Grand Velas is an experience you can describe, you just have to experience it. When you arrive the luxury meets you the moment you step foot on the property. The ambiance just exudes luxury. There are 3 sections but regardless of what section you decide to stay in they are all very nice and have their own perks. The Zen section is more quiet and peaceful. I loved the Zen pool because it was much more quiet than the Ambassador and Grand Class areas. However there are more restaurant options in the other 2 areas than the Zen area so there are pros and cons. The rooms are very spacious. There is not much different between the room types from one section to the next the main difference is the location. The Ambassador and Grand Class sections are closer to the water and the Zen is more located in the jungle. The room service was very good and I wish I did not wait so long to experience those delicious chicken wings and the Grand Velas Burger (please be sure to have both of them!). The food in the restaurants was very creative and presentation was A1 but the taste for some of the dishes was just okay. The resort has a large liquor selection and almost any type of liquor that you could ever desire. The pool menu was also quite extensive and you could order just about any type of snack that you would normally want for a pool atmosphere. Many resorts claim to be 5-star but if you want to experience a true 5-star experience give Grand Velas a try. You will then see and understand what a 5-star property really is. The two areas of improvement for me would be more consistency in the service from the staff. Some were very friendly and spoke each time they saw you and others did not. Also as I mentioned some of the dishes did not taste good (lacked flavor) although the presentation was very nice. A few staff members that went above and beyond were Jorge (concierge), Jennifer (Grand Class pool staff - she was amazing), and Monica (weddings department). I can't wait to return and experience another stay!
I had a hard time deciding whether to rate this resort as a 4 or a 5 star. If there was an option to rate it 4.5 stars that is what I would have chosen. I'll start off by saying that I went into my stay with very high expectations because of the 5 star and 5 diamond ratings so I think it may have affected my opinion because I expected over the top from beginning to end. I will say upon arrival Roberto did an amazing job at making me feel like a valued customer. That got the stay off to a great start. I was escorted by golf cart to the preferred club which was very nice. Upon arriving at the Preferred Club the staff there was lukewarm (not mean but not super friendly). I then used the time to explore the resort until my room was ready. I will say that if you enjoy activities and things to do this resort is a great option. They had a lot of options such as connect 4 basketball, bungee, trampoline, kitchen tours, etc. that I had never seen before at an all inclusive resort. The rooms are also very spacious and updated. I think my main cons were with service. The pool and restaurant staff were very hit or miss some were great and others were lukewarm. I also found it interesting that there are signs that say don't feed the animals but in some of the eating areas there are no trash cans and the pools/wait staff does not always come by frequently enough to pick up plates when people are done eating. The result is that you find a ton of animals lurking around which can get to be a little annoying. I also found the food to also be hit or miss. Room service was somewhat slow and the food was not too great. Bordeaux was amazing. The beach had a lot of seaweed (this is not the fault of the resort you have to somewhat expect this) so you only had the pool as an option so it somewhat felt crowded. A few people that went above and beyond are Roberto (bellman), Olivia (Coco Cafe and Lobby bar), Issac and Alfredo (lobby bar) and also my waiter at Bordeaux (I forgot his name!), and Charlie and Fernanda (activities). This is a resort where you have to evaluate your priorities. If they are activities, room, and bar service this is a great choice. If they are service, beach, and food it may not be the best option. Overall I think I would return but with lower expectations.
If you want a luxury vacation experience in the city Live Aqua is a great option. While it's right in the city which is a buzzing place the resort does a great job at providing a calm tranquil environment on the resort. When you arrive your senses are immediately alerted with the smells of the essential oils that permeate throughout the property. They also have several different green space areas where you can sit quietly as well. The pool options are good (there are a series of small pools that connect to each other) and they all have an oceanfront view which is pretty cool. One pool area plays music and the other pools are more quiet. If you're looking for a pool atmosphere with loud music you won't find it here at Live Aqua. The thing that I liked best about the resort was the food. The options for dining are not as expansive as other properties but the food actually had flavor unlike some other all-inclusives. The same held true for the room service the food was also much better than normal all inclusive resorts. The housekeeping was impeccable they came several times a day and did turn down service. They have a great housekeeping team as it's been a while since I stayed at a resort that cleaned the room consistently (every day) that many times.
A few stand out staff members for me were:
Marcos - He is the man to see for a good juice/smoothie for breakfast!
Juan and Gerado - Outstanding for room service
The entire concierge staff - Were very instrumental in making sure all of our guests were happy during their entire stay. They went above and beyond to make sure one of our travelers got the medicine they needed.
Leslie - She did an amazing job with the organization of our group. If you are considering having a group here they will definitely take care of you from beginning to end.
Areas of opportunity:
The hotel is somewhat choppy and doesn't flow well in my opinion. Perhaps giving the guests a map when they check-in might be helpful
Supply the guests closest to the machinery (north end) with earplugs to reduce noise at night
Make the liquor selection higher shelf. For example, if it is a 5 star resort there should be better vodka than absolute
I will be back to Live Aqua, I had a blast!