Having spent a lot of time in Cancun and Cabo, Max and I were excited to try a new Mexican destination, Puerto Vallarta. We had heard that Puerto Vallarta is reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast, with its winding roads and colonial style homes dotting the cliffs. We were ecstatic to try something new in Mexico so read on to find out what we loved about the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta!
Location & how to get there: 5/5
The Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta is 20 minutes from the airport. While much of the newer hotel development is located in the “hotel zone” of Nuevo Vallarta, we headed down towards Malecon and beyond. The Hyatt Ziva has an expansive property and is located on a beautiful, private beach 5 minutes south of Malecon and downtown Puerto Vallarta. From what we saw on our adventures, we truly believe the Hyatt has the best beachfront location in this area of Puerto Vallarta. The property is small, the smallest of its sister Ziva properties around the world, with 335 rooms.
We booked the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta on World of Hyatt points. The property is a category 5, meaning you can spend 20,000 points per night (double occupancy) for an ocean view room. This is an excellent value, considering the Grand Hyatt at the airport in San Francisco is the same price in points per night. For 20,000 points, you’re getting a tropical dream vacation that is all-inclusive. As a side note, if you sign up for the World of Hyatt credit card, you’ll earn 2 free nights on the sign up bonus alone.
Puerto Vallarta international is accessible from most major hubs in the US including Miami, NYC, Los Angeles and San Diego. While the airport can be quite overwhelming upon arrival, head directly through customs through all the vendors until you reach the outdoors. Taxis are available outside for $20-25 to the Hyatt Ziva. Our recommendation is to not stop inside the terminal, as the actual taxis are outside.
Lobby & Check in experience: 4/5
Arriving in our Taxi, we were greeted at the security gate by a friendly gentleman who checked our passports and recorded the taxi driver’s name, ID number and taxi company. The whole process was really thorough and we felt very safe. The driveway is made up of cobblestones in the traditional way that is also found in the old downtown of Puerto Vallarta, a short 5-minute car ride away. The lobby itself is stunning as it’s elevated over the beach, offering unobstructed views of the ocean. There is a beautiful sculpture in the center of the lobby made in the traditional Huichol fashion.
We were booked into the Club tower so upon arrival, the bellman directed us down the hall to the other building for a private check in. While they did have a small sip of juice and cold towel available at the bell stand, none was offered to us directly, so I asked to take one before reaching for the cold relief in the heat.
The Club tower is a separate building to the far left of the property. The check in was quick and efficient and we were promptly sent on our way to our Ocean View Junior Suite on the 5th floor. It’s worth noting that there is a Club tower bar in the lobby of the Club tower that appears to have better hours than most of the bars on the beach and by the pool (i.e open after 6pm).
After staying at the sister property, Hyatt Ziva in Cabo last year, we were shocked when we walked into the stunning Junior Suite with expansive ocean views. We knew the property was amidst renovating the rooms, but had no idea the level of effort that went into them. The room was stunning, with modern amenities that still maintained the beauty of the traditional architecture. The ceilings were vaulted, with inset lighting and warm tones on the furniture and decor.
Upon entering the room, there is a large bathroom to the left with a massive rain shower, separate bathtub and double vanity. One of the features of the room that I immediately loved was all the elegant lighting. There were hidden lighting strips behind the vanities, in the vaulted ceiling and throughout the room that added a touch of glamour and romance.
The closet was a sufficient size and was located in the bathroom and contained a safe, two robes and slippers.
In the center of the room facing the spectacular view was a comfortable king bed and a sunken living room with ample seating. Not that you’d need it on vacation, but there is a desk with ample USB charging ports and outlets. With all the camera gear we travel with, we were in heaven. There are also USB ports and chargers next to the bed (thank goodness). We’ve recently loved the upgrades Hyatt properties have made to their TVs – they are massive and the Ziva is no different.
Our balcony door opened almost the entire length of the room and we were able to relax on a large chaise lounge or on our two-seater dining set. We enjoyed breakfast on our balcony every morning, which was one of our favorite features :).
Overall, this room was wonderful, quiet and fully equipped with everything you’d need. We never heard any neighbors and would wake up each morning to the sunrise and crashing waves, before ordering our room service breakfast (included in the all-inclusive). It was an incredibly comfortable and serene room.
In terms of offering a wide array of activities, the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta has it all. There is an activities desk with endless activities to choose from through tour vendors, concierge, full-service spa, fitness center, beach drink-service, pool drink-service and conference space. There are also daily activities that happen throughout the day for both kids and adults.
Max and I love a good activity and we ended up booking a half-day adventure trip through the concierge. The trip itself was amazing and very cheap ($100 per person) for ziplining, water slides & mule-riding. Unfortunately, the company who runs the trips (Vallarta Adventures) were “smart” and charge you over $100 for photos and don’t let you take any photos with your own gear. So, we’d love to show you the trip, but we can’t. So if you’re looking to book a tour with them, keep this in mind if you want to have any memories of it on paper- estimate an additional $60 per person for photos.
On property, we also tested out the fitness center. The gym equipment was excellent. It was all very new and the gym opened up to the outdoor balcony with floor to ceiling windows throughout, so the natural light was wonderful. There were TVs for those who were sick of the view (not me ;)). There is a spa as well, which we did not try this time. They do offer daily deals that seemed like a great option if you are staying longer than a few days.
The biggest win for this hotel is the impeccable, and swimmable, beachfront. The water is warm, coral and rock free and stunningly clear. We spent so many hours in the water that we were total prunes when we were done. The water had light body-surfable waves close to the shore and directly beyond them the water was calm and had barely any current. Of all the beaches we have visited in Mexico, this one is near the top of our list.
