Peek at the All-Inclusive Hyatt Zilara in Cancun

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A couple days ago I got an email from a couple who reads this site thanking me for posting about the all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara that opened in late 2013.  They said that some of those posts help spur the idea of a long weekend kid-free getaway from the cold this February, and that they ended up loving the resort.  I was thrilled to hear they had a great trip, and since I haven’t yet had a chance to go to one of the all-inclusive Hyatt resorts yet I asked if they would be willing to share a few details of their stay.  Luckily they said yes, so here are some tidbits about the Hyatt Zilara in Cancun courtesy of James and his wife.

Us In Front

Awesome Mommy Points readers willing to share info about their Hyatt Zilara stay!

We stayed at the Hyatt Zilara in Cancun in February and really, really liked it. The restaurants were all very good, I loved that it was adults only (though we do have kids back at home).  It had a great lobby, nice pools, and a very nice beach.  We thought it was a great use of 25K Hyatt or Chase Ultimate Reward points (transferred to Hyatt) per night. It was extremely relaxing to not worry about what anything cost since all food, drinks, tips, etc. were included in the award stay.

View From Front

View of the hotel

The place is gorgeous and every room is a suite with an ocean view.  They have a good variety of restaurants (all included) plus they have a 24 hour lounge with light snacks and a coffee/smoothie/pastry shop for any sort of in-between-meals-snacks. There were even things like a bike tour of Cancun that were included in the all inclusive award stay price.  Here are a few tips in case anyone else wants to use their points to visit the Hyatt Zilara Cancun.

Balcony View

View from the balcony

Pro tips:

  • I would definitely NOT use additional points to upgrade to a better room since as a Hyatt Passport member (which you are, if you’re using points) they typically give you a small room upgrade. It isn’t worth it to me to get “premium” liquor (since they already use a lot of top shelf liquor), or a slightly better room.
  • If you’re in the Chicago area as we are, American Airlines has a direct Chicago to Cancun flight, which means it is only 20K British Airways Avios round trip if you can find the saver availability.
  • You can only book on points by calling Hyatt.  They still don’t allow online bookings for the all-inclusive resorts on points.
  • You can ask about availability, then hold on the line while transferring points from Chase UR to Hyatt.  The transfer took <1 minute (YMMV, but seems to be typical) and then I booked while still on the same phone call.
  • WIFI connection was fantastic.  Hopefully you’re not working while here, but if you are I did a speed test on my phone and got about 20Mb/s (both upload and download), which is faster than I get at home or work.
  • Some cabanas are reserved (for the top end rooms) but the majority are first-come-first-serve.  I never had any problems getting one, but the better located ones do get picked up earlier in the morning so plan accordingly.  Between napping, watching the ocean, going from the pools to the ocean, and reading on a Kindle we spent a bunch of time in the cabana.  Because of the great internet connection, you could download a new Kindle book in a matter of minutes. 
Poolside Cabanas

Poolside Cabanas

My only complaint that I had while there is that the lobby area gets loud at night (they play music and have a nightly show), so if you are trying to have some quiet time or go to bed before 11PM, it can be distracting.  They do have 24 hour room service, and it’s fine, but definitely not as good as the rest of the restaurants.  Also, I’m not sure why, but there’s a lot more information about the resort at the realresorts.com website (more than the Hyatt site).  For example, they list all the different restaurants and bars.

From Tripadvisor reviews, it looks like there were some teething problems with the switchover to Hyatt back in November/December.  I haven’t previously stayed at The Royal (from before Hyatt took over), so I can’t definitively compare, but it looks like the reviews are more positive now.  Regardless of what the other reviewers say, we loved it.

Scenario: Four day weekend getaway for two from cold Chicago

Flights: AA ORD -> CUN, 20K British Airways Avios per person, 40K Avios total. The flight is less than 4 hours in duration and in the same Central time zone, so there was virtually no jet lag.

