It was the view of the Sea of Cortes that grabbed my attention when I walked into the spacious open-air lobby of the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos for the first time.
A massive archway framed a sweeping panorama of the sea that served as the backdrop to the tiered levels of pools, grounds and walkways of the resort.
Two buildings of guestrooms fanned out on either side of the main building in a design that assured a water view from most rooms.
The 591-suite, all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva reopened on Sept. 15, a year and a day after Hurricane Odile flattened Los Cabos on Sept. 14, 2014. The grand reopening celebration was held in mid-November.
The grand reopening celebration in mid-November featured theatrical lighting elements. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers
"Everything is new now," said Francisco Silva, general manager. "The storm destroyed 95% of the rooms, flooded the restaurants and dumped half the beach in our swimming pools. We lost all our palm trees except one, but the tree is beginning to flourish again."
The repair and reconstruction project resulted in changes and additions to the property, whose design reflects a distinctive Baja feel with indigenous woodcarvings, handcrafted mosaics and architectural details that celebrate the history of the region.
The centerpiece of El Molino Mexican restaurant, for example, is an original threshing-type wheel from an old gristmill in the region.
Authentic Mexico is found in the resort’s design elements and culinary accessories. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers
New windows to replace those destroyed in the storm were rebuilt with iron frames and glass that can withstand winds up to 240 mph.
In addition, "The entire resort had to be rewired, and we now have super-fast, propertywide WiFi," Silva said.
The Hyatt Ziva boasts the largest convention space in Los Cabos, and groups have a separate meetings and events lobby adjacent to the 35,000 square feet of conference space, none of which intrudes upon the leisure areas.
"We're a large property, but the redesign included many intimate nooks and crannies, so our guests can have the seclusion they want when they want," Silva said.
Fire pits are accessible on wooden pathways that extend into a large reflecting pool. Surrounding the fire pits are comfortable lounges, a perfect spot for sunset viewings or late-night cocktails.
Additions include the Chiapas coffee shop, open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and a 24-hour deli, especially popular with guests arriving on late-night flights, although the resort does offer 24-hour room service.
The resort boasts 14 restaurants, five of which are specialty, and each has its own kitchen and culinary staff.
"Dozo, our Asian restaurant, was very popular before the storm hit, so we expanded it with more seating but retained pockets of intimacy within the space," Silva said.
La Plaza buffet restaurant features a variety of Mexican choices for breakfast. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers
Other enhancements include new two-bedroom master suites; the new KidZ Club, with its own waterpark; a sports bar; and the Zafiro Italian restaurant and pizza oven bar, where slices are made to order all day long.
Several activities also are new and include tequila and wine tastings, margarita-making lessons, cabana beach butler service and an expanded range of treatments and therapies at the Zen Spa.
The resort, a 10-minute, $8 cab ride from San Jose del Cabo, 20 minutes from the airport and 35 minutes to Cabo San Lucas, is Hyatt's first all-inclusive property in Los Cabos thus far.
The hotel company is a recent entrant into the all-inclusive market, having launched the Zilara (adults only) and Ziva (all ages) brands in 2014.
Hyatt did not fly solo into the market, but acquired a 20% stake in Playa Resorts Management, the operational component of Playa Hotels & Resorts, a collection of 14 beach hotels that agreed to rebrand select properties in Mexico and the Caribbean under the Hyatt brands.
The portfolio includes the one Ziva-branded property in Los Cabos, two in Cancun (the Hyatt Ziva Cancun opened in mid-November) and two in Jamaica.
More are in the pipeline, according to Kevin Froemming, Playa's executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
"The all-inclusive market still is evolving," Froemming said. "We plan to take it to new heights, bring in new customers and go beyond what is expected in terms of culinary elements, guest experiences and service levels."
This article has been updated to reflect that the Hyatt Ziva is Hyatt's first all-inclusive property in Los Cabos and the fifth Ziva-branded property in Hyatt's portfolio.