The Hyatt Zilara Cancun is an all-inclusive, adults-only resort in Cancun’s hotel district. Is it a good option for honeymooners?
With this post I’ll answer that question and provide a lot of fresh, detailed insight on the property, including guidance on staying there for less than $20 a night.
This review is broken into 10 sections. Read on, or use these links to jump to different sections of the post.
Overview of the Property
Other Features and Attractions
The Nightly Shows
Staying There for Less Than $20 A Day
The Summary and THG’s Honeymoon Suitability Rating
Whereas the allure of some honeymoon destinations is their remoteness, Cancun appeals in the opposite way – it is relatively easy to reach. After the stress of the wedding, getting to a beautiful resort and beach as fast as possible is just what some couples want.
Cancun is located on the Yucatán Peninsula, fronting the Caribbean Sea. The Hyatt Zilara sits in Cancun’s hotel district, about a twenty-minute ride from the Cancun airport which is the busiest airport in Mexico in terms of international service.
With that extensive level of international service, finding flights to and from Cancun is rather easy and reasonably affordable. Patty and I flew on Southwest, which started service to/from Cancun after acquiring AirTran. We used 19,040 Rapid Rewards points total for my flights and Patty flew for free using our Southwest Companion Pass. Legacy US airlines also offer extensive service to Cancun. I recommend using Google Flights to search for legacy airline options.
Overview of the Property
The Hyatt Zilara Cancun is an impressive resort. The check-in lobby that you enter as you arrive at the property has a beautiful, ornate ceiling. The main lobby is nice as well, though not quite as impressive as the check-in lobby.
With Cancun located on the eastern coast of Mexico, the hotels in the area don’t have storybook sunset views but the location does mean some beautiful sunrises are viewable if you get up early enough. On our last day I awoke before sunrise and, after claiming a poolside cabana, headed to the beach to take sunrise photos. Here’s a timelapse video of that sunrise:
On the “sea” side of the hotel, directly across from the check-in area, sits the main bar. On this main floor of the primary building you’ll also find the billiards and table tennis room, a coffee shop and Spice – the buffet restaurant. You can also find the gift shop on the main floor.
The spa is located on the far side of the property. Hyatt claims it is Cancun’s only ocean-view spa. It has the usual-for-a-high-end-resort steam rooms, jacuzzis and massage setups. During our stay the going rate for a couples massage was about $160.
Our check-in took place at the “Romance Concierge” desk inside the main lobby area of the hotel. When we checked in we were told we were upgraded from a lower-floor room to a fourth-floor room due to my Platinum status with Hyatt (from the Chase Hyatt credit card). Knowing that all rooms at this property are ocean-view (sea-view to be more accurate), we were happy with the room assignment.
We were presented with a card to fill out to convey our pillow type preference and aromatherapy scents for the room!
At the time we were checking in – shortly after noon – our room wasn’t quite ready but the check-in agent was more than happy to give us our bracelets. While we waited for our room to be prepped we checked out the property and got some food and drinks. We returned to the desk at the suggested time – about 2PM – and retrieved our room keys.
The first feature you notice as you approach your room is the room service cubby door by the main room door. This is a fun feature – the room service deliverers put the requested items in the cubby from the hallway and then you can access them from a separate, small door inside the room.
As we entered the room we were happy to see the size of it. Our room was spacious; there was plenty of room for our luggage, clothes, etc. The room has beautiful marble flooring and some nice Roman (Mayan?) columns as well.
Who needs pictures when you can have video? Here’s a video showing the whole room:
Just inside the door to the room is the drink cabinet with a stocked refrigerator and a selection of liquors as well. As the Hyatt Zilara hotels are all-inclusive these drinks are included for no additional charge.
Across from the cabinet is the main vanity area. The counter is sufficiently large for use by two people. The sink and mirror are stylish. The hotel provides a wide variety of mid- to high-end toiletries, mostly of the KenetMD brand.
The bathroom is adjacent to the main vanity area and includes another sink and mirror setup, a welcome feature to honeymooners, or couples in general.
The shower is very nice, with a rainfall head and horizontal jets as well. It is plenty spacious to shower without bumping your elbows into the walls or shower doors. One wall of the shower setup has a window built-in at about head height, providing a view of the room and the Caribbean (if the sliding door curtains are open of course).
In the main area of the room, you’ll find the bed, TV, a small table with chairs, a small desk with chair, another upholstered chair with ottoman and the whirlpool tub. The room is nicely decorated but functional.
The balcony is a decent size with the standard two chairs and a small table and a really fun feature – a hammock! The balcony provides an incredible view, and the soundtrack, of the beautiful Caribbean Sea! From the balcony you also get a great view of the pool and Pelicano’s restaurant.
The only word of caution relative to the balcony is that it seemed to get slippery from condensation.
The WiFi signal strength in the room was great!
