Five Days in Cancun, Mexico

In late February, my sisters escaped the chilly Mid-Atlantic winter and headed down to Cancun, Mexico, for a five-day, four night beach vacation. Last year, we took a similar trip to Cap Cana, Dominican Republic, which is truly one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, so needless to say we were very excited. While we definitely enjoyed our trip — I mean, it’s hard to complain when you’re drinking a margarita overlooking the Caribbean — we were not thrilled with where we stayed, Hyatt Zilara Cancun, and would not recommend staying there. Because of that, I am going to keep this recap of our time south of the border short and sweet — but one thing I do want to underscore is that despite our ‘meh’ accommodations, I absolutely love going to Mexico. I was lucky enough to go to Oaxaca, Mexico last fall, and was excited to return less than six months later. It’s beautiful, with delicious food and gracious, welcoming people; so, I do not want my review of our all-inclusive hotel to be representative of my thoughts of the country.

Originally, we were going to go to Jamaica, but because the US State Department raised the country’s warning level to Level Three, we pivoted our plans to Cancun, Mexico, given it was free to change our flights on Southwest and we could still cancel and change our hotel. Because we shifted plans about six weeks before the trip, we were somewhat limited in where we could stay given some places and/or room types were sold out — but that being said, we still had very high hopes for the Hyatt Zilara given the reviews online were very positive. And, there definitely were some great parts about the resort — we were greeted with a cold towel and glass of champagne upon arrival, our room had a stunning view of the ocean that we could enjoy from a spacious balcony, the pool and the beach were gorgeous and very clean (no seaweed, either!), the hibachi experience was delicious + the chef was the most talented I’ve ever seen, and the staff truly went above and beyond to ensure we had an incredible trip, especially our bartenders at the swim up bar.

But a couple things really soured our experience. First, our room was located off an atrium that overlooked the lobby. Upon arrival, we thought this was architecturally stunning, but it quickly became a nightmare because that’s where they hosted the nightly entertainment and buffet-style dinner option. On the night of the White Party, there was a DJ playing in the lobby until 10pm, and it truly felt like the bass was in our room — it was so loud. And the most frustrating part was that there were only a few guests enjoying the DJ — so they were disrupting numerous rooms for the pleasure of just a few. (There was also a ‘club’ right off the lobby where they could have held this type of entertainment!) And then, once the entertainment did finally end, it took them hours to break down the tables where they served dinner, which echoed throughout the atrium and into our room. We complained to the hotel about it while we were on-site, but they were not very empathetic nor did they have ear plugs on-site. Usually, we are night owls, but after a day in the hot Mexican sun, we just wanted to enjoy chill, quiet nights in our room, and that was made impossible. If you do choose to stay at this resort — though I strongly recommend staying elsewhere — make sure your room is not on this central atrium.

Second, we were not super impressed with the food and drink. As it relates to the food, ‘m not naive enough to believe that all-inclusive food will ever be the best food ever, but we had multiple stomach and nausea issues while on-site, despite being very prudent about using bottled water and being selective about what we ate. As it relates to the drinks, the resort had Clase Azul bottles everywhere and Whispering Angel marketing as decoration — but did not offer either as part of the all-inclusive packaging, so it felt like false advertising. The wines they selected were very sweet or oaky, and everything was served in a plastic cup, so nothing felt super premium.

Overall, despite having high hopes, we left feeling that we had a way more luxurious experience for about $100 less when we went to Sanctuary Cap Cana last year — the property, our room, the food + drink (and drinkware!), and the overall hospitality were just much better. If I were to go back to Cancun, I would not stay in the hotel zone, and instead look into resorts a little bit further from the airport in Playa del Carmen or Riviera Maya. That all being said, you live and you learn — and I am still glad I was able to make some special memories with my sisters (um, hello, margaritas at the airport while we were waiting for our car service!) and see a new-to-me part of our beautiful world!

If you have any questions about our stay at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, I’d be happy to answer them — feel free to leave a comment below or email me at katie@atouchofteal.com.

PS — the sunglasses I am wearing in the picture above are a new favorite — and less than $100 on Amazon! You can also grab my swimsuit top here and bottoms here from Old Navy, and my blue + white cover up is here from Lily Pulitzer.

Below are more of my favorite pictures from our vacation — hasta luego, Mexico!

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