It's been about ten years since I've stayed in an AI resort, so I was a bit skeptical when I booked this trip. I typically rely heavily upon the reviews I read on TA, Frommers, Expedia, etc, however, this time I decided to trust the friends on the message board. Here's my review - and a bit of background info, tips, etc.
I've stayed at many five star properties (Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, etc). all over the country. We eat out at fine restaurants on a regular basis. I live in the city and I enjoy getting dressed up and going out. With that being said... I wasn't sure what to expect at CSA, but I chose to leave my "snobby" attitude at home and go w/ the flow of a beach vacation. I've read complaints about the size of the bathroom, updates being needed, food portions being small, not enough night life, weak drinks, not enough cabanas... you name it, I read it. I studied the threads on the board for almost two months before our trip. All of the aforementioned complaints are ridiculous. Leave the snobbish attitude at home. Here's why:
1) Jamaica is paradise. The beach area is incredible. It wasn't crowded at all and there were plenty of chairs and plenty of shade. One day I got lucky and scored a cabana around 9am. The next day, they were all taken so I spent the day under palm trees and reading in a hammock. On the third day, I woke up early (6:30am), walked along the beach and saved a cabana. It's not a big deal. There's plenty to go around.
2) Food- Ok...I AM a food snob and it's impossible for me to leave "that" at home. If you ever walk away from a table hungry, it's your own fault. The food is plentiful and amazing...I think, as Americans, we have to adjust our view of the portions. Seriously though...I ordered from every category on the menu and I was so grateful that we were served "tasting" size portions because not only did I not want to be miserably full, I wanted to enjoy dessert!! LOL... The Dessert Tower for Two at Feathers was a Kodak moment!
3) Room - We had a GVS. It was the only room available when we booked. Yes, I tried to upgrade the room a couple of times via email and phone- Yes, I was happy to pay for the upgrade. No, there were never any other rooms open. My two cents::: I read about the road noise, poor location, etc. of the GVS. Yes, you do hear a bit of traffic, but really --this is how I pictured it:: the sounds of nature..the frogs, bugs, birds, etc. are too busy composing their symphony that it drowns out the mumbling of the grumpy old man (traffic) and you really don't notice it. I have a history of chronic insomnia and I really thought I might have trouble sleeping b/c of the noise. Not so-- I was exhausted from being in the sun, having cocktails, singing, dancing, etc... I welcomed my pillow every night.
4) People - Staff is happy and courteous. They go above and beyond to serve you and make you happy. We had a little snafu w/ our dinner reservation. I wouldn't have thought twice about it. It was a simple misunderstanding. However, we were given a very nice bottle of wine as an apology. I entered the gift shop last minute w/ a large carving that I needed wrapped or secured. The adorable pregnant girl unloaded boxes so that we had something to wrap my carving in.... This was not her job!! It was her...serving me...going above the call of duty to help a guest. The service is outstanding from corner to corner and front to back of this resort.
5) Resort - No, it's NOT the Ritz Carlton. Get over it!! You're at the beach! No, it's NOT Vegas, baby. Get over it!! Leave your sequins & stilettos at home. Stock up on maxi dresses, sundresses, wedges, flip flops. Let me make this perfectly clear... You. Are. At. The. Beach!! and...it's incredible.
I am so grateful to all of the sweet people we meant You were fantastic and I can't wait to see you soon!