Last Updated on January 7, 2024
I recall the first time I visited Riviera Maya. It was to celebrate my husband’s 60th birthday.
When I asked what he wanted for his birthday that year he responded, with no hesitation, “I want to see Mayan ruins.”
After a good bit of research, I decided on a stay at the Grand Mayan Riviera Maya because of its location, stunning pools and beach waterfront, restaurants, and amazing reviews.
We called it, “where the lush jungle meets the Caribbean Sea.”
The vacation club resort, part of the Vidanta Resorts family, is located on the Yucatán Peninsula in Playa del Carmen, just 30 minutes from Cancun. Part of a sprawling beachfront resort complex including the Grand Mayan, Mayan Palace, the Grand Bliss Riviera and Grand Luxxe, nothing about this resort feels crowded. Due to the number of swimming pools, restaurants and places to relax, guests have so many benefits and choices available during their stay.
Getting to the Grand Mayan Resort
Once a reservation has been booked, guests can arrange transportation from the airport to the resort following the information provided in an email booking confirmation. Return to the airport however is the responsibility of the guest, though the resort is more than happy to assist with a transport reservation.
If you’re renting a car (which we always do when traveling to this region), you can drive directly to the resort. This does allow the option of freedom when exploring this stunningly beautiful area.
Staying at the Grand Mayan
A massive Mayan obelisk greeted us as we entered the lobby of the resort. It was as if we were being welcomed into a totally different, almost sacred place within an incredibly natural and lush setting.
“It’s really jungle-y here,” I told my hubby as we were escorted by resort staff to what would be our home away from home for seven nights. He chuckled at my description, but could hardly disagree.
The Grand Mayan Riviera Maya offers both master rooms and suites that include either one or two bedrooms, some with plunge pools on the balcony.
Because it was just the two of us on this trip, we opted for a one-bedroom suite that included a king bed, bath, a living room with a dining table, and a terrace with a private plunge pool. The suite, however, could accommodate four guests (though two would have to be under the age of 12).
We loved our views overlooking the jungle surrounding the resort and listening to the sounds of wildlife that were music to our ears.
Riviera Maya Resort Amenities
Here’s an advance word of warning. The pools at the Grand Mayan resort and others on the property are so pristine and stunning, that once in, you won’t want to get out. One of the pools features an infinity design that includes a massive Mayan sculpture. Others are surrounded by lush vegetation, Mayan thatched huts, and many have swim-up pools bars (nice swim-up pool bars)!
Pools also range from hidden and intimate, to sprawling and fun-filled and many include hot tubs as well.
Though were at the resort during the spring season, none of these pool areas seemed crowded and there was plenty of lounge seating available.
Though many resorts in Riviera Maya have rocky beaches that are not particularly kid or swim-friendly, the Vidanta Riviera Maya family sports an entire beachfront lined with palapas, hammocks, seating areas and places to play in the sand. This is all due to Vidanta’s initiatives ensuring the shores are always pristine and swimmable with plenty of clean white sand and the absence of seaweed that’s captured by nets offshore and composted for fertilizer.
You’ll also love the picturesque boardwalk right off the beach.
The resort also offers a full fitness center with a workout room, tennis court, table tennis, a spa and salon and a children’s outdoor play area.
Crafted by of one the legendary masters of the game, the Nicklaus Par Three Experience is one of the world’s most beautiful shot courses referred to as, “the jewel of the jungle.”
The scenery is magnificent and the almost 3,000 yards of rolling fairways and devilish sand traps make this a course many golfers want to play.
Jungala Aqua Experience
The all-new Jungala (prounounced Hoon-ga-la) Aqua Experience is an extraordinary water park with an additional cost, but we hear it’s worth every penny from friends who were recent guests of the resort. It runs approximately $80 for an entire day and $40 for seniors, pregnant ladies, those with disabilities and children from three to nine years old. Children under three are free.
Jungala features the longest lazy river in Latin America at over 3,000 feet, a myriad of slides and pools, plenty of seating to chill, private cabanas and much more.
Dining at the Resort
Unlike so many Mexican and Caribbean resorts offering an all-inclusive option or those who make it mandatory, the four resorts on the Vidanta Riviera Maya property including Grand Mayan do not offer an all-inclusive.
This was totally fine by us, as there are places where we felt the all-inclusive was worth the money and others that we didn’t necessarily find budget friendly.
But let’s talk about the dining at the resort because it’s a real adventure.
With almost 20 restaurants and lounges, guests get to experience amazing cuisine from around the world. Dining options include beachside bars eateries and casual venues to finer dining establishments. If you’re into ocean views, don’t miss Havana Moon featuring the spices of Cuba and the Caribbean in their amazing dishes such as Pollo Jerk and “Enchilado” Shrimp.
Gong highlights the culinary traditions and delicacies of Asia with favorites like Peking Duck, lobster rolls, tempura ice cream and dessert sushi.
Del Lago Restaurante offers one of the most extensive and impressive breakfast buffets imaginable as well as themed dinners. Diners take in the beauty of the lake and lush surrounding gardens in this open-air outdoor and indoor dining space.
Cirque Du Soleil JOYÀ
If you’ve ever seen a Cirque Du Soleil show you know how incredible they are. It’s hard to beat the Riviera Maya adventure that takes guests through the jungle, under the sea, and across the pages of history.
The theater itself is a marvel of nature, colorfully blooming and rising from the thick Mayan jungle with majesties of nature such as echoes of flowing water and creeping bark.
Each night, acrobats perform dizzying flips and leaps, contortionists bend impossibly, puppeteers make dinosaurs dash and cockroaches dance, musicians fill the world with song, and the very stage comes alive to lead you on a journey that dazzles the senses. Add in the JOYA dinner table experience, which we highly recommend, and you’re in for a night you’ll long remember.
It’s not mandatory to do this to see the show, but honestly, it’s worth it.
Vidanta provides a three-course masterpiece that tempts the senses with culinary wonders and astonishes guests with feats of magic tableside. The dinner includes premium seating and a ½ bottle of champagne per person. Because the menu does change from time to time, make sure to check the website for the latest information.
We know that Riviera Maya offers many resorts (and we’ve experienced several in this region), but overall, the Grand Mayan Riviera Maya and its sister Vidanta venues on property offer guests of all ages an incredibly unforgettable experience that everyone in your party will love.