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Grand Velas Los Cabos

Grand Velas Los Cabos Now Open

It is hard to imagine a vacation more relaxing or indulgent than one at the ultra luxe Grand Velas Riviera Maya. The only thing that could possibly top that would be a stay at the newly opened Grand Velas Los Cabos.

Grand Velas has redefined the category of luxury all-inclusives, with Michelin star-type dining, top shelf liquors, high-end wines and 24 hour room service.

Grand Velas Los Cabos officially opened on December 20, 2016. It is located between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, about 35 minutes away from Los Cabos International Airport. It’s the fifth property of Velas Resorts.

Grand Velas Los Cabos room

All of the rooms are suites and feature stunning ocean views, expansive bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs and L’Occitane bath products, daily stocked premium mini-bars (raid them any time, it’s part of the all-inclusive experience), and a Nespresso coffee maker.

Four gourmet restaurants offer fine dining with flavors from around the world. The signature restaurant, Cocina de Autor, is helmed by a two star Michelin chef. Guests also have the opportunity to discover local wines – the Baja California region produces Mexico’s best.

Grand Velas Cocina

Frida, open nightly, offers a contemporary take on classic Mexican cuisine. The restaurant recently debuted the world’s most expensive taco, made with Kobe beef, Almas Beluga caviar and black truffle brie cheese and topped with an exotic salsa of dried Morita chili peppers, Ley.925 Ultra Premium Añejo tequila and civet coffee. It is served on a gold flake-infused corn tortilla. The taco costs $25,000 USD (unfortunately not included in the all-inclusive rate). Enjoy it with a bottle of Ley.925 Pasión Azteca Ultra Premium Añejo tequila for an additional $150,000 USD.

25K taco Grand Velas

At Grand Velas Los Cabos guests can stroll miles of uninterrupted beach or relax by the three tiered infinity pools. The two-level, 35,000 square foot spa offers ultimate relaxation. Massage treatments begin with a “Water Journey,” a series of alternating hot and cold experiences that end in the multi-sensory pool.

Rates at Grand Velas Los Cabos start at $750 per person per night in double occupancy. The all-inclusive rate includes luxury suite accommodations, a la carte gourmet meals and premium brand beverages at the more than 10 restaurants and bars, 24-hour in-suite service, a fitness center and nightly entertainment. The spa is not included in the all-inclusive rate.

For more information visit http://loscabos.grandvelas.com.

photos courtesy Grand Velas Los Cabos

Related: A Luxurious Getaway Awaits You at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

A Luxurious Getaway Awaits You at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The tough decisions start just moments after you arrive at Grand Velas Riviera Maya. Do you want a traditional margarita, a tamarind margarita, spicy margarita, lychee margarita or mango margarita?

The decision is made easier by knowing you’ll be able to sample all of them and more during your stay at the luxury all-inclusive resort on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. Emphasis on the luxury – from checking in to dining out, enjoying the white sand beach, three pools or world renowned spa, not a single detail has been overlooked.

You’ll feel pampered, spoiled and blissfully relaxed. I know, as I had the opportunity to spend four days there and I’m ready to go back.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya is located near Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It’s about a 45 minute drive south from Cancun International Airport, an easy flight from just about anywhere in the United States.

The giant white-walled gated entrance offers a hint at what’s beyond. Pass through and you’re enveloped in the jungle, a drive that helps with the transition from work to pleasure.

The entrance to Grand Velas Riviera Maya, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts
The entrance to Grand Velas Riviera Maya, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts

The first section, or ‘ambiance’ of the all-suites resort you’ll come to is Zen. Designed to blend in with the surroundings, this ambiance is all about peace and relaxation. Palapas-covered raised walkways take you from the lobby to your suite, your escort a member of the staff assigned to assist you with anything you need during your stay. Each suite has a large spa tub and private terrace looking out at a lagoon and mangrove jungle.

Lobby at Zen ambiance, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts
Lobby at Zen, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts

The attention to detail is readily apparent. Sparkling wine can be arranged to be on ice in anticipation of your arrival. A bottle of Grand Velas Tequila sits above the fully stocked mini bar (raid it as many times as you like, it’s part of the luxury all-inclusive experience). There’s a Nespresso machine and high-end teas. L’Occitane bath and body products. An umbrella if there’s rain. And bug spray just in case (though as of this posting there has been only 1 case of Zika reported in the Cancun area).

