Last updated: 05:00 AM ET, Fri August 21 2015

Velas Resorts: 'There Are No Resorts in the Market With Our Unique Concept'

Hotel & Resort | Velas Resorts | Claudette Covey | August 21, 2015

Velas Resorts: 'There Are No Resorts in the Market With Our Unique Concept'

In Mexico, Velas Resorts are something of an anomaly. For more than two decades, the all-inclusive luxury brand has competed head-to-head with five-star resorts operating under the considerably less inclusive European Plan (EP).

“There are no resorts in the market with our unique concept,” said Juan Vela, vice president of the family-owned company. “However, if we were EP, our competition would be luxury brands, including Rosewood, Four Seasons and The St. Regis. This is not only because of the quality of our facilities and services, but also because of our food and beverage offerings.”

There’s no disputing that Velas properties have gained significant renown on the culinary front. Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s Cocina de Autor, for instance, was the first restaurant at an all-inclusive resort to earn AAA’s prestigious five-diamond award. “Restaurants are led by internationally renowned chefs such as Michel Mustiere, named Maître Cuisiniers de France, and Xavi Pérez Stone winner of the 2014 Iron Chef competition,” Vela said.

Velas also offers its guests an array of one-of-a-kind culinary experiences, including hot sauce, taco, tequila, mezcal and sake tastings. And in October, Grand Velas Riviera Maya will host four chefs from Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (masters chefs of France) for a Best of France event.

“Name your favorite specialty cuisine – Mexican, French, Italian, Asian – and it’s exquisitely prepared by award-winning chefs, including disciples of Spain’s star chef, Juan Mari Arzak,” said Vela.

Furthermore, while such EP luxury brands such as Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont now feature all-inclusive options, Vela believes that those options pale in comparison to what Velas offers its guests. “Their programs are very limited with a lot of restrictions and a very limited variety of options – nothing comparative to our concept,” he said.

At Velas Resorts, virtually everything is included. “While there are some other all inclusives that have one standout restaurant, they do charge additional for dining there – in addition to other fees, so they’re not really all inclusive,” said Velas. “This contrasts with what we do. Other than very expensive wines and spa treatments, we don’t charge extra. So the value equation is very strong.”

The Velas resort concept took root back in 1991, when Vela’s brother, Eduardo Vela, the company’s majority owner, founder and president, opened Velas Vallarta Suite in Puerto Vallarta.

Today, the company operates four resorts in Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Riviera Maya. Its Puerto Vallarta properties include Casa Velas, a boutique adults-only hotel and ocean club situated on the Marina Vallarta golf course; and Velas Vallarta, a family-friendly, all-suites resort and spa located on Banderas Bay. Set against the Sierra Madre Mountains, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is cradled along a stretch of Banderas Bay. Rounding out the quartet of properties is Grand Velas Riviera Maya, situated on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in close proximity to Playa del Carmen.

In the past 12 months, Vela said resort revenue has increased by 25 percent. “We attribute that not only to the quality and value we deliver, but also to our growing reputation for innovation in amenities, services, facilities and package offerings,” Vela said. “This includes everything from baby concierges and designer handbags on loan, to teens’ lounges, packages for divorcees and single parents, and unique spa treatments inspired by Mayan culture.”

The company, whose resorts feature sophisticated kids and teen facilities, plus world-class pas and state-of-the-art wedding and meetings spaces, is an innovator in other ways as well. “From day one, when we first opened Grand Velas Riviera Maya, we were among the first to have in-room Nespresso machines,” said Vela. “Then we added a full bottle of artisanal tequila, made exclusively for us by the founders of the renowned Don Julio brand – and now we’re working on having our own branded mezcal.”

In the final analysis, Vela attributes much of the company’s ongoing success to its status as a family-owned company. “As a family-owned and operated company, we have the flexibility to innovate and quickly respond to new market needs, tastes and opportunities which is so critical in the world we live in today,” he said.

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