While the pool chairs were quite popular and often taken all day, we usually go straight to the beach anyway. There were ample chairs all day and it was easy to grab one and drag to to wherever you wanted to be. The staff serve drinks on the beach, but note that they do not serve food on the beach as they do at the Cabo property.
One odd thing about the beach and pool service was that the outdoor bars closed at 6pm. We found this so strange because, due to the time zone that Puerto Vallarta is in, the sun did not set until 8:45pm. Therefore, people were still out tanning and enjoying the sun until 7pm or so. I found it unfortunate that they did not staff the bars in the most beautiful part of the day. Thankfully, we had the club lounge bar to run and grab a drink from, but that also meant that anyone not staying in the Club lounge was running in there as well, which many Club guests remarked about. I believe this may be the reason the Club bar was not stocked with premium liquor, as Club lounges usually are with Hyatt.
The only letdown we experienced at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta was the food. While the drinks were typically quite good (just make sure you ask for “doble”, or double, for the alcohol), the food was very hit or miss.
Of the 6 bars and restaurants, we tried the following:
Of the restaurants we tried, this was one of the most consistent. Blaze offered a Brazilian steakhouse option at dinner with the most incredible location. The pagoda on the edge of the water was the real winner from an ambiance perspective. We never found it got that busy, but I think the resort was quiet in general over 4th of July, so we were really lucky to grab a table on the edge of the railing when we dined there. The food overall was good at dinner, but a few of the dishes were not so great. The winner was the grilled pineapple, steak and turkey they came around with. The service, however, was wonderful. Similarly, we had lunch here every day because it was a la carte, and again, the view is spectacular. It’s hard to say no to a location like this for us, even when the food is so-so. We tried a few different things the first day and on the second day, we stuck to what we knew would be good. The fajitas are the highlight here, as are the fish tacos they serve with the tortilla chips when you sit down.
The Italian restaurant is one of the indoor offerings at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. We would typically never eat inside in a tropical place, but we were trying to go to Blaze on the last night and it was closed. We ran into another couple who told us it was worth checking out. We’re really glad we did because of all the meals we had, this was the most consistent in terms of taste and quality. The staff were well trained and it was clear that this was their fine-dining option. The winner was the Filet Mignon.
PureZa is the asian style restaurant on the other side of the property. Most of the food was not particularly good; in fact, the sushi had cooked fish…which is just not great and made me nervous that they may have cooked it due to food quality issues. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I couldn’t think of another reason to cook the fish in sushi. The fried rice and noodle dishes, though, were tasty. This restaurant is also outside and has a nice view of the ocean, despite being a bit more set back on the beach than Blaze was. The service was lovely and our waiter was friendly, kind and never stopped pouring wine and water.
The deli is a great option if you’re looking for a quick coffee or pastry. We stopped by the Deli in the morning before our adventure tour for fruit, a muffin and a tasty americano, so that we could sleep a few extra minutes in the morning. They also appear to have snacks throughout the day including sandwiches, etc.
We came here one evening for a drink and it was nice. It’s such a beautiful bar, I just wish they would play some music. The atmosphere was a bit dull so we ended up taking our beverages back to the room with us. They do make basically anything you’d like, but they don’t have any menus so come prepared with your favorite drink in mind.
Overall, the dining was ok. We were disappointed by the lack of consistency, especially given the difference in quality from the Cabo property. However, given that it is an all-inclusive and everything’s included anyway, it’s also possible to head into town ($4-6 taxi) and dine out if you really want to try something else. As a note, they do offer a few upgrades such as a Lobster or wine & premium liquor menus. We typically do not partake in these add-ons as they tend to be a bit more expensive than we’d like. We did see many guests try the lobster and it looked very good.
The service overall was good. The staff are super friendly, helpful and greet you every time you walk by. In general, they try incredibly hard to make your day better, particularly if you run into any issues. Our only issues were around consistency. Some staff members went above and beyond, while others straddled the line between disinterested and fine. The nice thing about the property was that we did not have wristbands, so it felt like you were staying at more of a boutique property. The security was excellent and we never felt unsafe. Given that the beach is private, there are only a few vendors allowed onto their beach, making it a less overwhelming experience than some of the public beaches. Room service was pretty quick, breakfast typically arriving within 45 minutes to an hour.
We had turndown service in the Club tower and it was nice to get fresh water and towels.
One feature of the experience that is worth mentioning is that 99% of what you see is included, which is really refreshing. Besides the few options like lobster or premium alcohols, there is no dollar sign attached to the experience. We never felt like we were being nickel-and-dimed and felt like all guests have this equal experience.
We loved the style at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. The mix between traditional Huichol and modern elegance was incredibly well done. From the lobby’s towering ceilings and incredible artwork to the room’s impeccable lighting, we absolutely loved it. When judging style, we always think about how a hotel does or does not feel like it belongs in its location: we call it the “curtain test”. When we close the curtains at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, we 100% feel the energy of the region in the room itself, and that is incredible.
The walls were adorned with colorful texture and artwork, really making the room feel like home. This theme continued throughout the lobby and public spaces as well.
Overall, we absolutely loved the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta and would 100% return in a heartbeat. While the food consistency is a bit of a letdown, we experienced so many incredible moments on property: from the rooms, to the incredible beach and spectacular sunsets. By the second day, we had identified most of the dishes that were excellent and stuck with those at the various restaurants, which really helped. At the end of the day, there are few moments as beautiful as sitting on your private balcony with a spicy margarita, watching as the sun sets right in front of you, the waves crashing beneath you. If you’re looking for a great value with an epic location, look no further than the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.
Deciding between Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta? Check out our review of the Hyatt Ziva Cabo.