Getting there: US Air from New Orleans to Montego Bay through Charlotte. We arrived around 1pm in Jamaica at the airport. Customs went pretty fast. About 20 minutes total between immigration and customs. Got to the Couples desk, dropped off our luggage and had time to drink 2 red stripes. We waited about 15 minutes for the bus to leave and then were on our way. The drive was nice even though it was really cloudy. It took a little over an hour to get to CSA, with a short stop along the way to get a beer.
Checking in: Once we got to CSA, check in went fast. We signed everything, drank some nasty champaigne and were shown to our room. Our travel agent promised us an upgrade but we didn’t get it. We did request a ground floor room closer to the swim up bar and got that at least. It took about 30 minutes for them to bring us our luggage so we had to sit and wait to change into our swimsuits. It took us that long to figure out how to work the a/c which had been off for quite some time because the room was blazing. Luckily, once we got it turned on, that room stayed very cold the entire trip. Don’t worry about a hot room in the newer section!
The room: We stayed in a garden verandah suite (#4103). The room was what we expected which we liked. Nothing fancy, but everything was as we expected. The only complaint we had at check in was that the minibar had not been stocked from the day before. We requested Red Stripe as well which was denied, although it was on the cart every day being delivered to someone I’m sure. We had a problem with ants 2 days in the bathroom but the spray they provided took care of it. I am still not sure where they came in from. We had several roaches and beetles get in during the week which freaked out my wife but in any tropical environment, they will be there. They have plenty of bug spray in the room already to take care of these. One thing I was surprised with was the size of the bathroom. I had never really seen any pictures online but it was much bigger than I thought, especially the tub/shower. The only complaint in there being on the ground floor is that people can seen in your window as they come downstairs if you leave the window open. Which brings me to the road noise since we were probably 40 feet from the road? Sure there are cars honking and such but if you close the window you don’t notice it as bad. At night, it never bothered us. The fan and a/c make enough noise and the noise from the crickets outside drown it out as well. So if you are worried about road noise, don’t. It might be different on a higher floor though. One thing I noticed was that we only got turndown service our first night. The rest of the time,they never did it.
The resort: I can’t complain about anything on the resort itself. The beach was amazing, the grounds were beautiful, and the staff was all great. We stayed in the ocean 90% of our day. The flag service was speedy as well. We would go up to the Cabana Grill several times for a snack and sit at the swim up bar to cool off. It took longer to get drinks there with only 1 bartender but not too bad. Adrian made the best drinks so it was worth the wait. The bands that walk around playing werec ool to listen to. Most of them were good. I knew more reggae songs than a few of them though. Everyone we met offered us drugs (blow, weed,pills, etc.) but they were all nice and didn’t push it. The sand fleas were bad at night and even the bug wipes we brought didn’t stop them completely, so we just avoided the beach at night.
The food: We tried everywhere and enjoyed each one. We preferred the Palms for breakfast because of the variety and omelet bar. The fruit was fantastic. For lunch we stayed at the Cabana grill for burgers,patties, jerk chicken, etc. The Palms buffet lunch wasn’t as good. For dinner, every meal was superb. Lemongrass was my favorite, but Feathers,Patois, and Palms were all great. We never gave sea grapes a chance other than a snack of fruit or ice cream because meals are meant to have meat.
