Hyatt Zilara Cancun

View from the ocean front junior suite at Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Cancun is one of the most famous travel destinations in the Americas, and with just under 5 million visitors per year, hotels are in keen competition for the tourist dollar. We only had 24 hours in this town, all of which was spent at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, and I doubt there was a better choice along this gorgeous strip of white sandy resort heaven.

A morning arrival by bus to the city, and a cab to the resort for an early check in was no problem. Having scant time to luxuriate, we wanted that indulgence to start immediately! The cab stopped under a striking multi-coloured glass atrium ceiling, supported by Greek columns and flanked with palm trees. A smiling man in crisply pressed beige opened the cab door for us to alight, another took our luggage and crossed us off the magic list of expected guests and a third handed us flutes of champagne as we were ushered into the reception area. There, Gerardo proceeded to check us in, giving us an upgrade from a junior suite to an ocean front junior suite, but as we had arrived so early our room was not yet ready. But Gerardo put a rush on it since we were going to be with them for so little time. A nice touch, and it was ready to the minute when they told us it would be. With our temporary white and gold wrist bracelets securely in place we stepped into the world of all-inclusive exclusivity.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun is an adult only all-inclusive resort, which was a completely new experience for us. So as we waited for our suite to be ready, we headed through the expansive ground floor to the Lobby Bar and ordered the first of several cocktails sampled during our stay – a ‘Mango, Tango’ for me and a ‘Miami Vice’ for John – both fresh and sweet with a small kick; excellent beginning. We really only had time for one cocktail before our suite was ready – shortest wait for a room on early arrival we’ve had.

Escorted by another smiling gentleman in crisp beige, we stood in the doorway of home for the next 24 hours, our mouths limp and agape, as the features of the accommodation were explained by our efficient host. After he left we stood there for some time, in awe of the cost of such a place, and wondered at those who could afford to stay for two whole weeks, like the Swedish couple we met in the elevator.

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The ocean front junior suite was just the beginning, so we popped down to ‘Spice’ the buffet restaurant for lunch, eager to see what decadent sustenance was on offer. We were enthralled with just the salad bar! But for those wanting more, there was a pasta station – all cooked to order; a steak, burger and dogs station; an Asian food station; a seafood station (cooked in small quantities and displayed on platters so that nothing deteriorated to the ‘dry and chewy’ realm); and a rich, rich dessert station. There truly was something for every taste in whatever combo and quantity you could want. While pretty much everything is ‘complimentary’, there are a select few items that are extras, such as the lobster tails and giant crab claws, the spa treatments and the good wines (or any wine that is something other than a sauvignon blanc or chardonnay – the pinot grigios are extra).

After lunch we headed up to lather on the sunscreen and loaded up the beach bag with reading, sudoko and sunnies. Before we could leave the room the heavens opened and it kept raining for about an hour and a half. No problems, we filled the Jacuzzi instead and sipped sparkling water while looking at the ocean (yes, sparkling water – had to pace ourselves). Once it had stopped raining, but was still windy and overcast, we decided to still get our skin wet in the warm waters where the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico meet in the Yucatan Channel. Walking to the water on the wet sand we passed the beach massage area and the rows of four–poster canopied beach lounges, their curtains tossed about by the wind and their creamy cushioned surface empty of company. The downpour had sent most guests inside, and many had not yet ventured out again. We, however, did not at all care that there was a grey sky above and enjoyed some time in the gentle, salty waves before rinsing off and moving on to a plunge in the warm pool. Of course, we had to visit the swim up bar for another cocktail.

