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To be perfectly honest, visiting the Andaz Mayakoba wasn’t our first choice. We had already booked a stay at the Hyatt Ziva Cancun for the end of February, but things didn’t work out with our schedule. So on a whim, we decided to book Hyatt Ziva Cancun again in mid-March, but none of the days were available with using points. Our plan was to use our Hyatt points and use 25,000 per night at Hyatt Ziva Cancun.
Booking this using Healthcare Workers Discount
After numerous failed attempts to rebook Ziva Cancun, we learned of Hyatt’s Healthcare Worker’s Discount of $169 per night at the Andaz Mayakoba Riviera Maya. This discount according to Hyatt:
We welcome healthcare workers around the world as part of the Hyatt family by making our Friends & Family rate available through September 12, 2021. Qualified healthcare workers can access the special rate at hyatt.com or via our Global Contact Centers by including the Special Offer Code THANKYOU and validating their professional status.
My wife is a nurse, and we checked out Andaz Mayakoba using the offer code. It was going to cost us $169 per night. Yes, just $169. Standard room rate was over $300.
It was a no-brainer. We booked it. We knew of all the other benefits that would come along with our booking. We recently became Hyatt Globalists, therefore, with this booking, we’d get perks such as:
- Waived resort fees
- $60 credit towards breakfast (lunch and dinner are on us)
- Room upgrade depending on availability at check in
Here’s the video I took while rode around the resort using one of the bicycles and I talked about the booking process.
Our other options to book using points
Besides paying the standard rate over $300 per night, you could also book this using points earned with your credit cards. A night at the Andaz Mayakoba will cost you from 25,000 points (standard room), and if you book a standard suite or premium suite, it could cost you 40,000 points or more. How do you earn these points? You could earn them from credit cards such as World of Hyatt,(currently offering up to 60,000 points), or credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards that are transferable to Hyatt such as:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – current offer 80,000 bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – current offer 60,000 bonus points
- Chase Ink – various offers from 75,000 points up to 100,000 bonus points
We flew for FREE using points
Everything was so last-minute and we were fortunate to find direct flights roundtrip. These would’ve cost us over $400 per person. We ended up booking via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, and used less than 50,000 points total for 2 roundtrip tickets. We booked using the points earned with our Chase Sapphire Reserve. You could also book this using points Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Any COVID testing preparations prior to the trip?
For the trip from Los Angeles to Cancun, we did not have to present any type of COVID test upon arrival in Mexico. However, we took it upon ourselves to get tested for COVID on our own just a couple of days before our flight, and the results came back negative.
Arriving in Cancun International Airport
We went through the whole airport procedure with no hitch. Easy transaction at immigration. We were asked how long we were staying in Mexico, and that was it. Since we always travel with just a carry on and backpack, we skipped baggage claim.
BEWARE: As you exit baggage claim & arrivals area
We headed for the exit and noticed a group of what looked like airport workers/officials. They kept on calling out for us, and stopped us. I did not notice any sign that they were representing any kind of property or resort, so they looked legit. At first, they asked legitimate questions, where were we going, gave us a little guide what to expect as we walk outside. Ok, so they sound like they cared. And then a minute later, the sales pitch came. “Where are you staying? What do you want to do in Cancun or in Playa Del Carmen?” They offered us to visit X resort, yada yada. The lady who grabbed us wouldn’t stop no matter how much I tried to politely excuse myself.
Sadly, I walked away. She kept on calling me, and wanted to stop me, but I just kept walking. So yes, unless you want a useless, pointless conversation, take it from me….just leave and head for the exit.
If someone from Cancun International Airport is reading this, honestly, that was a major turn off. They were onsite, inside the airport, hustling the travelers.
Meeting our shuttle ride – USA Transfers
After that little hiccup, I walked out shaking my head. We finally made our way out to look for USA Transfers. My buddy, Jeff, whose family was also in Cancun around the same time, advised me that he used USA Transfers. Honestly, I have so many good things to say about USA Transfers. They were quick to reply, easy to work with. I sent them a message via Facebook messenger, and within minutes, I received a reply and a quote. The charge was $100 round trip for two. We were advised to download their own app, and we were able to communicate with them via the app as well. We were given the option to pay upfront using Paypal, or to pay on the day of our arrival. We opted for Paypal payment. It was worry-free.
USA Transfers personnel were easy to spot, we went directly to one of the staff members and checked in.
It was a busy Saturday afternoon. We had to wait for just a bit for our shuttle. No problem at all. We waited no more than 10-15 minutes.
USA Transfers COVID protocols
Masks were required during the shuttle ride. Our driver also gave us hand sanitizer. The shuttle itself smelled so clean, again, I could not think of anything amiss. USA Transfers service was just spot on. The ride to the Andaz took about 40-45 minutes, with hardly any traffic.
