‘This is one of the best all-inclusives’: Jamaica’s Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall
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During a recent trip to Jamaica, I split my time between three different all-inclusive resorts that all participate in major points programs. For my third and final stop, I spent two nights at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall.
Zilara is Hyatt’s brand of adults-only all-inclusive resorts. That said, this location shared a property with the family-friendly Hyatt Ziva, so I was able to experience the best of both resorts.
I’ve stayed at a number of all-inclusive hotels before, but this had to be one of my favorites. It’s a beautiful resort in the perfect location, and despite being part of a larger complex, it still offered warm service. Amenities were plentiful and the food and beverage offerings were top-notch. I was truly sad when it came time for me to check out.
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The Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall was the most expensive hotel I stayed at on this trip. Cash rates start at $385 per night, based on double occupancy, in the fall but often hover around $500 per night during busier periods. These rates are a bit higher than the family-friendly Ziva right next door.
Luckily, stays here could be also be booked with World of Hyatt points. Base-level rooms at both of the Rose Hall resorts currently cost 25,000 points per night for double occupancy but could range from 21,000 to 29,000 points per night once Hyatt implements peak and off-peak pricing later in 2021. Any additional person costs 12,500 points per night (remember, only those 18 or older are allowed on the Zilara side). TPG values World of Hyatt points at 1.7 cents each, making redemptions here a good deal during busier periods.
Related: The best hotel credit cards
If you want to give your World of Hyatt balance a boost, consider signing up for the World of Hyatt Credit Card, which is currently offering a welcome bonus of up to 60,000 bonus points: 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within your first three months from account opening, plus up to 30,000 more points by earning 2x bonus points total on purchases that normally earn 1x bonus point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to your Hyatt account at a 1:1 ratio from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Regardless of how you book, as an all-inclusive resort, all meals, drinks (including alcoholic beverages), 24-hour room service, entertainment and non-motorized sports are included in your stay. There are no additional resort or amenity fees.
The Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall was situated right on the beach less than 15 minutes from the Montego Bay airport (MBJ). The beach felt very private, with no other resorts in sight and no locals strolling through to try to sell you something.
As mentioned, it was adjacent to the family-friendly Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall and guests had full access to all of its amenities and restaurants. While I always walked, there were golf carts to transport guests between the resorts.
Most guests start their check-in process at the private Hyatt arrival lounge in the airport. However, since I was coming from another resort in Jamaica, that didn’t apply to me.
As was the case with the other resorts I visited on the island, upon arriving at the property, my temperature was taken and my hands, shoes and bags were sanitized.
Check-in was a breeze. There was no line when I arrived at 2 p.m. and the staff members were friendly and efficient, so it only took a few minutes for me to get my keys.
Guests staying three or more nights were able to schedule a complimentary COVID-19 antigen test during check-in for re-entry into the U.S.
The adults-only Zilara side is a newer build than the family-friendly side, so the rooms are a bit nicer.
I was assigned a standard king room with a resort view on the second floor. It was decently sized, measuring nearly 500 square feet.
On my way to the room, I noticed hand sanitizer dispensers next to the elevators and other common areas. Then, there was a seal on the door to my room, indicating that it hasn’t been accessed since its last deep cleaning.
The room gave me Andaz vibes. It was minimalist but chic. It featured lots of light wood, which contrasted well with the navy blue accents.
The bed was extremely comfortable and I was able to get two great nights of sleep. On either side was a nightstand with built-in U.S. power outlets and USB ports. There was also a tablet, which could be used to get information like the daily activity schedule, make restaurant reservations and order room service. The TV remote came sanitized and in a bag.
On the opposite side of the room was a wall-mounted television, as well as a minibar stocked with complimentary soft drinks, beer, Doritos and Nature Valley granola bars. Additional amenities like an in-room coffee maker were only available by request.
There was also a round marble table with a power outlet nearby, as well as a sofa that could be pulled out into another bed.
Back near the entrance was the bathroom. It featured a walk-in shower, bathtub, double vanity and separate water closet, so it could be used while someone was in the shower. Like the rest of the room, it was fairly simple but stylish.
The shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion were from KenetMD. Additional toiletries and hand sanitizer were available in a resealable bag. This way, the hotel only needed to sanitize the bag if a guest didn’t need these items.
Across from the bathroom was a closet with plenty of hanging space, as well as some shelves for additional storage. For sanitary reasons, it was stocked with the bare minimum: hangers, a safe and an iron and ironing board. The hotel was happy to bring me slippers when I requested them.
