Introduction: A Week Of Rest And Relaxation In Cabo

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt

Our family was looking for a relaxing week on the beach and that’s exactly what we got at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos. We really enjoyed our stay and plan to return. There are some areas where they have room for improvement, which I’ll highlight as well.

This will be broken up similar to the typical trip reports here at OMAAT. I know that’s a little different since this is all on one property. After spending a week at an all-inclusive resort there is just too much information to handle this any other way.

I’ve already covered the process that led us to book this trip to Cabo and the various iterations of our itinerary it took to get all four of us booked on the same flights.

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The four of us paid a total of 60,000 Avios and $340 in taxes & fees for our non-stop roundtrip flights from Phoenix. That’s certainly more than the $5.60 per ticket I’m used to paying on domestic Avios bookings. But it still beats the $500+ price per ticket that American charges for the non-stop flights between PHX and SJD.

At the airport in Phoenix, I learned Cabo is in a not-so-sweet spot for checked bags on American. The free checked bag benefit for the Aviator and Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cards (my wife and I have multiples of both) is limited to domestic flights. And unlike many other international destinations, American does not include a free checked bag to most of Mexico – Cabo included.

So, I wound up paying $50 each direction for our two checked bags. The good news is my $250 airline credit from the Citi Prestige card is more than enough to cover the fees. The bad news is American broke one of my bags and I’m still waiting on a response from their baggage team about it. I’ll let you all know how that works out in a future post.

Our transfers to and from SJD were booked through the hotel and contracted to TransCabo. We completely overpaid for a private car because I wanted to be sure we could get a booster seat for my four year-old and a car seat for my (almost) three year-old. The total cost for the two 20-minute rides was roughly $140.

The very frustrating part was TransCabo did not provide a booster or a car seat for either one of our rides. I knew Mexican car seat culture is totally different than here in the states. But, I thought double-checking with the resort when we booked and again shortly before our trip would guarantee we had the seats. I was wrong. Next time we’ll deal with the hassle of bringing our own seats from home.

Our seven nights at the Ziva were booked using a combination of free nights from the Hyatt Credit Card and Hyatt points. My wife and I both used two free nights from the card’s sign-up bonus for four of the seven nights. Compared to points, this is a particularly good use of the Hyatt Card’s free nights because it covers up to four people in a room, which could cost as many as 40,000 points per night depending on how old everyone is.

The final three nights were paid with points. This Ziva charges 20,000 points per night for two people. Children three and older increase the cost another 10,000 points per night. So our 4 year-old brought the price up to 30,000 points per night. I have some additional thoughts on this points pricing structure but will get to them later because they require more context about our experience on the property to fully appreciate.

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While I won’t have any cute elephant pictures, I hope you all enjoy the report. Please let me know if you have any questions along the way. I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments.

  1. @mike – curious when you were there. My husband and I were there Jan 15 – 18 for a quick getaway weekend from San Diego. Had a swim-up suite in the adult pool area and loved it!!

  2. @josh – we just missed you by a few days. we left the wednesday before you were there. curious to see if you agree with the upcoming review(s).

  3. Get a bubble bum booster seat for travel with the 4 year old. They are amazing and I have been known to use them myself on planes as lumbar support.

  4. @mike – can’t wait to read it! It’s always interesting to read other perspectives (for example, we have no kids so I’ll be curious to see what you guys thought of the experience…especially the evening entertainment).

  5. @sam – the $340 was total for the four of us. On a per person basis, about $65 of it is Mexican taxes (airport departure tax and tourism tax). The other $20 is a combination of US taxes and fees. None of it went to BA.

  6. @Sam – you still have to pay the taxes and fees which are ~$75/person when flying to Mexico.
    No close in booking fees though, so that’s good 🙂

  7. Exited to read your full review. My family of four (2 adults, a 2 yr old, and 1 yr old) were there in November, and we are planning a return trip in Dec 2016. I continue to challenge the 10,000 points for my 3 year old for our next trip, as the alternative cash request for him is $234 per night, which is ridiculous. We must rise up!!! Ha!

    If others have been to both the Ziva Cabo and Cancun, I’d love to hear input on comparisons of the two different propertiesz

  8. So the two free nights from the Hyatt card can be used for 4 people to a room for two nights? Or two people to two rooms for two nights?