Hotel: 25k Hyatt Gold Passport/Chase Ultimate Reward points per night, 100k points total (or use two free nights via the Hyatt Visa).  This total will not only cover your room, but also pretty much all of your expenses once you get there!

Total cash costs for us ended up being a couple hundred dollars consisting of $120 in taxes on the flight ($60/per person), parking at O’Hare, taxi transfer in Cancun, and that was it.

Cents Per Mile/Point in Value:

Flight: Retail cost for the flights was about $800 per person.  We spent 20K points + $60 in taxes each, so the 20K points saved us $740 over the going rate for the flight, and resulted in about 3.7 CPM.

Hotel: For two people, it costs $500/night for the dates we were there.  Paying 25K points is about 2 cents per point.  That is not amazing for Hyatt/Ultimate Rewards, but definitely a good and worthwhile use (since I could never justify spending $500/night for a hotel, but I have the points set aside for fun and vacation.

Thanks again to this great couple for sharing their thoughts about this resort.  I have to say that the idea of being able to spend 25k points per night and not have to spend more on top of that for food and activities is pretty great!

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Comments

  1. Great post, I have a family of four and I will be sure to get here. I love the all inclusive nature, kind of like a club room, only a lot better.

  2. I would have to disagree with some of the above comments. My wife and I were at the Zilara just last week. The facilities and room were very nice and I agree with the poster’s thoughts as to not spending anything extra for an upgrade. There isnt much to upgrade to.

    However my 2 points of disagreement.
    1) Food. It was average at best. Maybe this is the NYC food snob in me emerging, but other than breakfast and the lunch buffet, we found the restaurants lacking. After eating at the poolside restaurant for lunch on Day 1, we never returned, opting instead for the buffet where the best offering was the made to order fish and shrimp tacos. Dinners were bad. The best dinners we had were at the Asian restaurant, Asiana. Reservations were required at the Hibachi/Teppanayki portion (call or email before you go) and the upstairs a la carte options were fine (apps better than entrees). The tapas restaurant was below average and the Mexican restaurant was just okay. The poolside restaurant turns into a Mediterranean/French restaurant for dinner, we stayed away.
    2) Poolside cabanas. Maybe it was the fact that it was the beginning of the march vacation/spring break crowd but most cabanas were reserved as of 6am. if you did not reserve one by unrolling the towels and leaving your stuff down there by then, you were out of luck. Beware of the people who think that unrolling the towels and leaving no things is sufficient. We left our stuff on a cabana that just had some towels unrolled on it and came back after breakfast to find a couple in our cabana. They had just set out the towels and walked away thinking that was all they needed to do. How was anyone else supposed to know that is okay, i have no idea. Needless to say there was a little disagreement but what are ya gonna do? We havent really had these pool chair problems in other resorts – Hawaii, PR, Bahamas, but seems here it was a rush at 530am and then very little active management during the day – some people seemed to have reserved one and never returned.

  3. @Dave Hyatt can’t be at fault for some jerks at the cabanas. Unravelling a towel definitely does not indicate ownership though. I like to strategically position all of my crap to leave no question about it. Also, all inclusive food is never top quality. Great post! I will be getting the Hyatt card this year for some adventure. 🙂

  4. Love posts about all-inclusives! It doesn’t seem there are many options in the points world, are there? Thanks for sharing!

  5. @Julie…
    Definitely not blaming Hyatt for some bad apples, but was definitely frustrated by the need to wake up at 6 to get a cabana. There needs to be some better policing since so many sit all day with just a book or bottle of suntan lotion on them. Its on the resort mgmt not Hyatt.

    Agree that food at an all-inclusive is never great, but dinners here were pretty rough.

  6. Summer – Do/Will you have a blog on ‘Family Cancun vacation on Points’?
    We are family of four (2 kids age 8 and 6) and plan to visit Cancun this/next summer. I did some research.

