Out of office: What it’s like to ‘Work From Hyatt’ at the Andaz Mayakoba
After seven months without leaving New York City, I was ready for a change of pace.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been mainly confined to my small apartment. I’ve taken Zoom calls from my bed and the kitchen table and, instead of midday Starbucks runs, I bought a coffee machine. It’s been a challenging transition for someone who was always on the go.
That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to move my home office to the Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya.
World of Hyatt recently introduced its Work From Hyatt program, with packages at 90 properties across the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. Hyatt designed the packages for people like me, who are now working remotely and seeking ways to use their newfound flexibility to change their routines.
Maximizing World of Hyatt bonuses
Resort fees are waived when you book a Work From Hyatt package. And you’ll still receive the benefits you usually would, including points earning, elite-night earning and elite-status benefits (if applicable). You’ll also be able to use your World of Hyatt points to book a Work From Hyatt package. As a Category 6 property, awards at this Andaz start at 25,000 points per night, with cash rates starting around $180 per night.
Right now, you can also stack several World of Hyatt promotions. I’m a World of Hyatt Discoverist and, all-in, my particular stay cost around $4,000, for which I earned a whopping 63,000 World of Hyatt points (worth $1,070, according to TPG’s most recent valuations). As a Hyatt member, I earned 5x base points for every dollar spent. Sure, 20,000 points was a good haul for the stay, but I also earned an additional 2,000 points as my Discoverist bonus (10%).
Hyatt is also running its latest Bonus Journeys promotion, which allows you to earn 3x points on paid stays at all Hyatt locations worldwide, up to 150,000 World of Hyatt points. World of Hyatt Credit Card holders (and travelers with the old Hyatt credit card) can earn 4x points on resort stays, up to 75,000 points. I earned nearly 41,000 points just from this promotion alone. All told, I earned 15.5x points per dollar spent.
Remember to register for every promotion you can find before your stay; otherwise, you’re probably leaving points on the table. You can register for the Bonus Journeys promotion here.
This new promotion also includes an offer for bonus elite night credits. For every tier-qualifying night you complete during the promotion dates, you’ll earn a night toward both 2020 and 2021 World of Hyatt elite status. That means I earned valuable nights toward my 2021 status already. The promotion runs for stays with a checkout date through Jan. 4, 2021, but you must register by Nov. 30, 2020.
But no matter how you look at it, staying with Hyatt right now can help you get much closer to a future trip. And after spending so much time inside, I think we all need something to look forward to.
Moving my home office to Mayakoba
If you’re like me and need a respite from your work-from-home setup, you’re likely in search of the same features: safety, strong coffee, good food, comfort, a beautiful view and — of course — high-speed Wi-Fi.
At any property you book, the Work From Hyatt package includes 10 standard perks to take your remote work experience to the next level.
At the Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya in beautiful Playa del Carmen, Mexico, I was given free breakfast each day; one free bag of laundry per week and was upgraded to a larger suite with extra workspace.
After arriving in Cancun (CUN), I was whisked away in a private car — another perk of the package — to the Andaz, about 40 miles from the airport. From the moment I arrived, I was in awe of the hotel’s beauty and couldn’t wait to explore the area.
The Andaz Mayakoba Resort is located in the private Mayakoba complex, perfect for social distancing. It’s surrounded by a stunning lagoon, beach and scenic trails. If you love nature, you can spend your day biking and jogging through the forest. Or, if you’re like me, you may just want to drink margaritas and listen to “Electric Feel” by the beach.
The friendly staff greeted me with a refreshing welcome beverage of coconut water (in an actual coconut!) as I completed check-in.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the turmoil of the past seven months, but this was the closest I’d come since March.
As someone who’s spent the entirety of the pandemic in New York, I’m sensitive to COVID-19 precautions. I’ve gotten used to seeing everyone around me masked up and adhering to social distancing policies. There was no difference at the Andaz Mayakoba. It was clear the resort is making health a priority to keep guests and staff safe as they work from Hyatt.
In fact, I noticed several policies that I’d like to see more of in the U.S. During the week, employees were on hand to take any food or drink requests, but everything was ordered by QR code.
