Until fairly recently, the self-effacing and unpretentious letter “z” had managed to keep a low profile by hiding in the shadow of the gangly “y'” there at the end of the alphabet. But once Hyatt jumped with both feet into the deep end of the all-inclusive pool with their Zilara and Ziva brands, those days of obscurity for the ultimate letter were forever lost. Now “Z” is all grown up and strutting its stuff like a voluptuous Miss Venezuela in the swimsuit competition at the Miss Universe pageant.
Take the names of their restaurants, for example. Petit Pariz is bringing, as they like to say, “Parisian flair to the shores of Jamaica.” Flavorz is located in the main lobby offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Horizons, whose name they didn’t even have to massage, features international cuisine in a “farm to table” concept. The lobby bar is called is called Potionz and the pool swim-up bar is styled Islandz. Time fails me to talk about Choicez, Di Roza, Fuzion, Calypzo, Grindz and Fez. Unless you have dozed off and are cranking out a few zzzzs by now, I think you get the idea.
If you are eager to know more about how Hyatt is upgrading the all-inclusive experience from A to Z, you have only to read my typically brilliant post Hyatt All-Inclusive Resorts: Evolution or Revolution? Should you then be swept away by my lilting prose, you can read about the Hyatt Ziva in Los Cabos. Speaking of swept away, that already stunning property is undergoing a complete transformation thanks to the visit of a most unwelcome guest last September called Hurricane Odile.
We shall, however, focus our remaining time together on the Hyatt Zilara / Ziva Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica where I was privileged to stay recently. For those who may not know, the Zilara is the adult only brand and Ziva is the family brand. In this case, the two brands are adjacent sharing a central lobby. As the slightly more deluxe brand, all the facilities and dining options of both are available to Zalara guests but not vice versa.
I, along with 200 or so of my closest friends, was the recipient of the largess of Funjet Vacations and the Hyatt for this experience. Those cynical souls who are immediately suspicious of my objectivity need to read my Fool Disclosure page where I lay bare my soul on that subject. For those who prefer the executive summary: I don’t claim any . . . objectivity, that is.
As to the resort, here are my observations about both the resort and the destination.
I have often said on these pages that the overall level of service in Mexico has never been matched in any other destination. While the service levels in Jamaica are quite good, I have always tended to put them a notch below Mexico. Leave it to Hyatt to make me eat my words. (Fortunately, they also provided a nice little Cabernet to wash them down!)
The folks at Hyatt have proved that exemplary service is all about setting the right expectations, hiring the right people and providing the right training. The warmth and friendliness of the staff and their eagerness to serve is everything you could hope for at a deluxe resort.
Beach Lover’s Paradise
The sobriquet “beach lover” does not really apply to me. Call me crazy but I have an aversion to tiny grains of sand finding their way into every crevice of my body. However, I am well aware that for many, perhaps most, of you, a quality beach is the most important consideration when selecting a warm weather resort.
If you fall into this category, I can happily report this property has as nice a beach as you will find nearly anywhere. There are plenty of palapas and lounge chairs and a nice breaker so even the urchins can enjoy the water.
The most popular beach feature is Barefoot Jerkz where you can get chicken, beef and fish Jamaican style. Finally, someone has come up with a restaurant named with me in mind!
Rose Hall Great House
If you like to mix in a little history, culture and voodoo witchcraft into your vacation (and who doesn’t), the Great House at Rose Hall, just across the road from the resort, is just what the witch doctor ordered. I don’t have time to recount the story of the “white witch” and the three husbands she killed in three separate upstairs bedrooms (plus a handful of lovers but who’s counting) but you will get all that when you do the tour as I did. Let’s just say that Annee Palmer was a little, as in 4’11”, ball of pure, unadulterated evil.
Even better than the tour of the Great House, for my taste at least, is the White Witch Golf Course. While the beach worshipers were back at the resort attempting to inconspicuously deal with their own sand wedgies, I was using my sand wedge to extricate myself from one of the numerous bunkers that dot this magnificent course.
There is oh so much more to say about the Hyatt Zilara and Ziva Rose Hall but, alas, no time left to share it. If you are looking to experience some of the best of Jamaica without the trek to either Ocho Rios or Negril, let us book you into this magnificent resort where the service will impress, the beach will entice and the culture will inspire.
One closing word of caution for the male reader. It is said that Annee is actively looking for her next husband so if you do tour the Great House by candlelight, you might want to keep up with the rest of your group. Just sayin’.