Finally, our trip report from our October 7-15 trip to CSS. (It takes a while to deal with post-trip depression!). After staying at CSA twice, we were a little anxious to go to the other side of JA and try a different resort. However, we did not regret our decision at all! While it was certainly different than the Negril side…we enjoyed it very much.
By the way, Jana did quite fine while we were gone. She didn't feel well with a sinus issue while we were gone, but a little advise from a Dr. friend got her through the crisis. Jana and her Papa got along fine, but I think he was ready for a rest after a week with a teenager!!
Our arrival to Jamaica went fine. After a very short night, we headed to the airport about 3 am and our flights went well. We arrived in Jamaica about 11:00 am, completed our paperwork on the plane, and zipped through immigration and customs…even though our luggage was the last to come out. We arrived at the Couples lounge just in time for a restroom break, to change into shorts, and drink a quick Red Stripe (or 2) before we loaded up. Our driver was great--he knew everyone was just anxious to get to the resort, so no stops. He didn’t talk a lot but provided information if we asked for it.
We were greeted at CSS and shown to a seat where we were presented with champagne and a cool cloth. Ahhhh--let the pampering begin! The staff gave us our paperwork, lots of helpful information and soon we were on our way to our room!! We were given room E-9 which we loved! Russ laughed at me as I looked around the room…I kept saying, “Are you kidding me?!” I was sooooo excited! The room was huge and the view was just great! Here is a summary of our thoughts of CSS:
We enjoyed the room at CSS. The steps are sometimes a real pain--but usually after we had eaten too much! Didn’t use the living room area except to pile stuff. The balcony was huge and the view was great. Had breakfast out there every morning. The bathroom was really small but we did OK with that. The bed was OK--the bedding was not as soft and comfortable as I like and I really regretted not bringing my own pillow but I was so tired every evening--it didn’t matter all that much.
The staff members were incredibly attentive and friendly. We met many of them and they recognized us time and time again. They were TOP NOTCH and went above and beyond!!
Restaurants: Pallazzina--We had a great experience here. We loved the variety and the made-to-order dishes for lunch and breakfast…salads, omelets, pasta, etc. We had dinner here one evening for lobster and it was delicious--sat outside and that was very enjoyable. Didn’t like going inside for our salad, but the meal was terrific. Staff was great and very attentive.
Beach Grill/Bella Vista--This was OK for a quick meal--enjoyed the burgers and fries. The staff here were terrific as well. Needed a little more variety on the menu. The jerk chicken was too spicy for me! Wow! We enjoyed our dinner at Bella Vista and loved sitting out by the water. The food was OK, nothing real remarkable.
Cassanova--The food here was superb. We enjoyed Cassanovas very much. Every meal was excellent--the beef tenderloin, lobster, lobster bisque, grilled shrimp appetizer, crab cake appetizer, salad for two…it was all just absolutely delicious. The staff was friendly, relaxed, but always ready to fill up your glass or meet any need. Loved sitting inside listening to the piano player--our very favorite restaurant.
Repeaters Dinner--We had the pleasure of sitting with Pierre, CSS general manager. What a friendly gentleman who most obviously has his finger on the pulse of what is happening at CSS. We had a delicious meal--the pumpkin soup was yummy! I am usually not a fan of eating lamb, but it was delicious here! Overall great meal and great company. Do not miss the Repeaters Dinner.
Gala Night--What a transformation they make for the Gala Party! Beautiful! The food was great--wonderful variety and the entertainment was fun. We enjoyed meeting our table companions and had a nice conversation. We did not go to the after-party…too tired after a day in the sun!
Beach Party--YUM! The roast pork was soooo good as was the jerk pork. The fried fish was delicious and the salads and other sides. The only downside was the dessert table which had been invaded by ants--ewww. The entertainment was fun and we made some purchases from the vendors who were selling their crafts. Again, we did not go to the after-party.
Room Service-We had room service breakfast almost every morning. The service was prompt and food was fine--especially when sitting on the balcony with the fantastic view. We had a couple of appetizers and champagne throughout the week but no meals from room service. It seemed like we were never hungry!
Private Candelight Dinner--We had our private dinner in the wedding gazebo at night. It was decorated with flowers and candlelight all around. It was so romantic walking down the steps with the trees overhanging the walkway leading to the gazebo. The food was delicious, the server attentive and friendly, and just such a lovely dinner together. This was a real highlight of our couple-time together.
The Balloon Bar was excellent--every drink we had was well made and the staff was friendly. The rest of the bars were OK--sometimes seemed like they were out of supplies or the staff wasn’t sure how to make some drinks. Missed the drink menus and the martini bar from CSA!
