Mexico During COVID – Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit Review – So Impressed With Safety Protocols

by Zoe

I am just back from the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit!  Besides a much needed sanity break, I wanted to see first hand what the protocols looked like and how the luxury properties in Mexico were creating a holiday that didn’t feel like a hospital stay with a view.

My name is Katie Schmit and I’m a Virtuoso travel advisor and partner of Point Me to the Plane and Juicy Miles.  I’m a Hyatt Prive and top advisor with most hotel programs and I often assist with hotel contributions on this site.

a pool with trees and a body of water

Planning a trip during COVID

Before I dive into this, yes, the USA still has the Stage 4: Do Not Travel advisory in place by the state department.  If you are to travel abroad, please register on the STEP site.  The border between Mexico and the USA is open for at least those going to Cabo, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta area.  As this is a year that continues to be very fluid, it is prudent to always check restrictions regularly before leaving.

Flying during COVID

The flights down were 3/4 full on American Airlines both directions.  Most people were good about wearing a mask. Flying both directions, I had one flight with a full row and on the other an empty seat beside me. One flight attendant on one flight only went through the cabin and specifically told everyone in violation to pull their mask over their nose or even on, as needed. On the domestic flights service was only if requested and on the international flights they gave us a bag with a sani wipe, little bottle of water, and Biscoff biscuit.

At the airport in Puerto Vallarta, there is sanitizer everywhere, I feel more so than all the US airports I have been to recently.  Before customs, you are required to complete a survey asking questions like, do you have symptoms, where have you been in the last 14 days, etc and then have your temperature taken.

In general, everyone has on masks, if not face shields too.

Hotel check-in and sanitized rooms during COVID

Upon arrival at the property, we had to step on a pad to sanitize our shoes, then sanitizer on our hands, and our temperature taken. Meanwhile, the team wiped down all of our bags, except our purses. They offered (and I accepted) to have my clothes washed that I wore of the flight down.  This is a complimentary service they are offering during the pandemic.  You do have to do it the first day and it is only for the clothes worn when traveling, not for the rest of what you brought.  During check in, anything they gave to me they wiped down first and when I gave them my credit card, they wiped it, took details, wiped it, gave it back. This was the theme the whole stay. Any interaction was first cleaned before occurring. Anytime we left property and came back, we cleaned shoes, sanitizer hands, temperature taken.  I should have taken a photo of this, but didn’t think of it at while on property.

Upon first entry to the room, it is taped shut after having been sanitized before our arrival.  The seal is not broken until we are ready to check in.

a sign on a door two beds in a room a room with a table and chairs
Off topic, but I can’t tell you how much I have missed a Virtuoso welcome amenity. I know, I know, but still.
a plate of food on a table
If we took a taxi, the bellman would have the driver pull up, have him clean shoes, sanitizer hands, take temp, then wipe down the car in front of us. We went to a market one day and paid the driver to wait for us so we would keep the sanitized car the whole way. Yes, this really happened!
a statue of a man on a beach

I needed the ATM, which is in the employee area, so I got to see their going to work process. They have to sanitize their shoes, hands, walk through a thing that looks like a metal detector but is actually a mist of sanitizer, then they have to sit in a room for 15 minutes and do a health assessment. Every day, every employee.

Hotel dining during COVID

The resort is only allowed to a maximum 30% capacity. We are seeing mainly locals as other guests. The property has four main restaurants normally: two are closed and the other two have a limited menu that also has items from one of the other two restaurants on it. They are open about they can make you anything if you tell them in advance (like that afternoon) and have the ingredients on hand.

They do not hand out menus except at the pool. Instead they have an app with the menus and all services for the property or at the table they have a QR code you can scan to bring up the menu.  There are no buffets, everything is off a menu.  This review is more about protocols, but if you don’t know anything about Grand Velas, I feel I must mention the food at the property is 5*.  This is not your typical all inclusive property in any way.  The house vodka is Tito’s, for example.

a qr code on a menu a restaurant with a table and chairs a plate of food on a table food on a plate a plate of food on a plate

Hotel pools and beach chairs during COVID

The loungers at the pool are all spaced out with many removed from before this started.  They would let us reserve chairs, so on the days we were at the pool only, we had chairs right by the swim up bar, adult only section, and view of the beach/ocean.
a pool with a body of water in the background a round white sign with black text and words a pool with palm trees and a beach

The spa is closed, except for scheduling massages in room or on the property outdoors in an area that used to have beach chairs.  The gym, teen club, and kids room are by appointment only, but open.

a massage beds under a canopy a room with blue lights and tables and chairs
When I was there (the week of July 19th), the beaches were still closed to the public and had just reopened to even the hotel guests being able to access.
people walking on a beach

Hand Sanitizer everywhere!

Everywhere you could touch something, it felt like they had hand sanitizer.
a coffee machine on a stand a coffee machine on a table an elevator doors in a building a sign on a wall a sign on a counter

Hotel excursions during COVID

I went to the private beach, Las Caletas, which is a wonderful little excursion.  We had to wear our mask until we go to the beach itself and could truly spread out.  In the waiting area to board, they had the chairs spread out and into groupings.  We were given hand sanitizer twice, once after the security check point and again as we boarded the boat.  We also had to step on the sanitizer pad for our shoes as we boarded the boat.  Once on the beach, all staff again had masks, at least.  I noticed when we were cruising back to the marina, the staff on the boat was wiping down a lot of the touch points on the boat that people used when getting back on.

At checkout, we were given a kit that had cleaning wipes and masks in it, in case we needed it on the way home.

a red and white bag on a marble counter a red bag with white text and a white cross on it

The protocols here are extensive and followed without complaint.  I was blown away with how truly hard the staff and tourism industry is working to be safe.  Everyone was so appreciative of us being here and it truly was a fantastic vacation.  I am already planning a return with my family in a few months.

Grand Velas is a Virtuoso property.  Travelers booking a stay with a Virtuoso advisor, like myself, will receive:
  • Upgrade on arrival subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast (as well as all meals for this is all-inclusive property)
  • Complimentary one-way private airport transfers
  • 25% discount on green fees at Vista Vallarta or Marina Vallarta (golf cart included)
  • $50 USD Spa credit per adult, per night
  • $50 USD credit towards our private experiences catalog, once during stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Please reach out if you do not have an advisor and want to stay at this or other properties.  If you have an advisor, that is fantastic, give them a call! They will be happy to hear your voice.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Mike Saint July 28, 2020 - 6:57 pm

I just got back from Mexico as well (Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum). I too was impressed with all the safety protocols. Thankfully most of the hotels were totally dead so we had them all to ourselves. SO glad we went down to Mexico for a little rest and relaxation.

Cindy August 6, 2020 - 6:36 pm

Great write up. Thanks for being so thorough! How were the Covid protocols if you left the property to go into town? What kind of precautions is Mexico as a country taking?

Katie September 1, 2020 - 1:50 pm

Hi Cindy!!

I am so sorry, I totally missed this.

I personally felt Mexico was doing far more than where I live in the US, protocol wise. Masks are not mandated, but most everyone wore one. Taxi drivers all did. When we went to the market, the market sellers all had on a mask (or put one on as soon as we were near), had hand sanitizer out and quite a few hand the stomp pads with sanitizer for shoes.

The one excursion I did had a list of precautions we had to agree to to go on it. It included the waiting area (had to get on a boat) with chairs spaced out and mandatory mask wearing, hand sanitized twice to get on the boat, wiped our shoes, etc.

I thought they were doing a fantastic job and were far ahead of the US in precautions and protocols.



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