When I heard this past weekend’s blizzard forecast, I immediately booked a last-minute escape to Cancun with the family. We just returned back from a great “short, but sweet” trip to Cancun, including 2-nights at the brand new Hyatt Ziva Cancun.
We booked an evening flight on Friday that arrived in Cancun close to midnight, so to save 25,000 Hyatt points, we spend the night at the Aloft Cancun (across the street) for only 4,000 Starpoints. The next morning, we walked over to the Ziva and were able to check-in at 8 am, allowing us to enjoy breakfast and a full day at the resort.
Rather than a standard review of my own, in this post you’ll find a condensed trip report with some tips I think you’ll find useful if you’re planning to take a a trip to the Hyatt Ziva Cancun soon with your family.
Free Nights Are Possible
While there’s some great introductory offers, including 55% off and 5th night free, it still can be a pricey experience (rooms are in the $300-$500 range with the sale). With that being said, you can take a deep breath knowing that free nights are possible. A sensible option is to use the two free night certificates from the Hyatt Credit card, but another option is to redeem 25,000 Hyatt points per night.
To book a free night at Hyatt Zilara or Hyatt Ziva, you’ll need to call 1-800-228-3360.
The 25,000 points per night cover up to two adults per room (and children under 3) for an all-inclusive stay, which is an incredible value. You can add additional guests to the room for 10,000 points per night. Hyatt points can be acquired via 1:1 transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards programs. Ultimate Rewards points can be accumulated via one of my favorite credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Visa. Right now the sign-up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on the card within 3 months. That sign up bonus alone will get you 2 free nights.
If you want to support the blog, you can apply for that card (or any other card) using the banner on the right titled “Find Your Best Credit Card”. I do receive a commission from those approvals, and it’s greatly appreciated.
There are several options to get from CUN international airport to the Hyatt Ziva Cancun. Of course, the first option (and most expensive) was booking through the hotel itself. The Hyatt Ziva Cancun offers airport transfers in a fancy and shiny Suburban for $110 round trip for 1-5 passengers.
I personally booked a round-trip airport transfer with a tour company called Discovery Mundo for $73. We had a nice and shiny private SUV that was easy to locate when we arrived (via a sign with my name), and they were also on time at the hotel to take us to the airport to go home. I used this service last year when I visited the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, and I will continuously use and recommend them because of price savings and professionalism.
The Property is REALLY Nice
My first impressions of the Hyatt Ziva Cancun was “WOW”. If you remember my post from last year, I was extremely impressed with the grounds of the Zilara Cancun, but the grounds and rooms here are actually nicer. Everything is brand-spanking new and the room had an “Andaz-meets-Park Hyatt” feel. The pools, common areas, and restaurants are all immaculately kept, and the ocean-front views are breath-taking.
When we arrived at 8 am, we were immediately escorted to the Club Tower where we had a private-check in right inside the club lounge. We were given delicious muddled-strawberry welcome drinks. The club lounge was always stocked with small plates, snacks, and drinks during breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours. The selections changed daily and they were genuinely good offerings.
We were given a king room (or Club Suite?) on the 6th floor with amazing views of the ocean. The room was spacious, with a very large bathroom and balcony. Our room was serviced twice per day, and the bed was incredibly amazing. I really enjoyed the large bath products and the fact that we were also given lip balm and foot cream in addition to all of the standard products offered at a hotel.
I had no complaints other than the lack of a Diamond Amenity. To be fair, there was a bottle of sparkling wine on the table, but it was sitting in warm water and the card next to it was addressed to “Mr. Chan” from the day before.
I kindly told the front desk, and they simply sent up a new bottle of sparkling wine instead of redoing the amenity all together (I read somewhere that the Hyatt Diamond amenity at this property includes truffles, chocolate covered strawberries, and other sinful desserts – which I would have loved). No biggie, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise because I gained serious weight on this trip as it is, but welcome amenities are that small personalized touch I often look forward to when staying at a hotel.
Food is Hit or Miss
There are a total of 17 bars and restaurants at the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, with tastes to suit everyone. With only 2-days and 3-nights at the resort, I tried my best to experience them all (yes, I did gain 5+ lbs). I do want to express that I found the food to be a bit of a hit or miss, and you’ll be surprised when I reveal my favorites and the restaurants I thought were a flop.
To start with the basics, when traveling with young ones, we had this idea to hit up the buffet at least once per day since it’s easy to just grab whatever food the kids ask for on demand. At the moment, my almost-2-year old is on a pasta kick, and I found it quite bizarre that the buffet did not have any pasta offerings during lunch or dinner on any of the days. I asked the chef if he could prepare a small plate of pasta for my kids, and he looked at me like I had three heads before realizing I was serious.
I’ve been to plenty of Caribbean all-inclusives and a pasta station seems to have always been a staple at the buffet. I’ll also add that I found that there were rather weird food combos at the buffet to begin with, and there really wasn’t much flow or rhyme or reason to the selections. I wouldn’t recommend the buffet for any meal other than breakfast. Speaking of breakfast, we really enjoyed Tradewinds. It’s a sit down restaurant with a limited buffet, and the food is actually delicious. I personally LOVED the french toast and cappuccino.
