Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
This time last week, I was at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta – almost 1 year to the day after my February 2018 stay. I originally wanted to try a different Ziva, like Los Cabos, or perhaps return to the Zilara in Cancun – and found tons of award flights from Dallas to all three.
But flights from Chicago to fly down an old friend were scarce. So for whatever reason, the availability lined up and sent us to the Ziva Puerto Vallarta again.
I was open to it, returning to the known. Also curious to see if it had changed – and I knew it would be a sure bet for max relax. We even thought about trying the Hilton all-inclusive there. But in the end, we settled on a right proper fly n’ flop.
It’s a huge, gorgeous property with:
- 5 restaurants
- 5 bars
- Coffee shop/self-serve deli
- 4 pools
- Kids club
- Tennis club, spa, gym, hot tubs, and swim-up rooms
Here are my 1-year-later impressions.
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review – 2019 version
If you haven’t yet, check out my Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta review from last year where I talk about the stay, spa, and eating at all the restaurants. That was 1 year ago.
This time, I knew exactly what to expect. And even better, I cobbled together a few tricks to book, including:
- Redeeming Citi ThankYou points for the stay
- Getting the 4th night free with Citi Prestige
- Free AA flights with Business Extra
- Covering all the taxes and fees with statement credits
I talked about how I booked the $3,000 trip for $0. So all I had to pay for were Uber rides to and from the airport, and I had enough travel credits to cover those, too. Truly all I did was show up and started eating and drinking my way through the property – which was awesome. 😎
It was identical to the one we had last year in the same tower. In 2018, we were on the 3rd floor and near the middle of the property. This year, we were on the 7th floor and closer to the edge – in Room 1709.
Because of that, we were able to see more ocean water. And each night, we left the windows open to hear the waves crashing on the shore – and to smell that amazing, ionic, salty air that’s so nourishing and healing. It was good to be next to the sea again. I’m a little landlocked in Dallas and Austin. 😹
Each day, room service made our beds and refreshed the towels and cloths, plus replaced the bottles of water and beers in the fridge.
I loved the room, beds, and amenities. Between the closets and multiple surfaces, my friend and I had plenty of room to hang our clothes and spread out. It wasn’t huge, but didn’t have to be. We were only in there to shower and
recover from food comas sleep.
I’m struck by how well-maintained this place is. There are staff sweeping, pruning, and cleaning all areas seemingly all the time. I noticed small repairs happening daily. This place must take a beating. But you’d never know it.
I loved the colorful flowers spread throughout.
The beach here is clean – I recommend walking the full length of it barefoot and letting the waves splash your ankles.
As you spend time in the pool area, you’ll have easy access to any number of bars. Even on the beach, an outside bar isn’t far – but the staff will bring you anything you want. Note it might actually be quicker to go grab your own drink at peak periods. But if you’re in full lounge mode, won’t matter.
There are private cabanas and areas for special events, like weddings. It’s easy to get your own slice of fun in the sun without being around too many other people.
During our time here, we saw brides taking photographs in their dresses, a family reunion, and a couple staging photos as part of their babymoon. It’s an expansive property, but not overwhelming. Everything you need will be in the middle and rooms are on either side. You’ll never walk more than 10 minutes, unless you’re strolling along the water or taking the long way around.
Here’s a property map so you can see how it’s set up.
Last year, Casa Grande, the traditional Mexican restaurant, was the star of the show with Blaze, the steakhouse, coming in a close 2nd.
Since then, they’ve turned Blaze into a Brazilian steakhouse with skewers of meat sliced fresh at the table, and a buffet for good measure. My feeling is this was a cost-cutting measure so people wouldn’t order steaks and leave them unfinished.
They had a la carte items for breakfast and lunch, but it wasn’t as yummy as last year. I dare say they should rename it Blasé.
The buffet was reliably good for snacking and full meals. I loved all the fruit, veggies, and fresh juice on tap, as well as the fruit-infused water.
I’ve been eating a ton of fruits and veggies lately and was happy to find many gorgeous, healthy options. I ate plates full of fruit each day.
They also did a great job at mixing up the hot food options, especially in the evenings – there was always something new to try.
Casa Grande was my favorite restaurant again this year. They have the best margaritas, and each dish is prepared to order.
They even have a station where you can watch them pressing tortillas by hand. The rubbed chicken with potatoes and rice sounds basic – but was so juicy and tender. And the flavors in the sauce are so rich. #worthlickingtheplate
I also love the hand-painted chairs and dishes, bright colors, tiled floors, and overall ambiance. At night, it’s romantic with the sunset outside and candles on each table.
And the surprise this year was Pureza, the Asian fusion restaurant at the end of the beach. Last year, I remember it being just OK. This year, I was much more impressed. We went twice for sushi rolls, creamy curry soup, stir fry, and a couple of rice dishes. I was inspired to pay out-of-pocket for sake shots. And the staff were impeccable.
The Italian place is still whatever, though.
Some of the food was fantastic. Some was sub-par. But the good thing is you can simply order something else. I’d say to eat at each place once – twice, if you can – try something new each time, and be open to surprises. For instance, the sauteed cactus at the buffet was so yummy, I ended up getting full from it.
And then this happened:
When I told people I was going to Puerto Vallarta, they were kind enough to offer restaurant suggestions and nearby sightseeing opportunities. But I didn’t plan to do any of it.
My goal for this trip was to ride from the airport to the Ziva and stay in there for 4 full daze. Then ride back to the airport and go home.
I realize Jalisco is full of wonderful people and things to do. But we gave ourselves permission to experience the trip this way, and that’s exactly what we did.
