CSS July 2013 Trip Report
Below is the trip report from our visit to Couples Sans Souci this year.
Arrived at the airport and breezed through Customs, maybe 5 other couples ahead of us in line and when we got to luggage belt our luggage was already waiting for us, quick line at end of customs only 3 couples ahead of us here then on to Couples Lounge. Checking in at lounge was a great experience, they take your bags right when you walk up and give you matching claim tags. They take your name at the desk and then invite you for a drink at the Bar, free Red Stripe & water. Had to go out to outside bar to get a Rum Punch. We were first in lounge, and within 15-20 minutes we had about a dozen more couples show up. A few minutes later they split us up into a bus heading to Negril and a Bus heading to Ocho. All told we were in lounge 25 minutes or so. We boarded the bus, it was a very nice bus with good air conditioning and newer. The driver Brian was great, asked the ladies to call him Sugar. Bus ride was uneventful and most on the bus wanted to stop for a drink, so we made the 1/2 way stop just past the Braco property. Total bus ride with stop and all was a little less than 2 hours.
Arrived at resort and staff there was great. Escorted ladies into the lobby and asked the men to identify their bags for the bellman. We were greeted with cold towels and champagne which was a nice touch. Check in was real quick, all forms waiting for us and ready to go, we did the online check in before we got there. A few minutes to sign forms and they were escorting us to our room. They drove us and our luggage down to the building. We were in A block which was closest to Sunset Beach and Main pool area. Room was great. Clean, cold and seemed recently painted. Huge Jacuzzi bath tub that 2 adults can sit side by side in and a walk in shower. A little living room/sitting area and a balcony with table and chairs overlooking main lawn and pool area. Our little wet bar area also had the drinks we had requested waiting as well, a bottle of rum, and a bottle of champagne, sodas, water and juice.
After unpacking in the room, we ran over to Palazina restaurant for some lunch. During the day you can get lunch from 3 places and room service. Palazina, Bella Vista (Main Bar) and Sunset Beach (nude pool). Palazina was a good lunch. Many great things. Full Buffet as well as some to order items and a Pasta station. The food was incredible. Service was incredible. Restaurant was very well maintained. We then went to visit Sunset Beach. Pool was a welcome change from the last 2 years at another resort. Pool was nice, clean and very good size. Beach was big, lots of chairs and clean. Plenty of chairs around pool. Good size grill and nice size bar with seats around pool deck as well as in the pool. Grill was good, has both buffet items and cooked to order each day. You can get Jerk Chicken any day, nice and spicy. The bad news is no lamb chops They don’t have them on the menu and only place to get them on the resort is Casanova. Veronique is the main bartender at the Pool and she is awesome! She is quick and makes anything and reminds me a lot of Merle. She also just won employee of the month for the resort. They also close the Bar and Grill here early 2 nights a week at 5pm (Wed & Fri) for everyone to be able to come over and enjoy the Sunset or the custom sunset dinners here.
After a trip back to room and showers and then dinner. Showers were great, lots of water pressure and except for our last night there, we had plenty of hot water. Rather than go day by day, instead I thought I would highlight the restaurants, bars and other items.
The one thing I would highlight about the resort is Customer Service. These people really know how to treat you. They never say no, they make sure you are happy the entire time. Employees are constantly singing, always have a smile and take time out of their day to make sure yours is going great. The lady that made up our room every day, knew our name by day 2 and would make sure she said hi to us each day and ask how things were going. The EC's for most part were great also. A couple were fairly new, but the veterans knew how to keep everyone involved and entertained. Even the guy raking the beach in the mornings was singing and enjoying his job. We also took the orientation trip our first day and I would suggest that for anyone going for the first time as we learned a lot about the resort quickly and some things I don't think we would have seen otherwise.
Palazina - (You need reservations here for Dinner) Along with lunch a couple of days, we had dinner here twice. Lunch sometimes has "theme" food, one day we ate there we had Mexican food. At night, it was a full menu and a nice salad bar with a pasta station. The food here was great! Bar is right inside the restaurant so getting drinks is quick as well. I took the time to take photos of all the menus, so they are in the links at the end of this report. Again service was good and employees make the experience enjoyable. You can choose to dine inside or outside here.
