October 9th, 2009, 10:18 AM
Ocho Rios, beach walkout, and other newbie questions
My husband and I are looking to visit Jamaica for our 5th anniversary this summer. We want a couples only resort and the couples resorts look promising. I think we are leaning toward CSS with CN as our second choice. But, I have heard bad things about Ocho Rios from two people.
My mother-in-law (who goes to Jamaica every year) said the time they were in Ocho Rios, she thought it was dirty and did not feel safe. (They have been staying in Falmouth recently.) I also recieved a similar response from a coworker. I have never been to an all-inclusive resport, but my sister-in-law advised that the nearby town is very important to decision-making as you will probably want a short break from the resort whether a shopping trip, lunch out, etc. Could anyone give me their opinion of Ocho Rios?
My second question is wanting a walkout to the beach. Is there a way to guarantee getting a walkout? Which room options have walkouts available at the resorts?
Thank you in advance for your responses. The Couples Resorts seem amazing and with much better service than when I researched Sandals.
October 9th, 2009, 12:08 PM
We have been to CSS twice and CTI once and we have never been to Ocho Rios. Depends on what you are into but we scuba dive every day so other than that we just hang out on the beach.
At CSS to have a walk out room you would need to book a beach front jacuzzi suite and request the ground floor.
October 9th, 2009, 12:20 PM
We went to CSS and never once left the resort - and after six days still didn't see everything the resort had to offer. CSS is clean and beautiful and lots of fun. Don't know about Ocho Rios, as we never felt the need to leave. As a matter of fact, we are "coming home" to CSS next July. Go and have fun - you won't regret it!
October 9th, 2009, 12:48 PM
Ochi is OK to wander around
Ref your mail about the town of Ocho Rios, we have been around the town many many times and it is safe.
There is a massive craft market and provided you are polite and sensible there is no problem. There are three "safe areas" whcih couples will take you too (all included in the trip price) whcih include a number of tax fee areas. If you need to know more mail me direct.
October 9th, 2009, 12:50 PM
We were at CSS this past January for 10 nights, and only left the resort once. We did a tour of a local jerk sauce factory, and got to drive through the amazingly beautiful fern gully. We never felt compelled to visit the town of Ocho Rios. We had visited Ochi as a stop on a cruise ship previously. It is a fairly typical cruise stop type of town, if you get my drift, at least during the day.
At CSS, you also get a free excursion to Dunns River Falls, which gets you off the resort. The concierge desk can help you with any excursions (free or not) that you would want to take. They will arrange for a driver who will take excellent care of you.
Before we started visiting Jamaica five years ago, I, too, was concerned about its bad reputation. But in five trips to Jamaica, we have never once experienced a problem, let alone crime.
As far as what room to book, reserve a One Bedroom Beachfront Suite (the former beachfront jacuzzi suites) and request a groundfloor room. These are the A and B blocks. The blocks are in front of the mainlawn, so keep in mind there is about a 75 yard walk between the rooms and the actual beach. If you truly want to be right on the beach, book a beacfront verandah suite room at CSA.
October 9th, 2009, 12:51 PM
We've been to the Ocho Rios Couples resorts (CSS & CTI) and have only gone into town to do the shopping trip. There is so much to do right on the resort that you really don't need to leave. Besides, we go on vacation to relax and there's plenty of that right on the property.
We felt safe when we did go into town. It's just like going to any place, don't travel alone and use good judgment...don't wonder off into an area you don't feel safe/comfortable. The shopping trips are in safe places but it can be a little intimidating if you decide to walk through the outdoor market nearby. There are some nice excursions, off the resort, that are great!!
If you're looking for a room with a walk-out onto the beach at CSS then you'll want the beachfront jacuzzi suite in A or B block. Other than that the rest are up off the beach. We've previously stayed in the one bedroom ocean suite catagory and loved it but will be trying the beachfront on our next trip to CSS.
We've never been to the "S" resort but have loved our all-inclusive experiences with Couples so much we're going back in 2010.