About the only complaint we had with our room is that its proximity to the main lobby meant that the live music could be heard quite loudly in the room. That live music ends each night around 10:30PM so it wasn’t a major issue for us. If you expect to be turning in early though you may want to ask for a room as far away from the main lobby as possible.
If you’re headed to the Hyatt Zilara Cancun for a honeymoon you may want to consider splurging for a swim-up suite. The swim-up suites are first-floor rooms that abut mini-pools that are connected to the main pool by a few steps. Each swim-up suite has a couple chairs associated with it so you won’t have to worry about fighting the crowds for a chair, though it doesn’t necessarily help you in the quest for a cabana.
The Hyatt Zilara Cancun has six main restaurants and a coffee house. In general the service was great. Waiters and waitresses bring drinks refills before you even ask for them and they almost universally presented a great attitude. Per the stereotype of all-inclusive resorts, the food quality spanned the spectrum from great to subpar.
We first tried Pelicanos, the open-air restaurant at the pool. The food at that restaurant was mediocre. The lightweight hot dog and jerk chicken disappointed though rice accompanying the chicken was tasty. The shrimp cocktail was decent according to Patty. The chips and salsa and the burger were all good, but nothing to write home about (though something to blog about, obviously).
For lunches, Spice – the buffet – became our spot of choice. There was a great variety of foods, some of which were excellent. The Mexican salsa at Spice was great – I must have eaten a quart of it over our short stay! Lunch was followed by incredible ice creams and sorbet. I loved the lime sorbet!
We also frequented Spice for breakfast as it was also good. Fresh fruit was indeed fresh and tasty and the omelet bar was decent. There was a great selection of fresh fruit juices. One morning I had some hot-off-the-griddle pancakes that were up there with the best pancakes I ever had. The pancakes the next day didn’t live up to that lofty standard for some reason.
In addition to Spice there is a coffee and pastry shop on the first floor. Patty enjoyed the lattes and frappuccinos from the shop. They were almost like ice cream. We also stopped at this shop at night for some sweet, chocolate covered strawberries.
The best dinner of our stay by far was the meal we had on our first night, at Asiana. We opted for the tepanyakki offering and we were glad we did. The chef was great. He was enthusiastic, great with the cooking tools and he apparently knew how to cook very well because the food was very tasty.
We each enjoyed our dinner of salmon and ribeye steak skewer at Maria Marie. The overall service at the restaurant was a bit slow but our waiter’s happy-go-lucky attitude made up for it.
On the other hand we did not enjoy our dinner at Tapas and Pinxtos very much, despite the beautifully decorated interior. There were a variety of foods offered from baby eels and caviar to meatballs but the dinner items just didn’t do it for us. Patty did enjoy the shrimp and dessert offerings at that restaurant though.
On our second day at the hotel we stumbled upon a taco and make-your-own-guacamole cart. This was a real treat. The tacos, freshly cooked on the cart, were outstanding and Patty raved about the guacamole she made. I was disappointed that on our last day at the resort the cart wasn’t quite up and running when we had to head out for the airport around 12:30PM.
In addition to the restaurants covered here, there are also two dinner-on-the-beach options available at extra charge. Each Friday night there is an offering for dinner for a couple on the beach with live jazz music for $130 per couple. On other nights there is a more standard dinner-on-the-beach offering, sans the live music. This of course is right up the alley of honeymooners!
The pool is located right where you’d expect it to be – between the main building and the beach. It’s a long pool that is partially separated into two main sections by a foot bridge. The swim-up bar is centrally located in the pool, next to Pelicano’s, which is an open-air lunch restaurant that overlooks the Caribbean.
The pool is surrounded by cabanas and chairs. The cabanas are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. This is the catch-22 you might imagine – you can claim any cabana you want, as long as you’re willing to wake up before the sun comes up and put some belongings on the cabana bed.
We grabbed a cabana each day with this approach. We took turns waking between 4AM and 5AM, heading down to the cabanas and putting our bag/sandals/magazines/towels on it to claim it and then returning to bed for a few more hours of sleep. We didn’t like this game but it is the way the system works at this hotel. If you don’t do this, and instead roll down to the pool at around 8AM you’ll find every cabana claimed (if the property is fully booked anyway).
On our last day I awoke again around 4AM and headed down to the pool area. I (sort of) slept for a couple hours on the cabana bed with the Caribbean breeze blowing over me. It was incredibly relaxing. Then I headed down to the water’s edge to watch the sun rise over the sea. It was a serene experience.
The service at the pool was excellent. There was a butler making the rounds, offering reading material and sunglass cleanings. The wait staff was always available and quick. One waitress in particular – Guadalupe – was an absolute joy to interact with and she was great at her job. WiFi, provided free of charge, was strong at most areas around the pool.
