Hyatt going big with all-inclusives in Jamaica

The pool area at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, the adults-only side of the dual-property Hyatt in Montego Bay.
The pool area at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, the adults-only side of the dual-property Hyatt in Montego Bay. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers

Transforming one hotel into two all-inclusive resorts in the competitive Jamaica market was the task at hand.

Added to that was the fact that the hotel in question was the former Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall in Montego Bay.

The end result was the conversion into two dual-branded, contiguous properties that marked the debut of the Hyatt brand in the Caribbean all-inclusive market.

I was eager to see the family-friendly, 386-suite Hyatt Ziva and the adults-only, 234-suite Hyatt Zilara, following an $85 million, 18-month renovation.

They did not disappoint.

Both Hyatts are owned by Playa Hotels & Resorts and managed by Playa Hotels Management.

Playa also owns and manages the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos (reopening in August), Hyatt Zilara Cancun, Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta and Hyatt Ziva Cancun (opening in the third quarter) as well as additional properties in Mexico and the Dominican Republic under other brands.

For starters, this is a sprawling site that links the two hotels by outdoor walkways along two beaches as well as interior corridors on either side of the original Ritz building. Centerpieces of each hotel are large pools that overlook the beaches.

The two Hyatts offer six bars and 11 a la carte and buffet restaurants that include Di Roza, where the best seats in the house are at the pizza bar in front of the oven, a great spot to watch Demar and his team turn out more than 100 pizzas a night (try the pineapple pizza); the beachfront Barefoot Jerkz Jamaican shack; the Moroccan-style Fez rooftop bar; Brazil, with endless skewers of grilled meat; and Fusion, featuring fantastic sushi.

"We are believers in this business and in this country," said Kevin Froemming, Playa's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "We've added product, pools and staff and feel very confident in this location."

He pointed out that "most all-inclusive resorts claim to be the best at something. For us, the evolution of the all-inclusive means that the product is never finished. We will continue to take it where the customer wants to go."

Some of the perks include property-wide free WiFi at both resorts, swim-up suites, fire pits and butler service in several room categories at both Ziva and Zilara (former Ritz guests may recognize their butlers from past visits, since many of those butlers were rehired by Hyatt).

Guests get one free round of golf at either the nearby White Witch or Cinnamon Hill courses, and this offer runs throughout the year for each guest stay.

Private transfers from Sangster Airport, 15 minutes away, also are included.

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