CTI Review from Newbies
My wife and I recently had the opportunity to stay five nights at Couples Tower Isle. Since I was able to glean tons of valuable information from this message board before our trip, I wanted to leave a detailed review for future CTI “newbies”. This was our first trip to a Couples resort, first time to Jamaica and first all-inclusive together. We are both seasoned travelers, but more for work than pleasure these days (largely due to two young kids at home).
Having read countless reviews online, I had pretty high expectations for Couples Tower Isle (and a few hesitations based on unfavorable reviews). However, our limited time at CTI managed to exceed our expectations and made for a perfect child-free vacation. For us, the highlights included the excellent food, countless “included” activities, friendly staff, swim-up bars and surprisingly… the Veggie Bar.
Rooms: The rooms were comfortable and stocked with lots of handy conveniences (iPod dock, hair drier, programmable safe, shampoos, flat-screen TV and mini-bar). As stated by others, the rooms are not “5-star quality”, but they are more than reasonable for a beach-front resort. We were pleased to find that they were very quiet with nice temperature controls. We were fortunate to be put in an ocean-view room with an amazing view (Room 4101).
Food: The quality of the food was one of the highlights for us. We consider ourselves amateur foodies and were very pleased with every meal. Eight Rivers and Bayside were our favorite restaurants for dinner. However, Verandah was equally as nice for a dinner without reservations. We were continually drawn back to the Veggie Bar each day for lunch (grilled veggie and goat cheese Panini). The breakfast brunch at the Patio Restaurant was always fresh with lots of variety. The service at the dinner restaurants is slow by American standards, but we found it to be a very enjoyable way to savor our food and drinks. Besides, we had no reason to be in a hurry.
Nightlife: We are not going to be good critics of the nightlife because after hours of sunbathing and bottomless rum drinks, it was extremely difficult to stay awake following the chocolate cake dessert. That said, there seemed to be something going on every night (steel drum band, beach-side movie, etc.). However, if you’re looking for a raging party, it might be tough to find one here after midnight.
Bars: It seems like there is always a bar or drink within arms reach and the wait time was always minimal. The bars are stocked with name brand liquor. While we read reviews about picky guests unsatisfied by the available selections, we never encountered a shortage of options (maybe we have lower standards). Our ONLY small complaint about the entire trip was the bar service from 1-2 staff at the swim-up bar was unhelpful and cold. However, this was the exception and not the norm. Most of the bar staff was great.
Beach: The beach at CTI is fairly small and can be walked from end-to-end in about two minutes. However, the multiple pools, pier area and island seem to make up for the small beach. A highlight of this location is that it is a very private beach. Also, there always seemed to be available lounge chairs on the beach.
Pools: The resort has three pools: the main pool, the swim-up bar pool and a small pool on the island. All three pools are nice and seem to have their own unique vibe. We spent most of our time at the swim-up bar pool since it was closest to our room and seemed to have the younger crowd.
Transportation: First, it’s great that the ground transportation is included in the total package. The lounge in the airport baggage claim area is a nice way to start your vacation, tip back a beer and let someone else handle the logistics. The two-hour drive to the hotel is a bit lengthy after traveling all day, but that’s a small price to pay.
Some additional things that we liked about CTI:
- Complementary water bottles in each room (instead of wasting bottled water)
- Stocked mini-bar (daily) with full-sized bottles, including champagne
- Excellent couples massage at the spa – one of the best we’ve had (thanks Clover)
- Use of the spa facilities after hours – particularly the Jacuzzi
- Plenty of lounge chairs with floating pads available
- Great experience with the lost and found – they tracked us down when someone returned our lost camera
- iPod clock/radio in each room – download a white-noise app and you’ll sleep great
- Air conditioning and ceiling fan worked perfectly and quiet
- In-room safe was handy and easy to use – kept valuables in it at all times
- Fitness room was small but nice with an excellent view – it even had a trainer on hand occasionally
- Free Wi-Fi is a great feature – it was spotty in locations but we quickly learned the strong areas
- Easy anytime access to a boat shuttle to/from the island
For future first time visitors to CTI, here are a few tips that we noted while we were there (many were ideas that we picked up on this message board before our trip):
- Bring a Tervis mug – it’s great for coffee in the morning.
