Just returned from CTI.. our thoughts.
Because we planned on writing this review we took notes throughout of 7 days while at TI. There are many things I remember being asked repeatedly on the message board that I specifically found the answers too. Enjoy our review and we apologize for the length.
Flight and Customs: During your flight there and home the airline stewardess will give you the custom form to fill out. It is simple to do but if you need asistance they will help you with it. Need blue or black pen.
Arrival at airport. Small airport, easy to find your way around. After grabbing our luggage we proceeded to the "Couples" lounge to wait for the shuttle. Checked it , 2 ladies took our luggage and tagged them for us & had a glass of the Red Stripe I have read so much about. It was very good beer! The bartender there was very friendly. (Wait was approx. 20-30 minutes.)
Shuttle: Bud was our shuttle driver and he was a hoot. He made the long drive to the resort alot of fun by singing to us, telling us stories and just by keeping it real. As much as I thought I was prepared for this trip I have to say the poverty I saw on that bus ride shocked me. The houses that I thought were abandoned people lived it. Tarps hanging in an open area for a make shift home. People washing there clothes in the river right there in the downtown area. Goats in peoples yards to eat the grass. Stray dogs that looked malnurished. Everywhere you look someone is selling something. Oh and the driving...they drive NUTS!!! They drive on the right side of the road, and honk when they come up to an intersection, because alot of drivers dont stop for others so by honking they are warning others that they are coming through. It was a crazy ride.
Arrival at TI: (8:00pm) When we arrived we were given a cool towel to freshen up our face with. When checking in we were told that the room catagory we chose was not available for our first night there. So we were down graded a room catagory just for that night. (I guess I still dont understand how that could happen when we booked 9 months in advance) They did give up a small resort credit for the inconvenience. But the room we ended up in was located right accross from another resort that was having a beach party. So after not much sleep that night and not getting the room we ordered the next morning I was in need of some happiness.
For the next 6 days we enjoyed Jamaica. Even though 3 of those days were red flag days and kept us from doing the water sports we wanted to do, it was still amazing just laying there in the sun and hearing the waves.
People: There were people there from all over the world and of all age groups.
Staff: The friendliest people I have ever meet. They go out to there way to say hello or ask how you are. There are the staff who you obviously come in contact with daily but the ones who are behind the scenes work just as hard if not harder. There is an amazing lady that works at guest relations desk her name is Maxine. She deserves a gold medal of excellance for she portraits perfection for customer service.
Food: Breakfast everyday we ate at the buffet. I became addicted to the french toast and my husband the pancakes. They had a lot to chose from and we were never disappointed.
We ate at 8 Rivers twice because it was so delicious. We had the Beef Wellington and it was absolutely the best thing we have ever eaten. That was the highlight of our trip.
Verranda was good and Bay Side we didnt mind but we decided we would go there again. But there was nothing wrong with the food we just done eat alot of asian foods. The dish we had was a Snapper with sweet and sour sauce with mixed veggies. Taste was good but very spicy. The pool side grill was great. A Chef named Donald makes a awesome snapper sandwich. They have great fries too. People asked about the Jamaican ketchup. I brought my own Heinz but there ketchup wasnt that bad. If I hadnt brought my own I could have eat it.
Vendors: There is a different vendor there everyday. Most of them were all selling the same things but just crafted better. I looked everyday and only 2 of them were pushy and one beach employee even got pushy to try to get us to by something (not cool). Other than that we actually did buy a few things.
Shopping at Taj Mahal: We went and it was a waste of time. Alot of Jewerly stores (diamonds and gems) and souviner shops. The gift shop at TI had same stuff at a cheaper prices.
Spa: The spa inside smell sensational. Even if you do not utalize the spa services you can still swim in the Budha pool and use the hot tubs. Many people dont know that but we had a couples massage and they told us. So one night we did go over there and it was just my Hubby and I alone in our own little relaxing retreat. The couples massage was well worth the money.
IPhoto: There are photographers that walk around and take random photos. You can actually make an apointment to have a photographer take pix of you and your loved one while you are there. We did not know that until almost the end. But we did grab him and he got a few beautiful shots of us. It is free to have him photo you. You just look at all the photos and decide if you want to purchase any. No pressure no strings attached.
Departure: The morning we left the suitcases needed to be in hallway early. The shuttle bus was quiet because everyone was tired and the driver was not chatty. At the airport we did some shopping and flew out on time.
I could write so much more but think that this will cover most of the basic questions that get asked on this message board. If you have any other questions you would like to ask me please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This vacation was a wonderful experience and for those that will be traveling to TI you are headed to paradise.
ps. We did get our original room on day 2 and it had a view that was breathtaking. No worries!
Notes I forgot to add....
Dunns River Falls is a good time. Not only do you walk up the waterfall you plunge into the water in a couple occasions. My Hubby took his wallet in a zip lock bag and it still got wet. You will wet from head to toe! If you are afraid of water this is not for you. Make sure your shoes are closed toes or you will be stopping to get the rocks out of your shoes.
Vendors at Dunns River. Just politely say "no thank you and keep walking". I only heard one rude comment from a vendor. A guy in our bus walked through the crafts there and he said that we was actually uncomfortable back there with the way they were treated him. He bought stuff just so he could get out. Stay out of the craft market and there will be no problem mon!
There are no Hammocks at TI.
You do not see the sunset at TI. (bummer)
The only time I saw bugs is early morning when we were waiting for our massage at the spa it was humid that morning and got a couple mosquito bites. Otherwise bug free. I did see a sand crab to at San Souci.
Trading Places with San Souci was nice. Your basically on your own for 6 hours with no tour of the grounds. We just walked all the grounds and took alot of photos. It is completely different than TI. We really enjoyed many things about San Souci but other things TI was better. I would suggest to do it if you have a red flag day. It was worth the trip.
I did not see anyone with Coolies. All the drinks we had there was no problem with them melting or getting warm. The water there obviously isnt cold like we get it here cause the ice melts but dont bother packing coolies when you dont need them.
Phone calls to US. From your room it is 99 cents a minute. We brought out laptop and just emailed daily and sent photos as well. I havent got the phone bill but it does state only 99 cents from your room.
Attire: We are very down to earth people and nothing fancy about us. For buffet we just threw something over our swim suits. Varranda we both just wore comfy khakis and shirts. But 8 rivers you have to dress up. He wore black dress pants and a button down collared shirt both times and I wore sundresses. Most people were dressed elegant sparkling jewerly, high heels, flowing dresses. But I did see a gentleman wearing a nice outfit with dirty tennis shoes and they let him in. And a little secret...my husband forgot his black dress shoes so he wore his black water shoes and no one ever knew. :))
Bring a bottle opener. They stock your fridge with glass bottles. In both rooms we were in there was no bottle opener.
TAKE AIRBOURNE BEFORE YOU LEAVE. On day 2 I started feeling a little under the weather and by the time I got back home I had a nasty sinus infections. Aiplanes are great for spreading viruses.