Each room featured a balcony with two chairs and a small table. Mine overlooked the corner of the resort’s main pool area.
While I was happy with my room, I might splurge on a swim-out one next time as that seemed like a nice feature to have. That said, it seemed that most guests staying in these rooms spent most of their time in the main pool anyway. This could be because the smaller pools didn’t get quite as much sun.
All-inclusive resorts always offer an abundance of activities, and the Hyatt Zilara was no exception.
The centerpiece of the hotel was its three-tiered pool complex. As an adults-only resort, it didn’t have the typical splashing and screaming children that you’d expect from most Caribbean resorts. That’s not to say it was entirely quiet, however.
The lower-level pool was extremely lively. It had a swim-up bar and there was loud music blaring throughout the day. There were also a number of activities hosted here, ranging from fitness classes to various races, dance shows and more.
While there were lots of lounge chairs around the pool, you needed to “reserve” a spot early in the morning if you wanted to sit in the main area on the lower level. Alternatively, there were also several cabanas available to rent if you wanted extra space. Regardless of where you sat, it was easy to flag down a server for food and drink orders.
As previously mentioned, guests had full access to the Hyatt Ziva side, which also offered a massive pool. Again, there was a swim-up bar, as well as poolside wait service. Ironically, at times, this pool seemed a bit quieter than the Zilara one.
The Ziva pool was surrounded by a ton of lounge chairs, as well as some cabanas for rent. Given the abundance of loungers at this pool, it didn’t seem like you needed to get there early to reserve a spot.
I’m more of a beach person, however, and fortunately, the beach at this property was beautiful. Rather than one long stretch, the beach was split into several sections, so each one had a smaller, more exclusive feel. I also appreciated that there were no vendors or outside tourists roaming the beach.
The sand was soft and comfortable for walking, but if I were to nitpick, the water was a bit rocky. The condition of the water varies by season, but it was calm and perfect for swimming during my late spring visit.
There were many beach activities as well, all included, such as kayaking and windsurfing.
For those that preferred land activities, there was also a tennis court, which I would have loved to use had I been traveling with someone else. Free racquet rentals were available.
While I didn’t splurge on any services, there was a spa on-site, which had an open-air concept and offered outdoor treatments on the beach. A 45-minute neck, back and shoulder massage started at a cool $167. Another spa, along with a full salon, was available on the Ziva side.
The Hyatt Zilara also offered its own gym near the tennis courts. It was closed during the time of my stay, but it looked well-equipped through the windows.
Instead, guests were directed to the grand fitness center in between the Zilara and Ziva. It’s quite impressive, to say the least, and probably the largest hotel gym I have seen. It was split between two stories and offered every piece of equipment you’d need for a workout, including lots of weight and cardio machines, a boxing area and even a spinning room. Even if the Zilara’s gym would’ve been open, I would’ve totally chosen to come to this one instead.
As with all Hyatt all-inclusive properties, there was nightly entertainment available. It was mostly limited to live music in the lobby, so instead, I went to the Ziva side, which had an actual stage and hosted a broad range of performances.
There was free Wi-Fi available for all guests. It worked well at most parts of the resort but didn’t reach the beach. That said, it’s good to disconnect sometimes while on vacation.
Food and beverage
The main problem with many all-inclusive resorts is that they have subpar food and drinks. However, that definitely wasn’t the case here.
Between the Zilara and Ziva sides, there were a whopping 10 restaurants, three coffee shops and six bars guests had access to, all included. Since I only stayed two nights and some restaurants were temporarily closed, I wasn’t able to try them all, but the ones I did dine at thoroughly impressed me. So much so that I’d consider every meal I had restaurant quality — something that I can’t say about the other resorts I stayed at on this trip.
My favorite meal was at the resort’s Asian restaurant Fuzion, which was on the Ziva side of the property and only open for dinner. The restaurant offered three dining concepts. One was hibachi-style, another that was Wok-style and the other was traditional a la carte table service, which is the option I went with.
To start, I had the soy cured salmon and assorted sushi rolls, which consisted of a piece of a salmon roll, spicy tuna roll and vegetable roll. The portions were on the smaller side, but I didn’t mind since that meant I could sample multiple dishes.
The star of the show was my main: a seared tuna served with sesame green beans, vegetable puree, a ginger glaze and fried rice on the side. The presentation was spot-on and the dish tasted as good as it looked. I’d definitely be satisfied if this were served to me in a normal restaurant where I was paying per bite.
