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.
We were there at the same time as you (12/23 - 1/1) and I agree with you on the beach chair situation. It got really annoying by the end of the week. We'd typically see maybe half a dozen chairs free on the entire beach, but without floaties because people were claiming two floaties each.
We even ran into a situation where we'd gone off to the Cabana Grill for a quick lunch, and got back to find others sitting in our chairs on our towels. I thought that was weird, since we had to ask for our towels back!
The service issues we noticed also, and it made us sad because we didn't recall these issues from our last visit in 2010. We mentioned it on our checkout survey, too.
Thank you for taking the time to post a detailed and well-written review. We have been to CSA 5 times and are going back in 3 weeks.
The service can be hit or miss, we've learned that over the years. Although mostly the service is very good. The secret at SeaGrapes is to sit on the barstools and not at one of the tables. The service at the tables is not so good for some reason.
It is a little disturbing to hear about the saving of lounge chairs. Every year I swear that I will not play the lounge chair saving game. Last January I refused, and we were very lucky, and always found 2 loungers when we got to the beach around 10:00 most mornings. The year before, after not being able to find chairs after the 2nd morning, I resorted to saving 2 chairs before breakfast. There simply was no other way to have chairs at 10:00. I am sure the chair saving is reflective of the clientele that particular week and not any lack of lounge chairs. Here's hoping for the best at the end of January!
Hey Bob and Judy! We will be going at the same time as you. We arrive January30th and it will be our 1st time. I do hope we can get chairs on the beach. This is such a stress to have to worry about playing this game. And what concerns me is the resort is to be at full capacity. I hope we get good service and reasonable time frames for service after paying for much for this long awaited trip. Maybe we will see you there Debbie & Paul
Hi Debbie & Paul - so glad that we will be there at the same time! We arrive on 1/29 (Sunday). I really don't think the chairs will be an issue. They got A LOT more loungers last year. We found that if you head towards the Greathouse part of the beach, that there are usually many more chairs available at all times during the day. Although, again, a lot does depend on the clientele that week. Where are you coming from? I think that you have made a wonderful choice in CSA. It's not perfect, but it is very close!
Hello again Bob & Judy! We will come in on the Monday just after you We are coming from Toronto Canada. Where are you coming from? We are booked into the garden verandah suites. My hubby is just getting over a very nasty bug (lots of coughing) and hopes that is it for him for the season. He said good to get it over with now I currently have a very sore throat but am doing everything to keep healthy! We are getting so close in our countdown now that we are now getting serious about our packing. We are so super excited. How on earth do u sleep the night before leaving?
Hi Debbie & Paul - we're coming in from Buffalo, NY! Are you flying from Pearson or Buffalo?? When we travel, everyone thinks Bob is Canadian because the Buffalo accent is so close to a Canadian accent. I'll make sure Bob brings his Buffalo Sabres cap so you can spot him (he also looks a little bit like Tom Hanks). Bob had a bug right after the new year. I'm with you, I hope that's it for the season for us. I hope that you feel better! It's pretty much impossible to sleep the night before vacation. I usually wake up at 2:00, and then just get up - since we have a 6:00 a.m. flight, it's not too early to get up actually.
BobandJudy- we are flying out of Pearson and also have a 6am flight. We leave our home at 2am to get to the airport only to sit and wait in lines. I think we should have flown out of Buffalo and would have saved a lot of taxes. We will keep our eyes out for the Sabres cap and see you there in the glorious sun and warmth.
I totally understand what you mean by the smell at the pool bar. We found just the same gross smell when we were at CN and CSA. Luckily, we are not pool people so we just stayed away. But, it was noticeable just walking by. We noticed the bee problem last time we were at CSA also. We also noticed the service at the bars. We are not the kind of people that hang out at the bars, we just get our drinks and go back to the beach. We noticed that the people that tend to hang out there get the best service.
We have never had a problem with finding chairs whenever we go, but we are there in spring when it seems to be less busy, although people would get up super early to save the hammocks...which we thought was really rude. Especially since the hammock savers might not even show up in "theirs" until noon. So, if you are reading this and you are one of those hammock savers...RUDE RUDE RUDE!
I just returned from CN and got the flu on our last day A week and a couple of days later and I'm still not 100%. So I went to the local health food store and the proprietor, who's also a nurse, swears by pure Oregano oil to ward off and repair from colds and flus and more! The product is a tincture called called Oreganum plus and you put about 10 drops in an ounce of water or OJ and knock it back once a day. It's worth a try!!!
Funny, we went to CSS in October and also noticed all the issues you mentioned - service being hit or miss (it was mostly "miss" in our case lol), the bars did smell (they need to clean them with bleach at the end of the day...I don't think they do this...just wipe down) and more specifically in regards to service the time you spend waiting for drinks/menus/food was all over the place. It seems like service USED to be much better at Couples...I wonder why it's changed? This was our first time at CSS and although we did love the property, I'm a little hesitant to try another Couples vacation because of the service dissapointment. CSA would probably be my next choice to try...just don't want to get our hopes up and have them deflated. We're considering going to Aruba next year too. Might try a non AI and see how that goes.