Arriving at the Andaz Mayakoba compound
The Andaz Mayakoba is part of a master-planned community of resorts along with the Fairmont, the Rosewood, Banyan Tree, and the El Camaleon Golf Course. The security at the gate checked our temperature before we were allowed to drive in the compound.
Once we moved past security, it took another 5 minutes of driving to the Andaz, and it was hard not to observe the lush surroundings with all the plants in the area.
We finally made it to the “sanctuary” or the front desk reception area. The Andaz crew checked our temperature again, and we were led to the front desk.
It’s good to be Hyatt Globalist
Alexia assisted us. We were provided with welcome drinks, and room information. Remember this was our first visit as Globalists, so I wanted to see how things work out with a possible suite upgrade. Alexia mentioned our room, and I asked it that was an upgraded room. She said it wasn’t an upgraded room. So I was dismayed. And I had to say “is there not a Globalist upgrade available?” She looked at her notes, and knew something was wrong. She came back to us and apologized, “Si Señor Francisco. We have upgraded you to a Lagoon King View Suite with plunge pool!” Aaaaahhhh…that’s better.
Our Lagoon King View Suite with a plunge pool
From the front desk, we were driven to our room using one of the golf carts. Our cart driver was wearing a mask, and there was a plexiglass partition that separated him from us. It took no more than 2 minutes to drive us to our room. Our unit was one level up, the 3rd level. It was everything spacious. So spacious and how we wished that our kids were with us. Here’s video tour of our suite.
Getting around the Andaz Mayakoba Resort
One thing that struck me the most upon check in was learning that it could take up to 20 minutes walk from our lagoon suite to the beach. I wasn’t that thrilled to be perfectly honest. I was on vacation mode after all. We had two other options. We could use one of the many bicycles onsite for free. Using one of the bicycles was free….it was on an honor system. You see one that’s not used, then it’s yours. There were many bicycles to choose from many designated areas, and they were easy to acquire as needed. The other option was to request for a golf cart ride to the beach or to anywhere on the property. During the course of our stay, we enjoyed riding our bicycles, and requested golf cart rides as well.
Our butler, David
Well, well, well. Upon checking in, we were told that as Globalists, we had a our own butler assigned to us. David, our butler, called us to introduce himself. He stopped by our suite, and welcomed us to the property. He offered us to reach out to him. He uses WhatsApp so that made it easy for us to reach out to him. He asked about our plans, and what we wanted to do. We told him that we wanted to go on a free boat ride but it was already fully booked. David said he’d see what he could do. The next morning, David texted us, and got us scheduled on a boat ride.
Free Lagoon Boat ride
Another great way of enjoying your stay at the Andaz was through their free lagoon ride. My suggestion is to book this immediately. If you can try to book this prior to your arrival, even better. We had our boat ride scheduled early morning around 9am, thanks to our butler, David. I was so glad we went that early while it was not too hot. Since the ride would take an hour, we planned to have our late breakfast shortly thereafter.The ride took us around the Mayakoba properties.
Oh, the boat ride. It was peaceful, serene….it was everything that was soothing. There was a sense of calm as we waded through this beautiful lagoon. We learned that it was a man-made lagoon, but one would not easily suspect that it was manmade for the seamless way the landscape blended with resort. We were able to see wildlife, including crocodiles, and different types of birds. We passed through the different resorts in the Mayakoba community, including the golf course. It was a vast community, yet it all felt so natural. It was a great hour and I would do this boat ride again.
During this visit, Nancy and I opted to go to two of the 4 dining options onsite.
Tintas del Pulpo
Located near the beach pool, this restaurant could get quite busy for dinner, so I suggest making reservations. It’s the most reasonably priced of all 4 restaurants. Mostly indoor dining with a bar, there are a couple of tables outdoors overlooking the pool. We enjoyed our very first meal here, and followed it up with two of our last dinners. Service was just excellent, and the food was delicious.
With our stay at the Andaz, without a doubt, for our “paid” meals, we found ourselves visiting Tintas del Pulpo.
This is a restaurant in the lagoon-side of the property. This is close to the lagoon pools, and this is also where you catch your boat ride by walking down the dock. This is where we spent all our breakfast meals. There was an option for a buffet breakfast, which I thought was kinda pricey. Honestly, I think you’re better off ordering things off the menu. Our favorite was the grilled salmon with vegetables.
We tried just about every item on the breakfast menu. For us, Hyatt Globalists, we were able to get get up to $60 worth per day (for 2 guests), and that was more than enough for 2-3 items on the menu plus our drinks.