Enjoy your visit at whichever Couples resort you choose!!
Bart & Bug
October 9th, 2009, 12:56 PM
We went to CSS, and took the shopping trip into town for gifts for our Grandsons (bought the grandaughters from a vendor during the beach party). We also went to Dunns River Falls. Had no problem either trip. We too spent all the rest of our time on the resort. Once there you will see that with all the extras (snorkling, glass bottom boat, water skiing, etc) there is really no need worry about leaving the resort otherwise. If I hadn't wanted to check on things for the grandchildren we never would have even taken the shopping trip.
October 9th, 2009, 01:29 PM
Ocho Rios is not where the Couples resorts are. They are west of downtown, about 8 miles away. Downtown Ocho Rios is a tourist trap for the cruise ships and is also a big city. Couples will take you to Ocho Rios for shopping, but it is not required. All the other tours they include are in very nice areas around Ocho Rios. The nice thing about the Couples Ocho Rios resorts, CSS and CTI, is that they have private beaches. No vendors, locals, or others walking on it. Also they do not have the jet skis, para sailing and all that beach noise from them. They are very private and relaxing. The Negril resorts are in a tourist town, so you will have to deal with the same stuff as downtown Ocho Rios if you leave the resort. Pushy vendors, and other locals. The beaches in Negril are public, so you will have vendors, locals and others from the surrounding resorts walking the beach. As for walking, CSS has places to walk on the beach and in the resort. CSS has nice beaches, but they do not run the complete length of the resort, like Negril, but they are private. A nice thing about the Ocho Rios resorts is that they do not have the bugs like the Negril area, Ocho Rios is dryer and does not have standing water. We have never used bug spray when we have been in Ocho Rios, in Negril you have too.
Hope this helps.
October 9th, 2009, 01:53 PM
We have gone "off the grid" pretty extensively in Jamaica and we have always felt safe. That being said, I've seen others who are very uncomfortable interacting with Jamaican culture in any way.
Most Ocho Rios horror stories come from frightened cruise ship passengers who got hassled by aggressive vendors near the port.
Going to Couples is a completely different experience.
Jamaica is what you make of it. Relax and go with the flow. Most people never leave the resort, except to take excursions.
For a walk out room, you want to request a ground floor suite in A or B block at Sans Souci. It's a beautiful resort. Enjoy your anniversary trip to paradise.
October 9th, 2009, 04:09 PM
Did these folks take cruises and get off a cruise ship in Ochi? I have heard that most people who give JA a bad review come from the cruise ships, that is it dirty in that area with lots of vendors. Just curious.
We have been to CN twice and CSS in 08. We are headed back to CSS in 10.
We have done major excursions off the resort every trip and as a result have toured a very large portion of the island from Port Antonio to Treasure Beach! I have never felt unsafe in JA. JA is a poor island, most of the people live in homes you could never imagine living in, but the people are some of the warmest people I have met.
I have a very difficult time when anyone asks me which resort is my favorite. I love both CN and CSS for different reasons. You sound like CSS is where you are leaning. It is a very romantic resort, there are lots of steps!!!! The resort being built into a cliff makes it very special though. Do NOT expect any of the Couples resorts rooms to compare to rooms at the Ritz, they do not. CSS, however has very nice rooms, clean and roomy! We book the 1 bdrm ocean suite w/balcony, it is huge a true suite with a big balcony.
Realize service anywhere in the Caribbean is on caribbean time, slower than we are used to, but always with a smile. Most repeaters feel Couples service is outstanding including me, because of the attitude of the staff and the happiness they exude, but I also expect slower.....
CSS offers room service all 3 meals, while CN offers only the Continental Breakfast. All the rooms at CSS have oceanviews and mini bars...4 pools, an outstanding A/N area if that appeals to you, and the spa huts are located in a spectacular setting.
Do not worry about what you have heard I will bet money on it that the folks telling you this were from the cruise ships!
