This was our fourth trip to Couples, second to CSA. Our first Couples vacation was to CSA in 2008 and we had been very anxious to make it back there. Our other trips were to CN and CSS, and after this last trip I'm not 100% sure what my favorite resort would be. And we still need to try CTI.
While waiting for our trip I was really torn about using the Club Mobay to get through Customs and Immigration quicker, especially since we were flying in on a Saturday. My mom and step-dad were on the same flight as us and did use this service, my wife and I did not, and while they definitely made it to the lounge quite a bit quicker than we did, we did all still end up on the same shuttle. So in the end I was glad we hadn't spent money on the service.
The shuttle ride was the same as ever w/o any issues, got to the resort and started the check-in process. Our room wasn't ready, so we did have to go get some food first. When I did the pre-checkin I did the mini bar request and also put in comments about our room preference. I know there are no guarantees, but I was surprised that others in our group who had never been to Couples before got the top floor corner room I was hoping for, and we got a first floor middle of the building room. Then we got to our room and the view was incredible (beach view in a Garden Room), and I did end up really liking the first floor and being able to walk out the back patio. Glad I never said anything negative about the room when they first gave us the #, I would have looked like an idiot.
The only negative this trip seemed to be the staff. After three previous visits to Couples we do go out of our way to smile and say hello to every member of the staff, for whatever reason, overall, the staff on this visit didn't seem as out going and friendly. That does not in any way mean all of the staff, as we still had some incredible experiences and had a grocery list of names of great staff members on our comment card when we checked out. But compared to our trip to CSS, the vibe was not as friendly. That said, the staff at the Palms was by far the greatest we've had at any restaurant at any Couples we've been to. We found out before our visit that my wife was pregnant and due to past issues her doctor had a number of things that she wasn't supposed to eat, including buffets (due to other guests cleanliness). She could eat from the cooking stations at the Palms however, and then after talking to the staff at the Palms they would get my wife food from the back that hadn't been touched and she was able to enjoy everything. The other restaurants were also accommodating in omitting different ingredients that my wife was unable to have. The only dinner where we had real issues was the repeater's dinner since everything was already made. Luckily it was served quickly and we were able to leave and still go get her a meal somewhere else.
Weather was hot and beautiful all week, the only real rain we got was our last afternoon. Our friends had a Beachfront Suite, so we relaxed on their patio while they went on the shopping excursion. This also resulted in me meeting another member of the staff who went well beyond what I expected. (I only said the overall staff before, at least half of the staff we encountered were as great as always). I was using our friends mini bar and went out their front door to find the ice machine. The ice machine was right outside our room door and I was expecting something similar, but I looked and didn't see one. There was a member of staff sitting there taking refuge from the rain (it was pouring worse than being in the shower) and I asked him where the ice machine was. He wouldn't tell me, just kept asking for the ice bucket saying he would go get it filled. I tried telling him a couple times he didn't need to and I certainly couldn't ask him to do it, but he insisted and after a bit of a stand off I finally gave in and gave him the bucket. He took off at a run to a different building to get it filled for me, and brought it back with him soaking wet and a smile on his face. Amazing!
Check out was as seamless and sad as ever. The ride back to the airport quiet and somber. We didn't do the Club Mobay for departure either, and the lines all went quick. We had an issue w/the first leg of our return flight (an issue w/Orbitz and nothing to do w/Couples), but I am happy to report that my 6 bottles of rum cream and 3 bottles of rum all made it home in perfect condition.
All in all, it was another great vacation. If I hadn't been to any other Couples I don't think I would have noticed the issues w/the friendliness of some of the staff. And those that didn't quite meet past experiences were overshadowed by the ones who did. To answer the ever popular question about which resort is best, I still don't know. If i could have CSS's grounds with CSA's beach I think I'd be in heaven. With this trip having turned into our babymoon I have no idea when we will be back, but it will definitely happen sometime in the future.