CSS Review 5/7 - 5/14 (long...)
We sadly returned on Saturday 5/14 from a wonderful week at CSS. We went for an early celebration of our 10th anniversary and I donít think our vacation could have been better. There were a couple small hiccups, but nothing major and nothing that could tarnish this wonderful trip.
Our flight actually arrived early, and it was probably only 30-45 minutes from the time we got off the plane until we arrived at the Couples lounge. Checked in, had my first couple Red Stripes, visited the little boys room, had a couple more Red Stripes and we were on our way. We were probably there for only 20 minutes, I was just really thirsty. I was pleasantly surprised that there was not someone telling us we had to tip the gentleman who carried our bags from the lounge to the shuttle $1/bag or we had to carry the bags ourselves as there was on our last trip. I have no problems tipping them for that, and happily did so again, I objected to being told that tipping is required. The shuttle ride was pleasant and uneventful, made one quick stop and then arrived to CSS about 1 ĺ hours later.
Check in at the resort was easy. We were greeted w/champagne and a cold towel and after making sure the bags got unloaded from the bus we went inside the lobby to get our room. It was before noon and we were told that rooms wouldnít be ready for at least an hour and we should go get some lunch. We did our paperwork first with Julia (she was so friendly and helpful), were given our repeaters resort credit and the extra resort credit for booking when we did. This did take a few extra minutes to straighten out because we had changed our reservation dates, but it was handled quickly and easily. We were just about to leave the lobby to get some lunch and were called right back to the front desk, they had a room ready for us. I was shocked it was done so quickly (we arrived before noon so I expected to wait) and Julia told us we had the best room they had. I was a bit skeptical of that, we got a one bedroom ocean suite, so I knew it would be nice, and figured this was just something they tell everyone.
We were walked to our room (G16) and it was more than I expected, even after all my research and constantly looking at the pictures online. The room was bigger than expected, and the balcony and view were incredible. It looked like ours was the one room in our building (unless you had the penthouse suite) that didnít have any sort of obstruction blocking the view. It was just a perfect view of the bay and sea, truly breathtaking. We quickly put on our swim suits, did a bit of unpacking, and started walking down the stairs to see the rest of the resort and really start relaxing.
The resort grounds are beautiful. I had looked at all the pictures I could find before arriving, but none of them do justice to how amazing this resort actually is. Weíve been to three of the four Couples resorts (still havenít seen CTI, my one big hiccup from this trip), and I think this is by far the most beautiful of all of them. The beach is not 7 mile beach, not that I expected it to be, but my wife and I both agreed that if you could have the beauty of CSS with CSAís beach it would be the best of everything.
For our week there, this is what we experienced:
Dining: Overall the food for all meals was good, and the service was the best weíve had at any Couples resort. I drink iced tea by the gallon at home, and have always had issues at restaurants anywhere keeping up w/me. This was not an issue at CSS, by my second visit to Palazzina the waitstaff knew me and were right on top of this. We got reservations for dinner at Palazzina our first night and Cassanova the second, not any issue at all. Dinner at Palazzina was good, but Cassanova definitely surpassed our expectations. That was the best meal weíd ever had at Couples. We enjoyed it so much that we made reservations there again for the following night, and had another great meal. Tuesday we skipped the beach party and ate in our room. Service was right on time and the food was good. It was really nice to have full room service like that at CSS, something we hadnít experienced with either CSA or CN. Wednesday we did a private dinner at the Wedding Gazebo to celebrate our anniversary. That was very romantic and a perfect way to celebrate our anniversary. Iím not sure we would have spend the money on it without having the resort credit since the food is the same as you get in the restaurants, but it was very nice. I did however feel bad about our waiter having to run back and forth to get everything for us, until he hinted about a tip. I didnít think that was appropriate since we arenít supposed to tip there. Thursdayís dinner was the repeaters dinner, which was our first time to do that and Iím glad we went. I had heard differing opinions on that, but we met a wonderful couple there and my wife won a $100 gift certificate to the Jewel Box for knowing the names of the spa locations. The food was good, some thought the steak was undercooked, but to me it was a perfect medium rare. Friday night was the gala, and that was excellent. Lots of choices, all very good, and once again the wait staff recognized me and made sure I always had a full glass of iced tea. Most of our lunches were at Palazzina, as were the breakfasts, and all were pretty good. By the end of the week however we were both bored of the options for breakfast, a bigger variety of items would be nice. We also had a lunch or two and some snacks at the beach grill, everything there being very good.
Activities: We did Dunns River Falls on Sunday because I was told that was the least crowded day to go. It was beautiful and not a hard climb. The hardest part of the climb was holding hands with everyone. I have a hard enough time not tripping when walking on flat ground, and being as big as I am, I was worried about slipping and bringing down others with me. The only somewhat questionable thing about this trip was that the van driver was expecting tips. I happily tipped our videographer and the two guides, but our driver was wearing a Couples shirt and name tag, so I wasnít sure he should be taking them. I did tip him so I wouldnít be the only one who didnít, but still wasnít sure about that. We also did the snorkel trip and that was ok. It was a little rough and my wife was starting to feel sea sick, and I didnít like that life jackets were required. I learned to swim before I could walk and feel more comfortable without the life jacket, but did wear it anyways. The only other activity that we attempted to do was the trading places to go see CTI, and this was one of the hiccups on the trip. I called guest services the night before we were supposed to go to confirm the time because I couldnít remember. The gentleman I spoke to said to be there at 8:45am. When we arrived down to the lobby at 8:45 the bus had already left and the lady told us we should have been there at 8:30am. She said our only other option was to take a taxi, but I didnít want to spend money on that so we ended up spending the day at CSS and my wife got another massage.
Spa: My wife got two massages while we were there, the aroma therapy massage and a hot stone massage. She liked the hot stone massage best of all. Both were done by Ruth, and she just loved Ruth. Ruth even managed to find my wife some guavas near her home and brought them for my wife, which was so nice. My wife is originally from a tropical country and canít get many of those fruits here in the states, so when we are on vacation she is always on the lookout for her favorites though they are still hard to come by. Ruth bringing her some guavas (her favorite) was above and beyond and truly appreciated. My wife did keep checking the veggie bar for jackfruit, but they never had any.
Staff/Guests: As mentioned previously, the staff at CSS was the best we have experienced at any of the Couples weíve been to. Iím sure Iím going to butcher the spelling of some of these names, and will forget many great people, but here goes anyways: Julia at the front desk, Ruth at the spa, Giftson, Keishon, and Courtney were great w/my iced tea (especially Giftson who found me at the gala), Vanessa with housekeeping did a great job on our room and was so friendly, and Taneisha who worked at the pool and beach bar. We also met a lot of nice guests this time, Richard and Laura from Canada, Jay and his wife on the Dunns trip who really helped my wife w/the climb, and Tommywommy (and his lovely wife Peggy) whose posts I had been reading on here for years.
After all that Saturday came and we had to leave. Iím not sure if Jamaica has squatterís rights, but was sure it wouldnít apply to me and my room if they did. The ride back to MBJ was fast and easy, the driver didnít make us stop and drove quick but safe. I donít like to go slow on the roads, so to me it was perfect. Our flights home were even pretty close to on time and our luggage made it all home in one piece. All in all it was another wonderful vacation at Couples. Now itís time to start planning the next one.