A room at the Zen ambiance at Grand Velas Riviera Maya
A room at the Zen ambiance at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

I stayed in the Zen ambiance the first night of my stay. Waking up the next morning and enjoying coffee and breakfast on the patio was pure heaven. (In-suite dining is available 24 hours a day and included in the all-inclusive experience.)

Breakfast on the patio at Zen
Breakfast on the patio at Zen

Each of the three ambiances has a pool, gym, bars and restaurants. There are readily available shuttles to take you around so you can experience it all.

The pool and bougainvillea-draped balconies at Ambassador
The pool and bougainvillea-draped balconies at Ambassador

The family-friendly Ambassador ambiance is ideally located steps from the white sand beach and the resort’s largest pool. Nearby the Kid’s Club and Teen Club have been decked out with the latest in gaming and entertainment, guaranteeing they’ll have fun while you get to relax.

The beach at Grand Velas Riviera Maya
The beach at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

If you’re looking to reconnect with that special someone in the ultimate setting, you’ll want to stay in the Grand Class section. Exclusively for adults and teens 16 years of age and older, the Grand Class offers views, luxury and beyond, and you can enjoy it while sitting in the soaking tub on your balcony. Also worth noting, the giant spa bathtub that can probably fit six adults, no exaggeration.

I thought nothing could top breakfast on the terrace at my Zen suite until I was sipping bubbly in the soaking tub on my balcony looking out at the Caribbean Sea.

Sunset on the balcony at Grand Class
View from the balcony at Grand Class

The all-inclusive portion of your stay at Grand Velas Riviera Maya feels like the most decadent indulgence. It’s the adult version of being a kid in a candy shop; eat and drink whatever you want, and you’ll want to taste it all.

First, the drinks. You’ll find premium liquors and high quality wines from around the world available throughout the resort, all included. Want an introduction to tequila or mezcal? Host an impromptu tasting yourself! Your bartender will give you a pour from all the bottles you’d like. Decide you want to switch from a mango margarita to a lychee one while lounging at the infinity pool? There are plenty of poolside servers, or my recommendation, float over to the swim-up bar.

Next, the food. You won’t find fine dining like this at any other all-inclusive resort. Choose among the restaurants offering Mexican, French, Italian or Asian cuisine. You’ll find dishes prepared to the highest standards, and flavors to match any top restaurant. In fact, Cocina De Autor, Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s signature restaurant, has been awarded the American Automobile Association’s Five Diamond award – it’s the only restaurant in an all-inclusive to receive this honor.

A selection of dishes at Grand Velas Riviera Maya
A selection of dishes at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The fun continues late into the night at any of Grand Velas’ bars. Listen to live music at the Piano Bar, or belt out your favorite tune at the Karaoke Bar. Of course if you just want to sit on your balcony and listen to waves lap at the beach, that’s fine too.

A stay at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya is not complete without a visit to the spa. Appropriately located in the Zen ambiance, the region’s largest luxury spa incorporates elements of the natural environment in its two-level, 89,000 plus square-foot space.

Warm water pool at the spa, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts
Warm water pool at the spa, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts

Your treatment begins with a Water Journey. Alternating hot and cold treatments culminate in a warm water pool with bubbles, jets and waterfalls designed to help you sink deep into relaxation.

I enjoyed a Therapeutic Velas Maya massage during my stay. The deep tissue massage is uniquely tailored to each guest, with various techniques to help relieve stress and tension. The massage, coupled with the Water Journey, was easily one of the top spa experiences I have ever had. I was the most relaxed I had been in ages.

Treatment room at the spa, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts
Treatment room at the spa, photo courtesy of Velas Resorts

Spa treatments vary in price and are not included in the all-inclusive rate.

You could easily spend your entire vacation on the Riviera Maya at the Grand Velas resort. But there is plenty to see and do nearby. You can explore the shops and restaurants of downtown Playa del Carmen. Tulum and its famous ruins are located about 45 miles away, and a bit farther is Chichen Itza. Xcaret, an eco-archaeological park is about 20 minutes away. Check out a video of the Butterfly Pavilion below.

A video posted by Robin Austin (@amgastronomer) on

Ready to book? Visit the website for Grand Velas Riviera Maya at rivieramaya.grandvelas.com.

If you’re looking for an excuse to visit in October, the Best of Mexico Riviera Maya will be held from October 5th to 9th. Five internationally-known Mexican chefs will team up for a 10-course tasting menu that will be offered over the four nights. It is included in the all-inclusive pricing.

