CTI/CSA Review - a bit long.
We have just returned from an eight day split between CTI and CSA, doing four nights at each resort. As most people express, the airport process, Couples lounge and airport transfer went great.
CHECK-IN: CTI - the paperwork went fine, we received a cool towel, but had to ask for a beverage which was finally brought (I believe it was a champagne punch). As repeaters, our package wasn't ready even though I had pre-registered. It wasn't until a day and a half later we received our items with incorrect t-shirts sizes, not a big deal, but the organization of the check-in was not the best. It took three days for them to finally find us the correct size t-shirts. CSA - Couples had arranged a private transfer which went very well. We arrived at CSA around 9:30 am (three hour ride). The check-in was so smooth, professional and quick. We received a cool towel and a glass of champagne, as well as a bag with our t-shirts, spa and gift shop vouchers and repeaters invite. We were given the option of looking at two rooms and choosing which one we wanted (as one was ready and one we would have had to wait for), we quickly chose the room that was ready - an Atrium that had partial sea views.
ROOMS: CTI - we booked a deluxe ocean view and it was exactly as expected, beautiful view. CSA - again received what we booked and expected; an atrium room, we were fortunate to have had a beautiful view here as well. It was a ground floor, which I was a bit unsure about, but turned out to be just fine. Housekeeping at both locations was excellent. We always had fresh towels and turn-down service.
RESTAURANTS: CTI - the reservation system desperately needs to be updated. You are to fill out a request sheet and then they evidently send it back to your room once they have booked your reservation. When I explained that we were only going to be there for four evenings, the gal at the desk reluctantly booked us (while I stood there) for one night each at Bayside and 8 Rivers. Since we arrived on a Saturday, the gala was going on for dinner and you could only eat at 8 Rivers (which was booked) or the buffet. We ate at the buffet, which was not great (and not much of a gala in my opinion) There were way too many people trying to be served, we had a difficult time finding a place to sit and the servers had difficulty keeping up with everyone. We went to 8 Rivers the following night for an 8:45 reservation, only to find they didn't have us on the list. Fortunately, they were able to find a table for us. We had the most outstanding server, Courtney and great food. We did the repeaters dinner on Monday evening and that was very good as well. We ate at Bayside and while we love the setting, we still prefer the former menu (Italian). Breakfasts and lunches were good. We ordered room service breakfast one morning and it never arrived, so we just gave up and went down to the buffet. The veggie bar is a fantastic addition. One evening they had a martini bar on the terrace (which we didn't even know was there as it was never mentioned during the orientation). Make sure to go up there, as the views are beautiful. CSA - their reservation system is amazing. It is all computerized and you receive a reservation card which you present at the restaurant. Again, you are only able to book one reservation per restaurant (Feathers and Lemongrass) and after you eat there you can book again, but at least they had openings. We were able to eat at Feathers twice, once for lobster night, and loved this place the most out of all the restaurants at both resorts. We also ate at Lemongrass once and their food is very good as well. We did another dinner at Patios and it was good too. Again, the breakfasts and lunches are quite good, especially the omelettes. We did room service breakfast one morning and it came on time and just what we requested. The sweet potato chips from Seagrapes were our daily afternoon snack. The martini bar up by Lemongrass is most outstanding. They make perfect martinis and the bartenders are a lot of fun.
SCUBA DIVING: Both my husband and I dive each morning and often he'll go again later in the day as well. We were able to get out diving everyday of our trip. The dive staff at both resorts are excellent. CTI dive guys take care of the women very well! I never lifted a tank or did anything. CSA dive guys are more professional and discuss safety on every dive. The boats are comfortable and the dive guys do their best to go to interesting sites and try to find sea life to point out to the divers. We saw a nurse shark, sea turtles and other fish in CTI and did an airplane and tugboat wrecks at CSA.
WORKOUT ROOMS: CTI - great workout room. I used it everyday before diving. Not all guests are great about wiping down the equipment after use, so it would be nice if the staff could at least go in and clean it a bit more often. CSA - this workout area looked great as well. Unfortunately, I became more lazy as trip went on and spent more time walking the beach instead of exercising.
INTERNET: Great connection at CTI, we had difficulty at CSA. We used their internet cafes.
NIGHTLIFE: We enjoyed both piano bars and some of the nightly entertainment. Unfortunately, after a full day of sun and fun, plus too much to eat at dinner, we usually went to bed by 10:30.
STAFF: CTI - overall, the staff at CTI did not seem as friendly as they did on our previous visit to the old COR. Whereas, the CSA staff was energetic and much more friendly. We just felt more welcomed at CSA and the customer service at CSA is outstanding. Example: My husband likes to have a five gallon bucket in the room to soak his dive camera in; in our four days at CTI no one could seem to find one. Within an hour of requesting one at CSA we had it. Upon departing CTI, they never gave us our little lunch bag (not a huge deal) and I totally forgot, whereas CSA presented it to us at check-out without us having to ask for it. We also never had a working phone in our room at CTI, even though I told them it wasn't working. So, to book spa reservations or check on anything, I had to walk to the lobby. Again, not a big deal, but just a lack of communication/organization at CTI.
SPAS: Love the new spa at CTI and we had excellent massages. The spa at CSA is also very nice, but we didn't feel the massages were as good as the ones at CTI. I do appreciate the crossing guards at CSA when you go over to the spa.
We did do the cat cruise at both resorts, these are a nice way to get out on the water. We also did parasailing in Negril (with Elvis). My husband loved it, it was a bit high for me!! One other note, I like to tye dye t-shirts for my grandchildren every year and CTI no longer does tye dye. Fortunately, CSA did and I was able to do it there.
We have been to all four of the Couples properties and have to say that for us CSA comes out on top. We loved the grounds, the restaurants, the staff and of course the beach. Overall, this by far was one of the best vacations we have had; partly the weather, which was mostly sunny, but windy and amount of diving we did. Although Couples appears expensive when you book, if you take advantage of the activities offered, you truly get a great value for your money.