Grand Residences turns five

Grand Residences is five years old this December. Wherever you are, join us in raising your glass in a toast to your home away from home. We hope to see you soon and we look forward to creating many more memories for you and your loved ones to treasure in the years to come.

The growing Grand Residences community

Our Grand Residences community keeps on growing. Every year you catch up on all the news with vacation friends around the pool and watch as your children or grandchildren play. You enjoy dinner together on the terrace or in the restaurants, forging friendships that will last a lifetime.

And the hosts that greet you with a smile every day are part of the Grand family too. From the Concierge and the Kids Club and Activities staff to the waiters and housekeepers that look after you during your stay, they all go that extra mile to make your vacation truly unforgettable.

More activities and dining options

From delicious menu selections and theme night buffets to sports and daily activities, there’s always something new to try at Grand Residences. And when you are ready to go exploring, your Concierge will help you arrange some unforgettable travel adventures to discover the Yucatan’s natural and historical wonders.

One of the world’s top luxury resorts

Your Grand Residences home is on the world stage, winning accolades for the luxury vacation experience it offers. One of the Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice 2018 Top Luxury Resorts in the World and in Mexico, Grand Residences also won Travel and Hospitality Awards recognition as the Best Luxury Hotel in Quintana Roo in 2018. Other recent awards include Loved by Guests 2018 Gold given by Hotels.com to resorts that receive outstanding ratings and the Expedia+VIP Access Best of 2017 award as one of the world’s top 500 hotels.

In the Medallia exit survey conducted by Leading Hotels of the World®, Grand Residences is rated No. 2 in Mexico and No. 66 in the world among the more than 400 luxury hotels and resorts in the collection. When analyzing the most recent report of social media scores achieved by Leading Hotels of the World properties, Grand Residences climbs to number 22 in the world.


Grand Residences Advisory Council meeting report

The 2018 Grand Residences Advisory Council meeting report and financial statement and the resort operations budget proposed for 2019 will be available for review in the Owners Area of www.grandresidencesbyroyalresorts.com (owner log in required) later this month. Owners will also be able to request a printed copy from the Manager’s Office on their next visit to the resort.


A Grand Christmas

What’s in store at the Grand Residences restaurants this holiday season? There’s plenty of festive gourmet fare for you and your family with a special Christmas Eve five-course dinner, a New Year’s Eve dinner and gala celebration, and a magnificent New Year’s Day brunch.

On the menu are prime beef fillet, seafood and an array of dishes so tempting you’ll want to try them all! However, be sure to save some space for one of the heavenly chocolate desserts.

Contact your Concierge for more information and reservations.


Grand Residences wins Wine Spectator award

For the second year running, El Faro Grill has won a place in the Wine Spectator’s coveted list of the world’s top restaurants. Congratulations to your Sommelier Javier Moreno for selecting fine wines from around the world that are the perfect pairings for the dishes prepared by our restaurant team.

The Wine Spectator pays tribute to outstanding wine lists, honoring restaurants from every state in the United States and over 75 countries, a total of 3,759 establishments. It lists the strengths of the El Faro Grill wine list as France and Mexico.

Be sure to check the El Faro wine list on your next visit and ask Javier for recommendations. He will be happy to suggest wines to enhance the flavors of your meal, including many award-winning wineries from Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California and Valle de Parras in Coahuila.


Festive activities for the kids

Will you and your family be joining us over Christmas? If so, the Kids Club has a fun-filled program lined up for the little ones. There will be special Christmas activities, including the Christmas tree lighting and the traditional letter to Santa, Yuletide-themed arts and crafts, cookies, candies and piñatas galore.

For more information ask your Concierge or Kids Club staff for the program.


Spa Pampering

Treat yourself to a Spa morning this Christmas season. A soothing massage will do wonders for tense muscles, alleviating aches and pains and getting you in the mood for celebrating.

