We have been to Jamaica every year since 2006. We stayed at Couples Negril in 2008 and 2009 and had great experiences both times. This year we decided to try a new location but stick with the quality we’d found at Couples. We chose CSA because we prefer the beach in Negril to Ocho Rios. We stayed at CSA July 1-8 in an Ocean Verandah Suite. On prior trips to CN we stayed in a Deluxe Beachfront Room. You really can’t go wrong with either choice, but here’s a breakdown of our thoughts on the two.
We’ve never felt unsafe on the trip. However, this year our driver didn’t talk to passengers at all. Every other year we had engaging drivers who were eager to talk about the sites along the way, their country and culture. This year our driver spent the whole time on his cell phone and didn’t stop along the way for a bathroom/beer break. If we were first time visitors to the island, we would have missed out on a great introduction to Jamaica.
Overall winner: CSA. Beds are very comfortable at both resorts. Flat screen TVs, mini bar service, etc. are all the same. However, CSA just seems better maintained than CN.
Bathroom – CSA was roomier and more modern. We loved having a clothes line for wet bathing suits. On our first day our shower did not work. We called the front desk and literally in 5 minutes a maintenance person was knocking on our door and fixed the problem on the spot. We were blown away by the response time!
View of Ocean – we got a similar view of the ocean at both resorts. We had to lean over our balcony to see the ocean. Upside – no road noise.
Housekeeping – Far superior at CSA. Our rooms were made up and left very clean each day by early afternoon. We had an issue with a personal item being left on the bed and we thought that housekeeping had mistakenly taken it to be washed with the bedding. We called and within minutes our housekeeper was at our door and showing us where she had placed the item. Last year at CN we often returned to our room to get ready for dinner only to be greeted by an unmade bed and dirty towels. Housekeeping was very late and inconsistent in quality at CN.
Overall Winner: Tie. We are always amazed that Couples consistently serves a variety of fresh and delicious food. From breakfast to dessert, they don’t disappoint. We dislike buffets in the US but love them at Couples.
The bars at CN were always very clean and the bartenders very skilled. The drinks at CSA were tasty but we did not stop at either of their bars on the beach because often when we passed by them, they smelled like sour milk. I think they just were not kept as clean as the bars at CN. The piano bar at CSA was excellent and we stayed up later than at CN.
We received excellent service at both resorts. However, I would say the staff at CSA was more professional and seemed to be enjoying their jobs more than many of the people we met last year at CN.
Pool Overall winner: CN. The pool at CN is bigger and more fun. It could use some maintenance to replace missing tiles, etc. The two pools at CSA are nice but small.
Beach Overall winner: CN. The beach is the same in both locations – gorgeous. There is ample shade. Fewer vendors walking the beach at CN. However, we were impressed with the security guards at CSA and their ability to move vendors along if they seemed to be lingering too long. We like the choice of the nude beach at CN.
Sports/Workout FacilitiesOverall winner: CSA. The facility itself is lovely. We spent time there each day. The open air cardio/weights area had very current equipment in great shape. I was worried that it would be too hot to work out there, but there is ample ventilation and fans. We took a yoga class from a visiting instructor from the US in the air conditioned aerobics studio. We both had sessions with one of the tennis pros (part of the all-inclusive package). He was great – worked with each of us on our skill level. The wellness bar was a refreshing break from the bars serving alcohol. CN has an air conditioned workout room with the same type of equipment but they only have a small open air deck for classes. You can certainly get a workout in there but the facility cannot compare to CSA.
Overall winner: CN. I am a certified Rescue diver with 20 plus years of experience and I have always been impressed by the staff at CN. They are consummate professionals. Safety is always their priority. At CSA there were problems/safety issues with the dive boat every day. We started out our week with an hour delay and then were greeted by a boat deck covered (I mean covered) with gas. By the time we reached the dive site my feet hands and gear were coated with gas. At the end of the dive we surfaced and noted a sheen of gas on the water. It seems that while we were down they refilled using the 30 gal drum of gas they brought with us, then washed off the boat deck with liquid detergent, sweeping the gas and detergent into the water. Every day there was a delay due to refueling and mechanical difficulties, and we always had to travel with a large drum of gas on board. The lead instructor explained to me that the Water Sports manager was too cheap to buy a new filter, so the boat had to be refilled just before the dive, to minimize the loss of gas. On a Saturday two tank dive, we actually got stuck and the crew worked to repair the engine. The fuel was leaking out of the filter at a high rate and the engine compartment was flooded with gas and water. After more then an hour they finally got the boat started. This went on the entire week. I spoke with the manager after the Saturday dive and he stated that the boat needed to be overhauled, however, the mechanic had been delayed in arriving. He was unconcerned and obviously unaware of the serious safety issues which were involved. If a diver was injured and needed to be brought back to shore, this could have spelled disaster. I was shocked that they continued to use the boat all week, finally taking it out of service on our last day. I was disappointed that we could not do a night dive because the boat was unsafe. Again, the Water Sports manager was informed and did nothing. Inexcusable! He should spend some time with and take some lessons from Brian, the Water Sports manager at CN.
Overall winner: CSA. The spa facility itself is much nicer than CN. We enjoyed using the Jacuzzi prior to our treatments as well as the aromatherapy steam room afterwards. The treatment rooms are air conditioned. At CN they aren’t. The staff is very good at both resorts and the treatments we received at both resorts were superb. But the overall experience at CSA is better.
Beautiful at both. CSA much lusher. Didn’t have a problem with mosquitoes or sand fleas at CSA. Sand fleas were a problem for us last year at CN at night.
Overall, CSA seems to be in better physical shape and a little better managed than CN. We still love the compact feel of CN, the beach and staff. If we return to Jamaica next summer, we might split our stay between the two resorts to get the best of both worlds.