Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Farewell to the Grand Velas Rivera Maya

It seemed like we had just arrived in Riviera Maya, but it was time for the group farewell dinner and yet another example of Five Diamond food and service was chosen at Grand Velas. We were having dinner at Frida, and Chef Daniel Garcia Gomez had prepared a special meal for us at this modern Mexican restaurant.

We started with some Margaritas. I had become quite fond of the mango ones and this one was very good, except for the salt on the rim. Salt may work for a plain Margarita, but not a fruit one. Our first course was a delicious Goat Cheese in a Pumpkin Seed Crust with Agave Honey Dressing and Amaranth Croutons, followed by a Poblano Pepper Cream Soup with Crisp Pork Skin, Corn and Panela Cheese, very tasty, but a bit too spicy for me.

The third course was a Sea Bass in Yellow Mole Sauce with Cilantro Rice and Green Beans. My fellow diners raved about the fish while I enjoyed the rice and vegetables. The main dish was Rack of Lamb with a Bread and Oregano Crust in a Birria Lamb Broth Reduction with Caramelized Onions and Radishes, which was tender and tasty. Dessert was quite unusual, but I really liked it – Mexican Chocolate Mousse with Mole Poblano Cream, Amaranth and Pumpkin Seed Tile Served with Caramel Rum Sauce. I’ve never had such a hot (and I’m not talking about the temperature) dessert, but I have to say it worked.
I met with Jennifer Hamer for breakfast at Azul, a Gran Velas restaurant I had yet to go to. It was another delicious egg white omelet for me, presented beautifully with beans and fried cheese. It also came with a delicious bread basket full of goodies that I was glad I discovered on the final day rather than the first one (though this trip certainly had no shortage of goodies to eat).

The Grand Velas Spa was the largest I’ve ever seen. The complex is over 89,000 square feet and has 40 different suites, including five couples suites that are bigger (and have more amenities) than most hotel rooms. The “Experience Pool” area includes a heated pool, “Volcano Geyser,” sensory foot walkway, “Cascade Falls,” water bubble beds and a circular neck jet. The spa also has a sauna, steam room, clay room, whirlpool, ice room and polar pool. I was also impressed with a full elevator for those unable to use stairs.

In addition to standard treatments, they offer seven packages that they call “Journeys through the World,” which include unique treatments such as a Diamond Sublime Experience and a Gotu Kola and Oat Firming Body Envelopment. I also saw for the first time anywhere the Garra Rufa Fish Pedicure. These are the (toothless) fish who gently clean your dead and hardened skin while you relax.

The only thing I didn’t like about the spa was the fact that I never had a chance to use it, but my spa time was coming soon. I said goodbye to my fellow writers and to Grand Velas, but I was certainly not leaving Mexico, or even Riviera Maya. I still had a few more days to go. I was heading to Secrets Maroma, where I would stay for the next few days, while also exploring its sister resorts.  And, maybe, I’d even get to enjoy the beautiful beach a bit before I head home!

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