdant jungle where you might spot monkeys, iguanas or deer.
The spacious, luxurious rooms are hard to tear yourselves away from, with heavenly beds, vast bathrooms with enormous tubs and all the luxurious extras you could conjure, from fresh flowers and a complimentary minibar to welcome bottles of tequila and surprise goodies on arrival.
There are five fine dining options sure to delight gourmands, from the gourmet Mexican establishment, Frida, to the creative culinary adventure, Cocina de Autor, the first all-inclusive restaurant in the world to win an AAA Five Diamond Award. There are also three casual restaurants, five bars and three snack bars for when you’d like one course rather than a lavish feast. There’s even 24-hour in-suite dining!
Needless to say, it can often be awkward as an observant Jewish tourist to explain our weird and wonderful way of doing things. But this is one place where you needn’t worry: Jewish guests are expertly catered for.
Kosher meat is brought in from Playa del Carmen or Cancun, there’s a great selection of kosher wine and all the chefs understand the restrictions and quirks of keeping kosher. Alongside this, there’s also a deeply personalised and friendly service – when I went back to my room after dinner on Friday, there was a note in Hebrew wishing me a Shabbat Shalom, and a bottle of kosher wine.
Naturally, all this eating, drinking, tanning and lounging around can be taxing: one of the best places to de-stress is the 89,000 square foot spa, which offers Mexico-inspired treatments.
One of these is a water ceremony, in which you enjoy a step-by-step journey through various water experiences, including a colour therapy steam room, sensation showers and a cold plunge pool, where you’re constantly given cucumbers, clay and hot or cold towels.
Always on the hunt for a therapy to relieve my dry skin, I tried the organic kaab honey experience, which has a deep connection with the area, as the Mayans considered bees as a connection to the spiritual world. My skin had never felt as soft, and I felt so relaxed I could barely stagger to the all-day restaurant (again).
It’s tempting to never leave the enormous hotel complex, with its wide array of luxurious facilities and everything from water sports to exercise classes on offer activity-wise. There are clubs for teenagers and youngsters, with activities such as karaoke, mini golf and even dreamcatcher-making. I particularly enjoyed a paddle board yoga lesson, even if I did fall off my board more times than I care to remember. Also memorable was an evening cinema experience on the beach. The ever-attentive staff set up a giant inflatable cinema screen, with a constant supply of popcorn, sandwiches and wine. Heaven.
Outside the resort, visitors can explore Chichén Itzá, the ancient Mayan ruins that represent one of the seven wonders of the world, and the Tulum Archaeological Site, one of the last cities built by this civilisation.
The hotel can arrange tours to both sites, two hours and one hour away by car respectively – and it can even arrange tours to Chichen Itza, the ruins of Uxmal and the colonial city of Merida by private plane for unforgettable sightseeing
Deborah’s Travel Tips:
Carrier offers seven nights from £4,025 pp based on two adults sharing a Zen Grand Suite Nature View room on an all-inclusive basis, including return flights from Gatwick with British Airways and return private transfers (0161 492 1354, carrier.co.uk). Price based on departures 29 April 2019. Find out more about Grand Velas Riviera Maya at rivieramaya.grandvelas.com