Before I start this review, it’s worth noting that as of today in December 2014, the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos is currently closed due to damage from Hurricane Odile. The property is slated to reopen on May 1 next year.
A little over a year ago, Hyatt began rolling out two lines of all-inclusive properties: Zilara and Ziva. Zilara is adults only, and Ziva is family friendly. Both lines are targeting a higher end crowd, and all properties include multiple restaurants, both buffet and a la carte style.
My wife and I were looking for a place to get away this summer before our schedule got really busy, and we had never tried an all-inclusive place before. Cabo San Lucas is a very easy place to get to for us West Coasters, especially those of us with Avios, and the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos seemed like the perfect place to go! We spent five days there, and we enjoyed every minute of the trip.
We flew into SJD on the 7:45PM American Airlines flight from LAX. At only 7500 avios one-way, this is a terrific deal. It gets in at 11ish PM, and it’s not worth burning the money / points at the Ziva that night. Conveniently, there’s a Hyatt Place right across the street with typically low rates. Wake up at the Hyatt Place, shower there, put on a swimsuit, and walk on over. It’s literally just a five minute walk away.
We arrived in the morning before our room was ready. We walked to check-in line, and while we were in line, a staff member approached us and asked for our name. He matched it on a list he had, and we were given a hearty welcome and quickly whisked away to the special diamond check-in zone on the other side of the lobby. I really enjoyed the diamond check-in area. Rather than standing at a counter, you’re sitting in comfy chairs in front of a desk. I also appreciated how this kind of separate check-in area doesn’t make a standard guest feel like a second class citizen. We used points for a standard room, and we were told we got upgraded to a room with a nice view, room 3635.
We were also given gold wristbands and introduced to Marco Portilla, the Guest Services Manager. Marco was an absolute pleasure to deal with, and he told us that while no reservations were needed for the a la carte restaurants, as Diamond members, we would be able to make reservations and access the Premium Lounge. Marco called to check in on us almost daily, and he was readily available for any questions we had. Diamond benefits start and end there. You may get a room upgrade, and you get a gold wristband. The gold wristband gets you access to higher quality alcohol, reservations at restaurants, free wifi, and access to the Premium Club Lounge. I think that is perfect. Those are all very nice benefits. Staff members at the hotel have no idea who the diamond members are. They just know what color wristband you’re wearing. Every person we dealt with during check-in, from Marco to the bellboy, was a pleasure to deal with. Such a warm welcome! Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, but they welcomed us to sit in the lounge or use any of their facilities. We went up to the Premium Lounge and caught up on e-mail.
I enjoyed the lounge throughout the stay. While pretty much everything at the resort is free, there are only two places where you can get canned beverages: your mini-bar, which is free and re-stocked daily, and the Premium Lounge. I drink way too much Diet Coke, and I much prefer the can over the bottle. I would pop over to the lounge from time to time and grab a couple. I also like canned Coronas, and they had plenty there too! Also, the WiFi at the lounge is very fast, something I cannot say for the rest of the resort. And given the fact that it was usually empty or not very crowded, this is a perfect place to come and make some business skype calls. We also ate breakfast in the lounge one day.
We made our way to the room, and it was really nice. Everything was clean and modern. It definitely looked like it had been recently renovated. The view was FANTASTIC, and I loved looking at the sunrise in the mornings. What a fantastic automatic alarm clock! We had a nice wall-mounted HDTV, which we never turned on. There is a mini-bar that includes waters, pepsis, diet pepsis, juices, Coronas, and Corona lights (2 of each), and a couple bags of peanuts and chips. It is replenished daily. The bathroom was nice with a large tub, his / her sinks, and a shower next to the tub. On the one hand, I love the “open bathrooms” where you can have a window that’s open and see the view outside while taking a shower. I don’t love bathrooms that are too open, though, and I don’t like, for example, that the toilet here is separated from the bathroom with only a glass door that isn’t ceiling height. All in all, a very nice bathroom. I LOVED the balcony. One of my favorite parts of tropical vacations is sitting on the balcony in the late afternoon / evening, soaking in the view, and playing on my laptop or something like that. Throw in an ice cold Corona from the mini bar that I didn’t have to pay for, and things get even better! One interesting thing about the resort is that some rooms have glass balconies. Others have a standard iron balcony. I’m glad ours was the latter.
Internet at the property was inconsistent at best, poor at worst. In the club lounge, I never had a problem with it. In our room, it would barely work on my laptop. On the balcony, it worked okay. They really need to improve their wifi coverage as other guests expressed the same thing while we there. Also, I hate wifi that doesn’t remember devices, meaning that pretty much every time you pick the device up and wake it from sleep, you’ll have to re-enter your passcode. Super annoying. It’s 2014…
There are two pools: the main pool and the adult pool. I wish they would do a better job of cooling them both down. The main pool was especially warm by the end of the day, and it wasn’t super refreshing to get in. However, the pools are both really nice and large. We spent most days at the adult pool, but we did spend one day at the family pool. Both are great, and they both have high quality pool furniture. The adult pool has more day beds. At both pools, service was excellent. They came around all the time to check if we needed food or drinks. There’s a poolside cafe at the main pool where you can order tacos, burgers, quesadillas, etc. We had the tacos there one day, and they were excellent. The adult pool has a mini-buffet that they open up every day for lunch. They were grilling burgers or chicken there, and that was great as well. There’s a swim-up bar in the main pool, and there’s a bar right next to the pool at the adult pool. This bar actually includes a seating area that is part of the pool… think plastic furniture inside of a swimming pool that is probably 8″ deep. Really fun place to hang out and read a book or magazine!
