Swept Away did it AGAIN!
Couples exceeded our expectations once again! My husband and I are very happy and satisfied REPEATERS and 3 other Newbie couples who accompanied us on this trip are already planning to become Repeaters! No wedding, anniversaries, or birthdays this trip… just a simple vacation for us all. After our first visit to CSA in Nov/Dec 2008, we came home talking about how wonderful of a vacation we had and could not stop bragging. We felt very strongly that we just couldn’t keep this to ourselves and just had to share this amazing place with others. So prior to this trip we were a lil’ nervous, hoping that CSA would be just as wonderful for them as it was for us. NO WORRIES MON. They told us, “We couldn’t imagine it would be this great. After listening to you guys talk about it soooo much, nothing compares to actually being here and experiencing this beautiful place for ourselves”. They were hooked the very first day and it only got better. My sister, who is retired from the military and has traveled the world around said this was the best vacation of her life! I’m sure they will write their own reviews, but here goes mines: (Excuse me for jumping all over the place)
We traveled from California on a US Airways redeye with a layover in Charlotte. Landed in MoBay around 10:30am June 20th. and was at the Cabana Grill before 1:00pm. The flight times (2:30 pm departure) were the only thing good about this airline. We will never fly them again! Upon arrival check-in went rather smooth (champagne, cool towels) and we made dinner reservations and we were taken to our various rooms with our bags. If traveling with others I recommend spreading out your rooms across the resort. This way each couple is able to have privacy and have their own individual vacation when needed. We met up for dinner and excursions and visited each others different room on occasion, it worked out lovely. We didn't feel pressured to spend time with them if we didn't want to and we didn't feel bad. This trip we decided to try out the Atrium Suites because we loved how they looked and wanted the Hammock. We were in room 2228 which was a perfect location! Not far from the beach (which we had a view of) and we could also watch weddings held in the Gazebo. The second floor has beautiful vaulted ceilings and provided privacy for us to enjoy our balcony & hammock in peace, which we did a lot! The air condition worked wonders and the only bugs we send were a couple of moths in the room and a few geckos outside on the balcony, atrium & stairwells. No problems with ants or mosquitoes (in the room) whatsoever. Last trip we were in the Greathouse (room 3206 or 5206), which was nice and we had a beautiful view of the beach overlooking the pool. However we did not utilize the TV or Bar like we thought we would. Please note CSA has Wi-Fi throughout the resort now, but our room seemed to be a dead spot. No big deal, not necessary I could use my iTouch on the beach! Our room was clean and we received cleanings and turndown service daily except twice when we asked them not to. There was always fresh flowers and little thoughts/phrases of the day for us. There was one day when it rained quite a bit and we retired to our room...there was a group a building or so away playing Taboo on their balcony VERY loudly which was rather rude. Please be aware that there are others around you, show a little respect and use a little common courtesy okay, we're all adults here! Otherwise, the rustic Atriums were perfect and fit the whole Jamaican Scheme of things. I can get marble & granite here at home...when in the Caribbean I want my room to have this type of appeal.
Usually we travel to Jamaica or other Caribbean destinations in Nov/Dec timeframe, but this year we picked June when everyone’s children were out of school and we could get sitters. We came knowing that June was the rainy season and more humid then Nov/Dec and was prepared for that. So when we received rain daily sometime between 1:00pm – 3:00pm it was a welcome break. It cooled us down a little, and it would be time to get in the Jacuzzi, stay floating in the water, take a nap, or go to a spa appointment! The beach by the way was gorgeous as ever and we seen more sea life (sting rays, schools of fish, baby squids and even an type of eel) this visit along the shore in the mornings. In the evenings, the Tree Frogs were in full chorus and you would catch a crab or two scuttling across the paths (they also hide in the rocks at one of the koi ponds). The resort also was full of vibrant color butterflies this time of year which I loved, there were soooo many! Out of the 8 days we were there, we were able to get a palapa about 5 days. We were not up at the break of dawn either, perhaps around 7 or 8, which is normal for us. Last trip, we were not so lucky. But I must say that a palapa was necessary this trip to keep out of the hot sun and also to keep our belongings dry when the rain hit! I did notice that there were a lot more of them on the beach compared to our last trip. Rual at the beach bar was a joy, I so loved the sno-cones with a lil'rum poured on top. Yum!The days that we did not get one was fine as well, because there are plenty of trees. The beach vendors were not a bother, but we did get tired of the jet ski peddlers out in the water. We soon learned to just ignore them and not make eye contact. LOL Elvis is still there, and we did parasail (always sooooo much fun) and jet ski. We wanted to take out the Hobie Cats but there was not enough wind on the days we asked for someone to take us out, they would ask us to return at a later time, but we never did. We saw soooooo many weddings! Usual just the couple and a few family or friends. We did see only 1 huge wedding party, but they were not a problem. Congratulations also to our new friend Leslie who we met on the beach and were invited to her wedding days later. I much preferred the sunsets in the winter time, for they seem to be right over the water directly in front of you! Very beautiful. This trip, the sun set farther away and we actually never had real clear skies for those picture perfect sunsets we had in the past. This was a little bit of a downer, but then I quickly got over it. On day two, my husband's ears plugged with water and would not unplug. He could not relieve the pressure to get them to stabilize so he went to see the nurse. She said he had an infection and recommended seeing a Dr. to get his ears flushed and a medicine prescribed ("or his eardrums may bust on the plane ride home")... 2 hours and $230 later, he was happy again and sitting on the beach with his green flag. Thank God for Medical & Traveler's Insurance (his claim is currently being processed).
