Boulevard El Cid, Unidad 28, Lote 1–01, Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
There's no shortage of luxurious, well–equipped hotels in the Riviera Maya region stretching south from Cancun to Tulum, but Grand Residences is a welcome addition for those who want to go beyond a standard hotel room. Sure, it has a gorgeous pool with a swim–up bar, a beautiful beach, and plenty of other amenities. But your room is really a suite—and a stunning one at that.
This beachfront resort midway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen is opening in several phases, the first one launched at the end of 2013. It's much closer to the airport than most Riviera Maya resorts, located on the edge of Puerto Morelos. Behind the scenes it's a "fractional ownership" place where people buy several weeks a year in a specific condo, but you probably won't notice that. If you express an interest in coming back here every year, they'll give you the spiel, but otherwise nobody will bug you.
The result of this plan is evident though as soon as you open the door to your suite. The units here look more like something from a high–end villa rental than most hotels you've slept in before. The smallest junior suite studios at Grand Residences are 646 square feet and come with top–level amenities like Bvlgari bath products, robes, slippers, a Jacuzzi, and DVD player for the large flat–screen TV. Even these smallest ones have a kitchennette and some come with an outdoor whirlpool on the terrace. Items like electronic safes, music players, and good closets with a variety of hangers are standard.
Every upgrade from there brings a lot more space though and if you're going to stay here, upgrade at least one level. Master suites are twice as large and can easily sleep a family. They have two Murphy beds that fold down in the large living room and there's enough furniture to seat plenty of guests. These have two 47–inch TVs, two DVD players, and a Bose stereo system. They also have dual closets, double sinks with two sets of toiletries, and two pampering baths. One whirlpool bath is in the bathroom and another is on the furnished terrace or balcony, with a view. If you prefer a plunge pool instead, there are master suites on the ground fool pool level that have that instead.
The real differentiator, however, is the gourmet kitchen. It comes with Sub–Zero full appliances, a wine refrigerator, a Nespresso machine, chef–quality knives, a wide array of cooking utensils, and good glassware for wine and cocktails. You can pay for items in the minibar but a better bet it to have the kitchen stocked up ahead of time and supplement that with items from the on–site mini supermarket. Then you can cook away on ample granite countertops, with plenty of pots and pans. Meanwhile, you also get marble floors, crisp air conditioning, a balcony or terrace, and comfortable furniture all around.
Two–bedroom suites are nearly 2,500 square feet and can sleep eight people between the two bedrooms and the Murphy beds. They come with more of everything and an even larger kitchen. There are also three–bedroom master suites, but the real splurge is the four–bedroom presidential suite with its own rooftop pool and big party area with a bar and barbeque set–up. The whole area has its own elevator and gated entrance for a party of up to 13.
This is not a do–it–yourself condo resort though where you're on your own. Sure, a chef can come prepare a private meal in your kitchen if you would like, but the main El Faro restaurant on site is open all three meals and is quite good. A beach bar is open during the day and serves food to those lounging by the pool. There's a swim–up bar in the pool and another one in the lobby open late. A separate lap pool is great for exercise or there's a large and well–equipped gym in the main building. Housekeeping comes through twice a day like you'd expect in a luxury hotel, with turndown service at night.
Staffers can arrange all kinds of excursions, including great snorkeling around the nearby reef, and the resort has its own yacht moored in the center of Puerto Morelos for guest cruises. Non–motorized watersports are available at the beach, plus there's a tennis court on site, a kids' club, and a teens' club.
The spa on site has relaxing facilities and is fully staffed with talented masseuses. You can get a massage there or someone will bring the massage table and do their work in your suite. You can get a rubdown on your terrace with a view of the ocean if you're in one of the oceanfront suites.
Grand Residences currently has 103 suites, but eventually the resort will be larger as other phases come on line. All the buildings are connected by underground tunnels, so in a nod to Disney, staffers can work their magic without being seen going back and forth. The one aspect not planned so well is how close the resort is to the sand. For now it's very convenient and everyone has at least a partial sea view, but when the next big hurricane hits, the ocean might be lapping against the closest building.
Rates here depend greatly on the size of your unit and what kind of services you want included. Check the website for a variety of packages with full or partial meal plans or call to set up a fully stocked gourmet kitchen at your disposal upon arrival. It's hard to stand out on this Mexican coast where the competition is so stiff, but Grand Residences Resort is a good bet if you want a luxury villa–style set–up with full hotel facilities.
Web Address: GrandResidencesRivieraCancun.com
Total Number of Units: 103
Published rates: $268 - $4,000 per unit, plus nearly 30% in taxes and service charges. All-inclusive plans available.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.