Indulge with a luxury facial or body wrap made with the purest natural ingredients and the healing properties of herbs to cleanse and rejuvenate your skin, restoring balance and leaving it looking radiant.

After your Spa session you’ll be ready to unwind and enjoy your Riviera Maya vacation.


Vacation activities to look forward to

You’ll soon be packing your bags and heading for the white sands and turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean and your Grand Residences home away from home. Here’s a look at some of the fun sports and classes that the Activity Center has in store for you.

Start the day with yoga, pilates or practice your serve in the tennis clinic held three times a week at 8 a.m. Learn Spanish, try out new Latin dance steps or take part in a stretching class at 9 a.m.

Sign up for the bike ride into Puerto Morelos during the week, go for a walk along the beach or compete in a Sunday table tennis tournament at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. on different days of the week you can attend zumba, aqua fitness and bracelet making sessions, a salsa class and even a basic survival skills workshop on the beach.

For more pool fitness at noon take part in the aqua aerobics class or water polo and there’s a total body exercise class in the Activity Center on Thursday. And don’t miss poolside family bingo at 1 p.m.

Activities at 2 p.m. during the week range from learning how to create the swans, elephants, bears and other fun figures that your housekeepers make from towels during the towel origami class or bracelet making. Throw down the gauntlet for a darts match or a paper plane challenge and test your knowledge in the movie and music quizzes.

Head for the beach at 3 p.m. for a game of soccer or volleyball. You’ll have more fun in the Activity Center with DJ classes and karaoke and there’s pool volleyball and family bingo. Later in the afternoon you can play card games, table football and table tennis and compete in a Just Dance tournament.

Sign up for a cooking class or a cocktail mixology class with one of our star bartenders and if you are feeling creative, try your hand at pottery painting.

Don’t miss traditional afternoon tea on the lobby terrace at 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Try the sandwiches, freshly made scones still warm from the oven and a selection of cakes. Reservations are required.

Finally, we hope to see you on Monday for the Manager’s Cocktail at 5 p.m.

Where to find our daily activity programs

You can find the daily activity programs for adults and children on TV by tuning into the Royal Channel. Alternatively, check the Activity Center notice boards or ask your Concierge. Call your Concierge to make reservations for cooking and cocktail classes and afternoon tea the day before you wish to do the activity.

If you would like to sign up for the bike tour, book private tennis lessons with the pro or yoga classes, contact Social Activities.

Activities are subject to change without prior notice.

In the news

A new article about Grand Residences is up on the Travel Pulse website. The author recently visited the resort and loved it. Read what she had to say:


Every picture tells a story

As it is the fifth anniversary of Grand Residences, we thought it only fitting to show you some of our favorite photos of your home this month.

Why not drop us a line with some of your vacation pictures? If you have a photo of Grand Residences or Puerto Morelos or of one of your favorite places in the Riviera Maya or Yucatan that you would like to share with us, let us know. Send us your pictures to memories@royalresorts.com. A selection of the photos we receive will be published in this newsletter.


Tasty traditions, discover the secrets of Mexican cuisine in a cooking class

Attending one of the chef’s cooking classes at Grand Residences might have set you on a quest to learn more about the ingredients and traditions associated with Mexican cuisine. If this is the case why not sign up for a class at a local cooking school on your next trip? You’ll have a fun morning discovering the fascinating history of one of the world’s richest cuisines and you’ll soon appreciate why it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. After the session, you’ll all sit down at lunchtime to eat the tasty dishes you helped prepare.

Cooking school in the Puerto Morelos jungle

Spend the day at Mexico Lindo Traditional Kitchen, Workshop and School, a bright yellow jungle casita on the Ruta de los Cenotes, six kilometers inland from Puerto Morelos. With Chefs Alejandra and Tomas you’ll learn how to make traditional dishes from the Yucatan, Central Mexico or Veracruz and a selection of Mexican classics.