Bella Vista (Main Bar) - We had lunch here a couple of days as well as Dinner. For lunch I would suggest the Snapper Sandwich, it was awesome! But you can also get Jerk, Meat Patties, Hamburgers, Salads and more. There is also Soft Serve and the service again is incredible. We heard a woman ask for ice cream and the waiter said "it is self-service on the counter over there, but would you like me to get you some?" Dinner is a little fancier than lunch, but you get to sit right next to the beach at night which was great. Food was great and service again was good. At 11pm Bella Vista becomes the night time cafe for the resort and you can get food there until 6am. Miguel the cook is great and makes awesome Pizza, fries and lots of other things. Comes out and sits with you and makes sure you are happy.
Casanova - (reservations required) - Very fancy and top restaurant on resort. Nice place, very well decked out. Men do have to wear pants and closed toe shoes here. They have a baby grand piano in here and a pianist plays quietly while you are dining. Several courses offered and as I liked to demonstrate you can have multiple appetizers and other items :) Service again was impeccable, and whole dining experience took about 2 1/2 hours. I took images of the menus, feel free to look at them and see what was offered. You can dine inside or outside on patio at Casanova.
The Balloon Bar - Piano Bar and main bar at top of resort. Very fun place and Noxroy is the bartender you want to see. Plenty of seating in here and on the patio, but the one bad part is the heat. There isn't any fans in the bar and because of where it is located at the top of hill you sometimes don't get a good breeze through there. The patio outside here is where they have Showtime 4 nights a week. We also did wine and cheese tasting here in the afternoon one day and it was a great time!
Main Bar - This is where a lot of people hang out at night. Several nights we were there until Midnight or after and there were 6 or 7 couples along with us. Bryan is the nighttime bartender and kept everyone thoroughly entertained. Great place for sitting next to the beach, enjoying a drink and a cigar. They do play some tunes, but not so loud you can't talk. This bar stays open until 1am, after that you have to drink what is in your room.
2 nights a week they set up a disco on the pool deck at Sunset Beach. Tuesday's after the Beach Party and Friday's after the Gala. The first hour or so of music is great and they get everyone involved, but then it starts switching to more what I would call "Jamaican Nightclub" music and a lot of guests bug out. We complained about this the first time and they did better the next. You can also swim the nights of the disco, but you need to have suits on, but the other 5 nights it is open for late night swimming without suits. You can also hire a bartender at night over there for $20 a couple and they open the bar and turn on all the lights for the pool area for swimming. We did this one night when we were there and it was great, price per couple goes down the more couples you have. However, Veronique said that if we wanted to be there and not hire her, she would leave us some mixing supplies and cups and we can use the booze from our rooms. They would replace the booze the next day.
Beach Party - The beach party was awesome. I was actually able to sit in my chair and not sink!! Food was set up on little carts on beach and was mostly "Local Fare" type food including a guy cutting open coconuts for fresh coconut water. Food was great, Entertainment as good, took several pictures of this, everything from Dancers to acrobats and contortionists. They even had a couple of items they got the audience involved in and they didn't have to beg people, more people volunteered than were actually needed. Suggestion for beach party, get their early as it fills up quick! The resort was over 90% occupancy when we were there, but it never felt crowded until Beach Party or Gala night.
Gala Night - Held on Main Lawn on Friday nights. So much incredible food, first time we didn't even make it around to all the food stations. Everything from Roasted suckling pig, Beef Wellington, Pasta station, Jerk Chicken, Pork chops, incredible deserts including a flambé station. Christmas lights and candle lights light up the entire area and they start setting this up at 11am. Showtime is held on the stage on main lawn next to Gala so you can stay in your seat and enjoy the show.
Repeaters Dinner - Yes, we were able to mooch in on this! Unlike in years past, this was a full sit down dinner in a private conference room. It was great! About a 2 hour affair. We had surf and turn, Fillet and Lobster Tail! Here you get Lobster at any restaurant at resort on Wednesday night. They sit select employees from the resort with each table as well. They held drawings for several prizes and we won $100 at the Jewel box, which ended up costing me a lot more :) They also did an introduction of all the guests that attended and the number of years each has been there. The winner was 15 years.
Manager's cocktail reception (Open to everyone at the resort) - This was much like the old repeaters reception we were used to at the Grand Lido resorts. It was very fun and the Drink of the night was the Full Moon!! Several little appetizers and a full bar setup.
Mineral Pool - They have a mineral pool that they will only let you stay in for 45 minutes at a time, but they swear it takes a year off your life! There is also a smaller mineral pool that is fed by a natural spring and the little fish will eat the dead skin off your feet! Next to the pool is also a nice size gym and a smoothie bar and a food set up that you can get many healthy selections from.
