It was food, glorious food as 35 travel trade members gathered at Toronto’s Arcadian Studio for a private dinner with Chef Xavier Perez Stone, hosted by Grand Velas Resorts. Over an eight course meal of Chef Xavi’s unique take on Basque cuisine with a Mexican twist( complete with wine pairings), guests heard about why Chef Xavi’s culinary creations are one great reason to visit Grand Velas Resorts. “He was named the best chef in Mexico,” said Sophie Raymond, regional sales manager, Canada, Velas Resorts. Chef Xavi was returning to Toronto following his win at the Iron Chef International Competition in the city last summer. Chef Xavi helms the award-winning Cocina de Autor at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, the first restaurant at a luxury all-inclusive resort to receive Five Diamonds by the AAA. Cocina de Autor’s cuisine is described as “part gastronomy, part fusion and part evolutionary.” “At Cocina de Autor, we try to keep the concept fresh and evolving. Complex fragrant spices and herbs are the key to finding that perfect marriage of heat and flavor in every dish,” said Chef Xavi. Grand Velas Resorts consists of four resorts in Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit that feature spacious accommodations, spas, fitness centres, butler service and extensive family programs. Grand Velas Resorts uses the finest locally-sourced ingredients, herbs grown in the resorts’ own botanical gardens and offers gluten-free, organic and allergen-free meals. “Canadians visit for the quality of the product. It’s beyond all comfort, beyond all-inclusive. Two properties are part of the leading hotels in the world, like the Hazelton Hotel here in Toronto,” said Raymond. “It’s for a clientele who have the highest standards. And we’d love to see more Canadians visiting.” Moving from cuisine to kid-centric vacations, Velas Vallarta is an all-inclusive family resort in Puerto Vallarta, walking distance from the Marina Vallarta Golf Course and just minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta. Situated on Banderas Bay, Velas Vallarta features 345 suites in three eight-storey buildings, a high-tech Convention Center that can accommodate up to 700 people, featuring three swimming pools, fitness center and a rejuvenating spa along with spa cabins seaside. “You have to see the spas to believe them,” said Raymond. “We’re all about the well-being of our guests, from the spas to the personalized service. Activities on this resort include nightly theme dinners, making piñatas and jewelry, yoga on the jetty, Mexican fiestas and casino nights. New for guests, Velas Vallarta is one of the only all-inclusive resorts in the area to offer complimentary activities off-property with its “City Tour & Shopping” to downtown Puerto Vallarta and “Cultural & Tequila Tour” to a genuine tequila distillery close to town. In celebration of its 25th anniversary in 2015, Velas Vallarta is debuting new family-friendly offerings with a freshly designed Kids Club, new seasonal children's spa treatments and expanded activities for children and parents to enjoy. Led by the resort's mascot turtle, Franki, the extensive Kids' Club program at Velas Vallarta now features a newly-designed dedicated children's area with spots for arts and crafts, video games and movies. The entire family can enjoy new activities offered daily for children ages 4 to 12, including tennis clinics, cooking lessons, magic, comedy, bonfires on the beach, Mexican bingo, karaoke and stone painting. During select times of the year, Velas Vallarta will also now offer special dedicated children's spa packages including massages, haircuts and manicure and pedicure options with parents. For more information, visit www.grandvelas.com. PHOTO: Chef Xavier Perez Stone, Grand Velas Riviera Maya; Sophie Raymond, Regional Sales Manager Canada, Velas Resorts; Luis Angarita, Director General, Velas Vallarta.