My (very long) review of CTI
Grab a Red Stripe, rum punch or rum cream and settle in!
We were at CTI from Feb 5-12.
Flights – We left from Dallas on February 5 @ 5:45 a.m. on Delta. We connected in Atlanta…had exactly 43 minutes to make our connection…we were running, but we made it! Arrived at Montego Bay @ 12:40ish.
Customs/Immigration – I didn’t notice if there were other flights arriving at the same time we did, but I don’t think there were. Immigration went smoothly and pretty quickly…I’m guessing it only took us about 10-15 minutes to get through. Collected our bags (which were already off the carousel) and headed to Customs. Got in one of the “nothing to declare” lines and were through within a matter of a few minutes. Headed to the Couples lounge (for those who haven’t been there yet…you just go through the double doors, take a left and go to the end of the big room that has all the other resorts lounges.)
Couples Lounge – we gave our luggage to the person standing right outside the lounge (don’t know his name) and he tagged them for us. We then went inside and gave our names to the very nice ladies at the desk. Ava was there, but she was on the phone so I didn’t get to talk to her. They told us it would be about 20 minutes until we were ready to get on the bus so, we got a couple of Red Stripes and headed outside to grab a patty. We had just enough time to eat our patty and grab another Red Stripe when they said our bus was ready. Time to go “home!!”:D
Bus ride – the bus was pretty full. There were a few couples that were going to CSS. We had a very nice/informative driver who kept us entertained. We stopped about half way for a drink/snack/potty break. We were there for about 15 minutes. There was no construction at all and the traffic was not bad. Although the highway was very nice and got us to the resort much quicker than in the “old days” I really miss going through all the small towns. We dropped off the couples staying at CSS then continued CTI. It took us a total of about 1.5 hours to get there from the airport.
Arrival at CTI – We were greeted by Byron, Maxine, Ricardo and what seemed to be the entire staff! It had been about 5 years since we were last at CTI and it was absolutely amazing that Byron, Maxine and Kirk all remembered us! I’ve never been anywhere (including CN) where the staff remembered us like that. After giving hugs to everyone, they offered us a cool towel and asked if we would like something from the bar. Well..yea…of course we did!! We were given our check-in papers to look over and assigned our room. Byron gathered our luggage and off we went.
Room – we had a Deluxe Ocean view room. We were in building 4, room 4313 (4 is for the building #, 3 is for the floor and 13 is for the room)….allllll the way at the end of the hallway…but the view was spectacular! Our room was just as the pictures on the website. We had a zero entry shower (no tub) and had no issues with water running onto the rest of the floor. The one thing I didn’t care for was the sink. It was very stylish to look at, but it was not very practical. It was so shallow that the simple act of rinsing my toothbrush or washing my hands made water splash all over the place! Believe me, this was only a minor annoyance and in no way ruined my vacation! The other issue we had was with the water pressure in the shower…there practically wasn’t any. We had lots of hot water though! I think the pressure issue was probably just a problem with our shower because our friends who were staying in the room right next to us had no issues at all. In all fairness to Couples, I did not report the problem so it was my own fault for dealing with it all week! It just wasn’t that big a deal to me…it did it’s job of getting me clean so, it wasn’t worth getting my panties in a wad!
Food – the food was excellent! We ate at every restaurant, grill and buffet! Our favorite was definitely Eight Rivers. Not only was the service outstanding, but the food was fabulous! Our least favorite was Bayside. I really, really, wanted to like it because it was always our favorite when it was Italian, but we just didn’t really care for the food. I expected it to be like Lychee at CN, but somehow, it just wasn’t as good, in our opinion. Anyway, there were plenty of other things to eat so it’s not like we went hungry! I was a bit disappointed in the “Gala” on Saturday night. It used to be set up around the pool and was a very spectacular event with ice sculptures, etc. But for some reason, they’ve moved it to inside and it was just another night at the buffet (in my opinion). I think the beach party night was going to be awesome, however, it started raining during the Manager’s reception (prior to the beach party) so they moved everything up to the Patio area. It was amazing at how quickly they got everything torn down and set back up! The food was really good that night. The omlettes at breakfast were fab! Myra Sue will take awesome care of you...what a pleasant smile she had! Great way to start the morning...that and the mimosas!
Drinks – well, what can I say?? They are strong and in abundance! There is a drink menu at the main bar and swim up bar in case you can’t decide what you want. Or, you can always just ask one of the bar tenders to make you something. You must try a Chocolate Monkey…not to be confused with Monkey Juice, which also very yummy, but not the same!
Pools – we spent little time in either pool (mostly spent our time at the beach) but the time we did spend there was very nice. The swim up bar at the new pool was sometimes crowded, but sometimes not. It seemed to get more crowded around 4:00 or 5:00 and stayed fairly crowded until it closed at 6:00. The old pool is where they had water volley ball but other than that, it seemed to be pretty quiet.
Beach – very nice. Small compared to CN or CSA, but also has the advantage of being private…no vendors or guests from other resorts walking up and down and no jet ski guys! The sand is very nice and there were always plenty of chairs, even though the resort was at capacity. We did see a few people taking advantage of the pier for topless sunbathing and we also saw 1 or 2 people topless on the beach. It didn’t bother us. We did not go to the Island but it seemed to be very busy! The Islanders were there that week flying their flag.
