All in the Details
Luxury all-inclusive is a term wielded with such abandon these days that it’s hard to tell the real deal from the three-star imposters.
Grand Velas, however, is no impostor. The 493-suite Riviera Maya property comprises three discrete resorts, with Grand Class the tops – an adults-only oasis with sleek ocean-facing suites, each a study in marble and hardwood modernity. Behind huge carved-wood sliding doors, the mammoth bathroom includes a shower large enough for two and a whirlpool tub. Notably, an elegant (and complimentary) Don Julio tequila setup comes standard in every suite.
The service lives up to the surroundings, with an impressive 3-1 staff-to-suite ratio, and everywhere you go there’s an army of people sweeping, polishing, dusting and fluffing. For every dozen Grand Class suites, the retinue also includes a butler, whose duties surpass the typical. If, for instance, you should change rooms midstay, your butler will expertly execute a “picture move,” snapping photos of your original suite and then replicating the placement of your personal items in your new digs.
Gourmands won’t be disappointed with Grand Velas’ seven restaurants (shared between the three hotels), which include three all-day and four fine-dining choices, plus 24-hour room service. Breakfast at Azul, where the bountiful buffet includes mimosas and roast-duck wraps, and enjoy dinner with a Pan-Asian flourish at chic Sen Lin, where the Ebi Imperial features shrimp in sea-urchin sauce garnished with flakes of gold leaf.
By day, guests swarm the resort’s three pools or Velas’ 1,600-foot white-sand shore, where they recline in cabanas draped with billowing white curtains and attended by beach butlers proffering chilled towels, cocktails and silver platters of fruit. The centerpiece of the compound is a palatial two-story spa, claimed to be the largest in the Caribbean. Guided by a spa valet, the Water Journey is an hour spent in a near-comatose state, drifting from clay room to steam room, ice room to hot tub, massaging shower to jetted pool.
Grand Velas delivers all the niceties you’d expect of any luxury resort – all-inclusive or otherwise. But it also excels in the smaller touches: Doormen offer mahogany step stools for graceful disembarkation from the hotel shuttle, bottled water and a card with the weather forecast arrive at turndown, and wooden stools designed specifically for ladies’ handbags stand tableside in restaurants. Everywhere you go, staffers somehow know your name – a level of personalized attention that makes you feel genuinely cared for. And that, perhaps, is the greatest luxury of all.
From $380 in low season ($450 high)*; 866-314-9327; grandvelas.com
Jumby Bay, Antigua
Accessible only by boat, this legendary (and pricey) 40-room, 16-villa resort presides over a 300-acre island two miles off the Antiguan coast. Fresh from a multimillion-dollar renovation, it boasts a new spa, restaurant, beachfront suites and oceanfront infinity pool. From $950 per room in low season ($1,395 high); 888-ROSEWOOD (888-767-3966); jumbybayresort.com
Royal Plantation Island at Fowl Cay, the Bahamas
The living is luxe on this 50-acre private Exuma outpost, which accommodates just 30 deep-pocketed guests in six one- to three-bedroom villas, each with a butler, its own golf cart and a motorboat. From $11,000 per week in low season ($13,750 high) for a one-bedroom villa, which sleeps four; 888-48-ROYAL (888-487-0925); royalplantationisland.com
Valentin Imperial Maya, Mexico
This 540-suite adults-only Playa del Secreto resort offers nine restaurants, a spa and, in premium room categories, complimentary massages. Private check-in, free Internet and 24-hour room service are additional conveniences. From $200 in low season ($250 high); 800-232-8316; valentinmaya.com
_*Unless otherwise noted, all rates are quoted per person, per night, based on double occupancy.