    Do you have any informantion for zilara? I know one is supposed to be for adults and one for families. Thanks

  9. @Credit – The 2 night sign-up bonus is good for up to 4 people in a room. My wife and I each signed up for the card, so we had a total of 4 nights with 4 people in the room all covered by sign-up bonus nights.

    It gets more complicated on points depending on everyone’s age. But, if you had a family of four in a room and everyone is 3+, the points price would be 40,000 per night. If you’re going to pay 40,000 per night, you might as well get a second room because the price is exactly the same for two rooms.

    I don’t have any personal experience with Zilara but it is the adults only brand for Hyatt’s all-inclusive resort, while Ziva is the brand where kids are allowed.

  10. I was just there as well! Agree regarding Transcabo. Seemed like their prices were in line with every other car transportation agency.. too bad Uber isn’t available in SJD (yet).

  11. Just went to Puerto Vallarta on an award booked by an aa plat. I have no status but have both silver aviator and citi platinum. To my surprise I was charged for checked baggage. The priority checkin line couldn’t do any thing to waive the fee so I put it on my silver aviator. I immediately SMd Barclay card asking them to reimburse my fees especially considering my annual fee was due in 3 weeks. They refused and I immediately downgraded to red. Considering I did not hit the spending thresholds for EQM I find the card useless. I have Amex prg and citi prestige so 3x on airfare is useless. who flies with 8 companions that I need the additional baggage allowance? Unfortunately I took the free upgrade to silver from red this fall thinking I would spend enough for EQM and lost out on 1st anniversary 10k bonus miles. They wouldn’t even waive the red annual fee when I said citi waived theirs. Considering I only put ~ $5k on the card this year I’m not that surprised.

  12. Looking to take my 2.5 year old + wife on vacation last 2 weeks of April. Few questions…
    1. Did you ever feel “bored” with the all inclusive resort…I’ve been to Cabo once with my wife & we made sure to venture out and even explore old cabo. Was wondering if you did that as well
    2. Kidz club says its for 4 years old and up…is that set? Was your younger 1 allowed to participate?
    3. How often did you apply sun protection? When we went to Cabo, I, who is tan by nature, got burnt with just 45 minutes of being outside. How did you manage ? Last thing I want is to go on vacation, and my kid gets a terrible sunburn.

    Thanks + looking fwd to the reviews!!

  13. We used insideloscabos (Impala transport) for our private shuttle. Highly recommended! They had a car seat for our toddler round trip and it was only $105.

  14. @Eric – I’ll cover some of this coming up so won’t got into tons of detail here. But:

    1. Didn’t feel bored. There is one disappointing situation with the pools that definitely impacted how we spent our time. We spent very little time outside of the resort.

    2. You can take kids under 4 as long as you stick around.

    3. We definitely used plenty of sunscreen. We used an SPF70 spray in the morning, then after lunch and again after an afternoon nap all seemed to keep us protected…but I rarely burn and my kids take after me. My wife’s coworkers gave her hard time that she came back more pale than she left (and she burns easily). Best thing we brought was a little stick of sunscreen that is a lifesaver for applying to kids’ faces/ears.

  15. In addition to the no-free checked bags, business class passengers to Cabo do not get access to lounges because (as you stated) Cabo is a “weird” international destination. Quite embarrassing to walk into the American Airlines lounge (in DFW) on the way to Cabo (in Business) and get turned away.

    Luckily (or, gladly) my Amex Plat got me into the Centurion lounge instead. Still, it’s a shitty policy that American has…it is a stated policy, but stated in an *…I hate policies like that.

  16. @mike, we used Eliker Transfer, it was $60 for a big minivan more than enough for 7 people. They also provide booster seat for free.

    @nick, you’ll need to buy full coverage insurance in Mexico, no way around it. That will double rental cost at a minimum.

  17. @Credit : Hyatt Zilara in Cancun appears to be the former “Royal in Cancun” , we booked it back in 2011 and the property is Awesome , the Restaurants, the Swimming Pools ( all Heated ! ), Everything but the water-strong undertow- and the presence of sharks ( there was an attack the week we were there). IMHO its worth the free nights with the card. In contrast with it, we just used 2 other free nights at Park Hyatt in NewYork – we definitely are not used to these high prices, that’s why we went there ( $800-900 a night is ridiculous i believe ). The fact that Ziva and Zilara are both All Inclusive properties makes them even more desirable I think

  18. @Mike I think you really deserve a refund. You might not be that kind of guy, though. You ever read a Loylaty Lobby Compensation Clinic?

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