Speaking of breakfast and cappuccino, I really loved that they had a full-service coffee shop at the resort.
And… a dangerous restaurant entirely dedicated to desserts. I did some major damage here.
Now back to the food… I also thought the Asian fusion/hibachi restaurant, Moonshine, was also miss. Unlike the Zilara, where hibachi experience was fun and tasty, the hibachi experience at the Ziva sure can use some major improvements from a taste perspective, presentation perspective, and even a sanitary perspective (didn’t seem like safe food handling/cleanliness of the grill was enforced here).
Habernos is a beachside ceviche/taco joint and it was just “ok”. The octopus was pretty good and so were the fish tacos. Everything else we tried (tuna tartar, fish ceviche & mushroom ceviche) was nothing to write home about at this restaurant.
I was pleasantly surprised by the food at Lorenzo’s. As an Italian food-snob, I expected sub-par food at most, but the dishes were delicious (though the pizza looked questionable)! I personally loved the gnocchi and the fried mixed seafood. The rustic-Italian ambiance is also really nice.
Chevy’s Diner is a 50s diner that we popped in for lunch on our last day at the resort. Food is what you would expect from this type of place (burgers, sandwiches, fries, etc), but it was “fun” for the kids. My son liked sitting in the car booth.
We didn’t have a chance to try the French restaurant (reviews say it’s great) and the sports bar (not really interested in pub food/beer), but we did order room service for one of the nights while the kids were getting ready for bed, and the food was great.
There’s Beach Everywhere… and the Pools are SO WARM.
The Hyatt Ziva Cancun is geographically located on Punta Cancun (a peninsula), which means there is BEACH EVERYWHERE! I loved seeing the ocean every time I turned my head. The water is warm, calm, and super blue. The sand is soft and kid-friendly. There’s also beautiful piers and a picturesque lighthouse. Your Instagram followers will love you.
Get Photos Taken
Speaking of picturesque, be sure to book your free professional photo session. I dislike selfie sticks and expensive family photo sessions, so when I travel, I always make it a point to get some nice family photos done. There’s no obligation to purchase any of the shots, but if you chose to do so, it’s only $20 per photo (for print out and digital use). Here are a couple from our shoot (pictures of pictures because who has a CD-rom drive these days?).
There Aren’t Any Wristbands… or Distinguished Diamond Benefits
All-inclusive resorts are often characterized by wristbands that let the staff identify who is a guest at the property. When you check into the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, are NOT given a wristband, which I found odd because the sister property, Hyatt Zilara Cancun uses wristbands (and they are color-coordinated according to your status).
It’s easy to assume that your status level with Hyatt has an impact on the service you receive at the resort, but we didn’t notice any special treatment at all. The service overall was pretty outstanding to say the least.
It’s Not As Tot Friendly As I Expected. Except For One Thing…
With two young ones in tow, we were especially excited about visiting the water park and Kids Club. The Kids Club is designated for children ages 4-12, and we knew that ahead of time; however, most resorts allow younger kids to use the kids’ areas with parent supervision (We did so at the Andaz Papagayo among many others). At the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, it was strictly forbidden for us to take our kids play at all. I was bummed to tell my 2-year old that he couldn’t play in the kiddie water park under our supervision.
Another observation about the resort was that they did not have any highchairs, just booster seats. My 9-month old daughter is obviously too small for a booster seat, so I had to keep her on my lap during all meals. It would make sense for a family-friendly resort to be well-stocked with highchairs, especially since there were a TON of babies and young ones at the resort.
In light of all that, the hotel offers on-site babysitting. My husband and I craved some alone time after the kids went to bed at 7:30, so we inquired about the service. To our surprise, the rate was super reasonable – $15 an hour + a $20 taxi charge for the nanny. We opted for 4 hours a night to have dinner and unwind alone while the kids were peacefully asleep.
Of course I was super nervous about the idea of having a stranger in my room with my children, but when I met Daniela, I was immediately put at ease. She was SUPER professional, on time, caring, and kept in constant communication with me on Whatsapp. She even had a walkie talkie that connected directly to hotel security, and she came with a first aid/CPR kit in case of an emergency. I would recommend her to anyone and I would definitely use her if we travel to Cancun as a family again.
They Do All-Inclusive Right
I know by now I’ve written a novel, but I just want to leave this post off on one note – I am truly impressed with Hyatt’s move into the all-inclusive market. I’ve been to A LOT of all-inclusive properties all around the Caribbean throughout my years and this was simply the best experience I’ve ever had.
I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation (and I’ve even become a “travel snob” to some, hehe).
Have you had a chance to visit the Hyatt Zilara Cancun or any of the other Ziva or Zilara properties yet? If so, what did you think?
I can’t wait to try others – next up will be the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos.