Cancun Trip Report Part 2 – Luxurious Stay at The Hyatt Ziva

Luxurious Stay at The Hyatt Ziva

This is part 2 of our trip to Cancun, but let’s recap part 1 first. In the first leg of our trip, we wanted to experience the local color so we stayed at a modest hotel in downtown for 3 nights. We walked around to see Mercado 28, play at Parque de la Palapas, and enjoy the local Dia de los Muertos celebration. We also went on an all day excursion to visit Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, and X’Canche Cenote. It was a ton of fun, but we were ready to hit the beach and relax after 3 busy days. In part 2, we moved to the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, a luxurious hotel in an amazing location. Frankly, it was a ridiculous upgrade.

This was our first experience with an all inclusive resort. Previously, we’ve always traveled DIY. I’d reserve a modest hotel and find interesting stuff to do. I never really liked the idea of an all inclusive resort. Why travel all that way if you’re going to stay at the hotel all the time? That didn’t make sense to me. I’d rather immerse myself in the local culture. Well, as much as a non Spanish-speaking tourist can anyway. (Mrs. RB40 speaks a little Spanish.) However, I wanted to maximize our credit card sign up reward and Hyatt Ziva was a great property in a beautiful location. Let’s see if this all inclusive experience changed my mind about this mode of traveling. Read on…

See my credit card page for instruction on how to travel hack and which card to signup for today. This trip to Cancun was fabulous and almost free!

Hotel Shuffling

Our hotel situation on this trip was a bit of a mess. Check it out.

  • 3 nights at the Suites Gaby in El Centro (downtown), Cancun.
  • 4 nights at the Hyatt Ziva in the hotel zone.
  • 2 nights at the Krystal Urban in a newer area in downtown.

At first, I wanted to change hotel just once, but I couldn’t make it work. We had 4 free nights at any Hyatt through our credit card sign up bonus and we choose the Hyatt Ziva in Cancun. However, these free nights are only applicable to standard rooms and they were sold out on the days we wanted. I barely got 4 consecutive nights and I had to call Hyatt’s booking service a bunch of times. That’s why we stayed at 3 hotels, but it worked out for the best.

Checking in

Staying at the luxurious all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva in the middle of our trip worked out really well. That’s because we could check in early and check out late. We got to enjoy the awesome amenities for 5 full days even though we stayed for four nights. Our arrival flight got in late and our departure flight left late. I think that’s pretty standard for the west coast to Cancun. The travel days meant we’d get 3 days and 4 nights if we went straight to the Hyatt Ziva. By putting this stay in the middle of the trip, we ended up with 5 days and 4 nights. That’s pretty nice, right?

Checking in was great. We left Suites Gaby and arrived by taxi at the Hyatt Ziva around 9:30 am even though our official check in time was 3 pm. My theory is the earlier you check in, the better room you’ll get. This theory held true this time and we got upgraded from the standard room to the club tower. Yes, I got lucky again! Our room on the 12th floor had a gorgeous view.

Hyatt Ziva Club Tower 12th floor

The club room also came with the club lounge access and nicer refreshments in the mini fridge. The best thing about the club room was the better view. The other stuff was no big deal because food and drinks were available elsewhere in the hotel. Our room wasn’t ready until the official check in time; however, we could enjoy all the amenities as soon as we arrived. The amenities included all the alcohol you can drink, food from numerous restaurants and carts, beach access, pools, spa, fitness center, and kids club. We left our bags at the check in and went to explore the property.

Beautiful Location

The location of the property is insane. The Hyatt Ziva is located at the tip of the hotel zone in Cancun and it is surrounded by the ocean on 3 sides. Check it out on Google Maps.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun location

There is a small private beach on the north side and a huge public beach on the south. The eastern edge is a cliff, but the view is still great. Most of the standard rooms have the eastern view. The club tower where we stayed and the Turquoise Tower (adults only) have the southern view. The view to the south features the expansive white sand beach and many hotels in the Zona. The view from our room was great. It seemed almost like the Vegas strip with all the brightly lit hotels.

On site beaches

  • Private beach – This was my favorite spot on the property. The sand was white and fluffy without a lot of seaweed, rocks, or other junk. It was the best sand I’d ever seen and I’ve been to a ton of beaches all over the world. We spent many hours here sitting under the straw huts and chilling out. The beach side servers were great and they always asked if we wanted anything to drink. Activities on this beach included snorkeling, kayak, stand up paddleboard, a trampoline, an iceberg to climb, and eating from various food carts. This was the busy side of the hotel.

