CSA first timer's realistic trip review - 5/1-5/8 visit
My husband and I returned a few days ago from our first trip to Jamaica and Couples Swept Away. I "lurked" on the Couples Message Board and Trip Advisor reading every detail that I could find prior to our trip. My review does concur with a few aspects of other negative reviews and parts of my review may sound like I'm another hard to please guest as things started out a little rocky; bear with me, by week's end, I got it....
Arrived in Mobay later than expected due to weather delays. Flew through customs and immigration and easily found the Couples Lounge. Our shuttle was ready to leave so we barely had time to use the restrooms; no Red Stripes for us. The ride is rather lengthy and although our driver offered, we did not stop along the way. After dropping all the other passengers at Couples Negril, we arrived alone at CSA. We were provided with refreshing cold cloths and sparkling wine as expected. Check in was quick and easy. We were then escorted with our luggage, to our OVS third floor corner unit. I was so excited because this was exactly the room that I had hoped for; so far, so good.
Our room was much smaller than I had anticipated and the bathroom left much to be desired; no problem, we're in Jamaica. Our expectations were under control; no marble or glitz was expected, simple but clean was all that we needed, however, soon I began to question our choice of destination. As we checked out our room, we found the floor in the closet and behind the cupboard door to be quite dirty, as well as the white bedcover having seemingly fresh stains from previous guests; not good. Not a big deal, but I had expected to find our beach towels placed on the bed shaped into swans; ours were lying folded on the bathroom vanity. No problem, the room was a very small part of the experience and we're pretty laid back and easy to please....our balcony has a great view and we're on vacation in tropical paradise. We decided to unpack later and left in search of a quick meal and some drinks.
Another wrinkle; although aware restaurants were open-air dining, we were not fully prepared for this. Dining proved to be a little uncomfortable in the heat and we were not really enamored with the whole open-air dining experience. As others have stated, there is no point in spending time fixing your hair, as the humidity will soon destroy your "do". I quickly learned to adjust, gave the flat iron a rest and let nature take it's course.
We continued to question our choice of resort, as that first day on the paths we greeted several staff members as well as guests and received very few greetings in return; in fact many seemed to avoid eye contact and deliberately ignore us. I was more than a little surprised after reading so much regarding the friendliness of everyone. We soon found ourselves comparing this experience to our recent vacation at an adult only AI in the Riviera Maya and at this point, this trip was falling way short.
Fast forward two days....we are in heaven. Our room still isn't the cleanest, it's still hot in the restaurants, staff and guest friendliness is still hit or miss, but who cares!! We met some truly wonderful people, both staff and guests, the beach and ocean are spectacular, the grounds are gorgeous, the food is delicious and drinks are plentiful, our balcony has lovely partial view of the ocean and the bed is so comfortable....all this in a laid-back tropical paradise....who could ask for more!
I strongly suspect those who have written less than stellar reviews got hung up on only the negatives. The important thing is to manage your expectations; despite all the glowing reviews you may read, not everything will be perfect. We too could have let a few small issues negatively impact our vacation but instead chose to focus on the positives, which by the way far outweighed the negatives. Although we don't typically return to vacation spots, we will most likely be back in the near future, maybe the same time next year! As they say, once you go you know!!
Sometimes it's best not to know a whole lot!
Obviously, since I'm on this MB I am a great supporter of Message Boards. However, it is quite possible that first time guests may have expectations that exceed reality because of the many enthusiastic contributors to the boards. I'm guilty of researching every new destination with a vengence....and often I expect more that is offered when I finally travel. This does not mean the destination is bad...just that my expectations were a bit off-target. For this reason, it is a good thing that people with disappointing experiences are contributors to the board as well as people who are over-the-moon with their experiences. Then...it's up to the reader to form his or her own impressions...but...be willing to admit that things may be different when they actually arrive at their destination. Thanks for your honest review and for giving both sides. And...thanks for being flexible and allowing yourself to discover the "good" in the destination!