After a light breakfast of Mexican pastries, hot chocolate or café de olla, you’ll visit the organic garden to gather some of the vegetables, fruit and herbs that you’ll be using during the class.

There’s plenty of space in the cheerful yellow and pink kitchen for you to try your culinary skills cooking seven different recipes. There are five different class options ranging from Yucatecan specialties or seafood from the coasts to Mexican finger food and some of the country’s most famous dishes. You’ll also learn the secret of a good salsa; enjoy a pre-lunch botana or snack and a tequila tasting.

Lunch is served in the thatched palapa and there’s time to visit the little store and stock up on salsas, local honey, community products and Mexican crafts.

The other famous Puerto Morelos cooking school, the Little Mexican Cooking School is currently closed but private cooking classes with Chef Cristobal are still available through its website.

Back to school in Cancun

Spend the morning at Yum Cooking School in Downtown Cancun and learn about fruit and vegetables native to Mexico, dishes and cooking techniques that date back to the pre-Hispanic period.

Following the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, waves of settlers introduced new ingredients such as herbs, spices, sugar, coffee and citrus fruit from Europe and the Middle East. A Cordon Bleu-trained chef will show you how to make dishes from the pre-Hispanic and Colonial periods and contemporary Mexican recipes.

Chef Claudia Garcia and her husband are your hosts at Mi Cocina es Tu Cocina in the leafy Los Alamos neighborhood on the outskirts of Cancun. Claudia begins the class with an introduction to the staples in the Mexican diet, such as corn, beans, avocado and chili and continues with a demonstration of salsa and tortilla preparation.

A menu of starters, soup, a main course with side dishes and a dessert is prepared during the session. Claudia divides the country into five gastronomic regions and chooses a different one for each class.

Booking your Mexican cooking class

Ask your Concierge for assistance in arranging your Mexican cooking class, day trips and water sports.


Go off the Beaten Track in the Yucatan Peninsula

Have you ever wanted to go further afield and explore more of the Yucatán Peninsula during your Grand Residences vacation? A world of wonders awaits discovery beyond the spectacular beaches of Cancún and the Riviera Maya and the Concierge desk can help you arrange private tours with a vehicle, driver and guide so that you can see more of the area at your own pace and leave the driving to someone else.

Yucatan’s Magical Towns

How about spending the day in the Yucatan’s colonial twin towns and Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) Valladolid and Izamal? Both are rich in history and traditions and surrounded by cenotes, archaeological sites and haciendas.

In Valladolid you can stroll through the main square, visit colonial churches and a 16th-century monastery and see two amazing collections of Mexican folk art.

Casa de los Venados is a privately owned hacienda-style home on Calle 40 a few steps from the main square that is filled with the owners’ collection of over 3,000 items of art from all over the country. Colorful ceramics and textiles share space with woodcarvings, copper, sculptures and paintings, treasures of creativity and humor. Guided tours are available at 10 a.m. (Valladolid time)

Located on Calle 41, The Mexican Ethnic Clothing Museum (MUREM) has a collection of over 40 traditional outfits from 12 different regions of Mexico and is still growing. The beauty and color of everyday garments and ornate dresses worn for fiestas is on display and every garment has a story to tell.

On the outskirts of Valladolid is the Mayapan distillery that produces a liquor from the blue agave of tequila fame. Tours are available and you can see how the boles of the agave or piñas are cooked and crushed to extract the sugar-sweet sap, which is then fermented and distilled using a time-honored artisanal technique.

Two historic monuments dominate the Izamal skyline: the Kinich Kakmo pyramid, one of the largest ancient buildings in Mesoamerica, and the 16th-century Convento de San Antonio de Padua painted in dazzling yellow and with a white trim. Built by the Franciscan order, this sprawling monastery has one of the largest atriums in the world and is a shrine to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, patron saint of the Yucatan.

Izamal is also home to families of craftsmen and women and you watch them at work during a walking tour of neighborhoods in different parts of town. Some are hammock weavers or earn their living embroidering traditional huipil dresses and blouses. Others make papier mâché butterflies and birds or silver jewelry from the woody tips of henequen leaves.