Climb inflatable iceberg

  • Public beach – The public beach on the south side was bigger, but the sand was not as nice. There were a lot of shells and rocks mixed in with the sand. It was a good beach, but I liked the north side better. We hung out at the pool on this side, but didn’t spend as much time out on the beach itself. There is a gazebo on this side and we saw many wedding ceremonies when we were there.


There are 3 really nice pools on the property, but we only went to two of them. That Google Maps picture above is old. There are new pools on the property now.

Hyatt Ziva pool

  • North Pool – This was the busy side of the hotel. There were all kinds of activities around this pool. We saw water cycling, some kind of aqua yoga, water volleyball, and various other activities, all with an accompanying soundtrack. Mrs. RB40 refused to do any of them. She said she was there to relax and I agreed with her. 😉 There was a nice swim up bar here too. Most of the restaurants are around this area.

Hyatt Ziva South pool

  • South Pool – The south pool was much less busy. The guests can relax more on this side of the hotel. We had a good time swimming around and hanging out at the cabana. We liked this pool because it didn’t have the constant pounding music like the other side of the hotel.
  • Adult only pool – There is an adult only pool at top of the Turquoise tower. That whole tower is for adults only so we didn’t go there.
  • Dolphin pool – Oh, I almost forgot. There is a dolphin pool next to the north side pool. You can swim with the dolphins, but it costs extra to sign up. We didn’t feel motivated enough to do it.

Bottomless Drinks

Ahh… The bottomless drinks. On our first day, I tried to limit my alcohol intake to about a drink every 90 minutes. It felt great to be able to order whatever I wanted all the time. Normally, I’d enjoy just one or two drinks and call it good. That rule got thrown out the window because the drinks were included in the price of the hotel. Hey, I might as well over indulge once in my post college life.

Hyatt Ziva bottomless drinks

My favorite drink was the Mezcal Paloma. I had a bunch of those. Even RB40Jr got in on the action and downed many Strawberry Daiquiris and Pink Panthers, no alcohol, of course.

Unfortunately, one drink every 90 minutes was a bit too often for me. I didn’t sleep very well that first night and I cut back to a drink every 2-3 hours for the rest of our stay. That worked out better. I was happy and boozy without feeling nauseous. Anyway, I drank more during our 5 day stay than I normally drink in a year. That probably wasn’t good, but it was just a short visit. We’ll detox when we get home. Those free drinks were dangerous. 😉

Endless Food

We did a pretty good job moderating our alcohol intake, but food was another story. We ate a ton of food and enjoyed almost every bit of it. If we didn’t like a dish, then we’d just leave it and order something else. I felt so spoiled. I’ll go through one eatery at a time and give you my impression of each.

Hyatt Ziva Habaneros

Habaneros is a Mexican restaurant next to the north beach. They made a nice variety of excellent ceviches and seafood cocktails. I also liked the tuna tartare here. The taco al pastor was a disappointment, though. The 30 pesos street tacos in town tasted much better. Despite the taco letdown, Mrs. RB40 and I really enjoyed this beach side restaurant.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun Chevy's

Chevy’s was RB40Jr’s favorite restaurant on the property because they serve classic American fare. His favorite food of the trip was the hot dogs here… What can I say? Kids like kid food. The milkshakes here were good too.

Hyatt Ziva Moongate Asian Restaurant

The Moongate was actually 2 Asian restaurants in one space. We tried the teppanyaki grill first and enjoyed it. The rice and miso soup weren’t seasoned very well, but the shrimps and steaks were great. The show was a lot of fun as well. Another night we came back for the ala carte side of the restaurant. They serve a variety of Asian dishes on the menu and we ordered sushi rolls and a Pad Thai. The sushi rolls were great and RB40Jr ordered a second eel roll. The Pad Thai was a bit different than I’m used to, but it was good too.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun Tradewinds

The Tradewinds was a classic steakhouse and our favorite place for breakfast. We had breakfast here twice and had a great experience both times. Dinner here was good too. I ordered a rib eye steak and it was huge. The steak was tender and flavorful, but it was too big for me. It turned into a chore toward the end of the meal and I was really stuffed. That’s not really a complaint. 🙂

Hyatt Ziva Casa Cafe coffee shop

Another favorite of mine was the Casa Café. Imagine being able to get whatever drinks you want from a café at anytime. It was awesome. I had a bunch of iced mochas and cookies while we were there. The café was a really nice touch.