We didn’t do a lot of activities….just relaxed most of the time. We did go snorkeling and enjoyed seeing the ship wreck but not a huge variety of beautiful fish. Snorkeling here was a little different as the water seemed to be more rough. There were a couple of people that did not feel well from the boat ride and we headed back a little earlier but I appreciated the water sports guys looking out for everyone’s needs. We went out on a hobie cat sail with one of the water sports guys. That was exciting in the rough water and lots of fun!
We went to CTI on the Trading Places excursion. We didn’t stay the whole day--only a few hours. We wanted to get back to CSS in time for a wedding of friends we had met. We were glad we visited CTI. We ate breakfast there, floated in the water and in the pools. It was compact and everything was close and convenient. But, it seemed more “hotel-ish” and kinda reminded us of a resort that might be in the US. The staff was friendly and it is very pretty--just not sure it is the resort for us.
WOW, oh wow--what to say? We booked CSS when they offered the $350 credit for spa services and we had a couples massage from our Romance Rewards. So, we had our 30 minutes couples massage and later in the week a 50 minute couples massage in the Hideaway gazebo. Relaxing and oh so lovely laying there hearing the waves crash on the rocks below and feeling the ocean breeze across your back. The 50 minute massage was awesome although I was afraid Russ was going to start making obscene noises when they began to massage our ears …he was semi-comatose when they were done. I had a facial after my massage and the seaweed wrap was oddly very enjoyable. We brought soap to shower off the oils and we relaxed in the mineral swimming pool afterwards with a healthy fruit drink from the bar. We also took a quick dip in the mineral grotto--COLD!! You really MUST go to the spa when at CSS--it is the BEST.
We missed the white sand and clear water of the Negril beaches…but we knew CSS beaches would be different. HOWEVER, we also enjoyed the CSS beach as well. The palapas were plentiful (although the roofs were rather low as Russ found out) , loved the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, and loved the peacefulness, ie. lack of vendors and jet skis. I am not a fan of walking through seaweed and mushy sand to get to deeper water, but I did OK once I got out and onto my float. The selections of pools were terrific and felt like you had a private pool at times.
Sunset on SSB was truly magnificent. Sitting there with my hubby while the saxophone player filled the air with tunes that touched your very soul, watching the beauty of the sun setting in the distance--paradise indeed.
There is nothing to say about CSS grounds except WOW!!! There are so many beautiful areas, private locations, and new things to see. I know we didn’t see it all and every day we tried to find something new. We have a great appreciation for the age-old trees, greenery, cliffs, and tropical scenery. It really was very incredible.
Conclusion: (Thanks for sticking with it thus far!)
We had a much needed trip full of “couple time”. Our lives are very hectic and it is a real treat to be away from the schedules, calendar, phones, and the usual frantic pace. CSS was an incredible place to retreat. It was so private and peaceful and full of treasures and scenery that just takes your breath away. The staff was wonderful and it is obvious that Pierre manages his staff in a way that promotes only the best care and concern for the people that come to CSS. We will be back--no doubt!
Since we have been to CSA and now CSS…I will take a stab at comparing the two resorts. (Just our opinion…)
Rooms…CSS--Loved the balcony and the extra space to hang out wet suits or gather things to take to the beach. CSS felt very private and secluded. Here are the things we missed from CSA: waking up and being able to see the Caribbean from the bedroom, watching the beach “wake up” while eating breakfast on the balcony, being able to see the sunset while getting ready for dinner, and the style of the rooms with the contrasting white walls and dark wood shutters.
Staff: CSS triumphs on this one hands down…no doubt about it. On this alone, we would return to CSS without a doubt.
Restaurants/Bars: We enjoyed the restaurants at both resorts. The bars at CSA probably top CSS in some ways--missed the drink menus from CSA and the martini bar!
Spa: Getting a massage at CSS in a gazebo with the Caribbean water crashing below--absolutely heavenly.
Beaches/Pool: Of course we love the beach at CSA and there is no way to replicate it at CSS. But, we did love the variety of pools at CSS, the sound of the waves breaking on the shore, and the peacefulness of no vendors and no jet skis.
Grounds: The grounds at CSS are incredibly beautiful and romantic--full of hidden treasures. CSA is beautiful, well cared for, and easy to find the way around but just can‘t compare to tropical setting of CSS.
So, where will we go the next time? We aren’t sure! A Couples resort for sure--absolutely no doubt about that. But, we just aren’t sure when and where.
If CSS could be taken and plopped on the beaches of Negril=perfection! There are different aspects that we love about each resort. We really thought we would never love a resort like CSA…but we did! We feel very blessed to have fallen in love with two Couples resorts!
