Katie Schmit of Travel By Katie, an affiliate of Largay Travel, just took some R&R in Mexico and is back with this report.
I am just back from the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Besides needing a sanity break, I wanted to see first hand what the protocols looked like and how the luxury properties in Mexico were creating a holiday that didn’t feel like a hospital stay with a view.
The flights down were three-quarters full on American Airlines in both directions. I had one flight with a full row and on the other an empty seat beside me. Most people were good about wearing a mask. A flight attendant on one flight went through the cabin and specifically told everyone in violation to put their masks on, or to pull them over their nose, as needed. On the domestic flights, service was only if requested and on the international flights they gave us a bag with a Sani Wipe, a small bottle of water, and a Biscoff biscuit.
At the airport in Puerto Vallarta, there is sanitizer everywhere, it seemed more so than at all the U.S. airports I have been to recently. Before customs, you are required to complete a survey asking questions like: Do you have symptoms? Where have you been in the last 14 days, etc. You then have your temperature taken. In general, everyone had masks on, if not face shields, too.
Upon arrival at the property, we had to step on a pad to sanitize our shoes, then put sanitizer on our hands, and have our temperature taken. Meanwhile, the team wiped down all of our bags, except our purses. They offered (and I accepted) to have my clothes washed that I wore on the flight down. This is a complimentary service they are offering during the pandemic. You do have to do it the first day and it is only for the clothes worn when traveling, not for the rest of what you brought. During check-in, anything that they gave me was wiped down first and when I gave them my credit card, they wiped it, took details, wiped it again, and then gave it back. This was the theme the whole stay. Any object used in an interaction was first cleaned before an exchange. Anytime we left the property and came back, we cleaned our shoes, sanitized our hands, and had our temperature taken.
Upon our arrival to our room, we found the door was “taped” shut, having been sanitized before our arrival. The seal was not broken until we were ready to check in.
If we took a taxi, the bellman would have the driver pull up, have him clean his shoes, sanitize his hands, take his temperature, then wipe down the car in front of us. We went to a market one day and paid the driver to wait for us so we would keep the sanitized car the whole way.
I needed the ATM, which is in the employee area, so I got to see behind the scenes. Employees have to sanitize their shoes and hands, walk through a device that looks like a metal detector but actually emits a mist of sanitizer, then they have to sit in a room for 15 minutes for a health assessment. It’s the same every day, for every employee.
Katie Schmit at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, which is operating at 30 percent capacity with heightened hygiene protocols.
The resort is currently only allowed a maximum 30 percent capacity. We saw mainly locals as other guests. The property has four main restaurants normally: Two were closed and the other two had a limited menu that also had items from one of the other two restaurants on it. Management was very open about making you anything if you tell them in advance (like that afternoon) and if they had the ingredients on hand.
Menus are handed out only at the pool. Instead, an app provides all the menus and all services for the property. At dining tables, they have a QR code you can scan to bring up the menu. There are no buffets; everything is off a menu.
The loungers at the pool are all spaced out; many have been removed. We were allowed to reserve chairs, so on the days we were at the pool only, we had chairs right by the swim-up bar, adult-only section, and view of the beach/ocean.
The spa is closed, except for scheduling massages in-room or in an outdoor area. The gym, teen club, and kids room are by appointment-only, but they are open.
We went to the private beach, Las Caletas, which is a wonderful little excursion. We had to wear our masks until we got to the beach itself and could truly spread out. In the waiting area to board, chairs were spread out and into groupings. We were given hand sanitizer twice, once after the security check point and again as we boarded the boat. We also had to step on the sanitizer pad for our shoes as we boarded the boat. Once on the beach, all staff again had masks, at least. I noticed when we were cruising back to the marina, the staff on the boat was wiping down a lot of the touch points on the boat that people used when getting back on.
The protocols here are extensive and followed without complaint. I was blown away by how truly hard the staff and tourism industry is working to be safe. Everyone was so appreciative of us being there and it truly was a fantastic vacation. I am already planning a return with my family in a few months.