VERY long review of Couples Tower Isle (with some pictures!)
Couples Tower Isle Review – 4/21 to 4/28
We visited Couples Tower Isle from Saturday, April 21st, to Saturday, April 28th, as a belated honeymoon/one-year anniversary vacation trip. Overall, we had a great trip, but there were a few snags! I’ll try to start from the beginning (it’s LONG!), but will probably hop around a bit!
Saturday, April 21: We flew out of BWI, but had a three-hour layover in Newark. Our flight was initially delayed, but we took off on time. This was when I realized that Jamaica is on central time, and not East Coast time like I had thought! When we landed, we rushed to customs and got through the whole thing in 30 minutes. We must have just made it in front of some other planes because when we turned around, the line was all the way up the ramp. We go to the couples lounge, enjoyed a couple Red Stripes and waited about 15 minutes for the bus to Tower Isle and San Souci.
The ride took just under 3 hours because we had a couple of people who wanted to stop for a beer and cigarettes. I got some jerk chicken, which was a good snack since I hadn’t eaten since 8 a.m.
When we got to the resort, we were greeted with Rum punch and checked in. The check in was a little unorganized and overwhelming, but it’s mostly because of the other guests that were checking in at the same time. We were quickly taken to our room in block five on the first floor (we booked a superior ocean view – room 5102). I know that these are considered the “lesser” views because they overlook the bay and not the island, but I LOVED it. We got there around 5:30, the sun was setting, and it was just beautiful. The room was really quiet since we weren’t near any of the bars. The only drawback was that it was a fairly long walk if I was at the main pool/main bar and wanted to drop something off in the room.
I had done pre-check-in and registered for romance rewards, so our room was stocked when we got there. However, we did not have a bottle opener/wine cork in the room, so we couldn’t open our tonic water for gin and tonics! This became a bit of a laughing matter for us because we seemed to be incapable of getting a bottle opener – we asked the man who brought out bags to the room, then called the front desk, then asked the main bar, then wrote it on our minibar restock sheet and every time we were assured it would be brought to our room, and we never got one. Oh well!
Dinner that night was the international buffet at Patio, which was very good. Actually, I mostly loved all the buffet food at Patio! Afterward, we took some sparkling wine to the spa hot tub and soaked for a bit, then went to bed because we had gotten up at 3:30 a.m. to start traveling.
Day 2: We started off with breakfast at Patio. We really liked the breakfast options, but did get a little tired of them by the last day. I sort of wished they had an alternate sit-down restaurant that maybe you could make reservations for once or twice during your stay. However, the food was good and there were a lot of choices, so not a big deal.
Afterward, we spent a little time at the beach and then went to the swim-up bar. The weather was teasing us, raining then sunny, then raining, but it wasn’t a big deal in the pool bar! I tried all the drinks that I’ve read about on this board, but my favorites were the dirty banana and a mango daiquiri with vodka instead of rum (I was so disappointed that Appleton just isn’t my favorite).
My husband was walking past the beach volleyball and got roped into playing, and really enjoyed it. He ended up playing most days (there are games around 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.). I had the jerk burger and calamari from the pool grill for lunch and absolutely loved it. Around 3, I went back to the room to lay down and it stormed like crazy.
We went to Verandah for dinner, and I had a delicious steak for dinner! Some people complained about the wine – they have 5 choices: Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and rose. The brand was typically Frontera, though I saw a couple other brands throughout the week. So, sure, it’s inexpensive wine, but it was fine for me!
Another running joke was that every single day the “fish of the day” was snapper – never anything else! But it was delicious!
That night was karaoke. I tried to go to bed, but some of our newfound friends had my husband bring me back and I had fun doing some songs I really did find, though, that after the day in the sun, drinking, and so much food that I was exhausted after dinner. (I tend to be an early nighter anyway.)
Day 3: We had scheduled room service breakfast for delivery between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Around 8:20, we hadn’t gotten it and said “oh well, we’re hungry” and went to Patio buffet, stopping at the front desk to let them know we never got it and to not deliver it. It was a little annoying, but the other two times we scheduled breakfast, it came right on time.
Today was the day we tried the island :-) I had read about going right/left, so we started going right and laid down to read in peace and quiet. After a little while, we did venture over to the poolside. I really enjoyed sunning au natural, but was a bit more uncomfortable around others. We went back once later in the week to even out tan lines, but for me, the whole “you’ll be addicted when you try it” thing wasn’t true.
For lunch, I tried the sweet potato chips and pumpkin dip at the beach/veggie bar. Yum!
