June 4th, 2010, 08:05 PM
CSA Review 5/23-5/29 (LONG)
This is basically the same review I put on TripAdvisor but with some tweeking for the Couples message board.
We stayed for vacation May 23-29th 2010 (it was supposed to be our honeymoon but we decided to delay the wedding til next year). It seems that people either love this place or hate it so I was a little scared of how I would feel after going. We are both 35 years old and MOST of the people there were a little younger - mid to late 20s - and were on their honeymoons. We were in the lounge one night and we went around telling why we were there and out of about 10-15 couples, we were the only ones that weren't on honeymoon! Not that this had any bearing on our stay, just letting you know the majority of couples that you will encounter here.
CHECK IN: smooth and easy. They handed us cool towels and champagne, sweet!
THE ROOM: We booked an Atrium Suite. It had a hammock and no TV (which I thought would be romantic) and no fridge. I didn't care about the fridge or the TV at the time I booked it. We loved the hammock and spent alot of time relaxing there when we were taking a break from the water or when it rained. However, about mid week...we were missing a TV. I see the point in the romance of not having it, but it would have been nice to watch just while getting ready or in the morning eating breakfast. No biggie though. But the fridge...that was something that was needed. We were quite far from a bar or restaurant and if we got thirsty for something besides water when we were in our room, we'd have to walk quite a ways to get something. You couldn't get anything in a bottle besides beer or water so the idea of putting something on ice for later was not an option. As for the road noise, we were somewhat close to the road. So at night we did hear it just a bit. It wasn't bad but I can see if someone booked a Garden Suite (which was in the buildings right behind us) it would be a HUGE problem. We also had a problem with ants - like swarms of them! We told our housekeeper and she would get rid of them but they would come back in a day or so. It was an ongoing problem, but the rooms are completely open so I'm not sure what can be completely done about it. All in all, we liked our room and our housekeeper was wonderful and she took great pride in her job. I loved the hammock on the Atrium suite - I mean LOVED - however, next time I'll have to book a room with a TV. I understand the love of some not having that TV in the room, however it's just not for us.
THE FOOD: The food was awesome! Fabulous! If you can't find something you like here, then something is wrong. Between the buffets and the restaurants, there is tons to choose from. We had no trouble booking Lemongrass or Feathers and neither did anyone else we encountered. I found them both to be splendid and so was the service. I loved Lemongrass (the yellow curry with shrimp was some of the best food I've ever ate!). I wanted to book it again, but didn't have time. The only service trouble we had was at the buffet and that was when you ordered something besides water. A couple of times it took a few minutes to get a Pepsi or a drink from the bar. We ate at Patois twice for dinner. Neither meal was bad but just not as good as the other restaurant choices. Also, I gotta mention the fish tacos at Seagrapes...yum! And I HATE fish, but everyone was talking about them so I had to try them. They were sooo good.
THE BEACH: The beach and water is so beautiful and breathtaking. It was more than clean everyday and the staff does an awesome, over-the-top job of keeping it that way. The water activities were easy to book and there was tons to do. We went on a catamaran cruise, wake boarded, went scuba diving, and sailed the hobie cat and paddle boats. All this was included in our stay! What we didn't like about the beach...the TONS - TONS - TONS of vendors and solicitors. Most took a simple no thank you and left you alone but it seemed constant! There were a couple of jet ski and para sailing guys that would not leave you alone. They would come hound you while you were relaxing in the water. We had to literally move away from the jet ski guy while he kept yelling at us. We had to keep telling him NO all week long. I understand it's a public beach but there should be some sort of way to limit this kind of solicitation at the resorts.
THE NIGHTLIFE: There is none. Everyone is in bed by 10pm. The only thing that stays open is the Aurora lounge/club/piano bar. Don't expect anything exciting to be happening there though. There was a beach party (although it happened indoors due to rain) the last night we were there and it was quite fun, however still over by 10pm. The nightlife was a bit disappointing for us.
