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My happy place in the sun. Friendly people, great activities and forget about time.
Date of stay: November 2013
Trip type: Couple
I will return for my tenth stay at CSA this December. The location and beach are beautiful. The grounds are covered with palms and the serpentine pathways through the greenery belies the fact that there are a lot of people on ...
I will return for my tenth stay at CSA this December. The location and beach are beautiful. The grounds are covered with palms and the serpentine pathways through the greenery belies the fact that there are a lot of people on the site. Staff are friendly and helpful. I always look forward to meeting staff members who have been at CSA since my first visit. They still remember me. I enjoy the whole experience from socializing over a breakfast of whatever I feel like eating, to the scuba diving on a beautiful new boat. The dive staff is experienced and makes every dive fun and safe for beginners as well as interesting for experienced divers. I enjoy the casual luxury of the place, with no need to dress up in the evenings and the staff being friendly and helpful while not intruding on the experience. The weight room is first class and accommodates the casual work out to some very heavy lifting. Donovan, the supervisor, is a knowledgeable quiet man who can give every assistance with your workout or answer any questions you may have about your fitness plan. Donovan, thanks for helping me to my heaviest lifts while working with you in Jamaica. I enjoy the wide variety of food and have never gone hungry at CSA !!! The tennis courts are well kept and tennis is part of what makes CSA a destination resort. Night life is as varied as the menu, from piano bar to the house band led by the talented Lincon, to visiting singers and performers. Every night different and enjoyable. The rooms are simple, clean spacious. Hats off to Couples Swept Away, my happy place.
A Perfect Honeymoon!
Date of stay: September 2013
Trip type: Honeymoon
We took our Honeymoon at Couples Swept Away in Negril Jamaica and it was a week to remember. The facility offered everything from health and fitness, luxury spa, night life, entertainment, water and beach activities, excursions, and relaxation. ...
We took our Honeymoon at Couples Swept Away in Negril Jamaica and it was a week to remember. The facility offered everything from health and fitness, luxury spa, night life, entertainment, water and beach activities, excursions, and relaxation. It was a wonderful mix of romance, fun and socializing. The age groups was from 20's to 50's and all guests we met were enjoying their stay. We never heard a single couple with a complaint about the facility. The beach is clean, well groomed and warm as a bath tub. There is drink service to the beach and lots of lounge chairs and floaters for the ocean. If you are looking for a tan there's tons of room but lots of shade for those who prefer to read or just relax. The many restaurants offered wonderful flavours and variety every day. You were never tired of the large buffet but you still had great options for al a cart with the other restaurants. There are two finer dining al a cart restaurants so bring at least two nice outfits so you can celebrate in style. There is limited beef choices but tons of chicken, fish, seafood, pork and vegetarian options. We also participated in the private dinner on the beach (for an additional fee) and loved the evening would recommend to all. The staff were amazing and the hospitality flowed as well as the free drinks. There was never a request they didn't try to accommodate and they never met you without a smile. We met many guests that were return visitors and we will definitely join the group of repeaters. A Honeymoon to remember. Thank you to Couples Swept Away and Westjet Vacations!
An amazing staff, paradise setting, 5 star food and excellent amenities: a dream vacation!!
Date of stay: December 2012
Trip type: Couple
An extraordinary staff, always eager and well disposed to help. The sports and spa facilities are excellent and the best in Jamaica. For an all inclusive, it is very satisfying that they don't cut corners, the food is ...
An extraordinary staff, always eager and well disposed to help. The sports and spa facilities are excellent and the best in Jamaica. For an all inclusive, it is very satisfying that they don't cut corners, the food is 5 star, excellent quality liquor, bar service, even on the beach!! The long beach and the crystal clear water was a perfect scene. Great entertainment, morning and evening at the Palms, great effort put out by the entire staff to stage the Friday night Beach party. Even at 98% capacity, the layout and facilities are such that you never feel crowded, never fighting for a good spot on the beach. Was our second time back, going back next year with friends. Thank you swept away for another wonderful experience. Anthony and Mary
Perfect honeymoon! Had to ignore the sewer smell though
Date of stay: November 2012
Trip type: Honeymoon
Couples Swept Away was a perfect honeymoon! It was exactly what we were looking for. Lots of pools to find a quite spot, wasn't too big of a resort, not too busy, no big party groups there, activities ...
Couples Swept Away was a perfect honeymoon! It was exactly what we were looking for. Lots of pools to find a quite spot, wasn't too big of a resort, not too busy, no big party groups there, activities aimed at couples & honeymooners were a lot of fun. Location was good - 1.5hrs away from airport. Most off resort activities required a little drive - horseback riding only 20mins away. Zipline, however, was about a 2hr drive. Downtown shopping area only a 10min drive if you wanted to buy coffee or booze off resort (we did, big savings). Staff very laid back and easy going. It's a no-tipping, no-cash resort, which is nice, but takes the bartering out of the equation if you're into that. We would go back, for sure. There was an issue to sewer smells on the resort throughout our stay. Might of been related to Hurricane Sandy that was the week before. There was also 2 male bathrooms I noted to have their floor drains back up. Might be an issue that's resolved now, but the smell wasn't pleasant.
We loved it and are already planning our return!!
Date of stay: March 2012
Trip type: Couple
We have travelled for years and have stayed at numerous all inclusives in Mexico as well as the Dominican Republic and Cuba. We have also tried top notch cruises and have found Couples Swept away by far ...
