Our Trip Advisor Review for CSS
My wife and I recently returned from a much anticipated trip to Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Prior to our trip we read reviews of the resort on Trip Advisor as well as on the Couples Message Board. There were a few things we noted from the negative reviews that seemed to appear in most, and I will address those first.
1. Cleanliness/mold/bugs/water pressure: Our room was very clean upon our arrival. Despite our comings and goings mulitple times each day from the beach...the staff kept the room just as clean throughout our stay. Yes...there is mold visible in some places within the room and on limited places on furniture fabric. Having made trips to the Texas coast on a regular basis, we consider this normal for the location and it did not keep us from using the furniture as some have suggested. We left some drink glasses in our bathroom one night and ants did find them. We were in a ground floor room. Our bad, didn't bother us. The water pressure seemed low in the shower but fine for double sinks and jacuzzi tub.
2. Insufficient loungers on beach: We did not experience this problem. We were able to find adequate chairs and floats at both San Souci beaches every day of our stay. They were not always in the spot we might have preferred, but seriously...you are in Jamaica when there is cold weather back home....no worries!
So with those things addressed, I will try to summarize our week.
We were able to fly form DFW the day after a record snowfall with minimal delays. We arrived at MBJ the same time as two larger flights so customs took longer than usual from what the veteran travelers told us. We easily found the Couples Lounge, checked in and we were promptly treated to a Red Stripe Beer. The shuttle was uneventful and the driver entertaining. You need to tip the red caps for loading your luggage, and the driver as they are not Couples employees.
Check in at the Reception Desk was quick and easy. They greet you with a big smile, moist towel and champagne....then it is off to your room. Our room was a ground floor Beachfront Jacuzzi Suite. We had hoped to be off the ground floor but found it to be extremely convenient.
We arrived on a Friday, just in time to attend the Starlight Gala. This is a variety show and buffet food. There are tables for each course with multiple choices and ice scupltures and artfully carved fruit and such. The staff mingles with guests and sits at guest tables. The food and the entertainment was outstanding, even after the long day of travel.
On Saturday we found that The Pallezina was just a few steps from our room and that is where your hot breakfast is served...buffet style other than the omelet station. You can dine inside or outside. We sat at "our table" inside at a corner window all week and loved the breakfast choices. Blue Mountain coffee is fabulous and Edjar and Conrad rock the omelet station like nobody's business. Maureen, our favorite waitstaff is a sweetheart as well, and Seymore the Chef is excellent. We only had lunch at The Pallezina once.
We attended the orientation and found it very helpful and it gave us a chance to visit with Ophelia and Kadian, the Social Directors. They do an great job of keeping things hopping.
As far as food options....
Casanova was my favorite evening dining. It is the only restaurant that requires closed toe shoes and long pants for men. Definitely worth the trouble. Albert is a fabulous waiter there. Piano music...balloon bar right below...very, very romantic and tasty. My wife preferred The Pallazina for dinner, and really, it was great food as well. We enjoyed the Valentine's dinner at The Pallazina, as well as Lobster night. We ate lunch on the beach every day except one, and the soups and sandwiches at Bella Vista were perfect...especially the daily soup. The fried fish sandwich was our favorite, with the pea and shrimp soup. The beach bar is attached to the Bella Vista and offers blue flag service on the beach. We had dinner our last noght at the Bella Vista and we were not disappointed then either. I should mention that Casanova and The Pallazina require reservations...but that was never a problem....but you have to remember to book those at guest services each day.
The mineral pool and mineral hot tub and mineral grotto are really cool...literally really cool other than the hot tub. Brace yourself! the smoothie bar beside the pool is well worth the walk over though. Fresh fruit smoothies. The spa is in that area as well. Definitely book a couples massage in The Hideaway...pure magic. You look out off of a cliff into the endless sea and all you can hear is the wind and the waves crashing below. Tip the spa staff as they are not Couples employees. We tipped $15.00 to each for couples massage. I have heard more and less.
There are paddle boats, kayaks, sail boats, wind surfing...all available for your use at Water Sports. Barrington, Lovelle, Leighton and the staff will hook you up. There are glass bottom boat and snorkeling excursions as well as water skiing and scuba. Great staff.
We did the Dunn's River Falls trip. We will not do it next time, but if you haven't gone, you must. It can be a bit annoying, but these folks are just trying to make a living and it's all about tourism. We were ready to get back to the resort and relax afterwards, but I am glad we did it and we do recommend you try it. It is beautiful. You tip the guides and videographer...we did $5.00 each. It is $40.00 for the video they make, which we bought as well...hey, you never know if you will make it back again.
The main beach is small, but quiet and clean and the water is clear. We had concerns after reading that the water was murky and there was too much seaweed. Look, we are use to Texas beaches and the Gulf of Mexico so this beach looked heavenly to us. It might be all about perspective. When we went out in the boat you could see the bottom, fifty feet down. I really don't need to see any further.
Sunset Beach is the other beach (AN) at Sans Souci. It is a truly special place. The White River literally cuts right across the front of the beach. The fresh water flowing rapidly into the bay and colliding with the salt water waves coming in creates an amazing, never ending, boiling current and sounds beautiful. There is a pool and jacuzzi, swim up bar and grill, as well as bathrooms at the beach. The beach is set off from the rest of the resort and has a fence and privacy hedge. After 5:00 Sunset Beach is open to all guests for photographing the sunsets. Sunset beach is deeper, but not longer, than the main beach. Again, this is the AN beach, and that rule is strictly enforced.
Overall, we were extremely pleased with our decision. Upon our return we immediately began planning a return trip. This is not a new resort. If you require all new facilities and rooms and furniture, this may not work for you. We fell in love with the charm of the location and the age of the place. The stone walls and walks appear to have been there for centuries and the wooden windows and doors that allow you to swing them open and hear the sea just cannot be duplicated in some of the newer hotels and resorts. It is also only 150 rooms so you will actually get to know some other guests and you will certainly know many of the staff.