by Gina Hines
We had another Riviera Maya experience that has to be shared with you. You can tell we travel, constantly, and in this issue alone, we have been in Mexico quite a bit and not complaining one iota. Staying at Grand Velas Riviera Maya is an ultra-luxury all-inclusive resort experience. Checking in to their Grand Class Ambiance section of the resort is next-level amazing. The resort itself is set on 206 acres of pristine jungle and mangroves, buffered by some of the finest white sand beach in the Riviera Maya. We chose oceanfront accommodations, because the Caribbean Sea never gets old. It was either the ocean or Zen-like tropical setting, embraced by the flora and fauna of the Yucatan Peninsula’s jungle. We figured we could see that on our daily strolls around the property or during our time in the spa which is set amidst the same jungle. All of the resort’s suites are exceptionally spacious. The deep tubs are set inside spacious bathrooms, with marble finishes and massive walk-in showers that felt like spas all on their own. The tub and the balcony, with a private plunge pool, were both hard to pass up. I often opted to soak in the plunge pool while watching the sun do its thing. Sometimes that was high noon, and other times it was early in the morning. There was always a reason to sit and soak.
A few times we ended up ordering light snacks and raiding the fully stocked minibar for beverages. We, pretty much had it made In our suite, but we knew we needed to get out and experience more than a fabulous room with a view. There was a day, I believe it was our first day, when we grabbed our artisanal mezcal (gifted in-suite to guests upon arrival) and sauntered off to the pool. After we cracked it open, no judgment by the pool attendants, we figured we may have made a mistake. There was a bar that we could just float up to and servers all around the pool, ready and willing to get us any beverage we desired. As silly as we may have felt, we quickly drowned out those emotions by taking full advantage of the service at hand, coupled with our bottle of mezcal. We soldiered on, as we do. The guys at the pool did more than set up our chairs and grab cocktails. They were paying so much attention to the little details that when a smudge was seen on our sunglasses, they took them from us, squirted them with a cleaner and shined them up to like-new status. Can’t beat that. We had good pool days and some even better dining experiences. The same level of overt service prevailed throughout every experience. They have eight restaurants, including five gourmet offerings, the variety amongst them presents a tour through Mexico, Europe and Asia. Cocina de Autor, at the hands of world renowned celebrity chefs Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso, holds the AAA Five Diamond Award, the first all-inclusive restaurant in the world to win this prestigious distinction. That alone should tell you what a treat you are in for. The resort does things on a grand level. Se Spa is the region’s largest spa sanctuary at more than 90,000 square feet, known for its authentic Mexican treatments as well as offerings from around world and signature seven-step water journey. We dove into the entire experience, spending hours in the water journey before and after our treatments. The tranquility and cascading waters had us floating on cloud nine. The spa has massive glass walls that let the jungle setting enter your experience of the spa. There are cenotes (Mexico’s underground rivers) just beyond the glass, so while you are floating in the spa’s aquatic indulgences, there’s an easy ability to slip into a state of “being” in a larger body of water, being at one with nature. This is an indulgent spa experience inside and out.
Our butler sent a car for us to head back to the suite since we had been in the spa so long that night had fallen and the stroll back was a little bit of a walk. Grand Class was all about service and we are all about Grand Class. One of the new experiences that the resort is launching is an innovative and exciting new activity that transports guests around the country and back in time with its new ancestral drink tasting. It sounds pretty neat. With a tasting of bacanora, sotol, tuxca, and pox, guests will learn how these ancestral recipes came to be and how they are being reinvented and reintroduced to a modern palate with cocktail recipes. We love that the Ancestral Drink Tasting will be held weekly in 2019.Since we had to leave before the launch, we got the details for you.
- Derived from the Pacific Agave which grows wild in the northern Sonoran region of Mexico, bacanora can trace its beginnings to over 300 years ago. During the workshop, guests will taste the bacanora, a naturally fermenting, 100% agave artisanal drink. The liquor has an almond scented finish on both the nose and palate.
- Next up is sotol which finds its roots in the wild plants of Dasylirion, a genus of North American plants in the asparagus family, all native to Mexico. Totally organic with spear-like leaves, it can take upwards of 15 years for these plants to mature enough to harvest. Hailing from Durango, the leaves of the Dassylirion are distilled by grinding by hand and then fermenting in plastic tubs for 3 days, followed by a double distillation in stainless steel craft stills. Known for its pine and hazelnut aroma, the liquor has a medium viscosity and a sharp herbaceous edge to the taste.
- Tuxca dates back to the 16th century in the vicinity of the Snow and Fire volcanoes, south of Jalisco and North of Colima. This handmade mezcal relies on over 20 varieties of different agaves to imbue its liquor. The proximity to the volcanic region adds an element of minerality to the liquor. Baked in a conical oven in the ground, tuxca is fermented in the volcanic stone and offers a double distillation.
- Lastly, guests will taste pox, born from the ancient springs discovered by Mayan ancestors. Fermented from sugarcane, brown sugar, wheat and fresh spring water, the elements meld in oak containers until fully finished. Representing a link from land and water, this fresh and slightly oaky drink from Chiapas holds both the naturally fresh and clean flavor of water and the woodsy hints from land.
We need to head back and try this tasting. If we get back before you get here, we will definitely fill you in, but you know it’s never the same as tasting it for yourself. www.rivieramaya.grandvelas.com/