El Mercado was the buffet. We went there for Brazil night and had more meat. It was good, but we never go to buffets so we can’t really compare. I prefer to eat at one of the other full service restaurants. Why get your own food if the server can bring it for you? Oh man, I sound so snobby…

Hyatt Ziva Lorenzo's Italian restaurant

Lorenzo’s was an Italian restaurant. We only went here for pizza at lunch. Mrs. RB40 thought Italian food didn’t really fit Cancun so we didn’t make it to dinner. The pizzas were good and RB40Jr ate most of his pepperoni pizza.

La Bastille was a French restaurant which served adults only. You also needed to wear long pants and dress shoes here. We didn’t make it because RB40Jr was with us for dinner. We could have dropped him off at the Kidz Club, but just didn’t do it.

The room service was another great option for lunch. We got an order of crab cake and a club sandwich and they were excellent. We wanted to try the other items on the menu, but there were too many things to try at the restaurants. It was liberating to order whatever we want from the room service menu.

Pasteles was a shop full of sweets. It looks really impressive, but almost everything was just too sweet. We enjoyed the desserts at the restaurants much more. I think they should replace this shop with something more practical. A bakery would be a much better compliment for the cafe.

Bars – There were 5 bars around the property. This wasn’t a big deal to us because the servers will get you drinks at the beaches and pools. We went to check out Tres CerveZa’s, a sports bar, and that was cool. They had good chicken wings and a bunch of TVs tuned to various sports. They also brew their own beer here. Unfortunately, the house brew was an IPA at the time. I’m a huge IPA snob and I liked Portland’s IPA much better. Our IPAs are more nuanced and subtle. Their IPA was good, but I love Portland’s IPAs. Mrs. RB40 isn’t into IPAs. That was it for our bar experience. Juana Margarita had tequila and mezcal tasting, but I wasn’t up for it.

Whew, we ate a ton of food while we were at Hyatt Ziva. I didn’t weigh myself, but I suspect I gained a couple of pounds. That’s the peril of staying in a luxurious all inclusive resort. We haven’t been to other all inclusive hotels so I’m not sure how the food compares. We were pretty happy with the meals. Some dishes were really good and some were just okay. You just need to find the right dishes at the right restaurant.

Kidz Club

Hyatt Ziva Cancun Kids Club

The Kidz Club was another great thing about the all inclusive resort. It opens from 9 am to 9 pm and we could drop RB40Jr off whenever we wanted. There is a small water park there and other activities to do. The staffs were very good too. We sent RB40Jr off to the Kidz Club an hour or two everyday so we could have some alone time. This was a great feature for families.


Hyatt Ziva Cancun Mayan show

There were shows at the terrace every night. We saw a magic show, a Mayan show, and a break dancing performance. They were fun and gave us something to do after dinner.


Hyatt Ziva Cancun service was over the top

The service was awesome. They left us a bottle of Champagne and a little cake in the room to welcome us on the first day. I told them we were there to celebrate our anniversary. We got married in July so this was actually a late celebration. 🙂 The bellhop brought our luggage up later and that was great too. The maid came to clean our room in the morning, and also did a turndown service in the evening. All the hotel staff were great and everyone went the extra mile to be friendly. All the friendly staff made us feel special.

On our last night, they left us a custom dessert plate and a nice note. It was a very nice gesture, but we didn’t eat any of the sweets. We couldn’t eat anything else by the end of the stay. (Well, RB40 ate the yellow ring and half a peanut butter cup).

Hyatt Ziva Cancun service staff

What I didn’t like

The only thing I didn’t like was that the AC was turned down at night. It got warm and I didn’t sleep comfortably through the night. That’s a minor complaint, but why can’t they be like other hotels and let the guests pick the temperature? It seemed like a cheapo move to save electricity.

Mrs. RB40 had no complaints. She was pretty happy.

All inclusive evaluation

So how do I feel about all inclusive resorts now? Mrs. RB40 and I had a great time and we can see why so many people enjoy this kind of vacation. The stay was extremely relaxing and there were a ton of amenities. You can eat good food whenever and however much you want. Drinks were a wave away. We could relax at the pool and the beaches were just steps away. It was almost too easy and I felt a bit guilty. Shouldn’t you have to exert yourself a bit to enjoy a vacation? We felt like Hansel and Gretel being fattened up. Heh heh heh.

