Playa del Carmen
Tel: 866 230 7221 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 322 226 7930
Concierge.com's insider take:
Leading the pack of luxury all-inclusives popping up along the coast, the Grand Velas opened in 2009 and gives a huge bang for the pricey tab. The 491 suites, many with pools on private terraces, have dark wood furnishings that stand out against clean white walls, plus extra touches like Molton Brown toiletries and espresso machines. Most of the bougainvillea-draped buildings face the sea, but for privacy and tranquility consider those tucked amid lagoons and jungle. Those in the inland building have decks with padded lounges facing lush lagoons where white herons nest in mangroves. Don't expect the usual all-inclusive buffets at the eight restaurants. Azul, the main poolside eatery, features sushi, sashimi, and ceviches at lunch; truffles and Champagne sauces get good play at the French restaurant Piaf; and aromatic Basque dishes are offered at Cocina de Autor. Hydrotherapy pools bubble and spout in the two-story spa (alas, services are not included in the rate); allow at least one extra hour for splashing about.—Maribeth Mellin
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