Traveling with kids is never that easy. However, after many trips with our first born, we have an adaptable 4.5 year old who is a breeze to take on vacation! But wait, it doesn’t end there. We also have her little brother; an energetic, sweet 1.5 year old and he doesn’t enjoy sitting still too long. Given his age, we’ve decided long flights are on pause. Instead, we’ve set our sights on more local destinations and flights that are around 3 hours or less. With that in mind, we were excited that Puerto Vallarta, (specifically Nayarit) fit that requirement just right.
In less than 2 hours, we landed in Puerto Vallarta for a long weekend in Nayarit, a beachy location just 20 minutes from the PV airport. Grand Velas Nayarit was going to be our home for the next few days and instead of exploring like usual, we planned to just hunker down and (hopefully) relax. When our friendly driver greeted us with cold beers and waters, whisking us from the chaos of the airport straight to the tremendous Grand Velas lobby, we had a very good start.
Grand Velas Nayarit is a secluded, peaceful resort situated on Banderas Bay. In just a few minutes of arrival, we were being given neck massages and margaritas. I was in heaven. Our kids were wide eyed, staring at the high ceiling, the koi filled ponds and the many giant pools. I had a feeling this trip would be good. And it was. Here is my breakdown of all aspects that I look for in a great family resort:
When the door opened, I knew we wouldn’t want to leave. The two bedroom ocean view suite had a wraparound balcony with a hot tub, a giant living area with dining room, and three bathrooms! My walk-in closet was a dream! We were especially touched by the thoughtful details from the baby concierge (yes you read that right) who left a kid teepee, a high chair, baby bath tub, stroller and even baby bottles for us. They also had an open mini bar, meaning that they restocked all the drinks for adults and kids alike, as well as all the drawer of treats every day.
I was in heaven in that giant king bed overlooking the ocean. But what really made me sleep well was knowing that my daughter was just as comfortable in her queen bed, in her own room, with her brother happily snoozing in his pack-n-play in the adjacent (and large) bathroom.
Speaking of bathrooms, each of our three were lovely and appointed with Molton Brown products. Ours was the largest and had a jacuzzi tub which was fun for bathtime!
Now my prior misconceptions about all inclusive resorts were that the food wasn’t top quality. I learned quickly that was not the case at Grand Velas Nayarit. WHOA. The three speciality restaurants were top notch–like any that you’d love to go out to for a special night. They had Lucca for Italian fare, Sen Lin for Asian styled dishes and Frida for the Mexican specialties. We did not try Piaf as it didn’t accommodate little kids, but that was just as well as the other three were incredible.
We had tableside guacamole (complete with ants, worms & grasshoppers that my daring daughter tried) at Frida. Lucca offered Venetian ambiance with a violinist, delectable starters and delicious wine. And Sen Lin had rich flavors in their noodles, dumplings and my miso salmon that were surprising to find in Mexico!
Besides those outstanding dinners, we had a daily buffet or menu breakfast just steps from the sand. I always opted for the made to order egg quesadillas from the buffet, along with the fresh fruit, green juices and yes, some tasty Mexican pastries. 🙂
Poolside lunches were great as well! We had a variety of salads, ceviches, tacos and burritos, all so delicious.
The best part, when we needed anything for our kids or ourselves, we just had to ask. All inclusive really means all. Do you need a banana, crackers and milk for your son? No problem. Loved your burrito so much you want another? Sure!
This even applies to room service. One evening we had gotten the kids to bed, let out an exhale and said wow, wish we could have a glass of wine and something to snack on now. It was just a phone call away.
Truly, the food at this resort was such a highlight. I can be a bit picky with food and Grand Velas Nayarit exceeded my expectations.
I don’t have to say much after you see the photos and videos. Just know that the pools are indeed even better in person. Their natural form blends into the property like a lagoon, making it always easy to find a quiet area.
The infinity pool overflowing onto the beach was a stunner. It was also home to the popular swim up bar, which frankly, never gets old. Even our daughter was swimming up and ordering strawberry smoothies like a big girl in no time.
The baby pool was a great height for our 1.5 year old to toddler around. He played under the fountains and enjoyed splashing in a safe environment.
The Grand Velas Nayarit property faces the beach and a curved bay. The sand was soft and clean. The water was very warm. However, since it was not a private beach and the pools were so tempting, we didn’t spend too much time on the beach. But when we did, we still enjoyed it.
It also offered one of the biggest highlights of the trip–a chance to see a just hatched sea turtle clamoring down to the water. A staff member scooped it up, placed it in a safe spot for release in the evening when it would have a better chance for survival.
THE KIDS CLUB
This was our first experience with any kids club where we could drop off. The Grand Velas Nayarit kids club is outside right next to the pool in a shaded palapa area. They had tables set up and did different activities every hour. Our daughter would pop in for cupcake making or necklace crafts and then pop back out to our lounge chairs throughout the day. It was very easy and they made her very comfortable. There were usually only a few other kids if any, so she had a lot of attention from the two women that led the kids club. They were very sweet and Aurora even enjoyed learning a little Spanish from them!
The highlight of the kids club is the afternoon shows on the lawn behind the pool. Here they set up a picnic area with umbrellas and out come different fully costumed performers each day. We saw Sonic the Hedgehog among others. After they come and dance, there is a little show, then they play group games with the kids. Our daughter was thrilled.
The kids club also hosts afternoon “shows” where they have performers and characters like Sonic, Spiderman, come out for a dance party. Umbrellas and picnic blankets are set up and the kids can relax and enjoy the show, or participate if they want. They time this around lunch time so parents can have a little quiet lunchtime too!
The main kids club facility inside opens up in the late afternoon and throughout the evening. We enjoyed stopping here with both our kids before dinner to get their energy out. They had dancing, foosball, air hockey and all sorts of video games. The entire space was fun and lively–even as adults we had fun here! We never left her here alone but that is definitely an option, even if parents want to go to dinner on their own, children can stay and watch a movie while they eat.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a spa treatment at SE Spa by Grand Velas. Though I had passed the Spa entrance a few times, I had no idea that a whole separate world was on the other side. It was massive yet very tranquil, with many water features infused throughout.
I was greeted with a detoxifying tea and invited to relax in the women’s lounge area which had a natural lagoon pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and healthy snacks. My 80 minute Cora massage was as interesting as it was rejuvenating. Traditional Mexican elements of sound, and scent were incorporated at the start. All the products were natural and the rooms were very well laid out and thoughtful. I felt so calm and centered after, which is especially needed as a busy mom!
- Water aerobics: my daughter had so much fun with this!
- Nightly shows for all ages: We weren’t able to make them given our schedule but they have fire dancers, singers and more
- Live Music: we could always find live music in an open air setting in the evenings
- Koi Sports Bar: the adults only bar was dimly lit and swanky. They made an excellent martini and my husband and I took turns each going in there for a drink, which was a nice escape!
- Beach sports: they offer scuba, kayaking and more at the activities stand. We didn’t partake because our kids were too little but next time!
- Kids Club expansion: we noticed that they are building a new kids club and making it even better!
- Service: Every single person that worked here was friendly, helpful and sincerely wanted us to have an awesome time. We could feel the warm, hospitality of the staff and that really made our stay that much more pleasant.
Would I stay here again? Absolutely! And I’d invite friends with families to come along! We actually overlapped with friends and the Grand Velas Nayarit setting made it so easy to meet for dinner, do activities and just hang out.
If you’d like to see more videos of the room and the property, click here for my Instagram reels!