There is a pond next to the A block building. It is called the turtle pond. Go stand next to it for 5 minutes and you will see why! We did it several times and had 25-30 turtles swim up next to the shore. Brought some bread by a couple of times as well. Funny to see the turtles climb over each other and the fish jump on top and try to get the bread only to have the pelicans swoop in and eat the fish! Brings a new meaning to circle of life :)
There are a lot of steps at the resort. We did them at least once if not twice a day. Having said that, if you booked in A or B block you could do 85-90% of your trip down at the bottom without having to go up the stairs, and if you call, they will send a transport down to drive you to the top so you don't have to do the stairs. Wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but there are a lot of stairs.
Spa Report from Stacy –
I really enjoyed my spa visit. Like all resorts, the spa workers come around the pool to get business, so I didn’t have to do anything to make my appt. The spa is halfway up the step, along the cliff side of the resort. Everything was great, but the thing I really love is that all their "rooms" are overlooking the water outside. except that every room is separate and private. You can even request some the specific rooms, like the ones under the bridge that are over the water. The views are stunning and the sound of the ocean is so relaxing. I highly recommend it!
Diving report from Reid –
The scuba diving was ok to good. Since I'm a newbie, third year, I have nothing to compare it to, except for Negril.
The dive boat left the resort around 9:00am. We would show up to water sports between 8:30 - 8:45am. The later you showed up, the more of a cluster it became. Everything needed for the dive was obtained from water sports, including weights. They kept no weights or extra tanks on the boat, since it was so small. The crew assembled BCDs and regulators on the tank and the
O2 was confirmed there. I found carrying the assembly to the boat difficult while carrying fins, mask, and weights. Many people hoisted the BCD over their shoulder and walked the short distance to the boat. The dive crew made sure that the ladies did not have to carry their own gear to and from the boat. The boat was small and limited the diving to around 12 people. The boat was about 25 yards off shore in about 18" of water, so getting to the boat was easy.
Rides to the dive locations were relatively quick, and we soon entered the water. From my recollection, the dive master often failed to ask us to buddy up and on one occasion, we "lost" a diver, whose weight belt fell off, she surfaced, and returned to the boat.
The entry to the water was a back roll off of the boat. On my seven dives, three of them were just "eh" as we didn't see much and there was little to explore. One dive had us visiting the shipwreck, which was cool for me and had us returning to the boat through some caverns. This was a relatively shallow dive, 35 feet, but had good elements to it. Two of the dives were decent as we saw small rays, 12 inches, and a turtle, on each of the two dives. The best dive was at Caribe Reef where we saw a huge turtle 4 foot
shell(?) a small octopus, several large lion fish, and a crab. This was definitely an "advanced" dive as the ocean floor was probably around 120 and we leveled off 80-90 as we dove the reef.
We had rough seas a few days making it difficult getting back on to the boat after the dive. Protocol was to take all of your gear off in the water, except your mask, hand it to the boat and climb up the ladder onto the boat.
We returned from each dive around 10:30am.
A resort photographer came with us 2 dives and the pictures turned out pretty good.
They have a sign up list for one day at a time. Upon returning to water sports, after each dive, we would sign up for the next day. This is important as the boat fills up quickly.
I never went on the second dive so I have no report to give for that. I do, however, assume that this was a MAJOR beginner dive, as I saw three to four couples (honeymooners) taking the beginner course each day.
I've heard that if there is enough interest and money (I think I heard $25 a person), you can arrange a night dive. I've seen a video of one of our new friends, Grant, who did a night dive shortly after we left. To sum up our trip I would say it was an incredible experience! Probably one of our top 2 in Jamaica. Weather was incredible and in 8 days rained a total of 5 minutes one day, didn't even bother to get out of pool for that! And one night it rained for about 30 minutes. Several nights we had a lighting show out over the ocean. Lost power a couple of times, but emergency generators kicked on real quick and kept everything going. I would totally recommend this resort to anyone and am already looking forward to next year, actually would like to go more than once a year if I could figure that out :) I would suggest an earlier July trip for the group as around the 16th time frame a large group started arriving and to prevent overlap it might be better for something like the 7-14th or around there.
Pictures from resort - https://www.dropbox.com/sh/q7ssnm9f7vzl32h/BcFc0JStVi
Diving Videos - https://www.dropbox.com/sh/53ug3auvrz68st8/9j226to4_j