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A Scary Moment at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun

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I wrote my review of the Hyatt Zilara Cancun and how I’m an honorary Roman for how much I feasted there.

But there was a moment that was terrifying.

The beaches have markers every 100 feet or so, color-coded green, yellow, or red. They swap them out throughout the day and are intended to let you know how dangerous it is to swim in the water.

Jay and I got into the Gulf of Mexico in a yellow zone, next to a red zone. We were laughing and talking and suddenly heard a whistle that we’d gone too far. Jay swam away. But I had trouble moving – every time I made progress, I was pulled deeper into the water. And it was over my head before I knew it.

There was another guy next to me (and lots of peeps a few feet away) so I didn’t think any of us were in any real danger. I asked him if he was having trouble, too. He nodded. “We need help.”

“Yeah. We need help.” So we both started waving to the lifeguards on the shore.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Index

Travel safety above all

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Mexico and Bust: Eating at All the Hyatt Zilara Cancun Restaurants

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OMG, y’all. I have never eaten so much in my life. I seriously – like legit – have new stretch marks from how much I gorged myself during my recent free stay at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun.

I knew I wanted to write about the food and drinks at the various restaurants. But found balance a hard one to strike because I was literally always eating and drinking. So I was torn between wanting to capture the moment and be in the moment. But I have enough to  give you an idea of what to expect.

Also, I tried every dang restaurant there – some of them twice.

hyatt zilara cancun restaurants

Love is a many splendored thing

I was impressed by the quality, selection, and creativity of the dishes. There was a huge variety. And all the drinks are made with top-shelf liquor.

Girdle thy loins, let’s look at each one.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Index

Hyatt Zilara Cancun restaurants

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Review of My Free Stay at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hyatt Zilara Cancun from above

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Ahoy, mateys! I have so much to tell you about – just back from a week of meetings in Austin.

I’ve been meaning to report on the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, so here goes.

I booked 3 nights with points in late January.

The flights were paid with Citi ThankYou points (which I’m always rolling in). And I charged the $55 round-trip airport transfer to my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which trigged part of the $300 annual travel credit. And because it’s an all-inclusive, food was covered (more on that in a future post!).

Hyatt Zilara Cancun from above

Hyatt Zilara Cancun from above

So flights, hotel, food, and transportation were all completely free. I did bring $100 in cash to leave as tips for the drivers, bartenders, servers, and housekeeping staff.

This trip would’ve cost north of $2,000 out of pocket.

But back to the hotel!

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Index

Arrival and check-in

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Booked: 3 Free Nights at Hyatt Zilara Cancun With Points!

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What I like most about the points and miles hobby is setting a goal, then attaining it.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to stay at the all-inclusive and adults-only Hyatt Zilara Cancun. And in a few weeks, I’ll be there!

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Points

Coming for ya, Zilara!

I used 75,000 Hyatt points for a stay that would’ve cost over $1,900 out-of-pocket. Here’s how it came together.

Booking a Hyatt Zilara Cancun Points Award

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4 Useful Chrome Extensions for Travel & Shopping

Nope, nope, yes

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I love using Google Chrome as a browser. It’s light, powerful, and has lots of good plug-ins… er, extensions.

Some of them have elevated to near-constant use territory.

I’ve written about useful apps because I love time-saving productivity stuff like a good millennial lol.

These 4 Chrome extensions come with my highest recommendation. They’ve helped me save a lot of time, money, and clicking around.

1. Hyatt – Show Me the Points

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The Top Card for Beginners? Yeah, the Chase Sapphire Preferred

You can stay at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philly with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

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I’m sure it’s happened to you at some point. A friend asks, “How do you do it?” Take all these trips to places like Hawaii, Tokyo and Osaka, Dublin, Barcelona, and more. How do you get free hotel rooms that cost hundreds of dollars a night?

“I want to travel like you do,” they say. “Where do I start?”

Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can stay at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philly with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

You can stay at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philly with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

And you have that moment where you’re thinking inside, “Well for starters, using that debit card for everything you buy isn’t helping anything.” *cough* Kierstin *cough*

You ask about their spending habits. “Do you shop online?” Definitely use a shopping portalget free miles for clicking a link.

And sign up for dining rewards while you’re at it because you never know when you’ll get some extra miles in your account – especially if you live in a mid-sized to large city.

As far as cards go… where to begin?

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Just Booked: 2 Nights at Hyatt at The Bellevue for $150 (Worth Over $900!)

Hyatt at the Bellevue

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I’ve written about the incredible value you can get with the annual free night from the Chase Hyatt card at Hyatt Category 4 hotels.

A hotel I listed as an “honorable mention” is the Hyatt at The Bellevue in Philadelphia.

For my last weekend as a New Yorker, I’ll actually be in Philly, at this Hyatt. Jay and I both recently got our free night certs and I’ve been itching to burn them.

We got a super deal on a weekend getaway.

Hyatt at the Bellevue

Hyatt at the Bellevue

This is an awesome example of how easy it is to get value from the Chase Hyatt card. The annual free night makes it well worth keeping!

By the numbers

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Taking Another Look at Hilton, Hyatt, and Diamond Elite Status

Underwater restaurant at

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To begin, I must say I’m disappointed I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to receive Hyatt Diamond status. Although I did luck out with Hilton Diamond status.

I realize I’ll likely sound like a spoiled brat whining about something I didn’t get for free. Especially when others have spent much more time and money to actually earn the status. That said, the way Hyatt handled the Diamond status match – from free-for-all to the later restriction to only match SPG Platinum members, and all the missteps in between- was very mishandled.

Booooo

Booooo

Hyatt had an opportunity to capitalize on the SPG/Marriott merger and they blew it – unless you got the match, then you win. I likely would’ve gone out of my way to stay with Hyatt more in 2016 and beyond. This whole thing has left such a bad taste behind that it makes me want to actively avoid Hyatt, and only use them for free award night stays.