Great pictures! We were trying to figure out what room category and floor you took the pictures from....
We are going over New Years and are in a Beachfront Suite.... Building A or B. The layout picture on website does not label which is A or B.
She loves to leave the balcony doors open at night...any bug issues? She recently (4 months ago) had her knee worked on so we can not decide ..what floor would be better (1-3) for her...she is hitting the stair master hard LOL.
Any suggestions are appreciated. Anyone been there on New Years?
Thanks in advance.
Again...We greatly appreciate your wonderful pictures.
Hi Lisa - I never did get around to posting a review of our trip to CSS this year (after having been to CSA previously), but you pretty much summed up everything that we felt! We loved CSS so much, and also felt that the staff were just exceptional. And nothing beats the couples massage in a hut on a cliff. *Sigh* Good luck figuring out which one you'll go back to! We struggled with that for months. In the end, we picked CSA for next year, but it was a close call. We just missed the beachfront rooms and watching beach in the morning just like you! Thank you for taking the time to post a wonderful review.
Thank you for the review. You have made me more excited to go to our first visit there. We enjoyed CTI 3 times before and had made so many friends with the staff that we were unsure we were making the right choice but after your pics and review we see that we did. thank you very much.
Great review & pics, Lisa !! You got some awesome sunset pics !!
And, I think that you're spot-on with your CSS vs. CSA comparison !! We've been to all 4 Couples, but we're going back for our 5th CSS trip next May (& we just got back from there 2 months ago) (just can't stay away from that fantastic place) !!
Excellent review Lisa, you summed up pretty much how we felt about CSS after having been to CN twice, all the same points, I feel the same way if you could plop CSS on CN's beach (sorry I prefer Bloody Bay to Seven Mile Beach) you would have perfection.
Loved the pictures! Thanks for sharing. We are honeymooning at CTI in March. I was wondering if it was worth checking out CSS on the exchange, I think we will for sure now. Do you know how they do that? Is there a bus?
I read your review and felt like I was writing it. Went to CSS last year but decided to try CSA this year. I agree with everything and we just booked for September 2010 and its back to CSS. I love the formal night the attention to all the guests and just the overall atmosphere. We are not the kind of people that walk for miles on the beach so the CSS beach is perfect I love the seclusion with no vendors and only the hotel guests. We also will do the visit to CTI but have heard the same about the atmosphere but its all what you make of it and I don't think you can go wrong at anyone.
KandS--See info. below re. Trading Places. We were the only couple the day we went and they sent a van over to take us there at 8:30 in the morning. We wanted to come back early but there was no van running right then, so we took a cab back. Enjoy! ~Lisa
Romance Rewards members will now be offered the privilege of complimentary day passes to a nearby Couples Resort. We're calling the program "Trading Places".
In Negril, Trading Places is available between Couples SweptAway and Couples Negril.
In Ocho Rios, Trading Places is extended between Couples Sans Souci and the NEW Couples Tower Isle.
Here are the rules and conditions for the new Romance Rewards Trading Places:
1. Trading Places is restricted to Romance Rewards members only. Since it may take several days for new Romance Rewards member account to be activated, only Romance Rewards members who have an active account upon arrival at your resort are eligible.
2. Trading Places is limited to a maximum of 10 couples per day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only.
3. Romance Rewards members must sign up for Trading Places with Guest Relations 24 hours in advance. The sign up is only available while you are on property. Romance Rewards members may only sign up for Trading Places once per stay.
4. Complimentary transfers from your resort to the nearby resort will depart at 9:45 am and will depart from the nearby resort back to your resort at 4:00 pm.
5. Should you decide to leave the nearby resort prior to 4:00 pm, transfer costs will be at your expense. If you miss the 4:00 pm transfer, the nearby resort reserves the right to charge the current day pass rate.
6. Activities at the nearby resort which require reservations such as excursions and scuba are not part of the day pass privilege. Spa facilities may be utilized subject to availability; however no coupons or credits from your resort may be used at the nearby resort.
Not only was that an excellent review of an excellent resort, I loved the layout of your post - very clean and easy to read. I think I'll use this set up when I give my reviews down the road. Nice job!
Reading is fundamental. It's just that for some, it's more mental than fun.
What a fabulous review! We leave for CSS this Saturday morning. This is our first trip to CSS but our 3rd to a Couples Resort (2008:Tower Isle; 2009: Swept Away) and we're excited to see what CSS has to offer. Thanks for all the information you provided and for the GREAT photo album you posted (I can barely operate my computer or my digital camera hehehe). Hope our experience was a great as yours!