We ate and drank, lounged on the beach, talked, napped, and generally did a lot of self-care.
I’m in a weird place in life. Some stuff is good – like a baby on the way and a prospective investment property purchase. And other stuff is weird, like my job/work situation and going through a breakup. Wondering where I want to live. It’s all in there: good, bad, weird. I suppose that’s life, eh?
But these 4 daze were about being present and giving myself time – everything was there when I got back, as I knew it would.
There’s something about sitting along the ocean, gorging yourself, and drinking whenever. I didn’t get a single headache or hangover this whole trip – I was all about the fresh fruit and chugging water all day.
And the waves and ocean air are so balancing and grounding. It was a very good, very needed trip.
My skin was kind of a mess, so I treated myself to a $140 microgreens facial for 50 glorious minutes of polishing and buffing.
When you book a spa service, you get to use the facilities the entire day. So we literally spent all day at the spa. 💆🏻♂️
We got up and went to the sauna and steam room, then took cold showers and walked over reflexology stones. Then a soak in the hot tub, and repeat all over again.
It was glorious. The facial was amazing – I actually got the same guy as last year (we actually saw many staff members were still there, which is a nice sign).
And for 2 of our evenings, we saw the shows in the ballroom. Both were excellent and so entertaining. Those dancers are ripped!
Plus, as Hyatt Discoverist members, we got access to the “Club Lounge,” which was a bare bones bar with a few snacks. However, all the booze was premium, top-shelf stuff. And they had 10 types of tequila.
We were the only ones in there, and the bartender happily let me try them all! (Just tiny sips.) I narrowed it down to these 3 faves.
Oh and Thursday is karaoke night… this was perhaps the most entertaining event of them all. Very social and fun to watch people cut loose and have a good time on vacation. At times, the entire bar was packed and singing along.
Excellent service all around – concierge even helped us source natural vanilla beans from town. And the room on a higher floor was actually an upgrade courtesy of my Hyatt Discoverist status.
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Good food, strong drinks, fun company, beautiful oceanfront hotel… I enjoyed my lil’ fly n’ flop at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.
I’m all for action-oriented trips, like hiking in Montana, zip lining in Costa Rica, and the like. But sometimes you just need to sit on your butt and drink margaritas for 4 daze. 🍹
This trip accomplished that goal. And if I go in February 2020, that’ll officially be my mid-winter tradition – and I’d be alright with that 3 years in a row.
It’s a lovely property, well-kept, with caring staff. Fun extras like a spa treatment, nightly shows and themed events, and my own private tequila tasting added to the good times.
Plus, it was easy to cobble together this $3,000 trip for a grand total of $0 out-of-pocket – all points and statement credits.
My other travel goals this year are Toronto, Key West, and Tel Aviv. Yup, it’s time to get to Israel. Gonna be a fun summer. 😎
Have you taken a zero-pressure vacation where you didn’t even leave the hotel? Would you use points to do it?* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!
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I hate that hotel more than any of the over 1000 I have stayed at. I found the food disgusting, it to be dirty and run down, under construction, and was constantly being approached to buy drugs. Punta de Mita north of PVR is so much nicer. Much higher end at St. Regis. I found the crowd to also be super trashy at the Ziva. Glad you had two good stays but I would never step foot there again.
Wow, sorry to hear this! I definitely didn’t get the impression it was dirty, or that the food was disgusting. As for the crowd – par for the all-inclusive course. No one bothered us. Actually, we had some nice interactions with the other guests. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – hopefully will help others make a decision if they’d like to stay here.
Avoid the Ziva/Zillara Rose Hall property. So many cutbacks it’s become awe full. Sad!!!
It’s not on my list – but noted! Thanks for sharing this tip.
Another good review and working my way on getting there this year. It’s funny how you try to go elsewhere but somehow end up at the same place, that seems to be the case with me and Fort Lauderdale. Although I like it and try to visit other places it just works out I keep returning. I’m sure your friend appreciated getting out of Chicago weather for a few days!
Thank you, Boonie! Yes, she loved sneaking in a midwinter warmup! I have yet to visit Fort Lauderdale. Perhaps I will sneak in a night or two – or better yet, fly there and skip Miami – next time I visit that way.
Can’t wait for you to visit PVR – hope you love it! Thanks as always for reading and commenting!
I recently stayed at the Jamaica property. One-word…AWEDULL!
Lol that’s quite a word. I have no plan to visit Jamaica, ever really. But yes, I’ve heard similar about that location.
I’m surprised you didn’t mention PureZa at all!! That was the best restaurant in my opinion. But I think they only open it on the weekends or certain nights…loved reading your take on the property.
Thank you so much, Richard! I was definitely pleased with it this year. There’s a pic of the udon and underneath:
“And the surprise this year was Pureza, the Asian fusion restaurant at the end of the beach. Last year, I remember it being just OK. This year, I was much more impressed. We went twice for sushi rolls, creamy curry soup, stir fry, and a couple of rice dishes. I was inspired to pay out-of-pocket for sake shots. And the staff were impeccable.”
You’re right – dinner only, and seemed to be closed certain nights. They’ve really upped the quality since last year, unlike Blaze, which was a bummer this year.
Thanks again for reading and commenting – I really appreciate it!
I booked in this hotel about six months ago, I have a small business in the city so sometimes I like to visit the city and give some tours not to make so monotonous the business trip, when I stayed in this place I really realize that the attention is very good, the price is somewhat high, however it is very worthwhile to visit this hotel because apart from the facilities the food and the all inclusive is great to go out of orbit for a while and relax, there is also the beach behind, which elevates its attractiveness to the maximum and you can enjoy the wonderful view in the mornings.