We have travelled for years and have stayed at numerous all inclusives in Mexico as well as the Dominican Republic and Cuba. We have also tried top notch cruises and have found Couples Swept away by far the best. First of all the beach - the beach is amazing and goes on for miles. Than there is the staff - who were all extremely welcoming. As to the food, it was very good and the selection of liquors varied and top notch. The exercise facility alone is worth the trip with a lap pool, tennis courts as well as tennis clinics, yoga, pilates, jogging track, basketball court and on and on it goes. All activities are included - water skiing, a sunset cruise, snorkelling in either day light or at night. You can't fit it all in in just a short week. We have already decided to return. Next year we will forgo the beach front verandah suite- as all the rooms are nice -and spend the money on a longer stay.
wonderful couple's getaway
Date of stay: August 2011
Trip type: Couple
My wife & I spent two amazing weeks at Couples Swept Away in Negril in Aug 2011. We have never seen a beach so beautiful or water so crystal blue in our lives. The staff at CSA were truly ...
My wife & I spent two amazing weeks at Couples Swept Away in Negril in Aug 2011. We have never seen a beach so beautiful or water so crystal blue in our lives. The staff at CSA were truly amazing, always smiling & always willing to offer advice or assistance if needed. The Hotel grounds were great, very tropical & lush, the work out facilities were by far the best we?ve ever experienced at a hotel. The restaurants were very good & offered a wide variety of dining options. If I had to pick one thing that put Couples Swept Away above any other hotel we stayed at in the past it would have to be all the inclusions. Everything from catamaran cruises & scuba diving to the strict no tipping policy truly helped make our holiday one of the most relaxing getaways we?ve ever been on!
Yea mon, it's amazing!!
Date of stay: August 2011
Trip type: Couple
Negril was a trip that we will not forget! The people, the beaches, the water, the SMILES!! They have a way of life that we all should consider in the way that they are so relaxed and are ...
Negril was a trip that we will not forget! The people, the beaches, the water, the SMILES!! They have a way of life that we all should consider in the way that they are so relaxed and are so happy!! The beaches and water were like those that you see in the corona commercials!! The red stripe cold and always ready for you!! We fell in love with the jerk chicken so much that when we got home... We went and bought a smoker to make our own little piece of JAMAICA!! We will be back... Oh yea mon!!!
What to expect (based on 3661 reviews):
5 most recent TripAdvisor reviews:
Relaxing and laid-back beach vacation!
Just returned from a long awaited trip to CSA. It's all about the beach, the beach, the beach here. Crystal clear, warm and calm water, powder white sand, and plenty of room to walk, float, or just...
Just returned from a long awaited trip to CSA. It's all about the beach, the beach, the beach here. Crystal clear, warm and calm water, powder white sand, and plenty of room to walk, float, or just relax on a lounger with a cocktail and a book. This resort is perfect for fitness enthusiasts and those who appreciate a great beach and a nice level of amenities/service. We figured we were more easygoing and laid back than the Sandals crowd so we definitely made a good choice coming here. I did a lot of research beforehand as to the layout of the resort and the various room classes. We booked an atrium suite and it was just what we wanted - convenient location, still quiet and fairly private. That said, the first room we were taken to was technically an atrium but lacked the spacious verandah and hammock. It had a very shallow terrace and two small chairs, although, it did have a very nice view of the ocean. We asked to be moved to a more typical atrium with a hammock and it being a Monday and the offseason, we were accommodated right away and offered a choice of first or second floor. Perhaps the first room was offered as a plus with the ocean view, but we were very happy with the second room and impressed with the ease of moving us before we even unzipped a bag. The room was very clean and we never saw any ants or had any issues with the shower that others have mentioned. We were well taken care of all week. Loved the early morning coffee and pastry delivery! Loved the convenience of bars and water stations all along the beach. The staff was polite, hardworking, and kind. We never encountered anyone that made us feel unwelcome or a bother. We typically prefer being a little more self serve for our basic routine anyway and were happy that we could get help when we needed something but also relax without having someone constantly asking us if we needed something. We shared a plane ride home with a couple who described their butler suite at Sandals and honestly that is something I could not imagine being comfortable with but to each his or her own... One small disappointment was the requirement of being married in the last month to be acknowledged as "honeymooners". Due to many circumstances, our honeymoon took place 11 mos after our wedding and although we mentioned this it was never acknowledged in any way. We wandered over to the fitness center for massages which were wonderful! The lap pool was closed for maintenance which was disappointing. Made do with the great house pool for laps but not quite the same. Beautiful gym facility and tennis courts! We took a hobie cat out on the water and a two person kayak. The water sports team is great. Loved being on the water. The restaurants were all generally good, Feathers was great and Lemongrass a close second. Loved having the martini bar available at lemongrass. I will say this is not a resort for you if you're a foodie and looking to be wowed all week long by awesome culinary offerings. Most of the food was good, some very good, but it all felt very catering/banquet (good banquet) and not so much something prepared by a chef just for you. The Saturday night lobster was especially disappointing as we looked forward to it all week, and dinner was a small, overcooked tail prepared jerk style. Good for chicken, not so much for lobster, would have been better with just a nice brush of garlic butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. I also had a steak one night -ordered medium rare and arrived medium well, without a sear on it so it was a little mushy/watery as well. It took so long that I didn't want to send it back. Some of the better food included red curry at lemongrass, goat cheese pizza at patois, and the omelet station