Nestled between the world’s second-largest barrier reef and an expansive nature preserve lies the tiny fishing village of Puerto Morelos. Home to just 1,200 year-round residents, you’ll find fresh seafood restaurants along the beach and people browsing through colorful shops, enjoying live music on the weekends and admiring the nearly century-old leaning lighthouse. It’s also home to Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, a five-star resort that feels more like a home than a hotel. If you want a truly relaxing location for your mid-winter break, spring break or beyond, this is your answer. We had the opportunity to scout it out ahead of time, and trust us, you’ll want to book your room ASAP. Keep reading to learn more.
One of the things we loved about the Grand Residences Rivera Cancun is that it’s made up of all suite-style rooms, which means you have choices: You can take a JUNK trip with your partner. You can book anything from a one-to three-bedroom suite that comes equipped with everything from a small kitchenette to a full kitchen/laundry with extra murphy beds in the living room. There’s even a four-bedroom presidential suite that sleeps up to 13 (ahem, multi-gen vacation). You can book your stay as an all-inclusive or as an a la carte, and here’s a huge perk: kids ages 12 and under stay for free.
There’s a mix of oceanfront views and resort views, and all of the suites are pristine, with decor inspired by the local culture. There’s a “pillow menu,” which allows you to choose the firmness you like best, Nespresso coffee machines, cookies for the kids and our favorite—after the turn-down service, you’ll find a cute Alebrije figure for each night of your stay.
The Activities & Amenities
It doesn’t take much to keep yourself entertained here, and there’s a definite wellness vibe for those who like to be active. The Grand Residences has four pools (one is a lap pool), tennis courts with thrice-weekly clinics, bike rentals, and even the option to charter a sailboat for an extra charge. Daily activities vary from yoga to Zumba, bingo, poker, bike tours, musical trivia and even the incredibly unique High Tea on Mondays (for an extra fee) from 4 - 5 p.m. There’s a complimentary kids club for guests ages four and up, with all sorts of activities including face painting, treasure hunts, Mayan games, arts and crafts and more. Tweens have their own area where they can hang out and play ping pong or sign up for activities like beach soccer and movie night.
The stretch of private beach is intimate and right below the infinity-edge pool. The pool and beach-side services come from Heaven Beach Bar, where tasty snacks like guacamole and fish tacos are cooked on-site. Once a week, there’s a poolside BBQ, and there are swinging benches and plenty of sunbeds for relaxing.
If the master chef and on-site sommelier don’t sway you, the expertly prepared food will do the trick. Breakfast, lunch and some special dinners can be enjoyed at El Faro Grill, which offers everything from buffet brunch-style offerings to five-star steak and wine pairings at night. Flor de Canela, the resident Mexican cuisine restaurant, has plenty of small plates perfect for sharing, with an emphasis on fresh local seafood. Flor de Canela is only open for dinner, so make sure to block off one night to give it a try! Another unique aspect of the Grand Residences is the Natural Foods Gourmet Market, located above the main lobby. You can grab local produce, kid-friendly snacks and frozen food, breakfast cereals, and just about anything else you need. There’s also wine and souvenirs for purchase.
The service at the Grand Residences is the real deal. From the complimentary ground service to and from the airport to the staff members calling you by name by the end of your stay, each and every person working at the resort goes out of his or her way to ensure your vacation is the very best it can be. On-site staff includes a master chef, a sommelier, a friendly concierge, a master of ceremonies, and much more. You can arrange for a private chef to cook your entire family a meal one night, or take dancing lessons as a couple another.
All about the Local Area
It might be hard to choose between the various choices of off-site experiences because options range from swimming one of the nearby cenotes, snorkeling the barrier reef (we loved the Lighthouse Tours two-hour tour), or visiting ancient Mayan Ruins. A highlight for families is Crococun, a local wildlife center filled with crocodiles, parrots, turtles, iguanas, spider monkeys and more. Each tour is guided by a biologist; kids will be able to hold a baby crocodile, feed deer and turtles, plus there’s picnic/playground area that’s perfect for fueling up after seeing all the animals.
An absolute must is to spend a long afternoon in the fishing village of Puerto Morelos. Stroll down the dock over clear waters to view catamaran sailboats, wander and shop the charming avenues, burn off steam at the playground in the center square and admire the leaning lighthouse that has survived nearly one-hundred years of coastal storms. There are several seafood restaurants to choose from; we recommend Boquinete, one of the newest restaurants to line the beachfront of Puerto Morelos. The tacos are plentiful and delicious, as is the ceviche and reef fish. They have a beachfront, which can be helpful for parents with wiggly kids or be a memorable dining spot for an adults-only night.
Getting to the Grand Residences is simple, especially if you book directly from their website (ground transportation will be free). It’s a mere 30- minute drive to the resort from the Cancun airport (CUN), only 11 miles away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Cancun.
All images by Gabby Cullen unless otherwise noted.
Editor’s note: While this trip was paid for by Grand Residences, all opinions here belong to the writer.