Have a wonderful anniversary celebration.
October 9th, 2009, 04:39 PM
Originally Posted by gofergirl
You may want to visit negril.com to get a better idea on the area and town you will be visiting. Chances are a majority of the couple boardies do not venture too much "into town" so you may not get the details you are looking for.
Ocho is ok however it lacks the " vibe" that negril has. Negril has a very laid back yet creative vibe you feel as soon as you venture out. Going to a craft market is not venturing out.
Check out the mom and pop bar/resturants check out the hole in the wall shops meet chat with the locals and you will certainly understand the essense of the JA area you are in.
Negril I think is far superior to Ocho in this regard. While at Couples it is quiet easy to give into sand gavity and never venture out( which is perfectly fun too).
Each town is safe keep you wits about you and know in advance the folks are hustling to make a living.]
Walk out room
Between CSS and CN no room have a direct 10-20 step walkout to the beach. If that is critical GLN and the S will facilitate that requirement enjoy and have fun
October 9th, 2009, 06:30 PM
We took a private trip into the shopping area with another couple from CSS our last trip and there was a "cruise ship" area with lots of little shops and restaurants and an area that was obviously less touristy. At no time did we feel unsafe but I wouldn't go there at night. I agree with everyone else, though, we had such a great time at the resort, there was no reason to leave. If you want gifts, the resort has a gift shop and my hubby price compared on cigars and coffee and the resort was cheaper! We are getting ready to head back home to CSS in 61 days and have no plans to leave the resort except to golf and go to Dunns River Falls. Have fun!
February 17th, 2010, 02:24 PM
We have stayed at CN and CTI. We left the resort at each place. We actually walked off of CN and around the shops outside of the resort. The guard at the front took our name and room number and we had to check back in. It is nice that they keep track of where you are going when you leave. The craft markets were ok, it was safe to walk around, although you get the feeling like not a lot of people walk around out side of the resorts. The craft market keepers do have a lot of high pressured sales tactics, but that is no different from any of the other vendors that we have visited in JA.
We left CTI in part of the shopping trip which is safe and included. You kind of have to as there really isn't anything close by in walking distance from the resort. The same craft vendors, and then you are taken downtown to some of the duty free shops. I would liken it to shopping in the clothing district in Los Angles, CA, leaner than shopping in Mexico, but not like the mall.
CN is right on the beach, as long as you don't book a garden view you basically can't miss being right on it. It is beautiful and peaceful and if you don't want to be land bound you can take an of the water sport items and explore the bay, we found two nice and secluded areas that we took a picnic to and there is an island not far from CN that you can take a Kayak to for more exploration, or a private lunch.
February 17th, 2010, 11:05 PM
We stayed at CSS last year, the resort is awesome. You can get a walkout room but its not exactly on the beach you will have to walk across the lawn to the beach. The beach itself is private and very nice. Its completely safe and no one will bother you on the resort. I did the shopping trip. It looks a little dicey but it is in no way unsafe. I can tell you that the shopping trip although safe, isnt worth leaving the resort for. On the way home you can do all of your shopping at the airport. They have just about everything you would find in the town and at a better price.
February 18th, 2010, 02:02 PM
We have been to both CSS and CN. We love them both but our preference is CSS. We stay in a Beachfront suite in Bldg. A or B. As far as going into town, we always do. We have gone with Couples on their shuttle and we have also taken a taxi into town. We like the Island Village shopping area. Margaritaville is in this shopping area and my husband is a huge Buffett fan and likes to get new t-shirts. I like to shop for a new piece of jewelry. Jewelry prices in Jamaica are really good. We have never felt unsafe in Ocho Rios. We stay in the main shopping areas and everything is fine. You will love Couples no matter which resort you select. I have heard people make comments that have gone on the cruise ships. You would think that they would spice up the cruise ship areas so people would have a better opinion of Jamaica. First impressions mean a lot. We love the people of Jamaica. They are very warm and friendly. Have a GREAT time.
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