- Sign up for events and dinner reservations as soon as you arrive because many of them fill up FAST. If you don’t get your first pick, check back often since cancellations are frequent.
- Disable the data roaming feature on your smart phone and connect to the Wi-Fi hotspots once you arrive. It’s a much cheaper option.
- Be extra nice to the staff – it pays huge dividends. We were upgraded to an ocean-view room (thanks to Jamie Ann), slid into a booked restaurant and had our lost camera returned (thanks to Mikiko). I’m not sure if these were a direct result from being friendly, but it couldn’t have hurt.
- The island seems to get an extra 1.5 hours of sunlight. If you are trying to soak up the sun, think about heading over to the island in the afternoon.
- The food at the Saturday night gala is worth attending. We had low expectations of the buffet and were very wrong about our preconceptions. The buffet had a massive variety of well prepared foods and they somehow managed to keep everything fresh. If you skip it, please make sure you at least swing by for the desserts – not to be missed.
- Check the activities schedule and times closely. We found that none of the schedules (the one online, in our room and posted on the board) seemed to match. It was not a big deal, but required a few small changes to our “pre-plan”.
- Bring cloths and shoes for working out. We can never seem to find time for the gym at home, but enjoyed a short workout every morning while we were there. With a view like that, I could have run 20 miles on the treadmill!
- Order champagne to your room every night. It’s great to sip while getting ready…and why not.
- Sign up for the catamaran that leaves directly from the resort. We enjoyed our trip on the one from Ocho Rios, but the sailing path was pretty basic (straight out and straight back).
- If you haven’t been to Couples Sans Souci, make sure you sign up for the resort swap for one day. A shuttle takes you over there from 10am – 4pm. It’s a great chance to try something different. We enjoyed our time there, but found ourselves looking forward to getting back to CTI.
- Best things we took with us (based on a message string on this site): ear plugs, beach bag/backpack, gallon zip-lock bags, old watch for the beach (strapped to bag), gym clothes.
Overall, we were extremely impressed with our selection of Couples Tower Isle. We would definitely recommend the resort to friends and family. We hope to be able to return there again someday soon.
Great review! I hope you also posted on Trip Advisor!
Great review.........maybe Couples need to see about getting Tervis to make a mug with a twisted palm tree patch in it.........Harley davidson is getting one and they have just about any other hobby or sporting team. I definitely would have bought one to use for the week and brought it home to use on the boat this summer. I wish did they offer more things in the gift shop with the twisted palms on it........like a charm that would fit a pandora bracelet!!
Thank you for that thorough review!
Nice review...Welcome to the Couples Family....oh you will be back!
CTI - my heart. Happy that you had a great time.:)
What a great review!!! I too, hope you posted this on TA!!! We stayed in room 4101 on our last visit as well, as that has been our favorite room so far! We are heading back "home" in 148 days (yes, we are counting!) and hope we can get room 4101 again!
Thanks for the nice comments about the review. I posted the same review (sans traveler tips) on Trip Advisor...thanks to the copy/paste function. I rely heavily on traveler reviews before booking a vacation anywhere new. So, I also try to add a review once we return. I try to be objective and list both good and bad findings about the venue. However, CTI made that task difficult with 99.5% good things to say. I could not find much to complain about.
That said, I find it interesting when other travelers poorly rate places that we have enjoyed so much. Maybe our standards are too low...or others are too picky. Either way, I'm glad that we found Couples Resorts and this forum. Thanks for helping make our trip so enjoyable.
Great review... thinking about spending our 10th anniversary at CTI May 2013.
Thanks so much for the excellent review. My fiance and I are getting married at Couples Tower Isle in...303 days...and we can't wait! It's so great to learn about what to expect, and imagine ourselves there...