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Back from CSA- thoughts.

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Back from CSA- thoughts.

Well guys, we're home. I can't say I'm sad to be home- missed the kids a ton!- but definitely enjoyed the vacation.

I'm going to write a real review when I have time (and when I get my computer up an running again, it won't charge and it has all my pictures on it! :( ), but just to hit on some of my main thoughts about the resort before I forget it all...

-the grounds were gorgeous. It was like a jungle, and so natural feeling you forget it's all landscaped! Seriously, landscaping crew did an amazing job. This and the beach were my favorite things about this resort.

-room was outdated. You've heard this before. My take on it is that I loved the bungalow, nonhotel-like feeling you get from these rooms by having your own private outside entrance and verandah, and appreciate that Couples was clearly going for a shabby-chic-laid-back-Carribbean-vibe... But unfortunately, it comes off as more shabby than anything else. The rooms are dark and poorly lit, even in the daytime, the tiles are old and dirty, the bathrooms needs updating (which I know is on the schedule to happen)- it all just looks old. I DID love the verandah but on the inside I think the rooms need work. The lobby in the great house has those awesome couches with the sheer white curtains- I think some of those curtains in the room and maybe a lounger, and get rid of some of the shutters might give it that airy, open Caribbean vibe and a little bit more class. Maybe? Anyways. Also, the bed was hard and bedding needs updating. Boo. The plus side was that we had a corner room on the first floor and we were able to get a key to just come and go from our verandah all week- never used the front door. Very convenient. Maid service all week was excellent, as was turn down service. Yes, we could hear road noise, though at night the frogs drowned most of it out.

-beach was gorgeous. Duh. Palapas were all reserved by still-dark-thirty in the morning every morning but plenty of palm trees for shade. Green flag service, cold wash cloths offered, fruit kebabs and trays of drink-of-the-day all made the beach more enjoyable. Vendors were friendly and watched over by the very-visibly-present security guards.

-food was hit or miss. Feathers- hit hit hit (we went twice), lemongrass was definitely a miss. Palms also consistently was a letdown and patois was consistently delicious. Service was medium- not fast, not slow, except at sea grapes which for some reason was snail speed (but delicious) all week. Did not care for cabana grill.

-Staff- again, hit or miss. Found some GREAT great people there but also a few where you wondered what their problem was. Most of the latter category were to be found at Seagrapes (hence the slow service, maybe?) and a couple at watersports and at palms. Overall though staff was wonderful.

-Have read many complaints about check in. Had no problems. We showed up, were given washcloth and champagne and paperwork, clear instructions for filling it out, filled it out, checked in, all our prebooked reservations were in our packet, room was ready (at 2pm), and off we went. Easy peasy. This happened when there were about ten couples waiting in the lobby- so they were busy yet still efficient.

-just to hit on it one more time-YES, you can prebook restaurants and the Cat cruise now. Email Shelly ann, one of the managers. CSA.sm@couples.com

-speaking of the Cat cruise: if you are not "party people", dont go. We are not and did not really know what to expect- thus, the swimming in the caves and watching the cliff jumpers was cool (this part takes up about half an hour) but we really could have skipped the two hours of loud music and watching one or three people dancing while the boat made its way to those destinations. Just not our thing, and nobody told us what to expect beforehand. Would rather have stayed on the beach!

-watersports were pretty good. I dislike the way they do lessons (you must be there at a certain time and place, you cannot just show up and say you would like to learn to sail). Many times we were turned away because we were not there at the proper time, even when the watersports staff were all sitting around joking, looked not to be busy, and could have taken the five minutes it took to give us a lesson so at we could have gone sailing (or waterskiing) that day instead of waiting for the next. Other than that, they were awesome. Went for my first scuba dive ever- will be getting certified next trip, it was amazing.

Overall impression was good, but not completely blown away. Couples really needs to update their rooms, rethink a few of their restaurants, and put some pep into the step of a few employees, but the resort and beach were gorgeous and we definitely enjoyed our trip there and our week of just-us, couples time. Not sure if we'll be back to Jamaica (so many other islands to try!) but if we do I would head back to CSA or maybe try sandals- not sure which.

one last tip. SHUT YOUR BLINDS when you're having "couples time" in your room. Especially at night. Especially at night when you're on a ground floor room with all the lights on and there's a very busy walkway right outside your room. Believe it or not, this happened in more than one location and there were a few repeat offenders. Maybe they liked putting on a show???

