Grand Residences, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Between  the crowded tourist meccas of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, there lies a little slice of heaven at the Grand Residences, Puerto Morelos, Mexico.

The weather has turned from glorious to il fait moche (yucky).

When there were little people in our lives, we would force ourselves to go for walks in the park, make snow people and forts, paint the snow with food colour, and have slush-ball fights… But those days are long gone. Winter has come.

via GIPHY

Unlike more rugged Canucks, we begin our winter hibernation as soon as the northern winds, sleet and snow start to besiege our beloved Ottawa. Late fall: that utterly gruesome time of year when people kick themselves for not having put on their winter tires, and when they call the auto shop they find they have to wait for weeks to get an appointment.

When the first snow of each year comes, we begin what is rapidly becoming our new normal: we buy a pass at our local gym, where we can take our evening constitutional on a treadmill rather than slip, slide and ouch on the sidewalk; we turn on the gas fireplace; and we take the odd long weekend in a tropical hot spot.

Using Orbitz and a coupon code, we booked a four-day all-inclusive including all meals, drinks, room service and airfare, to the Grand Residences on the Mayan Riviera, at the eastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. The Grand Residences received a 5 out of 5 rating and a 2016 Travellers’ Choice award on Trip Advisor.

Flying into the Cancun airport, blue and turquoise water and a long sandy beach seen from the air
Flying into the Cancun airport
Hotel representative waiting for us at the airport
Prior to arriving we were told that a representative in blue pants and yellow shirt would be waiting for us in front of the airport. Immediately upon exiting the airport, we spotted the hombre of the moment who took our names then walked us to where the hotel driver was waiting for us in a private van.

While our bags were being placed in the trunk, the driver gave us bottles of water and refreshing cold, wet towels that smelled of orange blossoms to cool our brows. He asked us what flavor of margarita we would like to find waiting for us when we arrived at the resort, and placed our order by cell phone before pulling out into traffic.

Caution sign on road - crocodile, snake, iguana and some other animal crossing
On the way, the driver regaled us with a brief history of the area including a tale of hurricane Gilbert in 1988 when all the crocodiles escaped from a local croc farm (now the Crococun Zoo) into the surrounding Mangrove swamps.

The driver gave us a brief tour around the quaint town square of Puerto Morelos.

Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Puerto Morelos sign in bright colors

Lighthouse, Puerto Morelos, Mexico. It was tilted over in Hurricane Beulah, 1967.
Lighthouse, Puerto Morelos, Mexico. It was tilted over in Hurricane Beulah, 1967.
Street art - a prickly cactus growing from the bowl of an old toilet.
Street art in Puerto Morelos

From Puerto Morelos it was about a ten minute drive to the most luxurious resort we have ever visited.

Grand Residences, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

On arrival, our bags were whisked away to our room and we were handed ice-cold lime margaritas while we chatted with our own personal concierge Marcella, who wore a name tag that said Maria. Apparently all the new women who work there get to wear the Maria name tag for the first few weeks while theirs is being made up.

Check-in went very smoothly and we were given our turquoise coloured resort foam rubber bracelets with embedded chips. The bracelet was our pass to luxury, opening the door to our room, using the elevator, and to confirm our all-inclusive status at the restaurant and several bars.

A sliver necklace was also given as a welcome gift.

As we had to wait a few hours until our suite was ready, we went to the El Faro (Lighthouse) Grill and ate a magnificent seafood lunch al fresco overlooking the impossibly blue water and sky. Just as we finished, lunch Marcella who is not Maria came to tell us our suite was ready.

magnificent shrimp cocktail
The resort has magnificent food, with no stinting on quality or quantity

The junior suite was simply lovely.

Inside the room there are two buttons: one to indicate you want to have your room made up, another to indicate that you do not want to be disturbed. These light up discrete indicators outside to direct housekeeping.

The spacious air-conditioned suite had three large cupboards which contained: pillow menu, iron/board, a safe, XXL white cotton robes, lots of hangers, and drawers.

A selection of 5 miniature pillows from which you can select the firmness and material you like
A pillow menu, should you prefer a different hardness or composition to the default provided.

Beside the cupboard was a kitchen with high-end dishes, glassware, cutlery, a mini-bar fridge with beer and soft drinks (for which there was no extra change for guests on an all-inclusive plan), coffee maker, microwave, toaster, Nespresso maker with capsules, a Toblerone bar, containers of dried fruit and nuts, a bottle of Herradura gold reposado tequila with two shot glasses, salt and a cut up lime. Had we not chosen the all inclusive, we would have been able to easily prepare meals in the kitchenette.

Across from the kitchen was the bathroom suite, which had a double sink vanity with top-end amenities including a bar of hand-made chocolate soap, a spa tub, a shower room and a toilet room. The fixtures and hardware were top end Kohler. The towels were high end, thick, huge, and heavenly. While the water is potable throughout the resort (they have their own reverse osmosis plant on site), bottles of chilled water were everywhere in abundant supply.

