Convene On Location
MontegoBay That amazing view, those friendly smiles, the free- wheelin’ vibes — just try not to fall in love with this
legendary Jamaican paradise. By Jennifer N. Dienst
As my flight descended into Sangster Interna- tional Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica, my first sight was blue. But not just any blue — it was a clear-to-the-bottom, almost fluorescent shade of cerulean that forced me to keep look-
ing out the window, just to be sure that it was
real. It’s the kind of ombré blue-green water
that travel magazines plaster on their covers every month,
just to sell more issues; the kind of blue that, just by looking
at it, you can naturally breathe a little deeper.
After landing, I was immediately met by a representative from Club MoBay, a VIP airport service that escorts
you through a customs and immigration fast lane, then to
a private lounge where can you mix yourself a cocktail and
have a snack (plantains!) while you wait for your shuttle.
When I was told that the service was “truly Jamaican,” I was
confused. But when I met my Club MoBay rep, I understood.
Genuinely warm and friendly, she re-filled out the customs
form that I had botched in my early-morning haze, and
enthusiastically filled me in on everything I had to see and do
in Montego Bay.
My driver, from the island’s largest DMC, Jamaica Tours
Limited (JTL), was equally warm and garrulous. Sullavan
“Steve” Biersay has worked for JTL for 15 years, and the
company has served the island for more than 50 years. From
Sangster — the largest airport on the island, and one of the
busiest in the Caribbean — we drove about seven miles to
the newly opened Hyatt Zilara in Rose Hall, an oceanfront
stretch of hotels, attractions, and beaches that most people
who visit Montego Bay (MoBay, as
the locals call it) end up visiting at
one time or another.
The new, adults-only Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and the connected,
family-friendly Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall (formerly a Ritz-Carlton)
underwent a rebranding last year. The two hotels share the
same campus, including a 1,200-foot stretch of pristine private
beach, with Zilara as a new build that opened in December and
Ziva undergoing an extensive renovation to match around the
same time. Between them, the properties offer a total of 620
rooms, 16 restaurants, 18,286 square feet of indoor meeting
and conference space, and 30,000 square feet of outdoor event
space, with most of it overlooking that perfect blue sea.
Both the Zilara and the Ziva are completely all-inclusive,
and unlike at some “all-inclusive” resorts, almost everything
(with the exception of spa treatments) is included — cabanas,
non-motorized water sports, all 16 restaurants (even à la
carte options), and any and all alcoholic beverages. My suite,
on the Zilara side, was as expansive and as finely tuned as
the rest of the massive property. And because the property
is spaced out — it took me a little more than 10 minutes to
walk from one end to the other — it never feels packed, even
though capacity hit close to 100 percent during my stay.
ROOM TO SPARE
After the flag switch, Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva retained
much of the Ritz-Carlton–trained staff, many of whom had
at the Hyatt