CSA Review - 12/27/11 - 1/2/12
12/27/11 – 1/2/12
Here is our review. We spent our honeymoon at CN last year, and went to CSA this year with some friends. Generally speaking, we had a great time with a few minor issues throughout the week. We absolutely love this place, but it is not perfect.
Unfortunately one of our bags was delayed/lost, so we spent an extra hour at the airport dealing with that. When we finally made it to the couples lounge, we were able to give our names and get on the next bus no problem. We had a couple red stripes while we waited.
Remember to bring enough dollar bills. We thought we did, but did not seem to have enough for everything we used the ones for. (porter, bus driver, bar on way, beach purchases, etc.)
We did the pre-check in and when arriving at the resort, were able to get checked in and be on our way to our rooms in less than 10 minutes. They took some information about our lost luggage so they could track it for us. We eventually received it the next evening, so had to make due for a day and half with some gift shop purchases.
We stayed in an Atrium 2nd floor room in the middle of the property. We could see the beach, the water and lush vegetation. We loved the room! I think we would have preferred the first floor to make it easier to get to the beach and back, but 2nd floor has its advantages as well. The patios on the Atrium suites are simply amazing.
We put our request for booze online but nothing was there when we got to the room. Not a big deal to us, but why ask if is not going to be there. I suppose if we arrived later in the evening it would have been there already.
I would not be a fan of most of the beachfront suites as they lacked privacy. Maybe the third floor in the new section, but would rather take my chances with an ocean view or atrium. Some of the atrium rooms near the palms looked like they would not be desirable. You are not able to sit on your patio in peace as the noise from the palms would be too much. It is amazing how loud forks and spoons can be when there are a hundred people eating.
Housekeeping and turn down service were terrific.
Our first visit was to the beach bar, but was already closed so we made our way to the Arura lounge. The bartender was extremely friendly and made us Bob Marley shots. (tip, the art is in the preparation and display, not the taste) This led into piano night with Ultimate Chocolate and company and was very fun and entertaining.
We frequented the pool and beach bars many times over the week. The staff at these bars were hit and miss. Some would be very friendly and efficient while others seemed to ignore you and pretend you were not there. This was my fifth trip to JA, so I know what island time is, but this was different. Also, these bars smelled! I have been to some dive bars that smelled better than the pool bar. I am not sure how often or how well these are cleaned. I know with all of the syrups and liquors that it is bound to create odor, but to be this strong outside just seems to be lack of proper daily cleaning. The other thing that was uncomfortable was the amount of bees at these outdoor bars. I know that it may be out of their control, but I would think some better cleaning might improve this. I ended up getting stung while sitting in the pool at the bar, so just beware if you have allergies that you may want to stay away if you see a lot of bees.
All the drinks were very good. If you asked them for something not on the menu, they would make it. They had plenty of alcohol and you could ask for more shots if needed. I know people on here recommend bringing your own insulated cups from home, but did not feel this is a need. It actually slowed up service for other patrons as it is not as easy as it sounds to make 94 oz. of snake eyes with one blender.
If you do not like this beach, you have issues. I have been to many beaches and this one is on the top of the list. Even with the beach being much smaller due to erosion, it was still a world class beach. It is maintained very well and the water is amazing. We saw a huge stingray swimming within about 20 feet of shore and it just swam right around the people.
The beach chair situation was a little annoying. One of the days we did snorkeling and came to the beach later, we had to pull some towels off of chairs that had gone unused all morning just to have some chairs. It seems like a lot of chairs are ‘reserved’ with peoples stuff whether they plan on using them or not. Since the resort was at full capacity, this was definitely noticeable. So, we had to go out in the morning before breakfast just to make sure we could save some chairs as we spent most of our hours on the beach and actually used the chairs. The floating cushions on the chairs have seen better days and there were some chairs that did not have them. Apparently they are waiting on shipment and did not have them in yet.
The vendors were not bad at all. If you say no thanks, they keep walking. Security was very high and the most I have ever seen, but was worth it as they kept the vendors moving along. We also took several walks/runs on the beach outside of the resort and did not have much of a problem at all. Tip: Right next door you can get massages for $1/minute which is pretty reasonable considering what the resort charges.
Again on the service… Very hit and miss. Waited 10 minutes with no line to get a table at Patios for breakfast, another 20 minutes to get our menus and than another 30-40 to get our food. All in all, it was an hour and fifteen minute breakfast. We went another morning and were in and out in 40 minutes. Island time is not an excuse for lack of service…I saw our plates sitting up on the serving counter for about 10 minutes before someone went to pick them up and bring them over. We are paying the money, at the very least, if there is not a line we should get seated and have menus within a reasonable time (less than a half hour!). We don’t take vacation to spend hours in restaurants…we can do that anywhere. We go to spend time outside and on the beach and the less time spent in the restaurant’s the better. We also found the service on drinks differed quite a bit. A few times, they would ask us for another round of drinks when we had barely finished our first and other times, we would be making our own trip to the bar after having empty glasses sit for 10-20 minutes.
Food was very good at most of the restaurants. Lemon grass was probably our favorite. The buffet at the Palms always had a huge selection and Patios had some great options. The pool bar was ok, but mostly good for late night meals or quick lunch at the beach (and a hair incident in the food did not help). Seagrapes was very good and I’m not a vegetarian. Although, I found it hard to understand that it took 45 minutes to cook up a couple veggie burgers when you sit 5 feet from the grill and there are only half a dozen other people there to eat.
New Years Eve:
What a great event put on. A cocktail hour that was phenomenal and a dinner with great entertainment capped off by releasing lanterns on the beach and eventually dancing at the night club. Perfect!
So, I think that sums it up. Would definitely go back in a heartbeat. the service was a little disappointing this time around. I prepared myself for island time service and that was not enough as it was slower than my 4 previous trips. It did not ruin the vacation by any means, but looking to make this review as objective as possible.
If you are looking between CN and CSA, the best way I can sum it up is that they are both very similar with the exception of size. CSA is about 4 times the size, so it means more choices of food, but also more walking. We liked the quaint home feeling of CN, but also liked the amenities and size of CSA. We also liked that we could walk down the beach to Margarittaville or other spots very easily from CSA where as CN is more beach merchants and more hassling. If you can’t decide, just switch it up and do them both one year after another; either way you will not be disappointed.