at the palms. The chicken paillard at feathers was amazing. Fish tacos and sweet potato chips at sea grapes were so good! We certainly did not go hungry. Our only wish would be for some kind of grab and go snack station where you can get a little fruit and cheese or a bag of banana chips or a cup of coffee without being seated for a meal. Sometimes all the walking and water just makes you hungry for a very quick bite. An option for a casual grill right on the beach for chicken, steaks, and fish for dinner would be nice too. Cabana grill is ok but just feels like any small beach bar for a burger, nothing special. Drinks are plentiful but again, just ok. The bartenders are very nice and work hard in the heat all day, but I had to wonder how many of them received training on mixing anything that wasn't a blender drink. I'm not a slushy frozen drink person, that's a lot of sugar to take in during the day. I stuck to rum and pineapple after letting a few well intentioned bartenders "make me something special" that was usually a random concoction of liquors and juice. One had tequila and grapefruit, not good. Another looked and tasted like windex. I mixed a few of my own drinks from the minibar in the room, but after the pineapple juice ran out (I kept requesting but not getting it), i fixed myself rum madrases which were also fine, and equally good with sparkling wine instead of rum. Leaving the resort was a bit chaotic but 40 couples were leaving at once. We told ourselves lesson learned, don't try to leave on a Sunday again :) the airport was also pretty crazy. Next time we will look at midweek departures. I read other reviews about groups staying at Couples. I tend to agree that the trend of big destination weddings with mom, dad, and granny in tow does affect the romantic vibe of "Couples". We experienced a couple of loud, partying groups that we didn't expect when we picked this resort, as well as tables of parents together with older children. We joked that next thing you know they'll let little kids in for the weddings too. I appreciate the revenue these events must generate, but I think over time those seeking a romantic vacation for two might not choose to come back to Couples. Overall, this is a great place on an amazing beach. If you can't find happiness and relaxation here, where the sunsets are amazing and everything is "no problem", I cannot help you! Any little disappointments we had, were just that, little disappointments inside a week of awesomeness. We hope to come back to Negril one day.
Couples Swept Away, Everything you need to know
My wife and I just returned from a 5 day stay at CSA in Negril. We had an amazing trip! After arriving at the airport in Montego Bay we grabbed our bags and queued up for immigration. First, I must...
My wife and I just returned from a 5 day stay at CSA in Negril. We had an amazing trip! After arriving at the airport in Montego Bay we grabbed our bags and queued up for immigration. First, I must tell you that the organization involved with baggage claim is rife with poor communication. After waiting for 30 minutes at our baggage carousel we were alerted that the bags would come to another carousel. Better yet, they were already off the belts and huddled among everyone else's from the plane. Customs was a breeze, just understand that because you and your family understand how lines are supposed to operate, don't expect that everyone does. This is global truth and not any sort of knock on Jamaica. The Couples Resort has a window front in the airport, once you get into the large porter area. Head all the way down to the left. They will ask which resort you are going to, give you a color coded ticket for your luggage and offer you complimentary drinks while you wait for the bus to your particular resort. Couples is a 'no tipping' resort and for all of those affiliated. This however, does not include your porter or driver. $5-$10 is more than enough. The bus trip is both informational and a good opportunity to see the real Jamaica. Not everyone lives at a resort, and Jamaica is an impoverished nation. You will see unfinished homes and views similar to what you would see in Mexico on your way to Playa de Carmen. You do, as others have noted, stop off at a bar/souvenir shop on your way to the resort. Just a little more than halfway we stopped at this wooden shack, appropriately decorated with Bob Marley posters and the green, yellow, black. From reading previous reviews I thought that this was more of a ploy to get the tourists "acclimated" to the reggae lifestyle. Now, I think it is more of a bathroom stop for all of us who became fast fixtures at the airport bar, after all it is a 90 minute ride to CSA. The resort entrance is not the large gated community style as you see in Mexico, but the jungle charm, and later the beach and water are excellent. We stayed in the Great Veranda on the 5th floor with a great view of the ocean. I highly recommend the Veranda. Our balcony was quite large, equipped with a lounge, table and rocking chair. The AC worked great and a couple of mornings we actually woke up cold. The beds are very comfortable and large. There is a mini bar and these cards that you can put on your door for additional restocked items. We asked for white wine everyday, and got full sized bottles You fill out the card and put it on your door overnight. The beach is the best part of the whole experience. The 7 mile beach certainly spans a ways, but nowhere else did we see such pristine waters. There is no sea grass, or coral, or rocks. Just pure white sand. The water is very calm too. The seat cushions from the chairs are floats. You just take it with you into the water and calmly drift through the very large roped off area. The sun is HOT, so bring sunscreen. If you don't there are 2 gift shops, among the excursion desk, aura night club, casino, Internet cafe and Patois Patio (restaurant) in the Great Veranda. There are 4 real restaurants on the resort with 2 grills. Of the grills, the largest one is at the south end of the resort. There is a wide variety of grilled options, however there wasn't anything that really stood out here. The jerk chicken is probobally the only that you'll find on the resort, but it wasn't as flavorful as what I have had stateside. The Sea Grape grill, over by the water sports shed is the better of the two. We had excellent grilled snapper. This is where you can get the coconut drink. It's non-alcoholic; just coconut water. Still fun! The Patio is a buffet. We aren't buffet people, but we tried it out. That night they had roasted lamb (by the way, it doesn't matter what restaurant has lamb, the lamb is fantastic EVERYWHERE.), a fajita station, and a very good quality mix of