Dinner was the beach party, which was soooo good. So much food! I fell in love with Jamaican Pepper Pot soup. And the setup on the beach was really nice, so was the dancing and limbo/fire-breather for entertainment. Right afterward, Katie (entertainment coordinator) organized a dance competition on stage, and we were just walking away, but she had learned our names and called us back. And therefore, we were humiliated in a dance competition (if you were there Monday night, we were the first pair with the super tall guy and the very sunburnt girl in a pink shirt). So mortifying, but we got a small bottle of rum out of it.
Day 4: We went to Dunns River Falls at 9 a.m., and that was a great experience. I loved how the guides took pictures of you at opportune moments, and the water was cold, but so nice! We were really sunburnt, and the cool water felt great on it.
They made us form the human chain at first, but it was really easier to climb it without holding hands.
Later, we hit the swim-up bar again, and I had quite a few mango daiquiris. Probably too many! We had reservations at Eight Rivers for dinner, which was delicious. Great service. I had the Cornish game hen, and my husband had snapper.
Day 5: The middle of the week gets hazy :-) We went back to the island for a little while, and then we went on the catamaran cruise in the afternoon. Because the water was rough due to storms, they took us by bus to another hotel where the water was calmer. We were thrilled about this because we had such bad luck with water sports – we were never able to scuba or snorkel due to rough seas, so we thought this would be canceled, too. The staff was tons of fun with dancing and music, and they brought rum punch (though it ran out). Bring money to tip the catamaran staff – we forgot to bring cash and felt horrible about it)
A note about tips: We tipped the bus driver from the airport, baggage handlers, spa staff, and dunns river falls guides. We did see some other guests tipping throughout the week, but not a whole lot. We didn’t tip at any other time, but didn’t feel like we needed to (though maybe we would have gotten that darned bottle opener!)
That night, we went to Bayside for dinner. I absolutely love Asian food, and Bayside was good, but not out-of-this-world. It was also really windy, so sitting in the open air over the water was a little breezy :-)
Oh, this is the last service-related note. I had scheduled both our reservations for 7 p.m. When got our reservation sheet back and the reservations staff member had marked “OK” next to both of the days I chose, so I didn’t look at the card I was given. We showed up at Bayside at 7, and it turned out they had reserved us for 7:45. We were starving (I like to eat pretty early!), and luckily they were nice enough to seat us at 7, but make sure to check the cards for the time, even if the original sheet says differently!
That night was the steel drum band. Don’t miss it – so awesome!
Day 5: It rained allllll day on Thursday, which was disappointing. The resort tried to accommodate us by changing the schedule for more indoor activities and having a band onstage at Patio, but what can you do? Most people hung out in the rooms and watched movies, like us. We ordered room service for lunch (snapper sandwich and jerk chicken), which was prompt and delicious.
I had a Swedish massage scheduled for the afternoon at the spa. It was $110 (but we came with a $300 resort credit), plus tip, for 55 minutes, and it was lovely. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was my first real massage, and I think I’m addicted now.
We had dinner in Verandah again with a few friends we had made. I had snapper (there it is again!), while my husband had chicken in black bean sauce. That night, we spent some time at the piano bar and actually stayed up for the singalong! I have a new favorite drink, cherry martinis, which I indulged in every night.
Day 6: Our last full day – we were pretty lazy, I spent most of the day reading on the beach. It was cloudy, but I still got a sunburn -- so put on that sunscreen! My husband played beach volleyball. We went to the Patio buffet for lunch and dinner, and there’s not much else to report there :-) We didn’t stay up to do any after-dinner activities.
Day 7: Our bags had to be out of the room by 9:15 and we left around 10:30 for a 2:50 departure from Montego Bay. The immigration line was really long, but moved very quickly. We had enough time to buy some coffee, get lunch, and have just a short wait at the gate. So while it seems like it’s a long time in advance that they make you leave, it does make sense.
The coffee: A pound of Blue Mountain Coffee at the resort was $41, which I thought was steep. We didn’t do a shopping trip in town, so I waited til the airport, where we got it for $26. We came to the resort with a $300 resort credit, but I didn’t want to pay more than I had to, so we used the resort credit on souvenirs and the spa. We brought back a couple small bottles of rum for friends and a bottle of rum cream for ourselves, because I did enjoy that :-)
For reference, we’re 26 and 28 from Maryland and were there for our one-year anniversary. It was technically our honeymoon because we never took one, and our travel agent, trying to be nice, marked us down as honeymooners. I also marked on the check-in sheet that we were honeymooners, but we were never even asked about it. Because I was pretty sure that the honeymoon perks are only valid for 30 days after your wedding, I didn’t bring it up – but I was surprised that we weren’t even asked or offered anything at all. So if you are on your honeymoon, you might have to ask for the perks you’re supposed to review.
We met a lot of people who were repeaters! We talked about going back for our 5-year anniversary, but there are a ton of places I want to travel to, so I’m not sure!
Phew, long long review! Any questions, feel free to ask!