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From yoga retreat classes enhanced by in-room aromatherapy to incentive groups that want to treat 200 employees to a spa day, there’s little that the conventions and meetings department at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit cannot do. Customization is expertly executed due to the resort’s accolade-accruing spa and dining offerings, leading to a luxury experience with immediately detectable value, a quality that distinguishes the property from high-end EP resorts and all-inclusive properties alike. According to Tania Guadalupe, group sales manager at Grand Velas, more than 50 percent of the resort’s capacity is booked by meetings groups, many of which have returned year after year in Grand Velas’ 10-year history. The AAA Five Diamond awarded property is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World and the 16,500-square-foot Spa Grand Velas is a member of The Leading Spas of the World. It also so happens that the hotel, located 15 minutes from Puerto Vallarta on Banderas Bay, offers one of the largest and most beautiful meetings spaces in the area.
The convention area, at 25,321 square feet, has a capacity for up to 800 guests. The Grand Marissa Ballroom is the largest space at 6,090 square feet and can be subdivided into five separate rooms. Five other rooms range in layout and size from 681 to more than 1,954 square feet. Two smaller rooms can serve as board rooms or storage, and all spaces have high-speed Internet access, video conferencing services, LCD projectors, high-end lighting equipment and simultaneous translation services. The resort’s business center is also stocked with six computer stations; Internet access; a high-speed copier; laser color printers; double-wide inkjet printers; a high-resolution color scanner; direct fax lines; a conference meeting room for 10; a fully stocked copy room; a television; and newspapers. Outside, there is capacity for 800 in the open-air, 7,750 square foot Ocean Garden area, and the hotel is full of spacious, scenic spaces for receptions, including the gazebo space and the terrace. Staff can even arrange for off-site excursions throughout Riviera Nayarit.
The real differentiating factor for incentive travelers and high-end companies is Grand Velas’ finer options in food, spa and group experiences. At the resort’s AAA-awarded fine-dining restaurants, chefs expertly tailor menus and execute large group dinners with ease. The three restaurants — Frida for Mexican cuisine, Lucca for Italian-Mediterranean and Piaf for French classics — offer three distinct experiences imagined by different kitchen staffs, all complemented by alluring artwork and live music. At Frida, for example, Frida Kahlo’s own recipes are written on the wall and tequila cocktails are hand-crafted with fresh ingredients. How does this translate for groups? Imagine a cocktail reception where margarita options are exotic, local and delicious — think cocoa margaritas sourced with Chiapas State cocoa and coconut cocktails made with freshly extracted coconut water.
When not in a conference, there is plenty for clients to do, together or solo. The resort’s temperature-controlled three-tiered infinity pool is a good choice, featuring Grand Velas’ latest manifestation of its service-oriented commitment — a Pool Concierge that even insists on cleaning sunglasses. The gym is also always staffed and taking care of the little details, such as providing guests with headphones. There are also tennis courts, or clients can recoup in their rooms — all of which are suites and many include an ocean view, a jetted tub, an ample sitting area and a large balcony that is perfect for enjoying beautifully presented 24-hour, in-suite service. Best of all is the spa, with a hydrotherapy circuit, a steam room, a sauna and an extensive list of effective treatments that even impressed my travel companion — someone who has experienced nearly 400 spas. That might seem like a tall order but, at Grand Velas, exceeding guest expectations is also included.