proteins, veggies, and starches. They even have sushi. Patois Patio, located in the veranda, is the other main restaurant that you do not need a reservation for. They are the other alternative to Palms for breakfast, and are not a buffet. The menu changes nearly everyday, and all of the food is pretty good. They have personal pizzas, good seafood and very flavorful dishes. We ate most of our meals here and were very satisfied. Breakfast starts at 8 am and dinner at 6:30 pm. You can get coffe at the palms before 8 am and enjoy the early walk on the beach. Lemongrass and Feathers are the two other upscale restaurants. You need to have reservations for these. Make them when you check in, over at the concierge. You will not be able to make reservations for the same day, so plan ahead. You can book each of the two up front, but will have had to had already eaten at the restaurant before you can make a second reservation. Both of these two restaurants require pants, shoes and a nice shirt for the men, and appropriate attire for women. So wearing a gossamer coverup over a hot pink 2 piece is not appropriate. Lemongrass serves Thai cuisine and do a very good job of it. There aren't any signs so they don't tell you where the actual restaurant is located though. It on the second floor of the Palms (buffet restaurant). Feathers is even less casual than Lemongrass. Need shoes guys. We overheared a couple commenting how they were kicked out of Feathers for improper attire. Don't sweat it though. It is a nice restaurant, like one you might take your wife to to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or Mother's Day. You wouldn't dress like you were going to a truck ralley. The food and service here was tops. As service goes as a whole, the resort is very good, but it paled in comparison with Mexico. It's on a case by case basis. Some of the staff is awesome, accommodating and full of 'much respect'. Others are too busy in their own life to smile. Some of the bartenders are pretty bad. One day my wife ordered a total of 4 drinks (mojito, Maimi Vice - all pretty standard drinks) across 3 different bars and each was made wrong. It was as if the bar staff didn't know what went in them. The chaos when leaving also is a bit of a bother. They line up everyone's luggage like a barricade between you and the buses and call out the room numbers to identify bags andboard the bus. This is probobally the only time having a low numbered room has it's advantage as they call you out numerically from smallest to largest. The catamaran and snorkeling excursions are fun. Book at least a day in advance at the watersports shed. They also have scuba and free scuba lessons, kayaks, windsurfing, hobie cats and then some. The barkers on the beach are easily the biggest detractor. This is a no cash resort and there is no tipping, so there really isn't a whole lot of reasons why you would carry any cash with you, any at all. Yet the barkers walk up and down the beach all day. They want to sell you bracelets, hats, lobsters, conch shells, and always lookin to see if you want to "party". They try to call you in from the ocean, when you turn the corner out of he jungle onto the beach, while you are eating or while you are laying face down on a beach chair catching some rays. It is all of the time and they are pushy. They're not just here, it's everywhere. At the cliffs kids will swim out to you begging for money, while your on the bus they will come to the windows. I understand that this is an impoverished nation, but the constant saying "no" really feels like it is going against the entire idea of relaxing and taking it easy. That said, please note that Jamaican's ARE people. Taunting them with money or any other demeaning request really is goshe and more of a product of a bye gone era. Off my soap box, and lastly, island time is slow. So don't be surprised if a meal takes 25 minutes or more. Don't let this sway your impression of the staff, they just operate at a different speed, after all, that's why you go to Jamaica! Couples Swept Away is fantastic. We truly enjoyed our stay and would recommend it to anyone.
Couples Swept Away provides a fairly typical all inclusive room. Beachfront view was outstanding but where the resort put itself above others we had been to in the area was its food. Our luggage was...
Couples Swept Away provides a fairly typical all inclusive room. Beachfront view was outstanding but where the resort put itself above others we had been to in the area was its food. Our luggage was delayed by the airline so all we had to wear the first night were shorts and shirts from our carry ons. We walked around looking at the various restaurants offered and were invited in to one of the better ones despite our dress and were treated like royalty. Place was a very calm laid back feel but had great evening entertainment too. One, if not, the best section of beach. Highly recommend!
2nd Trip, as Good as the First
We just returned from our 2nd trip to CSA (waking up to 5 inches of snow our first morning home). We chose a 1st floor Atrium Suite and it was the perfect blend of beach accessability and...
We just returned from our 2nd trip to CSA (waking up to 5 inches of snow our first morning home). We chose a 1st floor Atrium Suite and it was the perfect blend of beach accessability and seclusion. FOOD - Our favorite restaurant for dinner is Lemongrass, with Patios a close second. Seagrapes was our lunch destination most days and we enjoyed the buffet and mimosa bar at the Palms for breakfast. STAFF - In most cases all it took was a smile or "good morning" and the staff at CSA open up and treat you very friendly. Take the time to engage them and you'll have a friend for your entire stay. ACTIVITIES - When sand gravity wasn't holding us down we took advantage of many of the FREE beach activities. We even made Rasta tie-dye shirts one morning. GROUPS - The only real negative of our trip. If you are planning a destinantion wedding in the future, don't choose CSA. Have your wedding at home and then come to CSA for a wonderful honeymoon. Those of us who come to CSA for a quiet romantic time will thank you. Weather was great. 80's every day, humid but not oppressive. It rained one afternoon for about an hour and one evening about the same and then it cleared right up. Club Mobay - Used it for Arrival and Departure for the first time due to a promotion. Well worth it for speeding up the arrival process. Not sure if the Departure lounge was worth it. Drive to/from CSA - During our prior trip the drivers were very talkative and it made the 1-1/2 hour drive go by quickly. This time the drivers were silent for each journey, made the trips drag on. Looking forward to book trip 3 very soon.