Although I think what Hilton is doing is genius, at least from a marketing perspective. And, let’s face it: Hilton has a much larger footprint than Hyatt (4,100+ hotels compared to ~600). And Hilton is in every place there’s a Hyatt with few exceptions.

For example, there are NO Hyatt hotels in Barcelona (where I’ll be in a few weeks). But there were 4 Hilton options:

Furthermore, the next time Hyatt has a Diamond status challenge to stay 12 nights, I won’t even consider doing it (even though you can complete it with only 9 nights if you have Citi Prestige). Why would I spend $1,000 on something so many others got for free?

Anyway, that’s my preamble – just wanted to clear the air here. Again, I completely understand I don’t “deserve” the status in way. It just sucks to see so many get it for free, even though my credentials where enough – at one point – to get me in, too. A case of “early bird gets the worm” if there ever was one.

But now, I’m taking another look at Hilton, as I expect to have more paid stays there, at least for now. And, it’s not as bad as you’d think.

Hilton Diamond Vs Hyatt Diamond

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5 Hyatt Category 4 Hotels Where the Hyatt Card Annual Free Night Rocks

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I’ve had some pretty good experiences with Hyatt points, even though the way they handled their recent Hyatt Diamond promo was a disaster. #jaded

Anyway, one can have a finite number of Chase cards, but I choose to renew the Chase Hyatt card year after year.

That’s because you get a free night certificate when you renew the card each year, and it’s good at Category 1 through 4 hotels. So obviously, I try to use them at Category 4 properties to get outsized value.

Last year, I gave my free night away to Jay’s grandparents for a night at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch (which is a Category 2), because the certificate was about to expire and it was their anniversary. Jay and I both have the Chase Hyatt card, so we gave them 2 nights at the hotel. They loved it!

hyatt category 4 hotels

New year, new options!

I just renewed the card again and paid the $75 annual fee, so I thought I’d take a spin through the Category 4 hotel list to see where I might use the annual free night in 2016.

I found at least 6 hotels where you’ll recoup the annual fee 4x over… or more. It got me thinking.

Never change

Never change

Oh, and because these are all Category 4 hotels, you can also redeem 15,000 Hyatt points for a free night. In many cases, you’ll get over 4 cents per point in value!

5 Hyatt hotels worth 4x or more than the annual fee on the Chase Hyatt card

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Hotel Review: Hyatt House Dallas/Uptown

View upon walking in

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After staying at the Hyatt Place in “Austin”, I headed to Dallas to do some house-hunting.

Picking up the rental car was a nightmare, but once on the road, I was at the Hyatt House Dallas/Uptown in about 25 minutes.

The parking garage is beyond a gate where you have to swipe your room key, and there are maybe 4 parking spots outside the hotel, as it’s located off a major thoroughfare (Harry Hines Boulevard), which, if there are more than a few people checking in, creates a huge, annoying queue.

Thankfully, I got a spot, grabbed my wallet, and headed to checkin/get a room key within a couple of minutes.

Checkin and arrival

After flying and driving, it hit me that I was super thirsty once I saw the water for sale near the checkin desk.

The desk agent greeted me warmly, and quickly found my reservation.

He acknowledge my Hyatt Platinum elite status, which is completely useless except for random scenarios like this checkin.

I didn’t know parking was an extra $14 a day, and had a 3-night stay… an extra $42.

For some reason, I thought it would be included as the hotel isn’t in downtown Dallas or in a particularly clogged area. Whatever, I asked if he could add it to my Chase Hyatt card along with… abottleofwaterI’msothirsty.

He validated my parking, gave me a room key, and said there would be no charge for the parking, and to enjoy the water. In fact, he gave me another bottle to take to the room!

I was bowled over by the gesture after getting through a flight and driving and parking and finding the place. It was very kind, and I was grateful. It really is the little things.

So, checkin could not have not any smoother. And the gracious service from checkin continued through the entire stay.

 

Hallways of the Hyatt House Dallas/Uptown

Hallways of the Hyatt House Dallas/Uptown

Everyone, from the cleaning staff to the bartenders to the other desk agents were attentive and professional the entire time.

The room

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That AARP Membership You Just Bought? Save Money With AARP Discounts and Rewards

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So, how many of us are newly minted AARP members after that insane deal for British Airways Business Class?

AARP heats things up starting with the homepage

AARP heats things up starting with the homepage

I took a poke around the website and found some worthwhile member benefits that can more than make up the $16 spent to join – and this membership might be a good thing to keep!

AARP Rewards and Discounts

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Hotel Review: Hyatt Place Austin/Arboretum

Hyatt Place Austin lobby

File this under “Writing about it before I forget it happened.”

First impression: Wow – there are a LOT of chain hotels in Austin. I… had no idea there were so many.

In fact, there are three Hyatt Place locations in Austin:

But I’ll focus on the last one.

We passed many, many other hotels on the way to it.

I flew down to Austin for a work meeting, and that’s what I did most of the time. So I didn’t get to enjoy the amenities of the hotel, like the pool or gym.

I kinda flew down, checked in, and slept there in the evenings. Which was fine. Here’s my take on it.

Arrival and check-in

Great! I was harried. I’d left my ID in the rental car, and was a mess of bags and random crap after traveling all day. But the desk agent could not have been more thorough or professional or welcoming.

My Hyatt Platinum elite status was acknowledged, and she asked which room I’d prefer. I opted for the bigger room on a higher floor near the elevator: PERFECT.

Hyatt Place Austin lobby

Hyatt Place Austin/Arboretum lobby

I got room 516 on the 5th floor, was given a wifi code, and was told about the free breakfast in the morning.

The room

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