Another Grand Opening For ‘Reimagined’ Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos
with Bruce Parkinson

The amazing lobby view of the Sea of Cortez.

The grand reopening celebration.

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos Aerial View

Swim-up suites at Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos.

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos Cabanas

It's an interesting dichotomy. To attract American customers to its new all-inclusive brands Ziva and Zilara, Hyatt must convince them that the all-inclusive model can deliver a 5-star vacation experience. 

To attract Canadian customers -- long-time converts to AI -- Hyatt must convince them that a giant traditional hotelier can do all-inclusive as well as established competitors like Melia, Iberostar, Bahia Príncipe and AMResorts. 

After spending a few days at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, the site of grand reopening festivities 14 months after Hurricane Odile left no room untouched, it can be said it’s likely Hyatt will be successful on both fronts.

For affluent American travellers, what’s not to like about an experience that offers Hyatt standards of food, beverage and accommodation quality all covered in one up-front price? And for Canadians, Hyatt’s partnership with the respected Playa Hotels & Resorts has enabled the larger company to avoid ‘rookie’ mistakes and hit the ground running with a high-end product.

Interrupted By Odile

The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos was the first Hyatt-branded all-inclusive when it opened in November, 2013. Just 10 months later, on 14SEPT, 2014, Odile roared across the Baja peninsula.

“There were televisions in the pools,” says Associate Sales Director Gabriel Lazcano. “95% of guest rooms were destroyed. But 450 guests took shelter in the resort theatre and survived on lobster, steak and shrimp for a few days while the grounds were cleaned up enough for them to get out and go home. No one was injured. We are so thrilled to welcome people back to a property that’s better than ever.”

The resort was closed for 366 days as millions of dollars in repairs and enhancements were made. The main tasks were to strengthen structures and replace windows and doors with products capable of weathering a massive hurricane should such misfortune ever happen again.

Enhancements include more upscale suites. Comfortable queen sofa beds were added to a resort that welcomes all ages. The Italian Zafiro restaurant was moved beachfront and the popular Dozo Asian restaurant – which attracted long lines during the 1st incarnation – was significantly expanded. There’s a new sports bar, a popular lobby coffee shop and a 24-hour deli.

Hyatt & Playa: A Perfect Marriage

“It’s a joy to see it all come together,” says Carlos Cabrera, Senior VP Operations for Hyatt. “Hyatt and Playa is the perfect marriage. We were talking about all-inclusive for quite a while and we decided to line up with the best in the business. It was the right decision.”

The Playa influence is most notable in the service philosophy, which Open Jaw first experienced at The Royal Playa Del Carmen. Dubbed ‘service from the heart,’ it is most visible in the hand-over-the-heart greetings bestowed from staff to guest at every encounter. It could come off as insincere, but it doesn’t. The company clearly hires staff based on their genuine hospitality and from this guest’s perspective that is one of the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos’s greatest assets.

“A lot of effort has been taken in making this hotel look great,” says Alex Stadlin, CEO of Playa Resorts Management. “But at the end of the day it comes down to the people. We look for people who truly enjoy welcoming and looking after customers.”

Working in the all-inclusive sphere since 2002, Stadlin and Playa Hotels & Resorts CEO Bruce Wardinski say they “couldn’t believe” none of the big U.S. hotel brands were in the game.

"We look for people who truly enjoy welcoming
and looking after customers.”

“It’s very popular. It’s also very profitable,” says Wardinski. Three years ago, the big chains came calling – not just Hyatt, but Hilton and Marriott as well. Playa chose to go with Hyatt and Hyatt underscored its commitment by taking an ownership stake in Playa. With 6 properties now open under the Hyatt Ziva (all ages) and Hyatt Zilara (adults-only) brands, the partnership has big ambitions.

“We don’t need to be the biggest of the all-inclusive chains. But we want to be the best,” says Wardinski. “We know there are some very good companies in this segment. We think we’re better than them.”

Indeed, Hyatt’s tagline for the Ziva and Zilara brands is “The Evolution of All-Inclusive.” It’s a big claim for a latecomer to the party. But again, Playa’s presence, and Hyatt’s access to a tony group of loyal guests – many of them new to all-inclusive -- should work in its favour. 

“We’re bringing in new customers to this market,” says Kevin Froemming, former Unique Vacations president and now EVP and Chief Marketing Officer for Playa Resorts Management. “It’s great for travel agents and tour operators.”

The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos Experience: Does It Match The Hype?

Some notes on how Hyatt delivers a 5-star all-inclusive experience at Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos.

Food & Beverage
  • Top-shelf liquors and signature cocktails elevate the experience. Even extra old Tequila is available without a premium.
  • No reservations are required for a la carte restaurants. No limits on visits.
  • Meats and fish are of high-quality. The Spanish El Cortijo a la carte and the La Hacienda steakhouse were highlights. The Asian food at Dozo was bland, but guests seemed to love it.
  • Breakfast and lunch buffets are expansive and tasty, especially the Mexican dishes.
  • The lobby coffee shop serves excellent beans from Chiapas, great ice cream and fruit popsicles too. There’s a 24-hour deli for paninis, fruit and other snacks.
  • Roaming food and beverage carts is an inspired idea, with choices ranging from grilled meats to sweets. A favourite was a fruit cup topped with lime juice and chili spice.
  • 24-hour room service is prompt and includes daily chef specials.
The Suite Life
  • Suites are spacious, comfortable and well-finished. Toiletries are from KenetMD, now standard at Hyatt properties, and of very good quality. Bathrooms are spacious with rainfall shower and Jacuzzi tub. Large number of toiletry items extends to loofah pads and bath salts.
  • Beds are very comfortable with quality linens.
  • Spacious balconies feature 2 chairs and table, most with glorious Sea of Cortez views.
  • Minibars are stocked with beers, soft drinks, juices and snacks.
Notes To Know
  • The staff had more strong English-speakers than even experienced at a Mexican resort. A selling point for some.
  • WiFi is included and of streaming video quality throughout the resort.
  • There is 35,000 square feet of meeting space. The resort will have to be careful that corporate activities don’t interfere with guest enjoyment. At 7 AM on the morning after the opening gala, a sales incentive group was running around the property chanting ‘Olé Olé.’ Terrible idea.
  • Don’t send smokers. There wasn’t an ashtray to be seen on the property.
  • The extensive new Kidz Club & water park is intelligently located on the far side of the property.
  • Swimming is not advised at the beach due to strong undertows. A deal-breaker for some, though the beach is lovely and you can walk for miles.

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