From the first moment I set foot onto the Caribbean island of Jamaica many years ago, I fell in love with its vibrant culture, rich flavours, beautiful people and incredibly breathtaking landscapes. This is the island whose laidback spirit gave birth to the musical legend Bob Marley and his message of peace and love. It is the birthplace of reggae music, spicy jerk chicken, the expressive language of Patois and the place where glorious seaside cliffs and white sand beaches offer views of the most spectacular sunsets. It is not surprising that Jamaica has stolen many hearts, including mine.
When I heard that Hyatt was returning to Jamaica with a joint venture into the world of all-inclusive with Playa Hotels & Resort with the opening of their first all-inclusive resorts in Montego Bay’s exclusive Rose Hall, I must admit my curiosity was piqued.
Located on the former site of the Ritz-Carlton, the new Hyatt Ziva and Zilara are the result of a US$85 million expansion and renovation project that has reinvented the property to a new standard of luxury and design that I like to refer to as ‘Caribbean-Chic.’ Suffice it to say, the property is beautiful with everything you would expect from Hyatt, but there are a few things worth mentioning.
This is a golfer’s paradise! Every guest at Ziva and Zilara receives one complimentary round of golf at the world-class golf courses – White Witch Golf Course or Cinnamon Hill – the setting for the Golf Channel’s new reality series ‘Altered Course’ that will air during the Masters. The resort will also provide 80 hours of prime time programming on the Golf Channel.
With such spectacular sunsets, the Moroccan inspired rooftop bar, FEZ, is the perfect place to sip a cocktail and watch one. If you prefer beachside sunsets, then I suggest you grab a spot around one of the many stylish fire pits to enjoy fire side chats and cocktails – a resort favourite!
The property has many great dining options, including their authentic Brazilian Churrascaria steakhouse. However, my favourite has to be the beachside Jerk chicken shack. In my opinion, it’s one of the best on the island. The chef comes from the famed Scotchies restaurants (best jerk in Jamaica!). His sauces are all homemade and utterly delicious!
Jamaica is where I first tried parasailing – the closest thing to flying in the sky like a bird. I also tested my courage (and fate) by jumping high off a cliff at Rick’s Café, an island landmark and one of the most famous cliff-diving spots in the world. Joyously, I experienced the meaning of ‘living in the moment’ when I climbed Dunn’s River Falls. This is an island bursting with places that cry out to be explored. Hyatt guests can go on a number of exciting excursions offered through Island Routes such as horseback riding, gliding along rivers, or soaring above a jungle stream on a zip-line under a canopy of trees. Montego Bay’s waters are something to behold both above and below the surface; enjoy a Reggae Catamaran cruise, climb a waterfall and swing like Tarzan into a freshwater pool, or snorkel off a coral reef.
Praised by many to be one of the most influential cultures on music, I have to say that watching a live performance by The Voice winner, Tessanne Chin, during the gala grand opening celebration was an incredible moment topped only by the spectacular waterfront fireworks show.
After enjoying the best that Hyatt Ziva and Zilara have to offer, which included the most relaxing beachside massage, it’s safe to say that this is a welcome addition to the world of luxury all-inclusive.