PHOTO: A view from the pool at the Hotel Ziva in Los Cabos, Mexico.
It was only in June that Hyatt announced it was entering the all-inclusive market with hotel developer Playa Hotels & Resorts.
Since then, the company has already opened Hyatt Ziva in Los Cabos and Hyatt Zilara Cancun in the city’s Hotel Zone this month.
A third property, Hotel Ziva Rose Hall, will open next year. The Ziva brand caters to everyone while the Zilara brand is adults-only.
We sat down with Chris Walker Hyatt, vice president of brand experience for Ziva and Zilara to get the scoop.
TravelPulse: How will Hyatt transform the landscape of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean?
Chris: We’re really lucky. We entered this business with a partner in Playa Hotels & Resorts, which has a lot of experience in the space.
The big thing that we both share is we really want to reinvent the all-inclusive experience and feel like there’s opportunity to make it a better guest experience than it is today. We’re going to spend a lot of time listening to customers and really dig into the guest experience and figure out how we can enhance that.
We already started with some focus groups in the United States to help us understand some of the areas of opportunity, like food and beverage. We also feel like there’s a huge opportunity to make it a more seamless guest experience from the minute you book right through your whole stay.
There’s the lag between when you book it and when you actually experience it. We think there’s an opportunity to really use that time well to help people understand what they can do at the resort and make sure they make the most out of their time there.
TP: What type of experiences are the two brands offering?
Chris: It will play out differently across both of the brands. Hyatt Ziva, where it’s all ages, it could be, ‘It’s a beautiful night, there’re clear skies, the stars are out, we’re going to roast marshmallows down on the beach and make s’mores.’
At Hyatt Zilara it may be things where you’re just having a great relaxing day sitting on your chair by the pool chilling out. You don’t want to have to get dressed up and go into the restaurant to have lunch.
We’re going to come around with a cart that one day has tacos on it and one day has Chicago-style hotdogs. It’s just a casual little food and beverage offering that goes through the pool area so you can just keep on relaxing and chilling out and just enjoying being on vacation.
TP: What opens next?
Chris: The next one will be the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Jamaica, which is the former Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall.
They’re renovating the existing property as well as adding a new wing that will have some guest rooms as well as additional food and beverage outlets.
TP: How big will the Hyatt all-inclusive brand get?
Chris: We’re starting small. We’ve got these three that we’re really focused on and we hope we can grow over the next few years.
Playa owns 13 all-inclusive properties so there’s more opportunity with them as well. We would certainly entertain other developers that had opportunities in Mexico and the Caribbean.
TP: What travelers is Hyatt targeting?
It really depends on the destination. In Cancun certainly there are a lot of guests from the Eastern seaboard of the United States and from Eastern Canada. In the summer months Cancun gets a lot of intra-Mexico business.
Cancun also draws from Europe. There are direct flights from the U.K. and a couple of other European locations. Jamaica gets a pretty heavy lift from the U.K. So that’ll be an important market there.
But certainly the lion’s share at these resorts would come from North America in the winter Thanksgiving to Easter time frame. From Easter to Thanksgiving it will be a little bit more Mexico.
TP: Where do Zilara and Ziva fall in the all-inclusive market spectrum?
Chris: We’ll position these properties as upper upscale properties. We hope to lead that category of all inclusives.
You have Secrets, Paridisus and Grand Vilas – those kinds of brands that are playing in that space today. We’ll try to play at that high end of the upper upscale but we won’t be as boutique luxury as a Zoetry.
We feel like there’s a bigger opportunity in the upper upscale but to do it better than anybody else is doing that.