Merida and Uxmal

Head for Merida, capital of the Yucatan, and after you have explored its colonial churches and opulent 19th-century mansions, museums, galleries and markets, use it as your base for exploring the southern part of the state. Tour the Puuc Route, famous for the ancient Maya city of Uxmal and the smaller archaeological sites of Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak and Labna, all of which share UNESCO World Heritage status. Visit some of the restored haciendas in the area and Loltun Caves. You can return to Merida via the Convent Route, a chain of villages with colonial churches, caves, cenotes and archaeological sites that starts with picturesque Mani and includes Mama, Teabo, Mayapan and Acanceh.

Southern Quintana Roo

Alternatively, turn your sights south from the Riviera Maya and head for central and southern Quintana Roo. Discover the ancient Maya sites of Muyil and Chacchoben and the historic town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto in the Zona Maya.

If you would like to meet the Maya and learn more about their lives, Maya Ka’an is a collection of community and nature tours taking you to villages in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the Zona Maya such as Tihosuco, Señor, Chunhuhub and Noh Bec.

Divers and fishermen should head for the Caribbean fishing villages of Mahahual and Xcalak on the Costa Maya. Dive trips are available to Banco Chinchorro, a spectacular coral atoll rich in marine life that has been the downfall of many a ship down the ages. Spanish galleons, 19th-century merchantmen and modern cargo vessels have all foundered on its jagged reefs.

Further south is spectacular Bacalar, the Lagoon of Seven Colors, the state capital Chetumal and the archaeological sites of Oxtankah, Kohunlich and Dzibanche.

For an unforgettable trip into the wild, visit the ancient Mayan capital of Calakmul in southern Campeche, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its monuments and the biodiversity of the jungle protected by the vast Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.

If you want to go exploring contact your Concierge for more information about private tours and sightseeing itinerary ideas.


Cancun flight news

In preparation for the winter season many airlines are expanding their Cancun flight networks, adding routes or extra departures. Frontier has new routes from Raleigh-Durham and Las Vegas, and Southwest Airlines from Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham and San Antonio.

Canadian visitors can take advantage of WestJet’s new flights from Calgary, Saskatoon and Vancouver. Low cost carrier Swoop also recently announced new three flights a week from Calgary to Cancun, starting on January 14, 2019.

In Latin America, Aeromexico has a new service from Medellin, Colombia, GOL Airlines is flying from Brasilia and Copa Airlines is upgrading to 737 aircraft on its Panama City – Cancun route due to growing demand.

Air France also has plans for expansion in the years to come.

In more flight news, Cancun Airport expects to receive 25 million passengers by year-end, a new record. The number of passengers for 2018 is six percent up on 2017.

(Sources: Travel Pulse, Carib Journal)

Xcaret’s macaw success story

Over the past few years we have reported on Xcaret’s remarkable mission to bring the scarlet macaw back from the brink of extinction in Mexico. To date, 242 macaws raised in the Riviera Maya park have been transported to jungle reserves in the Palenque region of Chiapas and Los Tuxtlas in southern Veracruz, where they have been released into the wild after a period of adaptation. Thanks to this project, the wild macaw population in Mexico is now almost double what it was in 2013 and in Los Tuxtlas flocks of these beautiful birds are now seen where they had been extinct for 50 years.

There’s more good news. The released macaws are beginning to form breeding couples and the first chick was born in Nanciyaga Reserve in Veracruz during the summer and is doing well. Hopefully it will be the first of many.


Xcaret named World’s Best Park 2018

At IAAPA Expo Attractions, the entertainment industry’s largest trade fair held in November in Orlando, Xcaret Park received the Liseberg Applause Award as the Best Park in the World 2018. It beat other finalists such as PortAventura World in Spain and Universal Studios in Japan.

