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My husband and I recently spent eight nights at Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic. In short, the hotel is situated on a beautiful white sand beach, its architecture and the landscaping are simply stunning and its staff are almost all uniformly welcoming and are extremely good at showing hospitality. 

The food was hit or miss and, overall, not stellar but solid, and that’s my only criticism of the resort. It didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the property and I would still highly recommend Hyatt Ziva and Zilara for anyone looking for a tropical vacation. The resort has only been open for a little over a year, so everything is super clean and brand new from beds, to towels to beach chairs.  

Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana

How to Book Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Cap Cana

The standard room at this property will cost 25,000 World of Hyatt points for two guests. I booked it during a promotion when Hyatt was offering a 25% points rebate for the World of Hyatt Credit Card holders, so I paid 18,750 points per night. (Note: the 25% points rebate offer expired and is no longer available) After staying there for eight nights, and considering the quality of the accommodations, the beach and all the other perks of this resort, I think it’s a decent deal even at 25,000 points. 

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Property Overview 

Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana

Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva sit side by side and share the same beach. Zilara is an adults only property and Ziva is a family-friendly side. Zilara guests can go to the Ziva side and take full advantage of everything Ziva has to offer, such as the huge pool, the buffet and the restaurants. 

Kids aren’t allowed on the Zilara side, but there are opportunities to leave the kids in the care of the kids club staff and enjoy the adults-only pool or the restaurants on the Zilara side.

Both sides have gorgeous, beautifully designed open air lobbies with lots of sitting areas and little nooks and comfortable chairs where you can enjoy a drink, or just relax with a book. 

Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana lobby

The landscaping is equally gorgeous. The Zilara side has a more modern feel and the Ziva side a more tropical feel. All rooms face inside the property and have great views, and the rooms on higher floors will have slightly better views, but it’s hard to go wrong. 

Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana lobby

The resort is impeccably clean and the landscaping teams are constantly working to keep the grounds beautiful. The cleaning staff are constantly wiping, sweeping and cleaning the property. 

The two properties share the gym, the spa and the waterpark.  

Unlike other all-inclusive resorts, there are no bracelets here, unless you want to purchase a bracelet that’s also your room key for $10.  

COVID-19 Precautions

If you are reading this review far in the future, you can (hopefully) skip this part about COVID-related precautions. If you are planning a trip sometime soon, read on. 

The staff at Hyatt Ziva and Zilara take COVID-19 precautions seriously. We were asked to request housekeeping when it was convenient for us because they didn’t want staff visiting the room unless it was at the guests’ request. 

All hotel staff, including landscapers and other employees that don’t have direct contact with guests, wore masks. The staff at the buffet and the restaurants also wore goggles and gloves. All guests are required to wear a mask inside the restaurants and most people complied. 

I’ve seen cleaners wipe everything down multiple times a day. Before you are seated at a restaurant or a buffet, your table is sanitized. Each place setting is set with disposable paper placemats and the utensils come individually prepackaged. 

In all the sitdown restaurants, the menu is printed on the paper placemats and a QR barcode is posted outside each restaurant – you can scan the barcode and see the entire menu. This is one of the COVID-related changes that I hope sticks. This is much more sanitary and I’d rather scan the code and peruse the menu on my phone. 

There is no self-service in the buffet restaurants, as all food is behind a glass and is served by a staff member. That’s another measure I hope stays in place for a long time after COVID is over. Seems far more hygienic than everybody touching the serving utensils.   

The hotel has a daily newsletter that you can find on your TV screen. It lists all the daily activities and the open restaurants. You can find a paper copy displayed at the coffee shop, but they encourage you to check it out on your TV – the resort isn’t printing them now due to COVID.  

As of Jan. 26, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is requiring  negative COVID-19 test results of all passengers traveling by air before entering the United States. The resort is now offering complimentary on-property COVID-19 antigen testing, which is accepted as part of the CDC’s expanded U.S. travel requirements. You’ll have to schedule a test with a concierge on arrival. 

The resort also offers up to a 50% discount on accommodations for guests needing to quarantine for up to 14 days.

Beach and Pools 

Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana

I’ll start with what’s the most important to me when I am looking for a relaxing beach vacation. I am not a pool person, but I love to swim, so it’s paramount that I pick a place that has a swimmable beach, i.e. a beach with warm and calm water and minimal seaweed. And the beach at Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Cap Cana is just that. The nearby reef protects the entire Cap Cana area, so even when it was very windy outside, the water remained calm and there were no waves. 

The beach is also one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. It’s wide and long and with its soft white sand and palm trees looks exactly like a postcard. There are lots of beach chairs but because the beach is so wide, it doesn’t feel crowded at all. 

The service on the beach was exemplary. The lovely beach attendants were always around to help you rearrange or move the chairs and open or close the sun umbrellas. If you wanted to move your loungers closer to the water, they were there to help. It was so easy to get the drinks on the beach too; the waiters came around at regular intervals to take the drink orders.

Before the trip I was a little bit concerned about the seaweed situation on the beach because it seems like whole regions of the Carribean have excessive seaweed issues. However, my fears were unfounded. Yes, there’s a little bit of seaweed on the beach that the resort cleans regularly and some seaweed in the water. This is not the awful sargassum that plagued the Caribbean for most of 2019 and 2020, but just regular seaweed that looks like grass. 