We really enjoyed our stay and would go back if we ever get another chance. I highly recommend the Hyatt Ziva Cancun. However, we’ll probably go back to our DIY travel for a few years before visiting an all inclusive again. I value the exposure to the local color and adventures more than the luxurious stay. It was great to be able to experience both side of Cancun on this trip, though. 5 days/4 nights was just the right amount of time for us. We were beginning to feel restless.

Cancun expense report

Cancun Travel Hacking

Amazingly, our luxurious Cancun trip cost less than $1,200. That’s way below what we spend normally on our international vacations. The flight and the most expensive hotel were funded with credit card rewards. The Hyatt Ziva cost $570+ per night. That’s pretty expensive and normally, I wouldn’t pay that much. The 4 free nights was a really nice reward from the Hyatt credit card. In the end, it was a great trip for a very affordable price.

What about you? Have you ever been to an all inclusive resort and how do you like that kind of vacation?

See my credit card page for instruction on how to travel hack and which card to signup for today.


The following two tabs change content below.
Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

Latest posts by retirebyforty (see all)

Get update via email:
Sign up to receive new articles via email
We hate spam just as much as you

39 thoughts on “Cancun Trip Report Part 2 – Luxurious Stay at The Hyatt Ziva”

    • Thanks! We had a great experience and wouldn’t change anything. It was fun to see the locals living their normal life in town.

  1. Wow beautiful pictures! That sand looks amazing! Would you say you and your family had a better time in Mexico than in Hawaii? The food looks so good.

    • Well, yes for Mrs. RB40 because she was working most of the time when were in Hawaii. I like both places. I wouldn’t say Cancun was better than Hawaii. It was a different experience. I felt more at home in Hawaii.

  2. Awesome Joe! We’re in the middle of planning out a beach vacation in the Caribbean somewhere and Cancun was the first place I looked. That Hyatt Ziva looks insanely awesome. We stayed a couple hotels down at the Aloft which was awesome but very much a DIY thing (have to walk a few minutes to order and PAY FOR!! fish tacos or subs or pizza or whatever you want).

    Were the beaches nice? No seaweed infestations? It was horrible when we were there in 2015. That public beach was unusable due to all the piles of rotting seaweed plus a bunch floating in mats in the water. I’m hesitant to visit Cancun again if the seaweed is just as bad this time around.

    I’d love to do an all-inclusive but the price for 5 of us is outrageous. Most of the rooms only allow 4 people per room so we’re looking at 2 rooms. And they charge by the person it seems. I priced out a week at an AI resort in Cancun and it’s $5000-7000 for all of us. For that price I can rent a super nice Airbnb, drink all I want (which isn’t much honestly) and eat out at nice restaurants every day (which I would love for a few days at least 🙂 ). We’re still looking for a nice airbnb on the beach somewhere.

    • The private beach was awesome. The sand was great and there were no seaweed on the beach. A little seaweed in the water.
      The public beach looked okay too. I didn’t see much seaweed on the sand. We didn’t swim in the public beach.
      Maybe it’s due to the time of the year?
      Yeah, it sounds like 5 is a tough number to accommodate in an AI resort. I’d go with a nice Airbnb too.

  3. What a great review! It’s great that you got to enjoy an all-inclusive with your free nights. But I think 4 nights would be plenty for us too. We did three nights at one in the Bahamas a few years back and that seemed to be enough (from what I could remember after all the free drinks!) I like how you ended up mixing the trip up with the local stay too.

  4. I love the idea of hotel hopping. And while I guess I could try an all inclusive, I wouldn’t want to be committed to it for more than two days. I’d rather explore.
    While I’ve lived in Mexico City and explored much of Mexico for 40 years, I’ve never been to Cancun. My Belize friends actually drive there for vacation getaways. My coastal ventures have been Oaxaca, but mostly I’ve explored inland. What a fun trip! And being FI you have the time to do this, which is the whole point of FI I’d say.

    • I like exploring too, but the relaxing resort was nice too. It was a very different vacation than what we’re used to.
      I’d love to explore Mexico more.

  5. Thanks for the shout out, and awesome trip report!

    I’m going to have to try your trick for getting upgraded sometime. The view from your room is incredible. And great photos all around, you’re making us want to go now!

    Maybe we’ll figure out a way to get some more points…. 🙂

  6. Looks like your are having an awesome time! I’ve been to Cabo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, but have never made it to Cancun so just a bit jealous right now. 😉 Thanks for sharing and allowing me to live vicariously through you. Enjoy!