Though Hyatt has long been committed to get rid of single-use plastics (farewell, personal bottles of bath wash) it’s clear the coronavirus has, for now, forced the environment to the backburner. Everything I might touch at the Andaz Mayakoba was wrapped in plastic: the slippers, the television remote, the bathrobes, loofa, pillows — even the pens!
Every time I had to sign a check (think: breakfast, lunch and dinner) I received a new, plastic-wrapped pen. Because you keep them, I am now the proud owner of several Andaz Mayakoba pens.
But the effort definitely made me feel safer, and my stunning Ocean View Suite was spotless. In addition to wrapping everything in plastic, I found a bottle of hand sanitizer in the bathroom, along with extra masks and hand wipes, plus standard amenities like hand soap and lotion.
Getting down to business
My Suite, 3711, was breathtaking. At over 1,100 square feet, there’s plenty of room for both work and play.
The living room was a blend of traditional Mexican accents (Mayan wicker baskets that adorned the walls and painted floor tiles) and modern features. The couch was plush and large enough for an entire family to lounge on while watching television or movies.
The minibar was filled with chips, candy, water and soda, perfect for staving off any lunchtime munchies. Following the Andaz tradition, all snacks and nonalcoholic drinks were free. There were also several alcoholic options, ranging from the Mexican Clase Azul to Veuve Clicquot, available for purchase.
A beautiful wood desk that I used throughout the week to answer emails, write stories and take Zoom calls completed the living area. And because the power outlets beside the desk had North American sockets, I never needed an adapter. I preferred to work from my room, but every participating property offers a separate, private workspace or a second room for Work From Hyatt guests.
The bathroom alone was seemingly half the size of my New York apartment, with an enormous vanity and lighted mirrors perfect for selfies. I loved starting my day with a refreshing rainfall shower as I listened to the sounds of the ocean and birds just outside the window. It was worlds away from the honking horns of New York City traffic.
The bedroom was even larger, with a plush king-sized bed, luxurious bedding and a seating area for two. Getting out of bed each day was difficult, but, alas, there was work to be done. The bedroom featured two extra desks, so there’s really no excuse not to get your work done.
After brewing a cup of Nespresso coffee — free, courtesy of the minibar — the challenging business began: picking which private terrace I’d use as my office for the day. Would I answer overnight emails from my own private plunge pool with direct ocean views, or lounge on the terrace adjoining the bedroom with a mimosa? Often, I picked both.
As this was a work trip, reliable Wi-Fi was a must. I took several Zoom and FaceTime calls in the room and around the resort. Several friends and colleagues remarked on how strong the reception was, even on the beach — in fact, I even took one call while knee-deep in the ocean.
It’s not all work and no play
Even with enhanced cleaning measures and social distancing policies to protect guests, there was a clear sense of community at the Andaz.
That’s on purpose, says Antonio Galaz, the curation manager at the Andaz Mayakoba. “[Even during the pandemic], the guest is looking for an experience,” he told TPG.
And there’s a lot to experience, as I quickly found out.
“With Work From Hyatt,” Galaz said, “you can be as busy or not as busy as you want.”
Maybe you want to spend part of your day learning to make traditional Mexican candy, popsicles or guacamole. Perhaps you want to mix sugar scrubs that will make your skin glow or unwind with Mayan Meditation.
Each activity pays homage to the local culture. It’s why you won’t find activities like water aerobics or beach volleyball, Galaz told me. The resort curates activities designed to help guests experience Mexico — and maybe even craft a souvenir to take back home.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not an outdoorsy person. Simply put, I don’t do nature.
But after a productive day at work, I decided to treat myself to a private boat tour of the Mayakoba area. Before COVID-19, each boat could hold at least a dozen guests, but now tours are limited to one family. Because I was traveling solo, I got the entire boat to myself!
The tour operator and I spent nearly an hour pointing out different animals we saw, including blue herons sleeping in trees and turtles swimming just off the shore. While the boat tour wasn’t part of the package, I did appreciate being able to take a break from work and experience new things. I was surprised the boat tour was my favorite part of working from Hyatt. Maybe I like nature more than I thought?