    The other hyatt (LOS CABOS) would have been great but they charge kids as half adults which makes it a bad use of your hyatt points/certificates. it appears like AI (all inclusive) on points is only available thru IHG. But it has crappy reviews and located on the corner of the zone. There is another Marriott Property where it costs 35K per day(but its not AI). There is another Westin Lagunamar (non AI) which would have been great, its on a perfect location but they blocked each and every day in Summer (June/July/August). Another westin on the corner is getting scary reviews online.

    Is there any other options available for a cheap family vacation (5 days ?) to Cancun ?

  7. Having just recently returned from our stay. A couple of observation from our experience:

    1. Can not use Hyatt Gift card at this location. They new to Hyatt and just setting up systems with Hyatt. Thus this option is not available.

    2. Service at the resort is superior. Enrolled in the Diamond challenge and received upgraded room, special check-in, and welcome gift.

    3. The hotel has a private car service that is not that expensive($104 round trip) and well worth it. One thing you will see when leaving the airport are SEVERAL people hounding you for transportation. This part was an eye opener. It was great to walk out and see our name and depart quickly.

    4. This is an all inclusive and the best use of points that I can think of. Double occupancy rate was $650.00 pre-tax. Thus all the food and drink covered by 25,000 points.

    5. We were able to book directly on the website to reserve this room. If you are transferring points prior, you had to call.

    6. They offer some premium services that require more money. One that we took advantage of was a lobster dinner for two sea side tables on the beach. Small group setting for $110.00.

    7. Make reservations at the nicer restaurants ahead of time. I receive an email from the concierge ahead of time and emailed back our desires. He took care of them and provided excellent service. He also arranged the car service.

    8. Flew down via AirTran business class. I would suggest a must. At least for the return leg. As a business class ticket, we by-passed the line for luggage check-in. Took all of 10 minutes to get thru ticketing and security. The wait in lines were 1 hour. Thus you can maximize your time at the resort. From the resort to the sitting area past security took 30 minutes.

    9. All rooms are oceanfront, so no complaints from any viewpoint.

    10. The property was purchased from a prior vacation club location that carried over all members. Some people were not happy with Hyatt’s changes but could not say why. Just some rumbling.

    Enjoy!

  8. I just returned from the Hyatt Regency Cancun and all thought not all-inclusive for roughly half the points 12k per night, I booked a club room and used a 2 for 1 promotion on food credits. We ended up only using 48k points for 4 nights, $250 in food credits (became $500) and we liked the experience. The hotel is out of the way from madness of Cacun being at the end of the hotel zone which gave it more a resort feel to us than a cancun hotel experience. I echo another commenter post on biz class via Airtran as it gives you a jump start on the process to grab luggage/clear customs. The pool, cabanas and beach are really great. Dolphinus experience is literally right next door. I think it was a better use of points when considering the cash outlay of Zilara. To each there own but regardless Zilara seems to be a great way to spend time with Hyatt.

  9. Great info….going next month. Originally had booked Hyatt Regency but as of the end of April it was no longer run by Hyatt, so switched stay over to Zilara.

  10. Are there any options to use points for the Swim Up Suites? If not we may book a regular for a few nights and pay with our Barclays for 1 or 2 nights in the Swim Up(then use points to pay off the charge). My wife said she’d love the experience.

    Also, any thoughts on what you could see of the Swim Up suite section?

  11. How much was the taxi to and from the hotel. They offer a shuttle, but it is expensive. Is the taxi situation safe? Please elaborate! Thanks!

  12. Hoping Dave is wrong about the food, as we will be there in November. And Julie, we mostly grade resorts based on food, and I can tell you that in Mexico there are many all inclusive resorts with some of the best food I have ever eaten, and unfortunately some that are not so good.

  13. There now. One word. Fantastic! Thanks for the post awhile ago. Without it never would have never known about this place.

  14. “It was extremely relaxing to not worry about what anything cost since all food, drinks, tips, etc. were included in the award stay.”

    Tips are not included in the price, really disappointing you couldn’t shell out at least $5 for your waiters at a meal……

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