Sometimes, luck is on your side and you choose a resort that suits your family as perfectly as milk goes with cookies, like Mickey’s made for Minnie, the way Fred dances with Ginger.
For my family, the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun in Puerto Morelos, Mexico is just that hotel. It’s the definition of beachside luxury: a gorgeous stretch of Caribbean sand and sea, suites that are beautifully appointed and delectable food. These bells and whistles are wonderful, but it’s the genuinely thoughtful and personalized service that lifts this resort head and shoulders above the pack.
The Arrival in Cancun
Located on the Riviera Maya, Grand Residences Riviera Cancun is just a short car ride via modern roads from Cancun’s international airport. Cancun is well served by nonstop flights from many North American cities, including my hometown, New York City. We booked a very reasonably priced flight on JetBlue from JFK and touched down in Mexico four hours later. My kids are big fans of the airline, thanks to individual screens and freebies like Wi-Fi and unlimited snacks.
Arriving in Cancun can be a little nerve racking, with dozens of timeshare hawkers clamoring for your attention. The Grand Residences gets your vacation started on the right foot, as all guests receive complimentary ground transfers to and from the airport in a well-maintained fleet of private vehicles. Your friendly, English speaking driver will be waiting for you as soon as you clear customs.
A Resort For Active Families
This five-star property enjoys a gorgeous and private location just outside of the tranquil fishing village of Puerto Morelos. With four swimming pools, sailboats and kayaking, you’ll be pleased with the buffet of aquatic activities. Located a stone’s throw from the second largest barrier reef in the world, Grand Residences is a paradise for snorkelers.
The sport desk is ready to lend all the equipment you need to have fun in and out of the water. Tennis, yoga, salsa dancing, beach volleyball and a guided bicycle tour are a few of the many options. There’s a fitness center open 24 hours each day so there’s no excuse not to stick with your regular exercise routine.
Of course, lounging by one of the sparkling pools or on the beach is a wonderful way to spend your vacation. Unlike at some resorts, there are plenty of plush sunbeds and beach chairs for everyone, so there’s no need to rush out early before breakfast and stake your claim before they all get taken. The staff provides a host of pampering extras including Evian water spray to keep your skin hydrated and refreshing fruit kebabs to quench your thirst.
Rooms at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun
There are 144 spacious suites, all with private terraces or balconies. Some have plunge pools and Jacuzzis. All have lovely views, either ocean or garden. The grounds are lush and filled with flowers, so there’s plenty of eye candy whichever way you look. Room configurations include multi-bedroom units with full kitchens and washer-dryers. The décor is colorful yet subdued. Art and Mexican handicrafts add flair. At turndown service each evening, you’ll receive a colorful locally made trinket as a keepsake.
The largest suites are a favorite with multi-generational families. Each member of your family should appreciate the attention to details, including a nighttime pillow menu that practically assures sweet dreams.
Service is beyond exceptional. Every staff member we encountered seemed genuinely happy to be working at Grand Residences. I kept wondering what the secret was to such a devoted, service-oriented team. In the course of my conversations with pool boys, chambermaids, drivers and bellmen, I learned that the hotel is an impeccable employer.
All workers receive English classes, comfortable private buses from town directly to the hotel, excellent meals during the workday and many more perks. The hotel hires from within so there’s potential for rapid upward mobility. In valuing their workers, a key part of sustainability, this resort earns a gold star.
Grand Residences’ Kids Club
The youngest members of your family should enjoy spending time at the kid’s club. The multi-lingual staff will keep children smiling with sandcastle building, treasure hunts, piñata making, pool games and beach walks. Little visitors can learn to play traditional Mayan games for a dash of authentic local culture.
If you’re traveling with a tough-to-please teenager, the teens’ club offers age-appropriate options including movies, beach soccer and water polo.
The hotel offers European and full American plan. Many families choose the American plan with all meals included. Children age 12 and younger stay and eat free, which adds up to a great deal. If you choose a plan without meals, children still stay free in the same room as their parents.
Don’t expect buffets with burgers and inexpensive starches. The resort takes food seriously and the highbrow dining experience will satisfy the most serious epicurean.
Our meals at El Faro Grill were delicious. The gourmet offerings included fresh seafood, steaks and a wonderful selection of Mexican wines that are hard to find north of the border. The views of the ocean and lush gardens took our meal to another level.
Flor De Canela is open for dinner. We feasted on ceviche and simply grilled fish that was so fresh, it still tasted of the briny sea.
Our most unexpected meal was a traditional British-style afternoon tea served on the elegant veranda. We nibbled finger sandwiches and elegant pastries as we sipped tea. We felt as regal as Queen Elizabeth herself.
The hotel has a small but well-stocked market with a variety of grab-and-go options. Purchase cereal, snacks or baby food and keep it in your in-room fridge. Families on the European plan can find provisions to make a complete meal in their suite’s modern kitchen.
Exploring Puerto Morelos
Explore the peaceful fishing village of Puerto Morelos at least once before you return home. Stroll the Malecon, shop for a hammock at the open-air market and let the kids run around in the playground. We found locals to be exceedingly polite and friendly.
The village also has a small tilted lighthouse that’s something of an iconic centerpiece and a popular photo op to memorialize the perfect family vacation.
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