We ate a couple of dinner meals here. The first one was a dinner buffet, and to be perfectly honest, it was just okay. I really think that Cocina Milagro is a better value when you order from the menu. And that’s what we did on our 3rd night. Dinner here doesn’t get too crowded (not during our visit in March). For us, it was breakfast that could get crowded, but the longest we’ve had to wait be seated was no more that 5 minutes…no problem.
Sotavento and Casa Amate
Sotavento is located beach-side, outdoor dining, and it’s brightly lit. It’s hard to miss. There’s an outdoor grill that’s made to entice those walking around the area. From what I was told, reservations are highly recommended at Sotavento. Casa Amate, the other hand, is located on the lagoon side of the Andaz. It is not too far from Cocina Milagro. My travel bud, Yunel, dined at both locations, and here’s what he said:
The dining was amazing, it’s pricey to be honest, even if you convert it from pesos to US dollars but there wasn’t a single item that I didn’t find delightful and yummy. For lunch we could spend $50 for lunch. Sotavento we spent $120 for dinner. Ámate restaurant was such an unique experience and loved it and dinner was around $200.
Did you forget something? Go to the Gift Shoppe
If you have any last-minute items that you forgot, basic medications, sunscreen, etc., go check out the gift shoppe close to the beach pool.
We rode our bikes and checked out the fitness center and visited the spa. We didn’t get any kind of treatment, but for Globalists, we were able to use the sauna, and the hot tub. Oh, and what is it with these spas? They all have a certain scent, a soothing scent, like eucalyptus. Loved that smell.
The beach, the pools
This has to be my favorite. At first I thought it’d be such a hassle to have to ride a bicycle just to get to the beach. But honestly, it was something “to do” while at the resort. We didn’t mind riding our bikes around the property, and going to the beach was surely one of the highlights. There were lots of lounge chairs at the beach, and we’ve always managed to find a spot for two of us. The staff checked up on us regularly to make sure we were doing okay. They provided towels, and actually laid down the towels for us, along with the comfortable pillows. It can get pretty hot so make sure to wear sunblock to protect you. It can also get pretty breezy or windy. But none of that mattered. We spent most of our afternoons just watching the skies. We also jumped in the ocean when the sun was beating hot.
COVID protocols at the Andaz Mayakoba
Our room was extremely clean. Our pillows were wrapped in plastic, same with our bathrobes. We were also given extra wipes and hand sanitizers, and extra masks. These were replenished every time housekeeping visited our room.
Just about anything and everything indoor – masks were required, and there were extra masks provided and hand sanitizers. I noticed the staff kept their masks on even when walking around the premises (outdoor). Most of the guests also work masks outdoors – not everyone, I did notice quite a few kept their masks on. It was different in the pool and beach areas where the guests didn’t have their masks. But the resort never felt extremely crowded. The lounge chairs were kept socially distant.
COVID testing in preparation for the flight back to the US
The Andaz Mayakoba offered free onsite antigen testing to its guests. According to Jessica, the one who administer our tests, on average, she administers 40 tests per day. My suggestion is to make sure you know when your nearest test centers are available, find out if there’s a cost to you, and more importantly, inquire how and when you will get your results back. If asked to write your email address, please make sure to write your legibly.
Option to explore outside the Andaz grounds
We thought about going on day trips since it was our first time to visit this side of Mexico. But honestly, we didn’t want to get up early, or catch a shuttle ride. We just wanted to relax. If there was anything we did, we did take a cab to head down to downtown Playa del Carmen. The front desk arranged a cab ride. It was worth $20 one way to from the Andaz to downtown PDC.
The ride was no more than 20 minutes. It didn’t seem long at all. We were able to eat at couple of local places – a taco shop, and french bakery.
While there, we also paid a visit to Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen. It was an easy walk from all the restaurants and shop and I could see why this place is popular. The hotel is a beachfront property, just steps away and you’re on the ocean. On a sunny day, what a magnificent view from the hotel lobby. There’s no denying, the vibe in downtown Playa del Carmen was more upbeat, lots of foot traffic, and the hotel itself is near the other resorts.
The final takeaway
For many years, I have to be perfectly honest that I purposely avoided flying to Cancun. In my mind, it had this image of it being a party place. While that might still be true, I think it really depends on where you choose to stay. I could imagine that there are resorts with more of a party-like atmosphere. The Andaz Mayakoba was a party place – a solitude party filled with beauty, lushness…peace. That’s what I took with me. It’s given me a chance to just stop and take a break, and not feel the need that I needed to be doing so many things and be in so many places.
Will I return to Cancun? You bet! Will I return to the Andaz Mayakoba? I can only hope that I do. I will, however, entertain the idea of trying different resorts in Tulum, Cozumel, downtown Playa del Carmen, and yes, even the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone. I am an equal opportunity traveler. Until next time.