Another day, I made authentic guacamole with tomatoes, onions, parsley, lemon and jalapeños. I’m not much of a cook, but it was extremely satisfying to use my hands to create something from scratch. And let me tell you, guacamole in the U.S. doesn’t compare to the real thing.
I also spent an afternoon exploring the Mayakoba compound on a bike provided by the hotel. I was pleased to discover hand sanitizer beside the station, and each bike is disinfected before use. It’s been years since I rode a bike (if you’ve ever biked in a large city like New York, you’ll know why) but biking here reminded me why this activity can be fun.
And at the center of the resort is a stunning pool, where I spent hours relaxing. Friendly workers were on hand to provide towels and take mimosa orders. It’s going to be hard returning to real life in my cramped New York apartment. I wonder if I can train my pug, Migo, to bring me fresh towels and cold drinks?
Working up an appetite
Like I said, I do not cook. What did people even do before meal-delivery services? But that made working from a resort a real treat.
On my first day at Andaz Mayakoba, I ordered a traditional Mexican breakfast, chilaquiles con pollo, at Tinta del Pulpo (included daily with the Work From Hyatt package). Some days, I’d grab a lunchtime smoothie and relax on the outdoor terrace at VB, a restaurant that serves vegan dishes for lunch.
After wrapping up the work day, I’d typically wind down with a poolside dinner of shrimp tacos and a mojito or pina colada at Pulpo. As a Work From Hyatt guest, you’ll receive one dinner per week at Tinta del Pulpo, and an additional 20% off all food and beverage purchases.
Or, if I felt a little lujosa (that’s fancy en Español), I’d end the day at Sotavento, an outdoor restaurant inspired by a shipwreck that washed up on the Mayakoba shore. Yes, I know this is Mexico, but I ordered some of the best lobster fettuccine I’ve had in years here.
The Andaz Mayakoba is also participating in another Hyatt program so you can earn bonus points at participating hotel restaurants. From now through Jan. 4, 2021, you can earn 3x points per dollar spent, which applies to non-stay charges for restaurant spending at participating Hyatt hotels. Just provide your World of Hyatt number and pay with a credit card that offers bonus points on dining. You’ll earn bonus points with your credit card and through the World of Hyatt program. If you use a Hyatt credit card, you’ll get an additional 2 points per dollar spent. Really, you can’t afford not to dine out for every meal.
If you’re concerned that a pandemic would cause a reduction in service, I found the complete opposite. If anything, the service at the Andaz is even more thoughtful. Every worker I encountered wore a mask and goggles, but I could tell they were smiling underneath.
And occupancy at Andaz Mayakoba is capped at 30% due to the global health crisis. That means the service felt much more personable than other resorts I’ve stayed at in the past. It seemed like everyone knew my name, asked how my stay was going and was eager to recommend activities. I was impressed every day of my visit. Plus, remember what I said about the private boat tour?
Even little treats, like a welcome bottle of wine with a personal note or sweets delivered directly to my room because I mentioned I was craving chocolate, spoke to the excellent service you receive at Andaz.
Before my Work From Hyatt trip, I didn’t realize how truly stressed I was.
I was showing up to work each morning, but not present. The anxiety I felt during the pandemic had seeped into every part of my life, from work to friendships, and it was even disrupting my sleep.
I’d never considered working from a hotel before because I always thought a resort getaway meant going off the grid. But surprisingly, I found it easy to separate work from play — and do both well.
Working from a resort felt as normal as working from my couch at home. And now, as Work From Hyatt expands to 90 hotels, that means I could easily move my workspace to cities, beaches and mountains around the continent. Will my next Work From Hyatt experience be at Vail? I’ve never been skiing before. Or maybe Kauai? I do love Hawaii! And, hopefully, this initiative will continue to expand as countries reopen their borders. (Work trip to Europe, anyone?)
Changing up my work space, getting sunlight and fresh air and relaxing by the water (to say nothing of the mimosas on demand), perhaps unsurprisingly, really helped to improve my mood.
I may be back home in New York City, and not on the Mayakoba beach anymore, but I feel a lot lighter and ready to get back to work.
Featured photo by Victoria Walker / The Points Guy
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