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-room was outdated.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.email@example.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