Food was great as usual! Normally I am a very picky eater and I don’t care much for fish or chicken! But something comes over me in Jamaica; I try to at least taste everything! All of the food is so fresh and cooked to perfection! The soups and salads are to die for! Lemongrass is my favorite (Lamb Chops) , with Patios Patio (Banana Stuffed French Toast, Breakfast Burrito, Pizzas, Mac & Cheese, etc...) close second,a big smile and thank you to Derrick, Keymon & Nefferrti (sp?). Then I also love Seagrapes & Shelly Ann, such an angel! No Sweet Sop this visit, but Sour Sop was in season and I enjoyed it as well. Sweet Potato Chips and Pumpkin Jalapeno Dip still a favorite, but also the Crudites Plate and Beet Salad.This is the only place my husband will eat a vegetarian burger & fish tacos. Last visit I didn’t too much care for Feathers, but this time It was really enjoyable! I notice the portions are a little smaller now, which is good because now I can make it through all the courses. No more dessert tower I was looking forward to that, but it didn't spoil anything. The Nachos at the Cabana Grill are quick and good and something to munch on why you wait for your other orders (remember we're on Jamaican time here). Thanks to ___________ (I have to go thru my pics and get her name, sorry) who made every visit special and let us know how long the wait would be! The Palms is okay (I’m not a buffet person, but my husband is) but I loved the breakfast crepes , the dinner and entertainment! The guys at the Martini Bar were also wonderful, and I was glad to know you could order other drinks beside martinis! The shipwreck beach party had to be held inside the Palms because of the weather and it seemed a little congested. We enjoyed it a lot more on the beach our last visit. The staff in all of the restaurants are great, very personable, and attentive to your needs. Even though I am not a big drinker, I love my green flag! Hummingbirds, SnoCones, & Fruit kabobs are such a joy! Smoothies and Slushies from Ricardo @ the wellness bar are always refreshing after a Spa Treatment or game of ping pong. The entire meal at the Repeater's Dinner was superb and we made lots of friend that night. The Manager's Cocktail Party is also something you should not miss, it's great to mingle with the staff and enjoy more food & drinks. Everything was presented so well and we got 5-10 minute sample massages, spoke to the head chef and enjoyed a good band.
We took the Chukka Horseback Ride & Swim Tour which was nice, Auntie Jackie at the Tour Desk is so sweet and very informative. It was a 45 min drive to get there (we left @ 8:45am and returned by lunch time), and you meet others from different resorts and like explaining how and why Couples is better! The tour was fun and the landscape so beautiful. My favorite part was going into the water with the horses. Our guides were great (they chopped down fresh coconuts & mangos as we rode and gave to us to eat and flowers for our hair) and there is a Jerk Shack available to get lunch. The weather was overcast this day, which was great so we didn’t overheat. Take your camera and also a water camera for great pictures of your own. They do take pictures of you and sale them to you for a fee, not a actual picture- but a CD-Rom of your pictures for you to print yourself. The tour is about 30 minutes training and getting everyone on their horses, 1 hour going through the country side , and another 30 minutes to switch horses and go through the water! Next time we would like to try the Horseback riding closer to CSA.
We loved, loved, loved and lived at the Spa this visit. We had the $350 Spa Credit plus a free 30-Minutes Couples Massage for being a repeater! We also had the 50 minute couples massage, seaweed wrap, hot shave (husband), and nail polish change (me) using our credits only. We were in heaven's hands and enjoyed every bit of it, from the Serenity Pool at the beginning...to the glass of champagne at the end.
