Formerly the Ritz Carlton, this property is now actually two five star Hyatt all-inclusive resorts, the family friendly Ziva and the adult only Zilara.
We spent three nights on the adult only Zilara side which comprises 234 guest rooms including swim up rooms and butler suites. We loved it!
Price per night $940 all inclusive, standard room.
25,000 points for 2 people. You must call Hyatt to reserve with points 1-866-567-7830. *Tip – this is a great use of the two free nights you get when you sign up for the Chase Hyatt credit card and complete the minimum spend.
The Ziva resort (family side) has 387 guestrooms. Adult guests can share beaches, pools, restaurants, bars and amenities in both Zilara and Ziva but children are not allowed on the Zilara side. The line in the picture below divides the sides. The smaller side is the adult only Zilara.
First off, airport transportation is included! We did not use this upon arrival because we went to a different resort first (we had to pay for transport there). If you do use their arrival transportation, you will actually check in at the airport in the Hyatt lounge there. If you are renting a car, there is free parking at the resort. Our transport back to the airport was quick and the driver was very friendly. The resort is only about 10-15 minutes from the airport.
Check in: Tiffani checked us in and was wonderful, explaining everything and offering genuine Jamaican friendliness! NO WRISTBANDS HERE!
Directly across from check in is the Zilara coffee bar, serving coffee drinks, sweets and mini sandwiches. They also have a jar of delicious macadamia nuts – help yourself! Try the iced coffee with rum cream! It’s sinfully delicious and no one cares if you have it for breakfast!
Room: Large room, including king bed, 2 bench-couches, table, chair, and refrigerator. It is nicely decorated in blues and tans with a modern flair. It has a very large flat screen TV with many US channels.
Mini bar with snacks (Doritos, banana chips and granola bars) and drinks (soda, juice, water, and beer) are included.
Bathroom: Large with separate tub and shower, and separate toilet area. They also provide you with a scale so you can see how much weight you’re gaining from eating all their delicious food! The amenities included Kenet MD shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash and soap.
A hair dryer is provided as is a makeup mirror. Shower features rain shower head. We had good water pressure and hot water.
Balcony: Ours overlooked the pool. Some overlook green areas and some the beach. Hyatt built two new buildings and the Zilara pool when they took over the property. The new rooms have cushioned lounge chairs on the balconies. We were in the older building which was recently completely refurbished but those balconies have only two chairs and a small table. I would’ve much preferred the loungers. As you can see in the picture below, the new building balconies have a half glass wall for better views. The original buildings have a pillared half wall. No complaints though. We loved the view!
Pool: Spectacular! At the Zilara there is a multilevel pool.
The water feels quite cool at first but it’s very refreshing and enjoyable after a few minutes. Some of the swim up suites have access to the main pool from them. Of course you can swim up to the bar for refreshing drinks as needed! Their drinks are good. They don’t have that chemical taste you get from cheap mixers and cheap alcohol.
There are plenty of lounge chairs and they do not allow “chair claiming”. The chairs are cushioned and very comfortable, great for naps – trust me on this! There is drink service at the pool area as well. You are well taken care of here!
Speaking of service, there is beach service too!
You can rent a cabana at the pool, beach, or in the pool (Ziva only) for $49, $59 and $69 respectively. Yes I said “in the pool”. They are acqua cabanas.
There is one hot tub on the Zilara side by the pool
and one at the adult only spa.
There are two other hot tubs on the Ziva side.
Beaches: There are three smallish beach areas that are deep enough to swim and play in and partially protected by breakwalls.
The watersports center is on the beach, as is horseshoes and Cornhole.
There’s also some cool swinging chairs to relax in with a cold drink. I recommend the Miami Vice – half pina colada and half strawberry daiquiri.
There are plenty of places to relax, including many fire pit areas which are lit at night.
This is one things this resort does well – provides so many different spaces that it never got crowded at all. In fact, we wondered every evening where all the people were! The property is very large. You can do a lot of waking here! You can always find a peaceful site to sit quietly.
Exercise: They have a beautiful fitness center.
And one tennis court.
There’s lots of beautifully landscaped tiled walkways for you to walk miles on if that’s more your pace.
After your work out you can relax in the Zen Spa on the Ziva side.
Guests can use the eucalyptus filled steam room and sauna for free. Men’s and women’s are seperate. Showers and changing rooms provided. Other spa services are offered for a separate $$$ fee – a little steep for my pocket book!
There is a Beauty salon and wedding planning services on site as well.
How about a wedding at the gazebo with dining and bar on the decks oceanside!
Want to see more of Jamaica? Off resort tours are available to be set up from both resorts, although quite pricey by my book. This “beep beep” tour was $225 per person. That’s to rent your own mini cooper and drive around following a guide. No, we didn’t do any tours. We decided to just stay on resort, relax, and enjoy the resort’s amenities.
Everyday you will get a Daily News dropped off in your room, usually during turn down service the night before. It will highlight the weather for the following day as well as the activities schedule.
We only watched the entertainment one night, which was a band playing. They played instrumental reggae/pop and were good.
They had the Michael Jackson tribute another night, but we had seen this the week before at our previous resort. It was also very good. We’re not really into participating in the activities so I can’t comment on how they were. I heard a “human Ipod” game going on at the pool one day which sounded like good fun!