Activities: Our favorite was the catamaran trip. I thought it stopped for cliff diving but I was wrong. We did get out to swim in some caves which was cool. They had life rafts for the weak swimmers as well and the slide off the boat was fun. We missed the snorkeling and glassbottom boat trips because my wife got hurt that day and we had to cancel them. We did the shopping trip into Negril which was cool but I wish they would have taken us to the markets instead. Each shop was just an Indian ran place like you see in America instead of actual Jamaicans. We got some t-shirts and gifts but I would have rather go to the markets. Maybe it’s a liability issue or something with Couples. The evening music was cool but we didn’t stay out too late any night. We went parasailing with Elvis one day which was cool. You will meet him fast, an he never changes clothes so you cant miss him. It took a while because they transferred us like prisoners from boat to boat out in the water before actually getting us to the right one but it was fun and you actually get to see a lot of the island to the north. The view up there was awesome and it’s unlike anything else. We also did the private beach dinner which was $170. If you are wondering whether or not to spend the money, dont. It was nice, but not worth that much. It was our honeymoon so I went ahead and did it for the memories and pictures alone but it was so dark out there that we couldnt see our food and it felt like it took forever. Its a great idea but way too overpriced for me. We each had 2 massages which were amazing. If you want to spend money on something extra, do it here. The entire spa is an experience. Best massage I have ever had. We brought our own snorkels to play around in the water by the resort. We got to see alot of fish, especially around the volleball net. There are some really pretty fish that hang around there as well as some huge crabs. They will hide from you but if you have goggles you can see them. We only saw one jellyfish the entire time out there as well which was nice. It was enormous though! You can also collect some cool shells if the water is still enough. We walked to and from Margaritaville a few times and stopped in all the shops along the beach. It was totally safe and nobody bothered you too bad but everyone offered something. One thing I noticed is that the wood carvings down the beach were half the cost of the ones sold during the week on the beach at the resort. Also, the shops in Negril are half the price of the resort shops. The only thing I found cheaper at the hotel was rum and coffee. The airport shops were way overpriced and way too crowded.
Overall, I would stay here again in a heart beat. I saw a lot of the other resorts on the boat we took out and none of the beaches compared to CSA. We saw R, Couples Negril, B, Br, and S. For the inclusions, the price, the tipping policy, and the beach alone, I would keep coming back. I’m sure some places have nicer and elaborate rooms but we barely stayed in ours to worry about that. In my mind, CSA is the #1 all-inclusive in Jamaica and you won’t beat it.
Sublimebrad~ Great review!
Do you have any pictures of the room or bathroom you wouldn't mind sharing? My hubby and I are going to CSA in March 2010 and are staying in the same room category as you did.
Thanks so much Brad, for taking the time to report back to us on your trip. I am so glad that you and your wife enjoyed yourselves. I read that your wife hurt herself??? I hope she is okay. Thanks again
charlotte customs was easy. we flew in and only had an hour to get to our next flight. as soon as we got off we went down the ramp to customs, they had about 20 lanes open, each with only 5-6 people in line. we told the guy what we brought back, he stamped it and went to get our luggage. then you just take your checked luggage right down the hall on your way to security and drop i off with us air again. no problem mon.
Just FYI....."Each shop was just an Indian ran place like you see in America instead of actual Jamaicans". Jamaica's motto is "out of Many One People". There is a substantial percentage of Jamaicans whose grandparents and greatgrandparents came from Syria, Lebanon, China and India as well as other countries. These people are "actual Jamaicans" too.
You the man. Thank you very much for such a detailed review. My fiance and I are going in just over a month for our wedding/honeymoon. We have the sunset wedding at CSA on August 20th. Again. Thank you.
sublimebrad, pls try seagrapes on your next visit. my husband also is a "meat man." however,when he finally conceded to try seagrapes he fell in love with the veggie burgers and had to have one everyday! they are awesome!
Thanks for the detailed review and glad you and your wife enjoyed yourselves. My fiance' and I really were excited about having a private dinner on the beach but I think we'll just do something else instead. We're getting married Aug 21st and I'm very excited.
Brad your review was great! 1/2 my guests are flying from New Orleans so its good to know things went smoothly. I'm coming from Houston. We are getting married at CSA 10/2/09 at sunset and your post has put me at ease about some "what ifs" that kept popping up!
Just a tip on the rum and coffee. If you take the free shopping trip CSA has to offer on the second stop there is a small grocery store right next to the shopping plaza. Cant remember its name maybe value mart??? Anyway coffee at the gift shop was $18.00 and I paid $10.00 for it at the grocery store. I also got my Rum and Jerk seasonings there too)