Hotel Spotlight: Hyatt Zilara/Ziva Rose Hall – Jamaica

By: Frank – @dugup46 – The Hyatt Zilara/Ziva Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica can be summed up in one word: Amazing.  There isn’t a whole lot better than escaping to a warm destination in the middle of a cold winter.  It never ceases to amaze me how you can go from being bundled up in the snow (-8 degrees to be exact) to laying out on the sand a few hours later.  After being a little disappointed by the weather on our New Year’s Eve trip to New Orleans, we were destined for some great weather in Montego Bay, and we were not disappointed!

Cash & Point Expenses

Being that the Hyatt Zilara in Jamaica is an all-inclusive resort, nailing down an exact price can be a bit difficult.  I’ll break down the approximate cost by double occupancy for the peak season and then the off peak dates.

  • Cash Costs
    • $648 for September (off peak) weekday or weekend, single occupancy.
    • $810 for September (off peak) weekday or weekend, double occupancy.
    • $664 for April (peak) weekday or weekend, single occupancy.
    • $886 for April (peak) weekday or weekend, double occupancy.
  • Points Costs – 3 options
    • 25,000 Hyatt points, double occupancy.  All year.
    • 25,000 Chase UR points transferred to Hyatt (earned by the Chase Sapphire Preferred) 
    • Free night certificates can be used on double occupancy only.

You can get around a 3.5 cents per point on your Hyatt points, which is very impressive!  Since it’s an all inclusive resort, you’ll also be saving money on your drinks, food, and entertainment.  Trust me… they have the entertainment down there!

Hotel Overview & Room

overheadmap

If you come to Jamaica for any one reason, it’s the property.  You choose a hotel based on the beach, the feeling you get walking around, and the pools & bars.  This one has it all.  The property is divided into 5 separate buildings shaped in three attached “U”s facing the ocean.  The first two parts of the “U” shape are actually the Hyatt Zara while the last section of the “U” is the Hyatt Zilara.  The Hyatt Zilara is an adults only resort, and while I don’t believe I saw a minimal age, I didn’t see anyone below 16-18 years old.  Both properties share restaurants and entertainment; however, Ziva guests can not visit the Zilara side of the property, which is separated by the line above on the map.

Zilara Pool

The resort had two huge, beautiful outdoor pools.  The Zilara side was a little smaller but had an infinity pool and swim up bar!  That was very nice, and I utilized both accordingly.  The Ziva side of the resort had most of the restaurants and entertainment, which was fine with us.  Everything is within walking distance when the weather is so beautiful.

Pro tip: The beaches and pool side chairs get picked over pretty early!  So wake up relatively early (be out there no later than 10 or 11) and stake your claim.  The cabanas on the beach and around the pool are rentals, so don’t take one of those if you expect to stay long!  Also the sand on the beach can get packed down and become pretty hard.  We preferred staying by the pool side bar!  Less of a walk to the bar, and the service was great!

Fire Pit on Beach

The outside of the property is sprinkled with palm trees.  Walking paths intersect with bridges that cross over the pools, and beautiful seats with beach-side fireplaces are scattered throughout… does it get any better?

Rooms

During our stay at the Hyatt Zilara, we were booked in the Junior Suite w/ ocean view.  The room was beautiful and spacious, and it was divided into three sections.  You enter into a hallway, with the restroom on your left.  Past that, the room opens up with your bed in the middle of the room, couch on the far left wall, television and bar area on the right.  Continuing after the TV and bar are the sliding doors that lead you to your balcony looking over the pool.  Although the room was considered an ocean view room, you really couldn’t see much ocean.  We were on the 3rd floor, so maybe if you were on the 5th you would have some better luck.

Room Photo

The restroom was great!  His and her sinks, over sized bath tub, separate stand up shower, and an enclosed area for the toilet.  If I had one complaint about the bathroom, it’s the same complaint you’ll read on many hotel review sites… the water pressure in the shower was sub-par.  The hot and cold water was very touchy and the water pressure left much to be desired.  It’s unfortunate because water pressure is one of my top priorities in hotel rooms.

bathroom

One of the top features of the room was that it came with a fully stocked, complimentary bar that was refreshed daily.  I believe this is only included in the suites!  Such a great perk when you’ve been walking around all evening after dinner, and you want a cocktail outside on the patio with you return to the room.  Each room also includes 24/7 room service in the price!  We utilized the option a couple times.  The late night menu is limited; however, both orders were delivered promptly and served hot.  This is a huge “plus” since the hotel was near full capacity!  We may have waited around 30 minutes for each order.