Presented every two years, the Liseberg Applause Award is considered the Oscar of theme parks and it is given to parks that excel for creativity, originality and commercial success. Xcaret was honored for the experiences that it offers visitors, based on a celebration of Mexico’s natural and cultural heritage, its sustainability projects and its commitment to the local community.



New environmental tax for Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos will soon be following in the footsteps of Solidaridad municipal district in the Riviera Maya by charging a nightly Environmental Sanitation Fee to hotel and resort guests.

This new green tax will be used for projects such as beach cleaning and coastal management, waste disposal, LED lighting to reduce carbon emissions, conservation and programs to make Puerto Morelos a sustainable destination.

With its beaches and coral reefs, mangroves, jungle and cenotes, Puerto Morelos is an area of outstanding natural beauty yet its rich ecosystems are fragile. Increasing visitor numbers and population growth have outpaced public services in the area. For the health of the environment, waste management and other services must be improved. The new Green Fee charged by the Puerto Morelos Municipal Government will be used for such programs.

There is no news yet on when the new green tax will be implemented. We will share further updates when more information becomes available.

Isla Mujeres will implement a similar measure for guests at hotels and resorts on the island and the area of the municipal district on the mainland.


Holbox bans single-use plastics

The island of Holbox has taken the lead in banning single-use plastics from its shores. The new management plan for the Yum Balam reserve, which includes Holbox, prohibits the entry of plastic bottles and containers, PET, polystyrene and plastic bags.

Holbox is the first island in Mexico to implement this important environmental legislation.


Seaweed update

For those of you wondering about the seaweed that has been washing ashore from time to time along parts of the Quintana Roo coast during the summer, we are happy to report that it has disappeared and our turquoise waters have returned.

The decline in the amount of sargassum is due to cooling sea temperatures that come as the first cold fronts begin to affect the Yucatan. Floating patches of seaweed may also be blown off course and prevented from making landfall by northerly winds.

The authorities and a committee of marine scientists continue to study the sargassum, monitor its movements through the Caribbean and look for better ways of disposing of it should it return in the future.


New security initiatives in Quintana Roo

Millions of tourists visit the Mexican Caribbean each year and the authorities work closely to ensure the safety of visitors and residents. Security is being boosted further in the state of Quintana Roo with the implementation of additional monitoring measures, extra police for the cities of Cancun and Playa del Carmen and increased coordination between municipal, state, federal police and military police.

In October, 3,200 military police arrived at a new base located to the north of Cancun in the Isla Mujeres municipal district. They will be working with the different police forces in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and other parts of the state and will carry out surveillance and intelligence gathering.

An additional 2,400 security cameras will be installed in the state’s cities to improve existing monitoring systems.

The Cancun city police force will soon have 50 additional patrol cars and more police on patrol, including extra English speaking Tourist Police in the Hotel Zone to assist visitors.

   Mexico welcomed more than 39.3 million international visitors in 2017 and climbed to position No. 6 in the World’s Top Tourism Destinations.

The current US State Department travel advisory for Mexico places no restrictions on visiting Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta or Los Cabos, some of the world’s most popular vacation spots.

The US travel advisory system classifies threat levels in countries around the world from 1 to 4, with 1 being the lowest threat level and 4 the highest. Mexico is in the Level 2 category, which is the same as many European countries such as Germany, France, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy and the recommendation is for ‘Visitors to Exercise Caution.’



Anniversary of the Founding of Merida, January 6

On January 6, inhabitants of Merida, state capital of Yucatan observe the anniversary of the founding of the city in 1542 by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo. Observed with a procession, mass and serenade to the city, it marks the start of the month-long City Festival, a gala event featuring concerts, dance performances, art exhibits and more.

Feria de la Candelaria, January 22 – February 2, Valladolid

This traditional fair is dedicated to the patron saint of Valladolid, the Virgin de la Candelaria. Events in this colonial town include an agricultural fair, processions, concerts and dances.