Spa is small and not as luxurious the rest of the hotel
Some rooms overlook parking lots and undeveloped land
Puerto Morelos is quieter and less built up than Playa or Cancun (a pro for some!)
This stunning, all-suite luxury property in Puerto Morelos has 103 incredibly spacious rooms with huge balconies or patios. Though many have full kitchens, there is only one on-site restaurant, El Faro, which serves international and Mexican cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- but the menu can get repetitive, especially for those on the all-inclusive plan. There are three beautiful pools, including one for children and one for adults that has a swim-up bar. The beach is superior to many in the area, with soft white sand, calm waters, and a lack of seaweed. The hotel offers free parking and Wi-Fi, and has an excellent on-site gym, but the tiny spa is a bit of a letdown. Those who prefer an option with more restaurants should compare all-inclusive rates with the much larger Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa.
Grand Residences Riviera Cancun is a luxury, all-suite resort in the sleepy town of Puerto Morelos. Even at full capacity, the hotel is quiet and feels uncrowded. The majority of guests here are couples and families, and there are plenty of multi-generational groups taking advantage of the hotel’s awesome multi-bedroom suites with full kitchens and living rooms. This is not a place for spring breakers, or guests looking for beach volleyball games and pool aerobics. Even though all-inclusive packages are available, the Grand Residences is popular with guests who like to self-cater and are looking to avoid the typical all-inclusive scene. Here, the atmosphere is quiet, and most guests seem content to spend their days lazily lounging by the pool.
In Puerto Morelos, about halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen
About halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos is a tiny town with not much going on. It’s not as built up as its mega-resort neighbors, but it has a tiny downtown square with a few shops and restaurants. While Puerto Morelos isn’t necessarily a destination unto itself, many travelers prefer to stay here, where it’s quiet and less touristy. Grand Residences Riviera Cancun is about a five- to 10-minute drive from downtown Puerto Morelos, and is about 40 minutes from both Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Cancun Airport is about 25 minutes away.
Grand Residences is an all-suite property with some seriously luxe rooms. All are incredibly spacious and have huge marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, separate showers with rainfall shower heads, Bulgari toiletries, and thoughtful extras like toothbrushes and bug spray. The smallest room type is the Junior Suite, which has either two queen-size beds, or a king bed plus a Murphy bed. Junior Suites have small kitchenettes with granite countertops, fully stocked Sub-zero mini-fridges, a microwave, basic kitchen needs such as bowls, plates, cups, and utensils, and both a Cuisinart coffeemaker and Nespresso machine. Upon arrival, all guests receive free in-room snacks, fresh fruit, and a bottle of tequila.
A Master Suite includes one bedroom with a king-size bed, separate living and dining spaces, a master bathroom, half bathroom, laundry room, and a fully (maybe even overly) equipped kitchen (think: stainless steel Sub-zero/Wolf appliances, including a huge refrigerator, gas-burning stove, separate oven, microwave, and dishwasher, plus unexpected extras like a juicer and wine cooler). The bedroom features dark wood furniture with rattan inlays, and bright pops of red and amber throughout the room. The living room has a large sectional sofa, two club chairs, and a large entertainment unit with a flat-screen TV. The dining table can accommodate eight people and sits between the living room and the kitchen. Guests can request a chef from the hotel to cook their meals in their kitchen for them -- for an extra charge of course. Just off the kitchen is the laundry room, which has a gorgeous front-loading washing machine, but no dryer. Guests traveling with large groups or families can combine multiple Master Suites and Junior Suites to create multi-bedroom apartments.
Each room at Grand Residences has some sort of balcony or terrace. The most standard balcony is equipped with two cushioned chairs and a small table. Other more upgraded balconies also include a small hot tub. Most balconies have full or partial ocean views, but for those that don’t, the dismal parking lot or nearby undeveloped land constitutes the “view.” Perhaps the most enviable outdoor spaces are the ground-floor terraces with private pools. These terraces are large, with cushioned lounge chairs, a dining table, and a private plunge pool big enough for leisurely swims. Guests who would like their own pool need to book a Master Suite on the ground floor.
The spa at Grand Residences is a bit of a letdown. It’s small, ultra-dark, and not as luxurious as the rest of the resort. The fitness center, on the other hand, is modern, with Life Fitness Equipment, tons of exercise balls and free weights, and plenty of towels and bottled water. The only downsides are that it’s small and doesn’t have ocean views. Next to the gym and spa (one floor above the lobby) is a mini-market that sells everything from souvenirs and beach toys to alcohol and frozen pizzas. There are also fresh fruit and yogurt, milk, breakfast pastries and cereals, all kinds of frozen foods, and tons of snack items. Guests who’d like to cook in their kitchen can easily do a full grocery shopping trip in the mini-market, or request the hotel’s grocery shopping service to do it for them (for an extra fee). But, like any hotel convenience store, all of the items in the market are scarily overpriced.
The on-site kids' club is an added bonus for families traveling with kids and activities include sand art, face painting, and Xbox. As far as freebies are concerned, guests receive a welcome drink upon arrival (yes, we will take that margarita at 11 a.m., thank you very much), free in-room snacks, and a free bottle of tequila. There are also free parking and free Wi-Fi for all guests.
Three distinct pools, including one with a swim-up bar
There are three gigantic pools at Grand Residences: the lap pool, the adult pool, and the family pool. The lap pool is located closest to the lobby and does not overlook the beach. There are dozens of lounge chairs surrounding the lap pool, but it tends to remain quiet and uncrowded during the day. The adult-only pool and the family pool both overlook the beach. The adult-only spot has an infinity edge and a large swim-up bar. One tier below is the family pool, which has a small, shallow area just for kids. A seemingly endless number of lounge chairs and beach umbrellas surround both pools, and throughout the day, hotel attendants eagerly hand out cold towels, ice pops, fresh fruit, and sunscreen. Even at maximum occupancy, all pools remain fairly calm and quiet. Many guests reserve rooms with private plunge pools, which keeps the main pool areas from getting overly crowded.
The beach at the hotel is one of the nicest in the area. With soft white sand and calm waters, it’s ideal for families and kids. The seaweed infestation that plagues a good majority of the Riviera Maya also seemed to have skipped the beach at Grand Residences (at least during our visit), keeping the waters clear and the sand pristine. The hotel sets up lounge chairs directly on the beach, and there is a lifeguard on duty during the day.
The menu can get repetitive at the one on-site restaurant.
El Faro, the hotel’s one on-site restaurant, serves international cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The dinner menu consists of fresh seafood, steaks, and a few Mexican specialities. The food is good, but generally overpriced. Guests staying more than a few days may find the menu to be repetitive, as this is the only on-site dining option. The hotel is not considered an all-inclusive resort, but does offer all-inclusive plans that cover food and beverage costs.
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