5th Trip: Common Questions Answered
We recently returned from our 5th visit to CSA. It was our longest stay yet--8 nights. CSA continues to be our favorite resort of the many AIs we have been to in the Caribbean and Mexico. Its tennis...
We recently returned from our 5th visit to CSA. It was our longest stay yet--8 nights. CSA continues to be our favorite resort of the many AIs we have been to in the Caribbean and Mexico. Its tennis program, lap pool, beach, staff, food, and beachfront rooms are what has it remaining in the top spot for us. Its couples-only atmosphere is something we also love, though we worry there is a shift away from this. We usually stay in Winter and this was the first time we've had the opportunity to stay in the off-season, though the resort was near capacity for much of our stay, particularly on the weekend. We arrived and left mid-week so had the opportunity to experience two waves of guests, and the crowd was very different from the first week to the second. The November crowd is also different from the winter crowd. I'll address this all further on. For the entirety of our stay, I had in mind common discussions and questions that arise on TripAdvisor about CSA. I thought it might be helpful to organize my review around my perspective about these issues based on our recent stay. Though no stay anywhere is perfect, we had an amazing time. We didn't know if 8 nights would be too long, but we were sad to leave as usual, and could have stayed even longer. This review is long (and opinionated). STAFF/STAFF FRIENDLINESS: In our four previous trip, we have always adored the staff at CSA. I could never understand when people occasionally complained about staff being unfriendly, slow to help, or rude. I planned on this trip to look at the issue with a critical eye. Honestly, for the life of me, I do not understand the complaints. The staff were warm, friendly, and so hard-working. Front desk employees get beaten up in particular. Mario, who checked us in, was friendly and professional, and was able to accommodate our request for a 3rd floor, corner BFVS. This was not because we were 5 time repeaters. He was friendly before he asked us if it was our first time to Couples. Not everyone is an extrovert. Not everyone at every single moment will be having a good day and feel like chatting. I don't expect service employees in the U.S. to engage in that fashion so I'm not sure why they'd have to in Jamaica. No one was ever rude and most everyone smiled and said hello spontaneously. Many recognized us from previous trips before we recognized them. Ralston, the crossing guard, sang the Canadian national anthem to my husband when he saw him wearing a Canada T-shirt (we are not Canadian, but we are faked the words together) and then taught us the Jamaican one. The gardeners were friendly, the housekeepers and maintenance staff were friendly. I could go on. Our room service provider arrived with a happy greeting at 6:40am after she had carried 2 wooden trays simultaneously up 3 flights for us and the room next door. You try that at home! I think that there is something about Jamaican culture that could possibly take a bit of understanding for someone who has never been and is used to and enjoys the fawning of a tipping environment of other destinations. Jamaica is a British colony so some will naturally be a bit more reserved at first meeting. They might convey their professionalism as well as respect to the guest by treating guest requests with an initially serious demeanor. I find that one smile, joke, question about how they are doing, breaks through this barrier and all the warmth comes through. It's so easy. I don't find it off-putting in the slightest and I never found this hard to figure out. It's the only thing I can think of that makes me wonder if this is what people are calling "unfriendly." Suffice it to say that I love the staff at CSA. I think they are warm, friendly, proud in the best of ways, colorful, hardworking, and one of the big reasons we keep returning. SMOKING: Many are wondering how the new anti-smoking laws are being implemented at the resorts. Some will be pleased to hear, but I am sorry to say that smoking is alive and well at CSA. We arrived to an ashtray on our balcony so that has certainly not been banned. We were bothered a few times by someone smoking below us, but the ceiling fan on our balcony helped a great deal with this. I don't know what it was about this time of year, but we have never seen so many smokers on-resort in our previous visits. During the first week, the crowd on the beach (as opposed to the tennis crowd) could best be described as a 20's and 30's NASCAR crowd. There were exceptions to be sure, but these folks stood out since they were the noisiest and smokiest. It felt like it was a rare person on the beach who was not carrying a pack of cigarettes. There was no smoking in the restaurants. However, the resort has placed ashtrays near the steps to the Great House and near the entrance to the Palms. These folks would gather en masse to smoke there, and were completely oblivious to or else downright rude about moving themselves and their cigarettes when people arrived to pass on the pathways. We had to say, "excuse me" loudly to get their attention and then pass through a thick cloud of smoke to get through. The permanent ashtrays are in unfortunate spots. That said, if the ashtrays have been there a while, I've never noticed them before this trip, so it may just be that the smokers were particularly ill-mannered. Given some other behavior we observed suggesting that some of these guests might sadly have been feral children and not raised in homes, it may have been an anomaly of this trip. Overall, smokers are still smoking (smokes of all varieties) but it was really only problematic upon entrance to and egress from the Palms and Great House at dinner time. The beach was breezy enough and our balcony had the ceiling fan that helped. TIPPING: We were never once asked for a tip during our stay. We never felt for a single moment like a staff member was waiting for a tip during the stay. We received great service. The closest we came to being asked for a tip is actually kind of sweet and sad and will tell you how little children have in Jamaica. I'm not sure how young the trainees start. Maybe 17 or 18? They look really young. On our last day, we told one of the trainees we were going home. This was a relatively new trainee. This person said, "Oh, it's your last day? Do you have gifts? You know, sometimes people give chocolate on their last day." This was a kid who really wanted a piece of chocolate and it made me want to cry because, first, I didn't have chocolate to give and the kid looked