Very relaxing, and they are very professional and you never want to leave that table. We also had $150 Credit for the Gift Shop and were able to purchase various spices, sauces, t-shirts, & jewelry for our family we had left at home. Little Jackie in the Gift Shop was very helpful and friendly and always had a smile on her face. Upon check out, our bill was under $5.00! You can't beat that! Especially after our last cruise with our daughter (we had over a $1,000 bill at the end)... Gotta loves the all-inclusive value Couples provide. True Inclusive.
As for the night-life, it is what you make of it. We spent one night with Ultimate Chocolate. Usually we are early birds, but we did make it to Palms and the Club (Aura Lunge) a couple of nights. The Entertainment Staff is excellent. Special praises to Paul, Oneil, Akeem, & Christina! They have such beautiful spirits and throughout the day they would go out of their way to come chat with us and see how are stay was going. Oneil also gives the Orientation in the morning, and he so funny. They also put on some great shows and will give you dance lessons in the Club. Also, have lunch with any of them and they will fill you in on the real Jamaica and tell you about their lives and you get a chance to know them and learn how they got to be at Couples. Take the Catamaran cruise at least once, but twice if you can. Rastie Ralphie is still on board entertaining, if you do not want to be bothered, just sit at the back or very front of he boat and enjoy the ride. A swim to the caves is a great workout and a full little hike once inside. You may just want to slide into the beautiful blue sea and float in the water for a while. We did see schools of fish out in the water and on the way back, you get a nice sunset!
We missed taking the shopping tour, but no problem...just purchased items at the gift shop or on the beach when the vendors set up. Rum Cream and other alcohol is better to get at the airport on your way back home, just don't forget to pack it in your luggage and recheck between layovers! We seen some people who forgot, and had there items taken from their carry on bags. Again, US Airways had another plane at our gate which delayed our arrival. The line for US Customs/Immigrations was so backed up (1 hour wait) and many missed their connections or barely made them with no room to spare for a bathroom break or food stop! To top all of that off, by the time we returned home...2 in our party had lost bags which were delivered the following evening! Thank goodness, they were the bags with the clothes and not the Rum Cream! LOL LOL
We also missed the Trading Places, I did want to check out CN for a short while- really I did. It just never came to pass for us, we were so content and happy with were we were that we were 'scared' to try anywhere else. Maybe next time...
Overall, CSA was really great and as good as we remember. We had no real problems with CSA itself. NEXT time we come, it will be during the wintertime because there is less rain, less humidity, less bugs and better sunsets! That's our personal preference. We would definitely choose an Atrium Suite next time, we just loved the location and layout OR we would try a Beach front Suite if we knew we could get the older side, more specifically one with the wrap around porch! This trip we didn't nap as much and were only in our rooms in the evenings or to change clothes. Our beach front experience was spent right on the beach! Also, remember to pack 80% swimwear and 20% eveningwear. The newbies didn't believe us, and they over packed and did not wear half of their clothes. You also do not need jeans for the horses. Cargo shorts for the men and capris for the women are more then enough. Do pack lots of sunblock & bug spray/wipes, especially this time of year.
The main thing to pack is a SMILE and a positive attitude, relax and enjoy yourself. The staff at CSA and the people of Jamaica are so nice, and welcoming. Yes it is there job to serve you, but it also your job to be appreciative and respectful. We noticed that the few guests we seen complaining or fussing at the staff were not happy people to begin with. They also complained, fussed, and treated their spouses like crap too! Don't blame Couples...take a look in the mirror. Sometimes you get back the vibe that you are giving off and that's not fair to anyone. We were told on more then one occasion that we were very happy people and they could tell we were having fun. That it was a joy to get us whatever we wanted. At the end of our stay we filled out the comment card in great detail and left Thank You gift bags for the special staff members at the front desk. We wish we could do so much more.
I would also like to say Hello to "Dirtleg" and his wife who spotted us at the repeaters party! She said she saw my smile and said to herself that she wanted to meet us. This melted my heart, such a humbling moment to know that we were viewed this way. We had such a lovely dinner with you guys! We also met Lisa & Lisa and congrats to Knox and his wife.
Couples, we love you and will see you again in 2 years. Next year we're taking our teenage daughter to Jamaica and may end up next door! Randymon, if you can recommend a 'family' resort to us affiliated with Couples....please, please, please let us know. We would much rather spend our money with you. This trip, I took over 700 pics so I am currently sorting and choosing some for the photo contest! My newbies friends and families are currently hounding me to set up another trip asap! They have also spread the word and have unofficially become CSW Recruiters. Again, this vacation was wonderful. We did sooooo much, yet we did sooooo little! All in all we did what we wanted to do and enjoyed doing it!
Everting is Irie Mon, see you soon!