Service & Conveniences

The Hyatt Zilara boasts “service from the heart,” and when you watch their promotional video you’ll see the staff place their hand on their heart after service.  We found that to be a bit hit and miss; however, the smiles on the faces you see on that video are the same smiles you will receive at the resort, from nearly every employee.   The staff really interact with the guests and seem to enjoy their work.  Most staff at other hotels are nice, but you can tell it’s just their job and what they get paid to do.  At the Hyatt Zilara, we honestly felt that the staff cared.  It was refreshing!

beachphoto

In terms of conveniences, what else could you want?  The resort had everything from a gaming room and candy shop for the kids to a cigar shop, souvenir store, and more bars than we could even find for the adults.  I don’t consider myself a cigar aficionado by any means, but I had to stop in the cigar shop to pick out a Cuban.  I landed on the Monte Cristo Habana, which was quite nice!  Danielle stopped over at the souvenir shop and picked up a swimsuit cover up, which looked great and was priced….. affordable for the location.

If I’m going to nit-pick on the service, it’s that the hotel’s website boasts about the pool/beach side service and drink refills.  We had no such luck at the pool or the beach.  The good news is that you are never too far from a bar, so grabbing a drink really isn’t an inconvenience.

Restaurants & Dining

Oh geez… I’m really not looking forward to this part.  There are so many dining options, between the restaurants and bars, that it’s just not possible to condense in a few paragraphs.  The Hyatt Zilara & Ziva boast an impressive 10 restaurants and 5 bars.  During our stay, we were able to eat at FlavorZ, Brazil, Barefoot Jerkz, Choicez, and HoriZonZ.

Hyatt Fuzion – Chinese Restaurant

horizonsmenyFlavorZ and HoriZonZ were your typical restaurant.  Small, high-quality menu.  Service and food were great at each location.  If you have never stayed at an all-inclusive, it’s a weird feeling not having to worry about the price of anything.  You want a couple appetizers?  Go for it!  Wine is the only thing not included in the hotel price, so note that before ordering a bottle!  Check out the menu for the HoriZons located on the right (click the menu to open full size)!

 

Barefoot Jerkz was the most amazing Jamaican BBQ-style food I had ever had.  Jerk chicken, jerk sausage, jerk pork, all amazing.  I have nothing else to say about this place.  This is a “3 times a day” kind of place.

Jerk
Hyatt Zilara Barefoot Jerkz

Brazil was the nicest restaurant in terms of luxury of the bunch (that we were able to visit).  Brazil provides you a card when you sit down… green on one side, red on the other.  Servers walk around the restaurant with giant skewers of different meats (lamb, beef, chicken, sausage) looking for the cards on the table.  The rules are simple:  green means more food, red means hold off.  While the establishment was certainly the most unique of the ones we visited, we just weren’t real big fans of the food.  In saying that, we heard other people say it was great.  We felt the meats were under cooked and just not full of flavor.  So I would still recommend it, since other people loved it but know going in you may have to like rare (medium rare at best) foods.

Pro Tip:  All the nicer restaurants did have a strict dress code, so be sure to research that beforehand!  If you show up with dress sandals, you will not be eating at some of the places.  They enforced this with no exceptions, and we saw a few people being turned away.  I think this is a good thing though!  Why have rules if you are just going to allow people to break them?

X-Factor

So what’s the x-factor of the Hyatt Zilara/Ziva in Rose Hall?  I’m going to list three of them:  1) The pools, 2) The service, and 3) The airport lounge.  The pools were large, laid out nicely, but didn’t get in the way.  They really let you know you are on a resort.  The pool over at the Zilara had a great swim up bar that was always packed, even in February when it wasn’t all that hot down there.

swimupbar

The service is great from top to bottom.  Over 90% of the staff always had a smile on their face and a good number really went out of their way to interact with guests.  You would see them playing games by the pool, playing soccer with the kids, checking on you at the beach.  They were extremely friendly.

Cabanas

Finally the airport lounge was very unique.  It wasn’t an airport lounge like you’re thinking… it’s more like a couch with a couple service desks, but it was nice to be in the airport, offered a cold beer, a cold towel, and a place to sit while you wait on the shuttle to come take you to the resort (which is also included in your price).

Overall we had an amazing stay for our first trip to Jamaica, and this resort is certainly on our radar for the future when we have some more Chase UR points to spare from the Chase Sapphire Preferred!  If you have stayed or plan on staying, let us know below!

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