Overall we really enjoyed the pool scene. That said, for a honeymoon it wouldn’t have rated quite as highly with us for two reasons. One: the poolside cabana reservation system, or lack thereof. Most honeymooners are interested in sleeping in to recuperate from the stress of a wedding, not scrambling predawn to reserve a cabana. Two: the pool’s vibe is a little bit skewed toward the vacation/party end of the spectrum versus the tropical/relaxing end of the spectrum you might find at a luxury hotel pool in a place like Hawaii or St. Maarten.
Though you may be tempted to stop at the pool and relax your day away there, the beautiful beach and water that fronts the property is worth at least some of your time. While we were there the surf was rough and there was a moderate amount of seaweed. Multiple guests that have repeatedly stayed at the property all said though that the rough surf and seaweed were very unusual.
Whereas the pool cabanas and chairs are in high demand, there are plenty of beach cabanas and chairs. The scene is quite postcard-esque, especially in the morning before the masses have awoken.
The beach is long and continuous which makes for a spectacular view – it seems to just go on forever. The downside to this is that without any jetties or coves there are no spots where the surf is calmed such that you can snorkel.
Other Features and Attractions
The pool has the obligatory swim-up bar but the hotel designers threw in another creative bar: a “swing-up bar” is situated where the resort meets the beach. This was a great spot. You could swing to the rhythm of the ocean waves while sipping a cocktail.
Next to the pool is an activity hut at which you can book various outings. For this trip, unlike just about any other we’ve taken, Patty and I were determined to relax so we didn’t actually book any activities.
We did however play one round of tennis with another couple we met at the resort. Matt and Molly kicked our butts! The hotel staff provided the four of us racquets and balls though it was a bit of a chore tracking down the right personnel to get us the items.
In addition to the spa, with its jacuzzis, steam rooms, massage offerings, etc. there is an outdoor 5-stage water therapy pool setup. Frankly, it was a disappointment. The jets in the various pools were so weak they were almost meaningless. The only fun part of the “circuit” was the waterfall which provided a nice massage if you positioned your shoulders under it.
The Nightly Shows
When we booked our stay we didn’t realize there would be nightly shows in the lobby. Even if we had we probably would have arrived at the hotel with no major expectations. So we were surprised when we watched the show on our second night at the hotel and really enjoyed it.
It was a Mayan warrior show, complete with a dramatic reenactment of a sacrifice and acrobatics from a hoop suspended from the ceiling. The actors and actresses were done up with a serious level of body paint and costumes. They put on quite a show. It was a hair long in duration but overall it was quite enjoyable. And after the show they stuck around for a few minutes for pictures.
Having enjoyed the warrior show we attended the show the following night also. It was disappointing to see that many of the good seats in the lobby were reserved for some “bigwigs” that were visiting the hotel (one employee told us they were Hyatt executives). On top of the fact that many seats were blocked off for this group they didn’t even show up on time and the hotel staff delayed the show’s start by 15-20 minutes until the group arrived. That was really frustrating.
The show the second night had a less clear-cut theme. It seemed a mix of eclectic elements. The acrobatics and contortionism were quite impressive though!
For a bit more of a feel for the shows, check out some short video clips I captured:
Staying for About $20 Per Night
Because this property is part of the Hyatt chain it is part of Hyatt’s Gold Passport (HGP) program. You can reserve a room for double occupancy for 25,000 HGP points per night. This is a decent redemption value as rooms often go for about $400-$500 per night, yielding about 1.8-2.0 cents per HGP point. You can sometimes get even more value out of HGP points but this is really a great choice if you’re dead set on minimizing out-of-pocket spending. That’s because with most hotel award stays you’ll still have to pay for food and drinks out of pocket. At vacation and honeymoon destinations this can often cost more than $200 a day for a couple!
On our trip we spent about $20 per day or night in tips. Other than that we didn’t pay for anything at the hotel. It was incredible to use points and get both the lodging and food and drinks covered.
Separate from hotel costs, we paid about $70 for roundtrip airport transfer including tip and about $120 total for the two of us in airfare taxes and fees for our award flights. So for about $250 out of pocket we flew to/from Cancun, got transferred to/from the hotel and then had three great nights of lodging and all food and drink included.
The Summary and THG’s Honeymoon Suitability Rating
We really enjoyed our stay at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun. Of course it’s easier to enjoy it when you know you’ve used points for a nearly-free stay. Looking at the stay objectively though, we were thrilled with the room, enjoyed the pool scene a lot, thought the beach was very nice though it was knocked down a notch by uncharacteristically rough surf and seaweed while we were there, pleased that we found some great food options (though some were not so great), and impressed with the service at the resort.
Taking all aspects of the property into account, I award the Hyatt Zilara Cancun a Honeymoon Suitability Rating (HSR) of 14 out of 17.
If you enjoyed this review, check out The Ultimate Definitive Guide to the Hyatt Zilara Ziva Rose Hall (Montego Bay, Jamaica).
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