Don't let my review seem as if our stay wasn't fantastic, because it was! I'm just pointing out the good and the bad in MY opinion. It was actually beyond my expectations. We had a wonderful time and would not hesitate going back with some minor tweeking on our end. By about mid week we were a bit bored. We wished we could have taken some off site excursion tours but couldn't afford it - they were quite expensive. So maybe next time, we will save up for that or even consider doing a split stay at another Couples resort.
The resort was awesome!! The staff was friendly and great. Like I said, beyond my expectations. The grounds were lush, tropical, and beautiful. I don't think I could see myself staying at anywhere else in Jamaica besides a Couples resort. In fact, I'm planning my next trip in my head right now! Dreaming...ah yes, dreaming...
June 5th, 2010, 11:49 AM
Great trip report, so glad you loved it! I just wanted to comment on the age of couples at CSA. My husband and I are in our mid 20's and we always go in December. When we are there we always feel like we are the youngest people there. Most of the couples the week we usually go always seem to be in their 40's to 50's, which is fine by us, because we have no problem hanging out with any age group. It was probably mostly 20 somethings when you went because May is a popular month for honeymooners. Just didn't want older couples to be discouraged from booking at CSA, because I feel like it really depends on the time of year you go with what crowd is at the resort. Believe me you will have a BLAST no matter the age of people at the resort.
June 5th, 2010, 04:12 PM
What a great review!!! Thank you so much. My husband and I are going Feb 28-March 6th 2011! The hardest part is that it is soooo far away, and I can't stay off the message board! lol. I did wonder about the fact that I saw in another message that there was no glass on the windows. Really don't understand why they don't put screens at least! And vendors worry me due to the amount of money we pay to stay there. I still can't wait. We are renewing our vows on March 2nd at 4pm. 20 years for us. I have never been outside the united states so I can't wait! Hope the beaches are as pretty as they look in the photo's I have seen.
June 5th, 2010, 09:03 PM
It's weird that we were there a few weeks earlier and found things to be so different.
There were hardly ever vendors on the beach, only 2 of the 10 days we were there. I thought they were there more often last time. There were people selling cigars and cigarettes but that was it on the rest of the days. The para-sailing people were off to the side and never said anything to us unless we left the resort.
The crowd was a lot older than we were. When we arrived we were the youngest ones in our group and some of the youngest people we saw. Most were in their 40s or 50s and many were older than that.
We were in a BFS (right in front of the Atriums) and we would walk right down to the soda fountains that were directly in front of our room and get a drink whenever we wanted. We would go to Seagrapes and the Palms for other drinks since they were so close.
Since we were so close to the Palms we could hear the entertainment every night and it usually didn't quiet down until around midnight. Most of the time there was music and singing until well after 11pm. People would stay outside talking until way after that though. I felt like we were the only ones going in our rooms before midnight. We left the beach party after 10 and it was still going strong with performers and people hanging out there.
We bring a laptop and some dvd's so we don't need the tv. I'm not really sure where they would put a tv in those rooms if they wanted to though.
I think it really all depends on the crowd that week. Sometimes it's older and sometimes it is younger.
Did you try snorkeling and scuba diving? We always find that to be really fun and you can go 100 times and it's always different so you don't get bored.
June 5th, 2010, 10:04 PM
Glad you loved CSA. We discovered it in 2008 and have just booked our fourth trip for January 2011. I guess that tells you how much we love it!! We are forever having to explain to our family and friends why we keep returning, but as my hubby says--blue water and white sand we can find in many places, but the magic of CSA and the wonderful staff who work there can't be found anywhere else! We have become very close to many of the staff there and it feels like we are returning to spend time with family each time we go. We have been able to spend one week there each year and hopefully will be able to continue to do so. We actually began planning our second trip on the flight home from our first! I am sure CSA will call you "home" soon!
June 6th, 2010, 02:21 AM
Good review...I'm surprised about the nightlife thing...We are the same age as you and had the opposite experience at CSA...Aura lounge was generally busy every night we wanted to go which was probably 4-5 nights out of the 8 we stayed.. Maybe it's the time of year that you go as far as that goes and also who is there. I'm sure June is an extremely busy honeymoon time, but we didn't feel like we were outnumbered being just a couple on vacation. We go back in 3 weeks!!! Can't wait. How was the weather??
