4/4/11 – 4/11/11 CSA Review
First, I apologize for such a long review. CSA is just so great that it’s hard to not talk about everything and I also wanted to answer some of the questions that often pop up on the MB. For those of you that need something a bit more concise, I created headings to help you jump to whatever parts you’re interested in. I’m also cross-posting to Trip Advisor.
This is our 2nd trip to CSA, the previous one was 3 years ago when we got married there. We arrived on a Monday with our flight landing about 1pm in Montego Bay. We encountered very short lines in Customs/Immigration and we were at the Couples lounge within 30 – 45 minutes of landing. When we arrived we were greeted by pair of employees that handled everything for us while we each grabbed 2 red stripes. The bartender was very friendly and very much like the people we’re used to at the resort. Once we boarded the bus we had a pleasant trip to CSA with one quick stop for someone to use the restroom.
Once we arrived we were greeted with the standard champagne and a cool towel. I completely forgot how beautiful the sound of those bottles popping was. Our room wasn’t ready so we were told to check back in an hour. No problem! So we went to grab a bite to eat and a drink or two and by the time we arrived back, the room was ready. We booked an Atrium, and I was happy to see we received one. (Last time we were upgraded to the Beachfront, but I was excited to try out the Atrium.)
It was a nice, simple, clean bottom floor room, just like you see in the pictures on the site, with a big terrace, outdoor sofa and a hammock. We had a partial view of the ocean and a friendly stray cat that hung out on our porch most days. There are slats on both sides of the room, and no glass, so you can hear some outdoor noise, but we were never disturbed by our neighbors. We kept all our belongings in the safe and it’s big enough for an ipad. You set the code for the safe, and I never worried about any of our stuff. The bed is huge and we found it very comfortable. They now have minibars and they will bring you whatever you want for them. They have typical items they stock and then a separate list for anything special. We were very happy with the offerings there. I also noticed a block of rooms in front of ours that were pretty much in line with the beachfront rooms but had atrium verandas. If I’m not mistaken, these were also considered Atriums but they had an open, unobstructed view of the ocean.
The beach is gorgeous like always but I believe it was bit narrower than it was 3 years ago. The sand was nice and cool even in the middle of the afternoon and freshly raked every morning. The water was like blue Koolaid and really calm. There was PLENTY of space to spread out and more than enough shade, loungers and floaties. I like sun, my husband prefers shade and we always found a spot where we could be together with no problem. One afternoon a palapa was open so we snagged it. I personally don’t see what all the fuss is about because the beach view is obscured by all the people in front of you the same shade can be found under a tree.
There were the standard beach vendors which were never a problem but we also don’t mind helping the local economy a bit. . Make sure to bring a few bucks with you to the beach. We got a great love song from a guitarist, a magic show (which was strange for the beach, but still very good), and some shells from the shell man. I felt a little haggled by a vendor that was set up on the property selling sandals though. We also bought a beautiful painting by Ray Bell
The reason why we decided to keep coming back is the staff. From one of the property to the other, you feel that everyone working there is genuine and has a great heart. Some of our favorites were, Enrico and Richard from water sports, Annette and McNiel from the spa, Dwayne from the lobby, Cardo, Charmane and Carmen with housekeeping and Demar and Jermaine from the bar in Patois. The Sunset bar was our favorite place to hang out though and our absolute favorite people were Robert, Damien, Javane and Clau. We truly loved these guys. They all worked so hard and kept us entertained. Robert and Damien were hilarious. Javane and Clau were a bit more reserved but by the end of the trip we’d have some long chats with them. They’re infectious personalities pretty much made the trip for us and we hope to see them again when we return.
We ate at all restaurants and never had a bad meal. I think our favorite this trip was Lemongrass. Try the duck and the sampler appetizer. We also liked the fish tacos and chips/hummus at Seagrapes, the jerk chicken, fried calamari and conch fritters from the beach grill, the pizzas, salads, soups and marlin dip from Patois. I heard about the lionfish from another post here and so out of curiosity I tried it at Feathers. It’s very mild and takes on the flavor of whatever you season it with, similar to tilapia in a way. Every meal was fantastic. Definitely try some coconut water straight out of a coconut at Seagrapes and every breakfast except for one was at the Palms…it was always fantastic and a great way to start your day. I really found the Palms to be great for any meal. The last time we went, we pretty much just ate breakfast there, but this time we got a chance to eat lunch there and the food was just as amazing. I already miss my breakfasts of calaloo and fried plantains.
As far as drinks go, the sky’s the limit. They can make anything you want and however much you want. My personal favorites are Snake Eyes when I’m feeling like a frozen drink or a Tanqueray and tonic for those “in-betweens”. Mostly when asked, the husband and I say “make us whatever you want” and you never get a bad one. The martinis at the martini bar were great, but I missed Cardo and Romaine behind the bar 3 years ago.
The repeater’s dinner happened our first night there and we were exhausted. It was probably a bad idea to go because we were so tired and by this time, had probably had one too many dirty bananas. I remember the food was delicious but I honestly couldn’t even tell you what we had. I think we’ll skip it next time, but it did seem as if we would’ve appreciated it a bit more if we weren’t half asleep.
We didn’t partake in much entertainment because our main goal was to relax, eat and drink all week. From what I did see the staff seems very outgoing and it must be tough for them to gather a group of people from that beach. The one downside of the entire trip was the volume level of the Friday night entertainment at the Palms. I don’t know what was happening but it went on till 1:30am and it kept us from getting to sleep. We were located in the middle of the resort, so I wonder what the rooms next to the Palms were experiencing. This actually happened 2 nights in a row, but Friday’s went much later. I called the front desk because it seemed out of the ordinary for what should be a romantic, couples resort. They were polite on the phone, but of course the entertainment went on. I wouldn’t think they would shut down activities because of one gripe, but I was curious as to why such loud late-night bass-thumping entertainment is even scheduled till 1am? I’m talking big loud bass for hours. I noted it on our checkout survey and I really hope that this can change.
We decided from our last trip to devote more time to relaxing but we really enjoyed snorkeling and the catamaran so we did both of those 2 times during our trip. We also did some night snorkeling which was definitely worth the $35 a person and a great experience, but after doing it once I think we’ll pass on doing it again. When coming in to shore, the view of the Negril lights is breathtaking. If you’re prone to sea sickness, take a Dramamine. I felt very sea sick towards the end and another person actually GOT sick over the boat, which was hilarious because he was such a champ about it. FYI, the cost of the night snorkle isn’t covered by any resort credits you might have.
Our trip was so amazing that we’re going to try and go back for a 3rd time a year from now. We’re finding every time we go, we know just a little more than last time which makes for even greater anticipation and a much more relaxing trip. We’re so blessed to have had the opportunity to visit such a spectacular place.