Earlier this week I returned from my fourth trip to Mexico this year. You might think that, by now, I’d be tired of traveling to the same country over and over again (or, as my brother does, suspect that I’m applying for ambassadorship), but each visit brings a unique experience, from scenery to food to local life. This most recent trip was my first to Puerto Vallarta, and perhaps my most eye-opening and authentic experience in Mexico yet. I have a few posts lined up that will explain, but first, a few scenes from Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, where I stayed this time around.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is unique in the world of luxury travel in that it’s an all-inclusive, which means you won’t have to be constantly reaching into your pockets during your stay. It also holds a coveted Five Diamond rating by AAA, which is as good as it gets. Once you’re here, it’s easy to see how the resort earned the honor. Its grounds are meticulous, its pools are to die for, its beach is wide and accommodates sunbathers, runners, and swimmers, its spa is a totally immersive experience, and its restaurants—three of which themselves hold AAA Four Diamond status—could hold their own against top-rated eateries in places like New York, Miami, and San Francisco.
When I wasn’t moaning and cooing over my dinners at Frida and Piaf, I found time to go for a bike ride through a nearby residential development, which had a golf course and, oddly, a zoo. (I’m an animal lover to a maniacal degree and I don’t care much for zoos, so I refrained from taking pictures out of principle.) Before we set out for our ride, I had to test-drive this guy, a bronze sculptural chair by Mexican artist Alejandro Colunga, in case there was a chance it’d fit in my living room.
And then, off we went!
Back at the resort, we treated our road-weary legs (and arms, shoulders, backs, and butts) to a couple of hours at the spa.
Apart from a few minutes in a relaxation room while waiting for your therapist to arrive, lots of spas focus solely on your time on the treatment table. But every now and then you stumble into one that’s much more immersive, and this one was one of them. For an hour before our services, we frolicked in the spa’s hydrotherapy room for the Grand Velas Water Ritual, getting blasted by jets in a shower, sweltering in a sauna, smearing our bellies and limbs with crushed ice, sweating it out (and begging for mercy) in a steam room complete with chromotherapy lighting, and dunking ourselves alternatingly in hot and cold plunge pools. It got our blood flowing and left our skin perfectly primed for the 50 minutes of bliss that followed. I all but cried when my Grand Cora Massage was over. I didn’t want it to end. (Read about it and other treatments here.) A variety of sounds—from tiny, chimey cymbals to rattly maracas—and scents (sinus-clearing fresh mint) were incorporated into the massage, and while it fell more in the category of stimulating than soothing, my therapist, Angie, still managed to make me doze off with her smooth, fluid motions. Aahhh.
These pretty petal-filled bowls are done from scratch daily by spa staff.
After the spa it was time to hit the pool…
…and the beach, where I watched this brave soul boogie-board in the roaring waves (or, at least, contemplate it).
This spot, the beachfront restaurant Azul, was more my speed for watching the waves.
We started each day with an early-morning pot of coffee on the balcony watching the water. On our last morning, waves rolled in in astonishing succession, one right after another. Check them out, below.
Such a peaceful spot. Stay tuned for a few fun excursions and highlights from my visit to Puerto Vallarta. Have you been to Puerto Vallarta? Where did you stay, and what did you do?