crestfallen, and second, I have an 18 year old who could just go to the store and get herself chocolate any time she felt like having a piece of chocolate. I will have chocolate next trip. The second half of tipping: I see you tipping, big spenders! I see you everywhere. You think you are being discreet but you are not and you are going to get someone fired. I know that some of you mean well and some of you just think the rules don't apply to you. Your dollar or two or five is going to mean someone will not be able to feed their family. Congratulations. I saw you at Feathers. I saw you at the Palms. I saw you at the Martini Bar. I saw you at the swim-up bar. I saw you at the beach bar. Here was my favorite. It was on the beach on a breezy day. A guy tossed a dollar (literally tossed) at the beach waitress. She, by reflex, caught it, held on to it for a second as if she were holding a hand grenade, tossed it right back at the jerk and walked off. It blows away and he has to scramble to chase it. That is what you are handing the staff with your dollars: hand grenades. I tip generously at tipping resorts. At resorts with a no-tipping policy where guests can lose their job if they take your tip, I do not tip. Some think the staff should be blamed for accepting the tip when they are responsible adults. Yes, but think about that young person to whom a piece of chocolate would have been such a rarity and then think of what it would be like having to toss back your dollar. I believe it is kinder not to offer it when a job is as stake. CONSTRUCTION/RENOVATIONS: There was no construction going on during our stay. Building 45 (BFVSs next to the Great House) which I believe was the last building to be renovated, was occupied with guests. We had a renovated bathroom which looked nice. Shower drainage issues were as described by other guests, but solved by rolling a towel at the shower entrance so water could not escape beyond it. This led to using many more towels than usual and to housekeeping having to carry downstairs lots of wet towels which we felt very bad about. I hope they get the drainage issue fixed for the sake of housekeeping and the environment. It was only a minor inconvenience otherwise. TOWELS: I know that there had been towel shortages in the past. We never had any real trouble with towels. They were always plentiful at the water sports desk. Occasionally, they would not have them at turn-down and we would have to wait until housekeeping the next day, but we had already showered by then so it was a non-issue. We probably doubled or tripled our in-room towel usage to deal with the shower drainage problem. I'm sure the resort will want to address this and may explain some of the shortage problems. BEACH SERVICE: Beach service was usually good. Every morning, they brought around fresh fruit and the drink of the day. Cedric is a star employee and beach server as well as bartender. I've seen few work so hard anywhere. Sometimes you see a staff member who you get the feeling is headed for higher things within an organization. Cedric was that person. If he is not being considered in that regard, he needs a second look. Getting back to beach service, though waiters came around frequently to offer drinks and clean up cups, we found that we preferred to get our own drinks. For those who have never stayed, unlike many resorts in Mexico, for example, you are never more than a 2 minute walk from a beach bar. Drinks melt fast in the Jamaican sun. If you get your own drink, it will be colder and made more to your specifications. Colleen ended up making a unique drink for us that was one of the highlights of our week because we got off of our lounge chairs. GROUPS: Before our stay, I was really worried about wedding groups. I believe Couples marketing has taken some of its emphasis off of the "couples" aspect of the Couples experience. I loved that Couples was for couples. I did not want Couples to turn into a resort that catered to groups. I also did not want Couples to turn into a generic AO resort. Couples-only is a special niche that we seek out. The wedding groups were a non-issue during my stay. What a relief! As best I could observe, there were at least two 20-30 person weddings during our time there, and they were never loud, drunk, or overbearing. At check-out, however, a couple came to the front desk with hospitality bags for their arriving guests. We chatted with them briefly and learned they had 62 guests arriving that day for their wedding. We wished them congratulations and breathed a sigh of relief that we were leaving before a wedding group that size arrived. There were many small groups there during our stay. Our first week, we could not tell who were the couples in these groups, if any, in many cases. There were groups of 6-8 who often appeared to be groups of platonic friends and some to be intergenerational groups. We would not have been paying any attention to or cared about the make-up of these groups had it not been for their behavior. They were often loud and drinking a lot, with little regard for those around them. We had a meal disturbed at Patois by two of these groups. We had our first dinner at Lemongrass disturbed by a group like this at 9pm, swimming and shouting in the pool next to the Palms (and then standing at the edge of the Palms and shouting across the Palms to their friends while the entertainment was going on...see feral children above) and our first meal at Feathers was frankly a disaster because of one of these groups of 7, clearly not a couples group when there are 7 in it. I'll get to that below. I know that Couples can't keep small groups from coming. We have often visited with friends. However, there was a clear shift in the crowd from what appeared to be more platonic friends to couples during the second week and it made a big difference. The crowd that arrived on Sunday until we left on a Thursday was a couples crowd and they behaved better. It felt more like the romantic CSA that we knew and loved. It is very possible that there were weddings that took place before our arrival that would explain the guests who were there the first week. They made the atmosphere unpleasant on a few occasions for us. PERSONAL SPEAKERS: I have seen debates about personal speakers on the beach come up on the Couples Message Board. In our 4 prior trips, I've never seen anyone use a personal speaker and could not imagine it. We experienced it twice this trip. Message to smoking, cursing, shouting foursome who played your country music on the beach at varying volumes from moderately loud to loud...Please don't. I saw that the unhappiest of your foursome ended up with 2 black eyes before your trip was over. I was not terribly