Leaning In

Grand Residences Riviera Cancun emerges from the pandemic as the flagship resort for Wyndham's Registry Collection Hotels.

Written by Bridget Williams / Photography by Shelby Bourne

Technology is both a bane and boon when traveling with children. While I can fully appreciate its usefulness during long flights or car rides, I am dismayed when I see both children and adults mindlessly scrolling rather than being present in the moment while vacationing. So it was a striking absence of screen fixation that struck me while strolling the grounds at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun.

With the resort ideally positioned to face the east, sleepy-eyed guests filed onto their balcony or the beachfront each morning for a front-row seat to the sunrise. By mid-morning, children lined up outside the activity center. Anticipating the arrival of their favorite staff members, they bounced with the same enthusiasm as though Santa and his elves were on their way. Staff reciprocates this eagerness in spades, as I discovered while watching an energetic instructor leading a morning poolside Zumba class. Although only one guest opted in, the instructor was strutting his stuff with the energy of opening night on Broadway. Overall, there's an aura of relaxed energy; by afternoon, many of the youngsters I spied in the morning were napping under the shade of a poolside cabana, worn out from a full day of fun.


Thoughtful service begins upon arrival as all guests receive complimentary private transportation to the resort from the airport in Cancun. During the 30-minute trip, our driver asked what we'd like for a welcome drink—it was a spicy margarita for me!


The 144 all-suite Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, a flagship resort for Wyndham's Registry Collection Hotels, is located at the terminus of a long stretch of roadway lined with resorts near the sleepy fishing area village of Puerto Morelos. With accommodations ranging in size from a 635 square-foot junior suite up to an 8,762 square-foot penthouse presidential suite, the resort is an ideal destination for family and group travel.

At nearly 1,800-square-feet, our well-appointed one-bedroom oceanfront room boasted a fully equipped kitchen and large dining area. Walking past his and her closets and into the full bath, I was quick to note the Bulgari toiletries and an indoor soaking tub located under a gilded dome ceiling that could have doubled as a kiddie pool. A furnished balcony with a jacuzzi runs the suite's length and is accessible from the bedroom or living area. Suites located on the ground floor are notable for their private plunge pools.


Most guests choose to spend their days around the heart of the resort: a blue-tiled heated pool that terraces down to the beach and offers a designated adults-only pool with a swim-up bar. Attentive and personalized beach service is available at the pool and beach with welcomed amenities like cooling Evian mist, tropical fruit skewers, and fruitsicles. Based on the warm interactions between staff and guests, it was clear that there were many repeat customers among us. A designated lap pool located near the activity center also serves as an ideal spot for serene sunbathing.


Knowing that the entirety of our short stay would be devoid of far-flung excursions, we opted for the All-In Grand Experience Plan, which included all meals and premium drinks. Unlike some all-inclusive properties where there are separate meals for room-only and all-in guests, at Grand Residences, there is no differentiation. You can even order prime cuts of beef from the room service menu to prepare in your suite, although we preferred to leave that up to the on-site kitchen experts.

Arriving at lunchtime, we headed straight for Heaven Beach Bar and enjoyed a toes-in-the-sand al fresco lunch with superb shrimp tacos and the first, of what would be many, orders of guacamole. The resort's two main dining options, El Faro Grill and Flor de Canela, are located at the apex of the pool area. The former serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with both buffet and a la carte options and weekly themed menus that highlight global cuisines. I particularly enjoyed the regional Mexican favorites on offer as part of the breakfast buffet, which allowed me to indulge in plenty of spicy heat to jumpstart my day.


Adorned with locally made art, Flor de Canela is a celebration of authentic Mexican food from all regions of the country. Seafood plays a starring role on the menu, though for me, it was the pomegranate-spiked guac and a serenade by local musicians that highlighted my dinner here.


Those looking to indulge in the spaciousness of their suite can opt for a complete menu of in-suite dining options. An ingenious network of tunnels under the property allows an army of culinary and maintenance staff to go about their business nearly undetected and out of the heat and humidity.

Afternoon tea is served three times a week on a covered terrace near the lobby in a building that overlooks the entirety of the property, including a verdant mangrove forest that serves as a visual buffer between the surrounding structures. Popular for grabbing a morning coffee to go or wrapping up the day with a nightcap, the Lobby Café and Bar is notable for its handsome antique bar imported from England. An on-site Natural Foods Gourmet Market offers a fairly diverse array of prepackaged and fresh food, sundries, and souvenirs.


While it was clear that most guests were content with downtime spent poolside or beachfront, there are many activities on and offsite to satiate those looking to be less languid. Snorkeling, ocean kayaking, tennis, beach volleyball, salsa lessons, cooking demonstrations, tequila tastings, and yoga are just a few of the offerings. Our only time off property was a short group bike ride into Puerto Morelos, reportedly the inspiration for Jimmy Buffett's iconic "Margaritaville." We enjoyed wandering around this laid-back village, visiting local shops, and snapping photos of its famous leaning lighthouse. For those who want to venture out further, the concierge can help arrange a multitude of adventurous excursions throughout the Riviera Maya.


A small-but-capable spa and salon offers a host of indulgent and restorative body and face treatments. At the same time, the fitness center with available personal trainers is amply-equipped to satiate the needs of workout fiends.

Children can partake of an adult-supervised kids' club with activities from mask-making to sandcastle building taking place in a whimsically decorated "clubhouse" and throughout the resort. Just outside the entrance to the kids club is a pottery painting station, where guests can select a piece to paint and have it fired before their departure for a truly unique memento. At any given moment, it was a common occurrence to see more adults than children intently focused on creating a masterpiece.


The leaning lighthouse has come to serve as a local symbol of resilience. The ability to adapt in the face of adversity also applies to the resort, which has persevered after a nearly four-month closure at the height of the pandemic in 2020 to see its average stay creep up from three to seven nights. It's no doubt a testament to their stalwart commitment to creating unique and elevated experiences for every guest.


Room-only rates at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun from $350/night. For more information and reservations, visit grandresidencesrivieracancun.com.

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