June 6th, 2010, 11:55 AM
I am glad that u had a nice time. We too, could not imagine staying in a room w/o a TV or fridge. We r staying @ CTI and booked a suite for the fridge and minibar. I am kind of disappointed about the nightlife. I am wondering if that's just at CSA. I have read many posts about different bars staying open until the last person leaves. Was that not an option at any of the bars @ CSA? I too have been pricing the off-site excursions. By doing that, it will help us to know about how much we will spend at the resort. U and your sweetie didn't have a message. All in all it seems that u had a wonderful time.
June 6th, 2010, 11:50 PM
I think I just found your review on tripadvisor. Are you from Knoxville, TN? We are too and headed back for our 2nd trip to CSA. I was just checking out the current feedback.
Just wanted to say hello!
June 13th, 2010, 01:31 PM
It's been awhile since I've got to get on the boards so to answer some questions and comments:
--It just must have been a week for young people haha. As we did see a few couples our age and older, the majority of couples were in their mid 20's and on their honeymoon. We only talked to one couple that was our age and on a "vacation."
--The vendors/solicitors were relentless. Period. If we didn't go back to CSA, it would be because of them. It was that bad. It's hard to relax when you feel hounded every 5 minutes.
--The nightlife was what I said, really we couldn't find anything going on after 10 or 11. The martini bar closed at 11 period. The piano bar will serve until the last people are there, true. However, we were talking and having a nice time with another couple one night and EVERYONE cleared out around 11:30 and we were the only ones left. They turned the music off and everything, so we kind of felt like we should leave also. We stayed until about 12:15 but felt kind of weird doing so...no one said anything to us, we just felt like we were being annoyances by staying.
--We did go scuba diving and did the catamaran cruise, which were both awesome. The snorkeling was canceled due to rain and we couldn't get booked again. However, we just kind of got bored being on the actual resort. We thought about doing some excursions or going to Ricks (the cab ride to Ricks was $20 pp each way, which would have been $80, no thanks). The excursions were just too expensive for us because we didn't budget for them. That has no impact on how we feel about the resort, just poor planning on our part but next time we'll know.
--The weather was great, it rained once mid-week for a couple of hours and ALOT the last day we were there but all in all the weather was gorgeous.
We LOVED CSA. I didn't want my review to sound negative, but with first timers especially, it was important to me to give my honest, non-biased opinion. Now that my fiance and I been back for a couple of weeks and had time to think about our vacation. So after discussing it, the only reason we would not go back is because of the vendors as I mentioned above. The resort itself is awesome and beautiful as is the beach. If we ever get the chance to go back to Jamaica, I would not hesitate to stay at another Couples resort. We were talking of maybe though staying at CSS or CTI where the beach is more private. I just loved how beautiful and clear the water was at CSA so it would definitely be a hard choice because of that.
June 14th, 2010, 08:46 AM
I'm really surprised about the vendors hounding you. We were there in April, and the vendors stayed near the water, just walking back and forth. They are not permitted to approach you, unless you invite them. I said a polite NO to a vendor twice, and within seconds a security guard was there and he literally tore a strip off the vendor for not immediately leaving me after the first "no." Strange that you had a difficult time with them.
June 14th, 2010, 01:57 PM
We were there 5/21 - 5/29 and were a little surprised with the vendors. It was our second trip. There were about the same number of vendors, however there were about 2 who did not stay near the water line. They were about 1/2 way up the beach & walking in between the sunbathers. This happened on at least 2 days. I was surprised & was wondering why the security guards weren't saying anything.
June 22nd, 2010, 06:03 PM
I think the reason for the young honeymooners is because of the time of year you went. We go every year in October and there are not too many honesymooners. There seems to be more people there during this time celebrating anniversaries, renewing vows. May is a pretty popular month for weddings so anywhere you go would probably be the same way. So its not really true and maybe a little unfair to say that is what people will encounter when going to Couples.