surprised, but my husband told me it was probably from rising too quickly as an inexperienced diver. We would never have dared ask this group to turn down their music. It would be so much nicer if people would not assume that others liked their same music (or cared if they did). We encountered one other group who was playing music on a personal speaker on the beach. We've never had this before at CSA. I would love to see Security as a matter of course ask guests to turn their music way down or off. If we had complained to security about the country music players, it clearly would have been us or one of 2 other couples nearby who had complained. We were lying in the sun only a few feet to the side of them. This guy was a seriously angry dude. He arrived on the beach practically growling, cursing, throwing his lighter, and yelling about something that had him incensed. There was music playing on a speaker at the swim-up bar. This was exactly the right venue for this. Perfect. The beach is for the sounds of waves and beach musicians. Ear buds work very well. I hope CSA considers having Security ask guests to turn down or off their music on the beach so that it does not turn into just another party resort. CATS/DOGS: Many recent discussions have focused on resort animals. I'll start with cats. I know it has been said that the cats are there to take care of the rodents and serve a purpose. However, the cat population is rising at CSA, the cats are becoming increasingly domesticated, and guests are turning the cats into their vacation "pets." On trip #4 there were significantly more cats than our first 3 trips. This trip there were so many more than the last. We could barely turn around without seeing a cat. As someone with an asthmatic reaction to cats, this was more than distressing. I need Couples management to know that the cat issue, if not brought under control, will be the one and only reason we would not return to Couples. Though the resort has feeding stations for the cats, many guests are thrilled to have the cats come up on their verandahs. We had guests tell us they bought tuna for "their" cats on their verandah and others who were bringing back food from breakfast for them. We'd see guests as we'd walk along the beach path petting their "vacation pets" who were sitting on the resort towels on the sofas on the verandahs and guests posing for photos with them in their laps. I think word has gotten out to every cat on the island that CSA is the best gig in town. It is all very sweet except that cats are like poison for me, and emergency services are not available in Negril. Here was the worst situation, however. Our second night at Patois, two cats were wandering through the dining room. One of them, the staff called her, "Ginger," so she was well-known there, was going from table to table and rubbing against guests. This went on for 45 minutes. I kept waiting for staff to shoo her out, but just the opposite. Some guests ignored her and some pet her and even fed her. I told our waitress, Claudette, that I was highly allergic, and she spent an admirable amount of time keeping the cat away from our table. I spent the meal on high alert, glad we had a table in the center so I could keep an eye out. Not a relaxing dinner! Another staff member actually fed the cat with her bare hands and then served guests. Had she fed the cat and then touched my plate, it would have been the same kind of cross-contamination issue as a person with a seafood allergy who had a chef who served their food with a spoon that had been first used to serve crab dip. The idea that CSA would allow and even encourage the cats in their restaurants is terrifying to me. I cannot visit people in their homes who have cats and do not want to worry about cats in the restaurants on vacation. I appreciate that this is an idiosyncratic issue and that others like the cats. Nonetheless, it is unhygienic to have them in the restaurants and the population must be controlled. I am not sure how discourage guests from feeding them. I have to believe that there are those who also bring them into their rooms at night. This is one of the reasons we continue to request a 3rd floor room. We only saw one dog while we were there. She was very sweet, gentle, and friendly with guests and staff, and happily approached strangers. We enjoyed our interactions with her on the beach over a few days. There is no implosion in the dog population anything like with the cats. RESTAURANTS: People often wonder how the food is at Couples as compared to resorts in places like Mexico. The food at CSA, as with our prior trips, is head and shoulders above most other resorts we've been to. They highlight local dishes and ingredients, and do not feel like they need to provide some sort of pan-international experience that appeals to the lowest common denominator in dining as you often see in Mexico. They trust that their guests will enjoy local dishes, but also offer a lot of variety and plenty of healthy options. They have talented chefs who cook within their range of talents and abilities and put out a consistently good product. I would love to see the menu change at Lemongrass as it does at the other restaurants since it has been the same at every meal on every visit. I understand new guests like it a lot, though. I think entrees at Lemongrass are the weakest part of their menu. We have taken to ordering only appetizers, soups, and dessert there. Bear in mind that we live in a major metropolitan area with a large Thai population and have access to excellent Thai food. Our standards are high. We went for the first time in 5 trips for dinner at the Palms. We do not like a buffet dinner, but thought we should finally try it out since they have a combination of buffet and a la carte. We found their service and food to be the weakest of all the restaurants at dinner (we like it at breakfast and lunch) and will not return. We loved the Repeater's Dinner at Patois. I mentioned earlier that we had a disastrous dinner at Feathers. This was on the Saturday night of our stay. We had an 8:30pm reservation. Upon arrival, we waited with a few others at the door a few minutes, and observed that the normally quiet, elegant Feathers was loud--shouting loud. Then, a man came in and barreled past all of us, practically shoving us all out of the way without an "excuse me" and sat down at a table of 7, on a return from one of many smoke breaks by the group in and out of the restaurant. The rest of us were led to the bar and not seated until 8:45pm. At the bar, people were shouting to speak to each other--the only way to be heard. There was one bartender when there should have been two. He was working so hard, could barely keep up, and