The $250 million Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers 539 suites ranging in size from 1,184 to 3,767 square feet. Nightly rates start at $393 per person per night based on double occupancy.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya is part of the Velas Resorts family that includes Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, Velas Vallarta, Casa Velas and Grand Velas Los Cabos, which will open later this year.

The inviting pool at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, #nofilter needed
The inviting pool at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, #nofilter needed

Special thanks to Grand Velas Riviera Maya for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own.

Napa Valley sign

Five Favorite Local Wineries to Visit in Napa Valley

When you visit the capital of winemaking, deciding on which wineries to visit or even where to start can be difficult. With so many incredible, one-of-a-kind wines to try, you definitely don’t want to waste time looking around. To make it easier, try one (or all) of these favorite local wineries during your next visit to Napa Valley.

Schramsberg Vineyard

Schramsberg Vineyards is known as “America’s House of Sparkling Wines,” and provides not only an impeccable wine selection but also an important piece of history in winemaking. The caves at Schramsberg were dug in Diamond Mountain in the late 1800’s by Chinese laborers after the completion of the Transcontinental railroad and included two sets of cellar tunnels completed before the turn of the century. Later, another set of tunnels were added in the 1980’s, increasing the square footage of the already-impressive tunnel system to 34,000 square feet. Now, visitors get the opportunity to enjoy these picturesque caves and the wine that is perfectly developed in them.
schramsberg.com

Castello di Amorosa

When you pull up to Castello di Amorosa, you may start to question if you actually did book your vacation to Napa Valley, or mistakenly were brought to Tuscany. Well, appreciate the authenticity of Castello di Amorosa, constructed with true Medieval techniques and meticulously designed by owner and builder Dario Sattui with all of the characteristics of a real castle. That’s right, enjoy world-class wine in a castle with a moat and drawbridge, dungeon, and secret passageways. The Castello di Amorosa is so impressive and fun, even your children are welcome to join in for a grape-juice tasting and tour.
castellodiamorosa.com

Cliff Lede

If history isn’t really your thing or it’s time to switch it up a bit, visit Cliff Lede for a modern yet unique experience. Canadian-born Cliff Lede purchased the land in 2002 and was quick to make it his own. He named each of the 39 wine blocks after his favorite classic rock songs, giving them the nickname “rock blocks.” You can even book a “Backstage Pass” visit that gives you access to a variety of limited production wines to enjoy in a comfortable lounge that features rotating art exhibits, all while being serenaded with classic rock hits in the background. For a destination with fabulous wine, thought-provoking art exhibits, and the feel-good vibes of classic rock, Cliff Lede is a must.
cliffledevineyards.com

Failla

A visit to Failla may very well be a bucket list item for true wine enthusiasts. Failla (pronounced Fay-la) Wines is home to winemaker Ehren Jordan, one of Napa’s most esteemed winemakers. This intimate winery allows its visitors to taste some of the most popular, sought-after wines on the market, and you may even find yourself picking Jordan’s brain himself as he hangs out with his guests in the courtyard. The 15,000 square foot caves also impress, and booking a cave tour is a favorite among many guests.
faillawines.com

Robert Mondavi Winery

The renowned and respected Robert Mondavi opened his winery in Oakville in 1966, and the rest is history. He succeeded in producing some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the entire world. His vision included a combination of classic winemaking techniques combined with new technology as it emerged, all while honoring the origin of the wines. Mondavi considered winemaking an art, which also inspired the decision to host several famous artists for a summer concert series held on the lawn of the winery.
robertmondaviwinery.com

Visit these five wineries on your next visit to Napa Valley, and don’t forget to stay in comfort at a luxury resort, and taste in style to make your trip unforgettable.

Content provided by Solage Calistoga, a luxury resort and spa in the Napa Valley. For more information visit solagecalistoga.com.

Barnsley Resort

Barnsley Resort Holds Blue Rock Wine Weekend

A  scenic and easy car ride from Atlanta, Barnsley Resort is the perfect weekend getaway. Whether it’s strolling the grounds, exploring the manor house ruins, relaxing by the pool or at the spa, or just enjoying a glass of wine on the porch of your private cottage, there’s something for every guest.

This June Barnsley Resort is offering a special wine weekend package celebrating the wines of Blue Rock Vineyard.

Blue Rock Vineyard is located in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. It is known for its high quality, limited production red wines that express a real sense of place. The 46 acres of mainly Bordeaux varietals are planted on a hillside with blue rocks, pebbles and boulders. If you haven’t tasted Blue Rock’s wines perhaps you have tasted some from their neighbor, Silver Oak Winery.