Now on to the food. There’s so much of it! The quick review: It was very good! Did I mention that it’s everywhere…and there’s a lot of it! This is why there’s a scale in your bathroom!
Restaurants: There are 7 sit down restaurants plus a large buffet between the two resorts. You can choose from Asian, seafood, Jamaican, French, Brazillian, International and Italian. They are all walk up – no reservations at all, which is great! We never had to wait in line and we went whenever we felt like it. They’re open from 6pm-10pm. We ate at the Brazillian steakhouse – Brazil, the seafood restaurant – Calypzo, and the international cuisine restaurant – Urban Heatz for dinners. I’ll tell you a little bit about each. Brazil: I’ve never eaten at a Brazillian steakhouse but I was told there’s a lot of meat involved. Oh My God! There were nine different skewers of meat that were brought out…chicken, beef, pork, lamb, more beef, more chicken, turkey, sausage, etc ….I thought I was going to have a bowel obstruction before we left! I liked the chicken the best.
Not to mention the awesome salad bar that included sushi, cheeses and desserts along with the side dishes they bring out of rice, beans and plantains! The restaurant was elegant and the service classy! You can sit indoors…
We sat outside. It’s a lovely setting. The only bad part was that I didn’t make it to the “finish line” – meaning I couldn’t eat all of it, and with no microwaves in the rooms, it was pointless to take home a doggy bag. And I hurt for the rest of the evening. It’s a lot of food!
The next night we went to Calypzo, which serves seafood in the evenings. We weren’t extremely hungry that night so we both got a ceasar salad and then we shared a shrimp skewer which was very nice. It’s an outdoor restaurant near the beach and it was a very relaxing enviornment.
Our last dinner was at Urban Heatz which serves food from different international destinations. I had the New York Lobster Mac and the mister had the Istanbul salad. It was a cool environment and the lobster mac was delish!
Most of the restaurants are casual wear except the French restaurant which does require a collar or buttoned down shirt for the men.
If you don’t want a sit down place, there are also several other places to eat at including the jerk hut at Ziva.
There’s a pizza place on the beach next to Calypzo, that in the morning serves croissants. At Zilara there’s the bar near Horizonz serving nachos and burgers near the pool. We were told they have the best hamburger EVER! Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to try them!
Need water? You can drink the tap water in Jamaica, or you can get bottled water at any of the food and drink places on property.
At the fit bar near the lobby in Zilara you can get smoothies and juice in the mornings. The Mango madness is awesome!
It turns into a cool blue alcohol bar, Potionz, at night with music and a dj.
The Bitez deli is the only place open 24 hours a day. It’s on the far end of Ziva near the shopping area. It serves coffees, gelato, sweets, little sandwiches etc. There is an English sports pub located in this area as well, called Union Jackz. Or you can try the Moroccan themed rooftop bar, Fez, which is upstairs from the shopping area. There are the pool bars as well. There’s just food and drinks everywhere you look! Remember that scale in the bathroom???!!!!
Room service is available 24 hours a day. You will not go hungry here!!
Shopping: There is a small shopping area on the Ziva side with a jewelry shop, cigar shop, and a few other gift shops. There’s a small gift shop in both the Ziva and Zilara lobby’s as well.
Speaking of lobby’s….the lobby area at Ziva is the original Ritz Carlton lobby and is just beautiful!
The building itself is a piece of artwork.
Check out the pub, Stirz here.
Or the coffee shop, Grindz across the hall. Notice all the names end in “Z’s”. I’m not spelling wrong. It’s part of the Zilara/Ziva style!
I almost forgot about the buffet! How could I?! Choisez serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. We only had breakfast and lunch here. It’s an extensive buffet with multiple fruits, breads, desserts and main dishes. For breakfast I found myself drawn to the smoked salmon! Divine!
They had a nice salad bar for lunch as well as many hot entrees. Dinners were themed nights. I know they had Latin and French nights when we here. We chose to eat at the restaurants instead. Seating at the buffet is either inside or outside. If your outside, you’re right next to the ocean. It’s just beautiful!
The staff here goes above and beyond! Their motto is “service from the heart” and they show this by greeting you with a smile and placing their open palm over their heart. They are more than friendly. They always have time for conversation. We met a bartender, Copeland, who works here six months a year and then goes to Mackinack Island in Michigan to work there for the summers. Another bartender told us about his family home in Ocho Rios and how he wants to open his own garage because he loves cars. Then there was Pete, a security guard who told us he wants to be a soldier in the Jamaican army. I didn’t know Jamaica had an army. Maybe they are protecting their ganja crops, or their jerk chicken recipes! One of these wonderful employees even climbed a palm tree to get us a coconut and then opened it for us!
We were just overwhelmed with their smiles and genuine warm greetings.
So who is this resort good for? The clientele while we were there appeared to the be the 35+ crowd. We saw a few younger and many older folks as well. While their was plenty of drinking and good fun, it was a quiet place for the most part. I can’t comment on anything for the kids but if you are looking for a nice quiet place to relax or a romantic getaway, this is a great place to be! Several businesses were holding events here as they have many conference/meeting rooms and ballrooms (indoors and out!). We saw a few weddings set up as well. There’s space for everyone, there’s plenty to do, the food and drink are good, there’s entertainment, and the service and amenities are 5 star! Way to go Hyatt!!!
Oh and if you go out on the point at the far end of the Zilara beach, you can catch a beautiful sunset almost any night of the year!
One love, Jamaica!