On the first day only, orchid flowers were strewn around the bathroom. Nothing says luxury quite like stepping on an orchid after showering with Bulgari product.
On the first day only, orchid flowers were strewn around the bathroom. Nothing says luxury quite like stepping on an orchid after showering with Bulgari product.

The suite has two double beds, a night-stand, a dining table/desk, free WiFi, HD flat screen TV, DVD/Blu-Ray player, phone, cable and pretty much anything else you could need. They even provided a complimentary beach tote bag and Off mosquito repellant.

The outdoor covered private porch sports a couple of chairs and a private hot tub where we enjoyed a Bulgari bubble bath while watching the sun set.
The outdoor covered private porch sports a couple of chairs and a private hot tub where we enjoyed a Bulgari bubble bath while watching the sun set.
Still full from lunch we went for a wonderful Mexican style dinner at the resort's second restaurant, the Flor de Canela (Cinnamon Flower) complete with a Mexican band.
Still full from lunch we went for a wonderful Mexican style dinner at the resort’s second restaurant, the Flor de Canela (Cinnamon Flower) complete with a Mexican band.

When we returned from dinner our beds had been turned down, slippers laid out and there was a charming pillow gift – a Mexican wooden bobble-head in a box.

We slept for 12 hours straight. The stress of the developing frozen white landscape that we had escaped melted away, and soon we had almost completely forgotten the “real world” of sleet and 9-5 jobs with unpaid overtime.

The European breakfast at the El Faro restaurant, both buffet and menu, was simply wonderful.

The El Faro restaurant was overseen by the happiest Buddha this side of Asia.
The El Faro restaurant was overseen by the happiest Buddha this side of Asia.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

The next day we decided to go to Playa del Carmen to stroll down the main street, Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), home to international restaurants, high-end shops, pharmacies, ticky-tacky tourist trinkets and hustlers. After the 11th stranger who introduced himself as our “waiter from the hotel last night” who was working at his parent’s shop that was having it’s “grand opening today”… we decided to go back to the tranquil paradise where we had unpacked our suitcases, rather than making it an even dozen.

mx-skeleton-driver

mx-skeleton-booth

Grand Residences, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Fruit kebabs served poolside - and even in the pool
Fruit kebabs served poolside – and even in the pool

We spent the rest of the day (and the next few days) by the pool indulging in lounge chairs that the ever-attentive staff made up with towels which they tucked in so they would stay in place, and towel headrests, accepting the chilled Evian water spray, fruit kebabs, nibblies, frozen fruitsicles, water, and drinkipoos that were offered throughout the day.

Swim-up bar
Swim-up bar

For every two chairs there was a table and an umbrella. One could remain as pasty or as red as one desired. To get some exercise, we swam to the bar in the middle of the pool or moved to beach chairs by the ocean and walked along the silky white sand beach holding hands looking at corals that had washed ashore.

On Saturday and Sunday, just before dinner, there was a wedding under a canopy on the beach… with ubiquitous Mexican musicians soothing the romantic soul.

On Saturday and Sunday, just before dinner, there was a wedding under a canopy on the beach… with ubiquitous Mexican musicians soothing the romantic soul.

Boomers enjoying the warm Yucatan waters
Boomers enjoying the warm Yucatan waters

The Grand Residences is Boomer friendly. During our brief stay we met many friendly and extremely interesting Boomers who owned a suite for a few weeks a year for the next 100 years (kinda like a time share but not quite). As a whole, the “owners” seemed to have developed  a happy and close-knit community who were living the a pampered life.

Summary

The resort is superb and well-worth the five-star rating.

  • Great international food and drink.
  • High-end rooms and amenities.
  • The resort is spotlessly clean (eg., the room is cleaned twice a day, they spray every evening to eliminate the mosquito population).
  • The tap  water is “gringo” safe  (a real issue in much of Mexico).
  • The most attentive and extremely professional resort staff imaginable.
  • The staff and “owners” are extremely welcoming.
  • A great spot for destination weddings and extended family gatherings.
  • We barely scratched the resources available at the Grand Residences (e.g., the gym, the spa, the lap pool). But our prime goal was sun, sleep and relaxation, and enjoying the good life in Mexico, which we had in spades.
  • Not a resort for evening party animals.

The only negatives about this superb resort were (and we are being picky):

  • The hotel charged an extra 10% for calling a cab.
  • The hotel shop would not accept cash (only room charge or credit card), leaving us with a fist full of pesos at the end of the trip.
  • To get pesos at the hotel you needed to have foreign currency. The ATM at the hotel would give American dollars only for a very high fee (US$6.95 to use the machine and an extra US$6.95 for each $100 you took out) which you then had to exchange for pesos at the front desk where at least there was no fee and an OK exchange rate.

Sometimes life is very good. Then you have to go back to reality…

car covered in snow with frowny face drawn on side window

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