Luxury All-inclusive: Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, just outside of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is an all-inclusive resort that appeals to both those who like staying at one-price properties and to those who don't.

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, just outside of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is an all-inclusive resort that appeals to both those who like staying at one-price properties and to those who don’t. At this AAA five-diamond lodging, you won’t find such typical trade-offs for fixed rates as mediocre fare and merely serviceable rooms.

The luxury hotel earns its gems by featuring three four-diamond restaurants out of five places to dine, suite-sized guest rooms that hover around 1,000-square feet plus a welcoming spa whose rituals start with saunas and plunge pools. Spa treatments cost extra.

Like the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, the Nayarit, built before its sister property, creates a sense of luxury with its stories-high palapa (thatched roof) lobby, bougainvillea draped balconies and expansive ground floor hallways where ferns and palms edge a stream-like fountain that adds the soothing trickling of water to your walk.

Water is why we come to beach resorts. Although the pools at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit provide expansive views of the sand and sky, the ocean is what we love. From January to June, according to staff, the sea remains rough. In May we venture in, jumping over and diving through the breaking waves. It’s fun, but work, and not the kind of ocean for weak swimmers or children. They splash in the pool.

Located along Banderas Bay, among Mexico’s biggest bays, the resort is about 20 minutes from Puerto Vallarta and within easy drives of San Francisco, also known as San Pancho and Sayulita. San Pancho’s wide beach is nice for sunning, but locals tell us to stay out of the ocean because of strong currents. More populous Sayulita lures the surfing, beach bar, and beer crowd and offers the typical array of T-shirt souvenir shops, and eateries. We like La Hamaco for hand-crafted pottery and Choco Banana for its frozen banana treats dipped in chocolate.

The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit provides a soothing oasis in the midst of boisterous Banderas Bay and the attractions of Puerto Vallarta. www.grandvelas.com

All photos by Candyce H. Stapen. Connect with her on Twitter, @familyitrips.