Want a Mexican beach hotel vacation where you have some space to spread out and a fully equipped kitchen to use? No, you don’t have to hunt through the apartment rental options. You can get a swanky condo-style unit right on the beach and have access to huge swimming pools, a beach bar, restaurants, a spa, and a gym.
Opened at the very end of of 2013 with its first phase, the Riviera Maya’s newest upscale resort is conveniently located in Puerto Morelos, midway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It’s a bit of a hybrid resort, with units sold on a fractional (time share) basis, but the place functioning like a regular hotel in all other aspects. There are no pushy salesmen bugging you: if you are interested in making your stay here more permanent, you’ll have to ask.
On a coast already loaded with luxury beach resorts, it’s hard for a new one to stand out. Grand Residences checks off all the boxes you would expect, but where it really shines is in the suites themselves. The smallest studios are 646 square feet and come with a list of amenities that could fill this whole review. Besides luxe touches like Bulgari bath amenities, robes, slippers, a Jacuzzi, and DVD player, You also get an extra-large electronic safe and a high-end kitchen. This kitchen has granite and nice cabinets, yes, but also Sub-Zero full appliances (including a wine fridge), two coffee makers (one regular, one Nespresso), quality knives, cooking gadgets, and good glassware. There’s a minibar set-up in the room, or you can shop at the on-site supermarket, which has a wide variety of items. You can also send a list ahead of time and have everything in your suite when you arrive.
Then it goes up from there. The master suites are more than 1,600 square feet and can accommodate plenty of family members thanks to two Murphy beds and plenty of furniture for lounging around inside and out. There’s a 47-inch TV and DVD player in both rooms, each with a Bose stereo system. These have a bit more of everything: his and hers closets, his and hers sinks in the bath (with two sets of toiletries), and two whirlpool baths: one on the terrace and one in the bath. The ground floor suites have their own plunge pool with a view.
Then there’s a two-bedroom suite option that’s bigger than any house I’ve lived in and can sleep eight. Then double the space again for a penthouse suite. The top choice is a four-bedroom presidential suite that’s more like a top-floor mini hotel: it has its own rooftop pool, bar, barbeque, and room for 13 people between the various suites.
There are plenty of reasons to get outside the rooms though. Meals are consistently good in the restaurants and there are bars in three places, including a swim-up one in the largest pool. There’s also service at the beach, which is cleaned daily, and some non-motorized watersport options. One day a week guests can go out on the hotel’s catamaran from the dock in Puerto Morelos, for a sail along the coastline with a drink in hand. There’s a kids club on site with scheduled activities, as well as a teens club with more video games.
The gym here is well-equipped, with a trainer on hand if you need help, and the spa employs some very talented muscle relaxers. They’ll come to your suite and do a massage there if you’d like, inside or on the terrace with the sound of waves crashing. There’s a lap pool separate from the main one if you want some exercise there. Naturally the staff can book a variety of local excursions, utilizing roomy SUVs and English-speaking drivers to shuttle you where you need to go.
For now this is a rather intimate resort, with 103 suites, but an additional phase is being finished out now and more will come in the future. Oddly for a hotel constructed after several hurricanes have pummeled this coast, it was built surprisingly close to the shore, so no matter what room you’re in you’re not very far from the water. Get one of the oceanfront suites for an unobstructed view.
The kind of vacation you book here is really dependent on your needs and your budget. You can stock up the kitchen and get meals a la carte, with rates starting at around $350, or you can book some kind of package that includes meals and drinks for one rate.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was a guest of Grand Residences.