Being able to enjoy the beach and the ocean is my most important criteria when choosing the resort and in spite of some seaweed in the water, I was able to spend hours in the water every day. 

The water is shallow, and you can walk very far out and still only be shoulder or chest deep. The resort does have a rope designating the swimmable area, but the area is huge so I never felt constrained or like I couldn’t swim too far.

The free watersports include kayaks, catamarans and stand up paddle boards. They even have free stand up paddle board lessons every afternoon. 

There’s a huge pool on the Zilara side with beautiful ocean views and a small club guests only pool. According to the hotel’s daily newsletter, the pool cabanas can be rented for $99 a day. There are lots of pool chairs but the umbrellas and, therefore, shade seem to be in short supply. The main pool at Zilara is where the resort runs the aqua fitness classes. 

The pool at Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana | Photo courtesy of Hyatt.com

There are also a few hot tubs around the main pool. We were there during low occupancy so the area didn’t feel crowded at all, but I can see how, when the resort is at capacity, you’ll have to get there early to get a chair in the shade.

The pool on the Ziva side is huge and looks like a river snaking around the whole front of the property. It looks like there’s more shade there than there’s around Zilara’s pool. 

The pool at Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana

I loved the fact that the beach towels are readily available by the pool and you can take as many as you need. I’ve been to resorts that limit you to two towels, or you have to exchange wet towels for the dry ones etc. Not here! When you are done, you can drop them off at one of the large bins or just leave them on your beach or pool chair. The resort is so new that even the beach towels are nice and fluffy! 

Food

The dessert at Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana buffet

Now to my second most important criterion – food. In short, the restaurants were hit or miss and the food was not uniformly good or bad and we were more impressed by the food at the buffet. During our stay only the Ziva buffet was open for dinner. 

In addition to the two buffet, there are five restaurants on the Zilara side and four on the Ziva side. The restaurants are only open for dinner. There are also two “snack bars” that serve burgers and pizzas. You can sit down to eat your food there or take it to go. I’ve seen a lot of guests enjoying their pizzas around the pool. 

The Shutters restaurant was a big miss, the Waves steakhouse was quite good, and the French-Tahitian Brando’s was not good at all (I’ll never know why my Nicoise salad came with dried or dehydrated kale). 

The buffet on the Ziva side had a wider selection at lunchtime than Zilara’s buffet,  including some local specialties, probably because of the occupancy rates. There was quite a wide selection of food but the food quality wasn’t uniform. But, overall, in my opinion, the food at the evening buffet was better than food at the sit-down restaurants. 

Hyatt Ziva Buffet

I was particularly impressed with their Dominican chicken stew and the humble rotisserie chicken. Both of these are a must-try if you go. They also run theme nights at the buffet, such as Meat Lovers night, Seafood Special or Mexican night. One staff member told me they are thinking about doing the Dominican Food night and I sincerely hope they do!  

Local specialties at the Ziva lunch buffet

I wish there were more local specialties and more casual Caribbean or Dominican food at the lunch buffet or even a restaurant that specializes in Dominican food. Does anyone really go to the Caribbean with a goal of eating Indian or Asian that you can get anywhere in the world, including your home town? 

Every restaurant, including the buffet, asked if we have food allergies. I can’t eat gluten or dairy, but even after the hosts and then the server wrote that down on the ticket (that I assume went to the kitchen), I was served a baked potato with sour cream. Another time I asked for no cheese on the salad, and, you guessed it, my salad came sprinkled with cheese. 

I don’t expect accommodations for my dietary needs, and never make a big deal out of it because I can always work around what’s available. But then what’s the point of asking me if you are not going to pay any attention to the food allergies? That just seems like an empty and disingenuous gesture. When I stayed at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago, the followthrough was much better, so I know this could be achieved with more staff training.   

A couple of gluten free pastries are available at the Ziva buffet, but all the time I was there, the selection didn’t change. You can also ask for gluten free bread and some gluten free items, including pancake and toast, which are available from room service. 

Hyatt Zilara Coffee Shop

The coffee shop in the Zilara lobby had great snacks, ice cream and a small selection of desserts. And you can even get sweet crepes there between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. The baristas made fantastic coffee and the coffee everywhere, including the coffee at the breakfast buffet, was very high quality, thick and strong. 

Crepes at the Hyatt Zilara coffee shop

The coffee shop at Ziva had more kid-friendly snacks, including ice cream, popsicles, muffins and donuts. 

There are also lots of different bars scattered around both properties. When we visited, the swim-up bars were closed, but the pool waiters and bartenders made sure you had a drink in your hand whenever you wanted one.  

Martini Bar at Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana

The sports bar showed live sports on a couple of huge TV screens.

The sports bar at Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana

You can get house wine or sparkling wine with lunch or dinner, or there’s a whole long premium wines list. The cheapest bottles on the wine list started at $35, or you can splurge on a really expensive bottle of wine or champagne that costs a couple hundred dollars. 