Edited: 08 August 2013, 05:54
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1. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

Thanks for the great review. I am going the Swept Away Dec. 28 for a 2 week period with my wife. Was there 3 years ago and have been to Couples Negril 4 times but due to the pricing from Ontario Canada for us Swept away was better this year. I see you indicated that you can prebook restaurants and Cat cruise however on the Couples Website this clearly indicates that you cannot so I would think the Couples resorts are giving us wrong information as you were just there and have no reason to indicate otherwise. I realize they have said

they do prebook under certain circumstances

nova scotia
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2. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

Ays, thanks for your report back. I found it bang-on to our experience at CSA last August. glad to hear they 'honoured' the advanced reservations they booked for you (before Randymon from Couples recanted its practice). thanks to your posting, we too have pre-booked a couple things before our arrival this weekend and hope they are also honoured at CN. Will be sure to post back as well.

Orlando, Florida
Destination Expert
for Jamaica
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3. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

Thanks for the great and honest review. I am 28 days from CSA so I love reading about it.

jetffm60, I think that the decision to no allow advanced reserations was made while Ays08 was at CSA, so they are not wrong, just didn't realize that it has changed. Couples has no reason to put misleading informaiton on their website. As Randymon pointed out advance reservations will only be allowed under certain circumstances, which I would assume will be large wedding parties, etc.

Cocoa Beach, Florida
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for Cancun, Riviera Maya, Negril
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4. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

We have never done the Cat cruise for the same reason, as we have no interest in the party hearty aspect of it.

We head to CSA 3 weeks from tomorrow. Our stay last Sept. was the best in several years and we found the resort much improved (previous stay was Sept. 2011) since Karen took over as GM.

I do agree they need to update rooms and bathrooms but our OVS last year had a new AC unit and new mattress as well as fresh coat of paint, which was a big improvement from the previous year.

Guelph, Canada
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5. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

I think the atmosphere on the Cat cruise will vary from day to day depending on the guests. The one we took last fall was quite laid back.

Cary, North Carolina
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6. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

Thanks for the honest review, but i do have to defend the Cat Cruise. I would hate if someone read this and didn't go on it because of how you described it. On our 3 trips, we have done it 2 times. Each time was different, once being laid back, once being more of the party you described. Like a lot of the entertainment at CSA, the atmosphere may depend on the guests as well as the crew. For those that have never done it, i would recommend it, its only a few hours, and the views are breathtaking, and swimming in the caves is an amazing experience.

Glad to hear your checkin went so well, maybe they are improving the process, that has always been an issue with me.

Denver, CO
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7. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

As for the Cat Cruise, I really enjoy the cruise part. We like to sit up front on the bow and just enjoy the breeze.

Saskatchewan, Canada
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8. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

"SHUT YOUR BLINDS when you're having "couples time" in your room. Especially at night. Especially at night when you're on a ground floor room with all the lights on and there's a very busy walkway right outside your room."

LMAO - Agree 1000%

America, The...
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9. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

Hi Ays,

Glad you had a good time, even though not everything lived up to your expectations. I hope they heed comments of first time guests and make necessary room updates like they are finally doing with the bathrooms. I think it's worth their investing in an overhaul, but I don't think that's on their agenda. I like Cabana Grill on occasion, but I'm a sucker for a good old burger and fries at the beach because it's something I never indulge in at home. We've always found the beds to be comfortable, but that's a matter of preference, for sure. We did not have the same experience as you with the waterskiing, though. My husband would just walk over whenever he felt like it in the morning and they would take him out. He didn't need to sign up in advance.

Edited: 08 August 2013, 17:51
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10. Re: Back from CSA- thoughts.

"-just to hit on it one more time-YES, you can prebook restaurants and the Cat cruise now. Email Shelly ann, one of the managers. CSA.sm@couples.com"

To update this for those who have not read it, Couples (Randymon) announced that while they had briefly allowed per-booking as mentioned

above, Couples has decided to go back to/ remain with their official policy and no ore- booking will be allowed before you check in and are assigned a room. If anyone would like to read it you can do so at the Couples website forums.