    Regards, AFFJ

  7. I’m not a fan of all-inclusives because, like you and some of the other commenters, I prefer to experience the local culture. Great job with the Hyatt bonus. DH and I did it a couple of years ago. I don’t think Chase cards are churn-able but if so, the Grand Hyatt Kauai is a fantastic property!

    • One drink every 90 minutes was too much for me. It was fun that first day, but we slowed way down after that. Couldn’t hold my alcohol anymore. 🙂

  8. Great trip Joe! You really lived it up.

    I think without a signup reward like you had, I’d probably never stay at a resort like this ($570 is too expensive). The Kids Club looks great though.

    It surprised me how little Mexican food you ate. Are you sure you went to Mexico? 🙂

    • $570 is too expensive for me too. We probably won’t go back anytime soon if we have to pay full price. Maybe when we’re older.
      We ate a lot of Mexican food in the first leg of our trip. There were a lot of other options in the Hyatt Ziva.

  9. Phenomenal pictures, Joe! New camera??
    Those bottomless inclusive “alcoholic” drinks never “hit” me like I thought they would-hmmm.
    Thanks for sharing, felt like I was there too. Excellent post.

    • It’s my old Canon Rebel T1. It’s heavy so I usually don’t take it on a long trip. I wanted to take good photos of the pyramid so I took it this time. Thanks!

  10. Hi Joe,
    Your whole vacation sounds awesome. Cancun is not on my list of places I would like to visit, but maybe your off season suggestion would make it more possible. Of course, it is still hurricane season and one of those coming through or nearby would have drastically changed your vacay. I’m so glad you got away and Mrs RB40 got a chance to relax and enjoy her peeps. You do a fabulous job of describing everything and I felt like I was there with you for a bit. AND best of all – $1200 for a $5500 vacation!! Woohoo! ~smile~ Roseanne

    • I was worry about hurricane season too, but it worked out for us. I think the peak of the hurricane season was in October and it’s usually pretty good in November. Whew!

    • Actually, the dolphin pool didn’t look very inviting. The regular pool looks much nicer with clear water, cabanas, and drinks all around. 🙂

  11. Whoaa that’s such an awesome trip for less than $1,200. The reward hacking sounds awesome! I remember you wrote a while ago that you were trying to use the credit cards to meet the threshold, and now it’s paying off!

    All the photos are beautiful. The food looks absolutely amazing. After our frugal trip to Mr. FAF’s graduation ceremony in Dec, I need to share with him your experience to get him excited about traveling. I think he likes talking about traveling but doesn’t think it’s a priority. It’s not, but I still want to have fun! ^.^

    • I thought we did really well on this trip. It took me a long time to get the travel hacking right, though. I’ve been reading about it for years.
      Good luck with more travel. It’s a lot of fun, but probably a bit tough with a baby.

  12. Yes, the bottomless drinks, unlimited food and entertainment is the reason the frugal me loves all inclusive resorts. But yes, it’s important to leave the resort a few hours every day or full days in order to immerse ourselves in the local culture.

  13. I only stayed in an all inclusive once, in Cuba for 4 days. It was great but I would only do it again if I needed a real break from everything, not to visit a new place. I like to experience the “real” thing.

    • Mrs. RB40 and I each signed up for the Hyatt card. That gave us 4 free nights. And we got the free flight from the Chase Sapphire sign up bonus. This year was great, but I think we’ll be back to normal next year. They won’t let me sign up for anymore cards. 🙁

  14. You say Chevy’s was RB40Jr’s favorite restaurant on the property. I think it would be mine too given the 56 or 57 Chevy in your great photo.

    Regarding staying in posh hotels, I immediately thought of this remark when I entered my Executive Suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Istanbul, the best hotel I ever stayed in.

    “Boy, was that a posh hotel I stayed in. I could barely get the towels in my suitcases.”
    — Rodney Dangerfield

    At the same time, the previous night I stayed in the worst hotel room I ever stayed at in London just outside Heathrow Airport. This thought entered my mind:

    “That was sure a real cheap hotel I stayed in. They ended up stealing my towel.”
    — Rodney Dangerfield

    • That Chevy was pretty cool. The Ritz Carlton Istanbul looks very nice. Turkey is near the top of my list, but it might have to be put off for a while. Is it safe to travel there? Great joke from Rodney Dangerfield.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.