Speaking of bars, there are plenty of places to grab a drink here. There’s the lobby bar, which has lounge seating as well as tables with chairs. My wife and I often went here to grab evening cocktails and play cards. They always have snack food there as well. In the morning, they had granola bars and breads. In the afternoon, there were cookies. Late night, they had fries, mini sandwiches, desserts, chicken skewers, etc. We saw live music in there twice, and it made for a great environment. It can get “rowdy” in here later at night, as those who overindulged on the all-inclusive alcohol come for their tenth round… There’s a martini bar in front of the a la carte restaurants, which is open in the early evenings. Classy setting, decent martinis. There’s live music here too. They have a sports bar,I thought this was a bit weak. They had a bunch of HDTVs, and I’m sure this is a good place to catch a game if you’re there during the right season, but I thought that for it to be called a sports bar, they should actually have some bigger TVs than the ones they had. It would also be fun if they had a “bar food” style menu in there. I would also appreciate a better beer variety. In fact, as much as I loved five days of drinking Mexican style beers, it would have been nice to have a Sam Adams or something like that from time to time, but don’t expect to see any of that here. Modelo on tap. Corona in the can.
My favorite bar was the bar at the adult pool. Marco there (different than guest services Marco) is a drink-making artist. I noticed that the drinks I got from him were made with much more care than those in other parts of the resort. He makes a killer dirty monkey with chocolate. I also like the Miami Vice (half Piña Colada, half strawberry daiquiri). If you want high-end alcohol w/ the gold wristband, you can request Grey Goose or something like that. I only did it once or twice, because the standard alcohol they have isn’t bad at all.
There are LOTS of dining options here! If the term “all-inclusive” conjures up images of buffet slop, you can toss that out. Their largest restaurant is by far the International Buffet. For a buffet, I thought this food was really good. It wasn’t over the top like the buffet at the Wynn or anything like that, but it was many steps ahead of what you would find at most buffets. They also do a really nice job of varying up the selections each day. We were there for five full days, and we left feeling like there was still a lot of food we didn’t get to try, and we never got bored of our options. You could tell that all of the food was really fresh. For example, you would see a selection of taquitos… then you’d walk by a grill, and you’d see a chef making the taquitos right there. I never felt like we were eating mass produced slop. We never ate dinner there, but they kept varying up breakfast / lunch there. We popped in at dinner hours just to take a look, and it looked great – bread, cheese, pizza, pasta, Mexican food, fish, etc. In the mornings, they had a make your own mimosa / bloody mary bar as well.
Make sure to eat at the a la carte restaurants too! However, know that there is a dress code for men! You need to wear closed toe shoes and long pants. I brought some nice collared shirts, but I was planning to wear them with shorts. Good thing the Mega is close… I walked over there and pick up long pants for under $20, and I actually quite like them. Maybe I missed some notification on the website, but I wish this dress code were better communicated. I don’t think I’m crazy for traveling to a 90 degree climate for a few days and not bringing long pants.
Back to the restaurants… Bon Vivant is the French restaurant, and we went here first. We had a very elegant 3 course meal. My wife and I both started with the puff pastry, and it was excellent. I had lobster bisque as soup. She had french onion. I had some kind of seafood medley in sauce, and she had lamb, which had top notch presentation AND taste. Oh and WOW the desserts here were beautiful and tasty. The next night we went to Capri, the Italian restaurant. There is a a great self-serve antipasti bar here, and the menu is pretty standard for an Italian place. The next night we went to Lotus, the Japanese restaurant. Note that when you make reservations here, you need to specify whether you want the teppanyaki or the standard menu. Teppanyaki seatings are on the hour. If you don’t specify, they’ll probably stick you in the regular restaurant so make sure to specify! We never ate the regular menu, but we did teppanyaki, and it was delicious. I’d say it was right around Benihana quality.
For lunch, the steakhouse turns into a Mexican buffet, and this was my favorite place to eat, as you can eat outside in a covered seating area where you can watch the waves crash. There are other lunch options like the adult pool buffet and the poolside cafe. We found all options to be pretty great.
It’s also worth noting that they have nightly shows here. We never went to one, but we did pop our heads in to see some Mexican history type musical show with dancing. It looked entertaining, and the room was about 75% full. There was a bar in the back. If we were there for a full week, I think we would have made some time to see a show.
Based on typical resort standards, they had a great fitness center. There was a good selection of free weights and machines, four treadmills, four standard ellipticals, a couple bikes, and a couple free motion ellipticals. It’s only open from 6AM to 9PM, and the treadmills were often full. I’d like to see them buy another treadmill as there’s certainly room for it. They had a tennis court / basketball court right near the gym as well, and I saw a basketball in the gym so you don’t need to bring your own ball.
If you’re a jogger, the Hyatt Ziva is in a great spot. I recommend jogging just before sunrise to San Jose Del Cabo. If you do it after the sun comes up, the sun will be in your eyes. I took a few runs into downtown San Jose Del Cabo, and I went across the bridge once to Puerto Los Cabos where Secrets and a few other resorts are. I felt completely safe, and I did bump into both male and female joggers who were jogging alone as well. Just before sunrise, the roads are empty enough that you can have a great solo run, but they’re “crowded” enough that you never feel like you’re running alone on a deserted street.
In case it isn’t clear, we had a fantastic time at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos! We can’t wait to return! Hyatt is expanding their line of Ziva and Zilara properties. My brother did his honeymoon at the Zilara in Cancun, and he had similar things to say about it. They are opening a joint Zilara / Ziva property in Jamaica in early 2015. Puerto Vallarta is also on the list. If you’re a Hyatt person sitting on a bundle of points, this is a great way to burn them!