should not have had to. He served us drinks that were almost straight liquor, so no wonder it was a raucous crowd. The big issue, however, was this table for 7. They were sold 4 bottles of wine for 7 people. They were already on dessert when we arrived and stayed for well over another hour, buying more wine, and ruining the rest of the restaurant's meals. They were overserved and loud. They were standing up, clapping, shouting to each other, in and out of the restaurant with smoking, and cursing. They were just so terribly obnoxious and completely ruined the atmosphere. A manager needed to intervene and they should not have been allowed to purchase so much wine, after drinking who knows what before. More importantly, their reservation had to have been a 7pm or 7:30pm reservation. Large groups should not be allowed prime time reservations in the fine dining restaurants. Even party resorts do not allow groups larger than four to eat together at prime times. They only let them have tables very early such as 5pm or very late. If Couples wants to be true to its couples history, they should not seat larger groups at Feathers or Lemongrass before 8:30pm. Patois and the Palms can accommodate larger tables and seat couples further away from them. Feathers cannot. Further, rather than be pleased to be selling wine off of the wine list, a manager needs to take responsibility to make sure that limits are observed. The 4 bottles that group of 7 drank were unlikely their first drinks that day. We had a second meal at Feathers later in the trip. It was back to its usual, lovely atmosphere. I do have to say that I miss the coffee cart being wheeled around. It was just one of the little touches that made Feathers feel special. VENDORS: There were fewer vendors this trip than previous ones. This varied a bit from day to day. We enjoyed the musicians immensely, as always. For those who have never been, the vendors cannot move beyond the high water mark. With the exception of a single vendor, they do not magnify their voices. One had a bullhorn and we saw him briefly on one day. There used to be more of these that advertised concerts in town, so I am guessing they may have been banned. With the sounds of the waves, they are just not very loud, at least to me. They do not harass you. A wave or a no thank you is more than sufficient. Having no jet skis was a dream. There were also no sea planes advertising for the local clubs. Generally, with the exception of the occasional personal speaker and poorly-raised guest, the beach was just so very peaceful. I did not want to leave. Except for the weekend, where it was more crowded, there was also plenty of shade whenever you arrived. COUPLES TRANSFERS: Many wonder if they should take the included transfers or a private transfer. I've always been in the camp that says take the included transfer. We have never had any issues with it and would rather spend our money elsewhere. This year we had our weakest experience with it, however. On the way to the resort, we had to wait 25 minutes--our longest ever. I had let the resort know with our Romance Rewards that we'd be using Club MoBay arrival service with the hope that they would expect us quickly after our flight and get us quickly onto a van. No such luck. We waited in a completely full lounge until they were ready to fill three vans with 3 loads of passengers going to various resorts. On the return from CSA to the airport, we've never had more than 2 other couples on the van with us. This time, they filled 3 vans (2.5 actually and the first one left for CN to fill it the rest of the way). It took 35 minutes to load the vans. They had one staff member directing the guests onto the vans and figuring out whose luggage went where while we all stood there. We expected to depart the resort at 11am for our 3pm flight and didn't leave until after 11:30am. We still got to the airport on time and had a lovely driver named David who gave us an excellent tour. The process was highly inefficient, though, and not what we were used to. Overall, no harm done, just inconvenience and we would use the Couples transfers again. CLUB MOBAY: This has nothing to do with Couples, but many consider it. This was our second experience with CMB. The first time was for departure service and this time we used it for arrivals and departures. We would most definitely use it for Arrivals again. We were whisked through Immigration, beat our bags off the carousel by 4 minutes, and arrived at the Couples lounge within 12 minutes of landing. When the Couples lounge was so full, we headed over the CMB lounge for a little more quiet and also to get a snack. Departure service, on the other hand, was a waste for us. They did not expedite us through security, only pointed us to a special CMB security line. This was new since last trip. This line was filled with others who had purchased the CMB service and just as crowded as the other lines. By the time we got to the lounge, we had 20 minutes before we needed to head to our gate. Last trip we has less than an hour in the lounge. Each time, we felt that for the price of the lounge snacks, we would have gladly saved the departure service money and just bought lunch. REPEATERS: When Couples raised its prices this year, there was considerable uproar. Repeat guest felt disrespected by the abrupt change and by some other subtle shifts that have come along with some upper management changes. When we were on the tennis court, out and about around the resort during the second week, and most dramatically, at the Repeater's Dinner, we were blown away by the number of repeaters. The repeat guests almost filled Patois. These are guests that come twice a year or more, some of them for 2-3 weeks at a time. This was new for us compared to winter. We were babes compared to these guests. So many had been to CSA 12, 15, 23 times. It was remarkable. Here is what it made me think. Couples, do not tick off your repeaters. I cannot think of any place that has as loyal a following as Couples. Wedding guests come and go. You have an incredible number of guests who like your product very much as it is/was: an active, romantic, couples-only resort on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. If you keep it affordable and do not let it shift to just another Adults-only AI, we will keep coming. We will keep coming, and send our friends as we always have. We will send our children, nieces, and nephews to Couples for their honeymoons and even pay for them sometimes. You have already built it and we will come. Please do not mess it up. We love Jamaica, CSA, and the staff, and want to keep being as loyal as we have been. Respect.
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