At the Blue Rock Wine Dinner on Saturday, June 11th, Executive Chef Roberto Guzman will serve a four-course dinner paired with Blue Rock Vineyard wines in the Rice House. Winemaker Kenny Kahn will share insights on the featured wines. The dinner is $185 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity.

Barnsley GardensStay the weekend with Barnsley Resort’s Blue Rock Wine Weekend Package. Your two nights in the luxurious cottage accommodations include a welcome gift Friday evening, breakfast on Saturday morning in the Woodlands Grill, the Blue Rock Wine Dinner Saturday evening and breakfast on Sunday morning in the Ruins at the Vintner’s Sunrise Breakfast. You’ll also enjoy a $150 credit toward horseback riding, clay shooting, golf or other activities.

To book your reservation online click here. You may also book by phone at 770.773.7480 or toll free at 877.773.2447. The cost of the wine  weekend package varies based on room type.

For more information on Barnsley Resort visit barnsleyresort.com.

The wine weekend is June 10 and 11, 2016. Package prices are quoted per night, are based on two adults per room and include all applicable taxes and resort fees. Meals include service charge but do not include alcoholic beverages (except the accompanying wine during Saturday’s wine dinner) or additional gratuities. Activity credits may not be applied toward room charges or meals and must be used during the stay.  Advance activity reservations are recommended, no credit will be given for unused portions. Two night minimum stay required.

images courtesy Barnsley Resort

Cahors Malbec Rose

Cahors Malbec Rosé

With an appreciation for tradition, winemakers in Cahors also seek to modernize Malbec for a new generation of wine lovers. Today the new trend is to produce a rosé of Malbec.

Cahors Malbec roseThe past few years have seen a surge in the popularity of rosé wines in the United States, particularly rosé from France. Though it is still difficult to find Cahors rosé in US stores and restaurants, you’ll definitely want to look for it if you have the opportunity to travel to the region.

Malbec is an extremely versatile grape for rosé. The wine can span a variety of colors and styles – from salmon pink to bright magenta, light and fruity like the rosés of Provence to bursting with ripe red berries like a light bodied Gamay or Pinot Noir.

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Saint-Cirq Lapopie

Snapshots from Saint-Cirq Lapopie

Your visit to the Cahors region is not complete without a day in Saint-Cirq Lapopie.

The commune perched on a cliff overlooking the Lot River is classified as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). In 2012 the French voted it their favorite village in the country.

Take time to stroll along the cobblestone streets and visit the boutiques. There are plenty of cafés and restaurants to enjoy a drink or bite to eat. Climb the steps near the church for magnificent views of the rooftops and river.

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Clos Triguedina

A Visit to Clos Triguedina

When you arrive for a visit at Clos Triguedina, one of the first things you will likely say is “I would like to taste something.” It is a sentiment that has been expressed there countless times over many centuries.

Cahors and Clos Triguedina are located along the Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims would find a welcoming place for food and rest at the estate in Vire-sur-Lot. In the Occitan language they would say, “I am longing to dine” – “me trigo de dina.”

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Luzech plateau Cahors

Cahors Crash Course Part 2: Terroir and Terraces

When getting to know Cahors Malbec, it helps to learn about the terroir.

Sure we can go into detail on the geology, terrain and soil depth or type, but today we’re boiling it down to an easy to understand concept – terraces.

These layers of alluvial deposits are what make for such a variety of wines in the Cahors region. Knowing about terraces is the key to understanding the different styles and aging potential of Cahors Malbec.

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Cahors map

Cahors Crash Course Part 1: History

To say that Cahors Malbec has been the wine of kings, popes and tsars is not an understatement. From the Middle Ages onward the “black wine of Cahors” was enjoyed by such notable figures as Henry II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Francis I, Peter the Great of Russia and Pope John XXII (who was born in Cahors). Experts in the 1700s wrote about the high quality wines of the region, as did French agronomist Dr. Jules Guyot in an 1868 text, where he also described Malbec’s aging potential.

So why is Cahors Malbec not the go-to wine for celebrations, gourmet meals or tonight’s dinner?

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Epcot Food and Wine Fest

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

A trip to Epcot at Walt Disney World is even better when you go during the International Food & Wine Festival. From Friday, September 19th through Monday, November 10th, visitors have the chance to eat and drink around the world.

The Amateur Gastronomer got a peek at what makes the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival so much fun during the first weekend of this year’s event.

Headed there this fall? Check out our tips for what to see and taste.

Epcot 2014

 

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