Service – OUTSTANDING! The service in the ala carte restaurants was attentive without being suffocating! The service at the buffet was also very good, if not a bit slower. One thing I can say though, our water glasses were never empty! Drink service at the buffet during dinner was a little slow, but I think it’s just because the main bar was always very busy during the evening. We did get drink service at the beach during the day. There are no flags, but they have a couple of people walking around taking drink orders. Yes, it was a bit slow, but there were only 2 people making the rounds! Most of the time it wasn’t an issue for us. If we wanted a drink before someone came around, we just went to the bar and got one. No problem!
Activities – we didn’t take advantage of a lot of the activities except the Catamaran cruise and Trading Places. The Catamaran Cruise was a lot of fun, as usual! I will say, however, that I do prefer the cruise at CN. The boat they use at CTI is not as big and the seating is on top of the boat, as opposed to being bench type, covered seating. We’ve done this cruise a couple of times at CTI (COR) so we knew what to expect, but for those who have been to CN and are going to be going to CTI, just know that they are very different. Anyway, we had a great time….except for when we passed around the back side of the Island where the Islander’s were launching water balloons (more on that later).
Trading Places to CSS was a lot of fun. We’ve also been to CSS so we were anxious to see it. It’s pretty much how I remembered it…very lush landscaping, small beach, nice swim up bar, good food and lots of stairs! We spent the whole day there and were glad we did.
One activity that we did that was separate from what Couples offers was a trip to Mystic Mountain. OMG! That was a lot fun! We did the Bobsled and zip lining. The views on the ride up and from the top are spectacular. The Bobsled is so much faster than I thought it would be…holy cow! It was our first time to zip line and it was a blast. The crew are very entertaining! If you were thinking about doing it, I would highly recommend it. It was worth the cost (approx. $212 for both us).
Staff – these are some of the nicest staff I’ve ever met! Everyone always had a cheery “hello” when you passed them by. Maxine was always around at breakfast and lunch making sure everyone was enjoying their stay. Byron and Kirk always had a smile on their faces and were quick to give a hug! Although we never actually saw our housekeeping staff, they were there doing an excellent job of keeping our room clean! We started referring to them as the “housekeeping fairies” because we would leave our room in the morning and come back in the afternoon and everything was nice and neat…more towels, bed made, etc. Then, we would leave for dinner and come back and the bed would be turned down, the curtains drawn and ice water in the water pitcher! I wish I would have seen them so I could have thanked them personally! The water sports crew were very, very nice. We had a very long talk one day with Daney and one of the gardeners about almonds and the next day Daney gave us some almonds he had cooked with sugar and some other yummy spices!
Spa – we booked when they were running the special to get $500 resort credits ($150 gift shop and $350 spa). Since we are repeaters, we also got the free ½ hour massage, so we upgraded to an hour which was wonderful! I also had a manicure, pedicure, facial and anti-aging hand treatment. The spa is so peaceful and relaxing and the girls there are so nice!! I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the services there.
Gift shop – we also spent our gift shop credit! Besides the $150 from the special, as Passionate level in the Romance Rewards program, we also had an additional $75, giving us a total of $225 to spend. Wow! I got my rum cream there rather than waiting until I got to the airport to buy it. I made sure and took some bubble wrap with me so I could pack it safely in my checked luggage. They have a very good selection of just about everything you need/want in the gift shop. The logo shop also has a good selection of Couples Logo gear. Be forewarned…they do not accept cash in the gift/logo shops! You must charge the purchases to your room and then pay for them when you check out. Also, you cannot combine your two credits into one single purchase. You have to use them separately.
Using the credits – at both the spa and gift shop, I gave them my vouchers and they deducted the amount of the purchase/service from them. They then gave me a receipt showing the purchase and wrote the balance on it.
Issues – there were not many! Besides the water pressure issue, we really only had one other that was staff related. The night we were to eat at Bayside, they did not have our reservations. There were two other couples as well. After going to guest services to see what the problem was, a couple of guys from the water sports department who happened to be there, went down to Bayside and got straightened out for us! So, even though we didn’t eat at the time we were scheduled, we did get to eat there so…mission accomplished!
The other issue we had had nothing to do with Couples staff. As I mentioned earlier, the Islanders were there during our stay. I understand that their tradition is to launch water balloons at the people on the Catamaran Cruise as they make their way around the backside of the island. All in good fun….until somebody gets hurt. I had the unfortunate displeasure of being actually hit by one of them. It hit my thigh so hard I thought I had been hit by a rock! Immediately, I had a welt on my leg and by the time we got back to resort, it was already bruised. It just got worse, of course, so I had to spend the rest of my week with a black bruise on my leg. I’m not a vain person so it’s not the physical appearance that bothered me. What concerned me was if that balloon had hit someone in the face or head, it could have done some serious damage. I really hope that Couples management will put a stop to them doing this.
General – this was our first time back since the renovations. The entire resort has a fresh, clean feel. It was very hard to not compare it to how it had once been! Overall, I really liked the changes…my husband preferred it the other way! To me, the staff are what made it feel like “home” so the décor was sort of secondary. We are already planning our next trip for February 2011 to celebrate our 30th anniversary!
I’ve posted my pictures at Web Shots They are in the album titled Jamaica 2010.
Please feel free to ask any questions I may not have answered![/SIZE]