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Sated by cocktails and both ocean and pool dips, I headed up to the suite to sample the impressive shower. Have never before used a shower whose enclosed wet area was larger than most regular bathrooms. It was huge, complete with umbrella-like rain nozzle and pressure jets. Was all lathered up when the power went out in the whole resort. Luckily, this didn’t affect the hot water flow and I managed to get all the necessary things done to look presentable for a pre-dinner visit to the lobby bar. During the hour the power was off, staff continued with their smiling, helpful demeanour, not at all phased by the temporary inconvenience, and not at all flummoxed by the odd impatient and sometimes rude guests who claimed that such things should not happen in a 5 star resort. But even a 5 star resort cannot control the weather (or the inadequate power grid – whichever was the cause).

With six restaurants and five bars to choose from, you really need a week to partake fully in all options. We attempted to sample two restaurants in the one evening by beginning at ‘La Adelita Cantina’ with some cold option pintxos (pronounced ‘pinchos’, the tapas of the northern parts of Spain) and sangria. The white, wave inspired plates were in a neat buffet style row along the bar. They were laden with a range of options designed to compliment the contents of the bottles of wine tempting us from atop small stone pedestals flanking the food. A relaxed and informal way to begin the gastronomic component of the evening.

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The vibrant décor in ‘La Adelita Cantina’ is a fusion of Mexican and Caribbean influences, which is reflected in the creative food offered on the menu. Unfortunately, our indulgence was limited to pintxos and sangria, as our next restaurant venue called us; the main courses of Mexican specialties and tequila and mescal cocktails were forgone as we headed out. The waiter seemed as disappointed as we were at our brief visit. But with only one night, here, we were certainly not going to limit our sampling of food to one restaurant!

We chose ‘Asiana’ as a contrast to ‘La Adelita Cantina’, and this green and cream furnished space came complete with coy pond and Japanese flautist. The central open kitchen with its sizzling hotplates and dexterous chefs provided entertainment for guests who were given the option of gathering around the performance space at the table bar, or sitting further off at dining tables to sip their saki. ‘Asiana’ is open for both lunch and dinner, offering Teppanyaki as well as the usual sushi and sashimi delicacies.

The evening entertainment takes place in the central lobby where the soft leather lounges surround the octagonal wooden floor used as a stage. On this evening we witnessed gymnasts, dancers and circus performers showcase their skills in a Cirque du Soleil inspired piece full of trapeze tricks, contortions and dancing, all in carnivale costumes and masks. The quality of the show and its stars was of the standard you would expect from such a high end resort; no one was disappointed in this crowd.

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From there we moved to a prime spot near the band and chatted with other guests on the comfy sofas while sampling a new cocktail. The band was a popular choice with both those who loved to dance, and those who favoured sitting back and savouring good music without exertion. The vocalist was particularly good and the trumpeter was quite wonderful.

This resort is like being on a cruise ship, only with far more space in your room and no motion sickness issues (unless you let loose too much on the dance floor). Your days can be filled with a myriad of activities, from yoga classes and trivia to bike tours and water sports. Or you can do absolutely nothing, where the big decisions of the day are about menus! With all that they have to offer, you could easily stay several days and never leave the resort. But for those inclined to see more of the area, the exploration of some Mayan ruins can be arranged.

One thing I would definitely recommend is that you accept their offer of a wake-up call on the morning you have to leave. We declined their offer as we always set both of our trusty iphones. However, it seems that Apple are not aware that Cancun is actually on Miami time, not Yucatan Peninsula time, so our heading down to check out at what we thought was 7am was in fact 8am. So our planned leisurely breakfast in the ‘Spice’ buffet was wrenched from us, as we had to make a dash to the airport instead. Was terribly disappointed about the universe’s theft of our breakfast, but tried not to be too bitter – it serves as an excuse to visit again in the future.

Even with nature providing the exact opposite weather of the fantasy beach resort holiday, experiencing a power outage and missing the buffet breakfast, we still had a splendid time. And this was not just because of the opulence of the facilities, the quality of the food and entertainment, and the range of diversions on offer. It was also because of the superior class of the staff. This resort would have to be leading the way for the all-inclusive exclusive resort market in the Yucatan, and it certainly deserves to be..

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About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

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