Hyatt Zilara is an adults-only, all-inclusive resort located on the widest stretch of beach in Cancun’s hotel zone.
21 Plus Salute!
By Chris Chamberlain
When trying to get away from it all, I’m a big fan of adults-only all-inclusive resorts—by banishing kids they make for a perfect adult travel getaway! These sorts of destinations are not seen one, seen ‘em all, however: There are big differences between resorts, both in the sort of clientele that they attract and the level of luxury offered.
My girlfriend and I have made frequent trips to Cozumel, even though the island is harder to get to than the Mexican mainland. A few years back, our flight from Dallas was delayed just long enough for us to miss the only connection to Cozumel, so we spent the first day of our four-day vacation sitting by the pool at an airport hotel near DFW while the airlines held our luggage hostage until the next morning’s flight.
So, when we recently decided to take another short trip to Mexico, we proved we’d learned our lessons. First of all, we pack only carry-on luggage now, vastly streamlining the customs and immigration process on our return thanks to our Global Entry Status. Secondly, we decided to give Cancun another try instead of Cozumel since it’s easier to reach their larger airport.
When searching for where to stay, we honed in on places with swim-up suites because we love to laze around in the tiny pools rather than get dragged into volleyball games. (Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that.) Our research led us to Hyatt Zilara, a luxury property about halfway up Cancun’s resort zone coastal strip, about 20 minutes from the airport. Booking a swim-up suite actually meant a higher level of service, and it proved to be worth the upcharge.
We checked in at a special desk in a room removed from the attractive and spacious lobby; the staff was helpful during our entire stay. Our suite was well-appointed and comfortable. The split-level room featured a king bed on the lower level facing the ocean, a spa tub with a window out to the pool, a luxurious bathroom and even a telescope for stargazing at night
The “Magic Box” next to the front door allowed staff to deliver items or pick up dirty dishes from the 24-hour free room service without junking up the room or disturbing our enjoyment.
Unlike other Mexican resorts we’ve visited, the temperature control in the room worked very well. We’ve become used to either sweating or freezing at other spots, but this room was quite comfortable, even when we were just lounging around in our robes and slippers.
Thanks to our upper-tier room status, we also were entitled to dine at the exclusive Chef’s Plate dinner experience. (More on that later.) Other extra perks included small bottles of spirits in our room along with the ‘frig full of beer, along with standard soft drinks and snacks. We also had our own private cabana reserved on the beach.
Rather than rushing out before breakfast to try to save a spot by the pool or on the beach as some folks tried to do, we knew that we could enjoy the pool from our patio that had steps directly into the lovely pool area or just head down to our private beach oasis.
It was especially nice that our pool tended to be a little quieter than the pool at the other end of the property that was closer to the main bar. (Go figure…)
The main lobby bar was an excellent gathering space that served top-shelf spirits and excellent tropical drinks, all included in the cost of the stay. The only exception was a small selection of really high-end tequilas and mezcals; the extra fee for those was worth it since many of them are rarely seen in the states.
Right across from our room was Pelicanos, an open-air bar and restaurant with a focus on Caribbean-inspired seafood dishes. With a view of both the beach and the pool, but also some needed shade, it was the perfect spot for a casual lunch.
Other less formal dining options included an excellent coffee shop where talented baristas whipped up espresso drinks and served donuts and pastries, Spice, a huge buffet of international dishes and a popular 24-hour game room which astonishingly offered up an open bar where you could make your own drinks any hour of the day plus spreads of snacks that changed out regularly.
Add in pool tables, ping pong, sports on big screen televisions and board games, and it was the spot where we spent a lot of time during our trip. Because the resort faces east, the sun can get pretty brutal in the early afternoon, so a siesta was a good idea or we’d hang in the game room until the sunlight got a little less direct.
More formal dining options abound at Hyatt Zilara, but that doesn’t mean you have to dress up.
Asiana offers Asian cuisine. Advance reservations are needed to sit at one of the teppanyaki tables for the full hibachi show, and well worth the effort. The chef was entertaining, the food was excellent and copious. You can also just order Asian specialties off the menu if you’re not up for the shrimp-flipping show.
Two Mexican restaurants share the same space in a building off the main lobby, and both are excellent considering that they are included in the regular meal plan. Maria Marie focuses more on authentic regional fare from the Yucatan while La Adelita Cantina showcases food and drink from around the country. Though similar, the two restaurants are different enough it’s worth visiting them both.
We managed to dine at all the restaurants in the property during our trip—because it’s my job, right? For our last dinner we chose Chef’s Plate, the intimate dining experience which only seats two tables a night for a six-course meal from a menu that changes every week.
The dishes are intentionally a little small, as it is a tasting menu, but great care is taken to create beautiful presentations that would be appropriate at a fancy New York City shrine to molecular gastronomy. The chef’s table is small enough to converse with neighbors while oohing and ahhing over each impressive plate. Many dishes were Instagrammed—it’s the law now, apparently?
After dinner each night, the energetic activities staff provided entertainment. After days of putting on games, crafts classes, cooking demos, etc., they set up small markets in the lobby to sell locally-crafted souvenirs and then offered hour-long shows in the center of the lobby. The specific entertainment changes each evening, but the shows all featured dancing and cirque-inspired set pieces involving strength acts, silk trapeze performers and other acts organized around themes like “Heritage,” “Mythology” and “Circus.”
One night a week there’s also a big foam party. We missed that night, but from what I’ve heard, it gets pretty wild with everyone dancing around the pools while getting covered up in bubbles. I can’t say that my girlfriend and I were too disappointed to have left the day before that one, but it might be right up your alley.
We were disappointed that we couldn’t stay longer, however. The large property didn’t feel overcrowded. The way that resort is positioned on the ocean shore, there’s not a bad view in the entire house, so don’t feel like you have to book the most expensive room. The perks of the swim-up were worth it for us, and we’d probably do it again. But the staff and the amenities really make the Hyatt Zilara special, and we’ll be back to visit them again soon!
- Designer toiletries
- His & hers plush bathrobes and slippers
- 2-line direct-dial cordless telephone with bilingual voice mail and bathroom extension
- Hairdryer & hair straightener
- Telescope for stargazing
- Individually controlled air conditioner and ceiling fan with bed-side controls
- Refreshment center stocked daily with water, beer, soft drinks and snacks
- Unique “Magic Box” for discreet 24-hour room service delivery
- LED satellite TV
- Electronic, laptop-size safe
- Work desk with lamp, Internet and 110v electric power
- Furnished balcony with a hammock
- Reserved, exclusive beach cabana
- Semi-private pool
- Complimentary unlimited domestic and international telephone calls
- Exclusive access to Chef’s Plate gourmet restaurant
- Room sleeps 2 guests
- Odds of Encountering Children: Zero. 21 Plus Salute!
Hyatt Zilara Cancun
Blvd. Kukulcan KM 11.5, HZ
Zona Hotelera, Cancun, Mexico, 77500
– Photos by Chris Chamberlain
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.