The room service is available 24 hours a day and has a good selection. All room service orders come packaged in disposable containers like what you’d get from a food delivery service. 

I’ll give the food overall four out of five stars.

Rooms

We stayed on the Zilara side and our assigned room was in building 5. The room was lovely and I was so tired after the long flight that the fact that the building is adjacent to the outdoor theater didn’t register with me. The loud music started at 8:30 p.m. and didn’t stop until almost 11 p.m. The next day we asked to move to another building further from the theater and I am so glad we asked. We moved to building 4 and got a direct ocean view from our balcony. The resort is so beautiful, I couldn’t get enough of the view.

The view at dusk from building 4

The standard rooms, or as they call them suites, are spacious but aren’t huge. The room was really well appointed and had a nice layout. I appreciate the desk space and room to spread out. Each room has a minifridge which is restocked daily with water, beer and soft drinks. We also got snacks – granola bars, Pringles and peanut M&M – that were also replenished daily. 

Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana

The bed was very comfortable, the blackout curtains did indeed block out the light and the airconditioning was whisper-quiet. 

The bathroom is enormous. It comes with double sinks, a long counter and a toilet is located in a separate little room. The walk-in shower was huge and is equipped with a handheld shower and a rain showerhead. There was always plenty of hot water and wonderful water pressure. 

We had plenty of huge fluffy towels, but the towel hooks were in short supply. I am happy to keep reusing my towels if I can hang them somewhere to dry, like I do at home. And seems that that’s what the hotels want us to do too, but not having enough towel hooks and towel bars is a big pet peeve of mine. 

Housekeeping did a fantastic job of keeping the room clean.     

Entertainment

In spite of the fact that the resort was at low occupancy, the entertainment team didn’t cancel any activities. There were daily theater shows, an evening beach party and various activities throughout the day. The theater shows were pretty generic, such as a Michael Jackson show or a rock music show. We really enjoyed the magic show and the Il Divo the Latin Tenors. I wish all-inclusive resorts included more country-specific entertainment with a cultural aspect in their lineup instead of the generic, and sometimes very dated, entertainment. 

The resort also had a circus night with acrobats and musicians and fun treats for the kids. 

We were in building 4, the furthest from the beach and the theater, and yet we could still hear the beach party and the loud music from the shows. There was a singer in the lobby bar almost every day that you can also hear in the room, even with the balcony door closed. The music never went past 11 p.m., so that wasn’t a big deal at all to us but might be an inconvenience for some.

They also kept their scheduled fitness classes. I’ve tried aqua spin – I didn’t know that something like this is even possible, where they put a small stationary bike in the pool. I put these under entertainment because the classes weren’t too arduous. They were fun and accessible for pretty much any fitness level. 

The entertainment team was fantastic. Every day they’d walk on the beach and by the pool and say hello and chat to the guests. They were always so friendly, polite and genuine – I loved chatting with them every day. 

Service

For the most part, the service was superb all over the resort. The front desk staff was always ready to help and spoke good English. Some of the wait staff spoke good English, and we managed to communicate with others with no problems (I know about 20 Spanish words). The most important point is the fact that everyone was always ready to help. Every single person we passed, even security and landscapers, always smiled and said hello.

Spa

Hydrotherapy Pool at the Larimar Spa

The spa facilities are shared by Ziva and Zilara. I usually don’t use hotel spas because of their inflated prices, but this resort always runs a number of good specials. I’ve done their winter special package which included hydrotherapy, foot scrub massage. It was very relaxing and I highly recommend that you try out the hydrotherapy. 

The spa is gorgeous and immaculately clean. I’d recommend swinging by the spa early in your stay to check out their specials. 

Water Park

For the kids, and the kids at heart, there’s a waterpark. It’s not just one water slide, it’s a real waterpark with a few different water slides and a lazy river. 

There’s also an area for the younger kids.

Kids and Teen Clubs

The kids club seems to be very popular with the youngest guests. They have activities throughout the day and even show kids movies on the Zilara lawn in the evening, giving parents an opportunity to eat dinner kids-free. 

There’s also a teens club for the older kids. 

Gym

The gym at Hyatt Ziva and Zilara

To call this a hotel gym wouldn’t do it justice. This is not your ordinary hotel gym because it looks more like a full blown health club. There are several different workout areas, such as a cardio room, a weight room, separate classrooms for spin classes and step aerobics and much more. I was really impressed with the quality of the equipment and the gym’s overall design. 

You’ll find the daily schedule of classes in the hotel’s daily newsletter, they offer spinning, step and yoga classes.

Final Thoughts

Looking back on our stay at Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana, I can say that this was one of the best resorts I’ve been to. The beach is beautiful, the food is quite good and the rooms are very comfortable. The resort is pretty compact and isn’t huge, making it easy to navigate, but it’s big enough where you don’t feel like you’ve got nowhere to go. 

I loved the stunning modern design with mid-century touches and was impressed with all the COVID measures implemented by the resort. The staff are doing an amazing job making you feel safe and welcome. 

And most importantly, the beach is beautiful and the pools are impressive, and whatever your preference is, you’ll enjoy the water activities at this resort.  

Travel well,

Anna  

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