My other favorite was Jamaican Rootz at HoriZonZ, an open-air beachfront restaurant back on the Zilara side. During the time of my stay, it was only open for lunch and dinner, though in normal times, it also serves breakfast.
I came here for lunch one day and really enjoyed my Jamaican snapper ceviche and grilled fish sandwich. The food came out at a reasonable pace and it was clear that it was freshly prepared.
Another open-air beachfront lunch and dinner option was Blue Grill at CalypZo, located in between Zilara and Ziva. During the day, it offered your usual beachfront/poolside fare like fish and chips, burgers, salads and quesadillas, whereas at dinnertime, it focused on seafood.
There was plenty to choose from during both mealtimes. For lunch one day, I had a refreshing watermelon and feta salad with arugula, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
I also came here for dinner my second night. As mentioned, the menu was seafood-centric. I started off with the curry fish cake and stuffed mushroom. Then, after having such a good experience with my tuna the night before, I ordered another seared tuna steak. This one was quite tasty as well, served with a sesame crust, mashed potato and oyster ginger glaze. Again, the food came out hot and tasted fresh.
Right next to Calypzo was a walk-up pizzeria, which served tasty-looking wood-fired pizzas.
Also nearby, on the Ziva side, was Barefoot Jerkz, a Jamaican shack eatery right by the beach. It served traditional jerk chicken, jerk pork, festival and rice and peas. Although I didn’t have the chance to try it, the meat was served fresh off the grill and smelled great. There was also fresh coconut water available for purchase.
There was another Jamaican BBQ joint open for lunch back on the Zilara side, just off the pool deck.
Right across that was the West End Grill. This lunch spot was also take-out only and served fresh sandwiches and flatbreads.
The only buffet that was open during the time of my stay was Choicez, at the far end of the Ziva side, and it was only open for breakfast. It offered plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.
The buffet featured many different stations, including an omelet bar, poached egg station (which I especially enjoyed), salad bar, Jamaican corner, custom juice bar, fresh fruit station, pastry station and more. Due to COVID-19 precautions, all of the food was served to guests by the staff. Overall, I thought the quality of the food was very good and it didn’t seem like it had been sitting out all morning. Even items like french toast, waffles and pancakes were cooked to order.
Back on the Zilara side, there was the restaurant Urban Heat by Flavorz, which offered a la carte breakfast and dinner. This seemed like it would usually be the main restaurant on the Zilara side but was scaled back a bit when I was there.
While I, unfortunately, didn’t have the chance to try them, other a la carte restaurants that were only open for dinner included the French fine dining restaurant Petit Pariz (Zilara side), the Italian eatery Di Roza (Ziva), which offered homemade pasta and wood-fired pizzas, and a Brazilian steakhouse (Ziva).
Each night, after dinner, I stopped at Bitez (Ziva), a dessert parlor that served a large selection of Jamaican coffee, pastries, ice cream, gummies and other sweet treats. Although not self-serve for sanitary reasons, there was even a chocolate fountain.
More coffee, baked goods and other snacks and drinks were available in the coffee shop in the Zilara lobby.
There was another coffee shop on the Ziva side, which also offered some seating.
Regardless of where you were on the property, there was always a bar in close proximity. I thought that alcohol selection was pretty solid for an all-inclusive, but you needed to know which brands to order. For instance, brands like Titos Vodka, Don Julio and Hennessy were only served if you specifically requested them. Otherwise, you’d just get brands like Smirnoff, Absolut and Jose Cuervo.
And if all that wasn’t enough, there was 24-hour room service available at no extra charge. Orders could be placed through the in-room tablet, which also showed an estimated wait time.
As much as I wanted to try it out (for research purposes, of course), I was stuffed from all of the other great food I ate at the property.
The staff I interacted with were all very friendly, professional and efficient, which set a great tone for my stay. Check-in was a breeze and the food came out at a good pace at the a la carte restaurants. I also appreciated that there were no upsells, which isn’t common with all-inclusives. My room was spotless upon arrival and additional housekeeping was available daily upon request.
My stay at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall was brief, but I left extremely impressed. The resort checked all the boxes for a quintessential Caribbean all-inclusive vacation. The rooms were well-appointed, the food and beverage options were excellent and I never felt nickel and dimed. Plus, at just 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night for two adults, award nights here have the potential to be an incredible value. I’d go back to this resort in a heartbeat.
All photos by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy
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