December 27th, 2012, 04:26 PM
CSS/CTI Split stay review!
We recently returned from a split stay of 4 nights at CSS then 4 more at CTI. We've been to all the resorts - CSS (2x), CTI (4x), CN (3 or 4x - I forget!), and CSA (1x). This was our first split stay and we would definitely do it again - seemed like we had 2 vacations :-) Here's some comments and a bunch of random thoughts!!
CSS was as gorgeous as ever!!! Only a few trees seemed to have any hurricane damage and we were specifically looking for it. The weather was excellent and the water was very calm while we were there. The beach is a bit bigger and flatter than CTI. Mr. Battaglia (GM) is very visible and involved in everything that goes on. I really think that CSS is what it is in a very large part to him. We did not attend the repeaters dinner here.
We were assigned a room in D, which was very nice and had a lovely bathroom, but no balcony or view. As with many people, we preferred a room in G. Even though they are in the same category, the rooms aren't comparable. We stopped by the front desk to see if there was a chance we could move and were told that the room list for the next day wasn't out yet, and to stop back first thing in the morning. Having been up since 1:30 am, we didn't see much of the D room that night anyway!! Zzzzzzzzzz. The next morning, there were 2 people ahead of us at the front desk, also requesting G rooms. One couple was very understanding when told there were none available. But the other woman threw a total fit!!! Escalated the lack of "her" room up the chain and was very unpleasant to the staff. We were about to walk away when the desk clerk indicated we should wait a minute. Once the rude woman left, he said he actually had a room for us in G!!! Turns out there was one room available for the just 3 nights we were still there, but none for longer stays. We had perfect timing!! The bellman moved us right away and even brought our mini bar bottles too! Beautiful view, huge room.
Our suggestion for CSS is to make the D rooms a different category. Pay for a D, get a D - no surprises and happier guests!!
The move to CTI was exceptionally smooth - they told us what time to be ready and Lenworth drove us over in one of the vans. Since it was 11:30 am, our room wasn't ready, but we had expected that and were already in our bathing suits. Got a beverage, lunch and some sun, then the wonderful Byron took us to our room right above the lawn near the swim up bar. Just as we remembered it, very nice.
The weather was absolutely fabulous the first day - completely flat water!! But the wind picked up as the week went on, although it was still sunny most of the time. One day we got swamped by a wave!!! Thank god for my waterproof Kindle bag. I laughed so hard I had everyone on the beach looking and laughing too :-) We find the pianist in the piano bar to not be of the caliber of those at the other resorts. He doesn't know the words to the songs and can't keep a steady rhythm. And of course, no one has the personality of Paul or Ulti!!! People we met found out that my husband is a pianist and persuaded him to play after the guy left.
Our suggestion for CTI is to please return to the towel check in and out system. Having the ability to take as many towels as you want and not return them is just not working. I saw one guy take the last FIVE towels and the people behind him didn't get any!! People leave them everywhere, and you don't know if chairs are taken or not. Plus the poor watersports crew has to pick up all those towels at the end of the day. That's not fair to them.
We were disappointed in the repeaters dinner - it was the worst one we've ever been to. First, no staff member sat with us. Unusual, but I'm sure it does happen if someone gets sick or called off to solve an issue. We mentioned it to Mr. Henry (GM) at the end and he seemed surprised. The legendary never ending glass of wine (I'm a past victim!!) was instead an always empty glass of wine - our table received one refill and was not offered any drinks from the bar. There were 2 choices of both entree and dessert on the menu, but we were just handed our food and not asked which we wanted. I ordered tea when the rest of the table ordered coffee. The coffee was filled and I received an empty cup. We finally managed to grab a waiter after dessert was over to actually get water in the cup. And we weren't off in a corner - we were right in front of the kitchen door! At least we had a lot of fun with the people we sat with, especially making fun of the dinner's events.
- Absolutely best place out of all 4 resorts to get a massage is the huts at CSS. So secluded and great view!!
- We preferred the food choices at CTI. Can't beat the pizza at lunch!
- Wonderful guests at both resorts - met people from all over the world which is always so very interesting!!
- All the young people on the board say they are looking for night life, but it's always us slightly older folk who are still up and having fun in the wee hours! The youngsters are all long asleep :-)
Next trip is CN and/or CSA. Already can't wait!
January 2nd, 2013, 02:24 PM
Great review!!! And speaking as abbynewt's hubby, I will defnitely vouch for the accuracy of the details!
January 2nd, 2013, 05:42 PM
Thanks for your great review Abbynewt. We have recently returned from CTI and were torn weather to split our break between CTI and CSS or not. In the end we decided against it for this trip as we were concerned about losing time packing and unpacking and having to get to know a new resort/restaurants/trips and booking these all up/planning them at the right resort on the right day, but it seems it worked out great for you so next time we will definitely look at doing it!
We did however spend a day at CSS and absolutely loved the setting, atmosphere (it somehow seemed more laid back/quieter/calmer/ peaceful - not sure if that is because it is more spread out?), the beaches and bays they were set in were gorgeous and we generally preferred the overall feel and setting of CSS over the more contained CTI (which of course does have benefits too!).
However the one thing that has really put us off from booking CSS for our next trip was the food. At CTI we ate lunch every day in the Patio Restaurant buffet which as you know is huge, the food is wonderful and has a daily change in the menu (we loved the Mexican and Asian days!) and then either booked Eight Rivers, Bayside or would go to Verandah for dinner (preferring a served dinner to buffet). We couldn't establish though how many served dinner options there are at CSS and the types of restaurants they are (Asian/Italian etc)
Whilst we were there we tried the beachside grill and the food was similar to the grill at CTI, however we then went to take a look at the lunch buffet and were really shocked at how small it was and how limited the options were compared to CTI – did we visit on a bad day or is it always like this? Did it change much?
I really would love to stay at CSS on our next visit but based on what he saw at the lunch buffet my husband is not at all keen.
Having eaten at both can you let me know how the lunches normally compare and also what the food at dinner is like and the options available? Also did you notice any difference in the staff – they appeared to us to be friendlier at CTI but based on a few hours visit I know that maybe very inaccurate!
January 3rd, 2013, 05:24 PM
We are not fans of the theme lunches, so that's why we find the lunch choices at CSS limited. CTI seemed to have more "other" choices on the salad bar, and of course the pizza.
We thought the staffs were equally friendly!
January 4th, 2013, 07:24 PM
Having been to CSS twice with trip #3 coming in October, we agree that "G" block is the place to be. Large suites with an amazing view. I talked to the operations manager in October and when I told him which block we were staying in, he asked how many times we have been repeaters!!! Unfortunately the day we were supposed to go to CTI, the weather was not the best, so we missed out. Maybe this year we'll get to go. I also agree that the best place to have a massage is in the hut at CSS. Absolutely amazing!!!! Some say a massage is a massage, but you haven't had one till you're lying there, listening to the waves, the smell or the ocean, the expert staff, the whole nine yards. What an amazing experience. Only 38 more Fridays until we are back home!!!
January 5th, 2013, 07:22 PM
Great review. We also did a split - CTI them CSS for 7 nights each. Loved it. Good suggestions. I hope they read this and think about it.