Review of Our Trip (first timers)
We just got back from our first trip to Jamaica (/Couples Swept Away). I thought I'd share our thoughts - the good and the bad.
We stayed from 5/16-5/23 in a Beachfront Suite. As was suggested here I asked for a room towards the center of the resort and we got just that. A perfect location located just a short walk behind the Sunset Bar (where we enjoyed many great drinks).
The Resort Grounds: Are simply beautiful! The place is huge, especially given the # of rooms they have. Guests are definitely spread out so you never feel crowded. With restaurants/bars/pools on both ends and bars in the middle, you never have to go far to find something to eat or drink or just something different to see. The beach is beautiful. We never once had trouble finding chairs in an area where we wanted to be (typically pretty close to our room/the Sunset Bar). Dermon was working Green Flag service most of the time we were there and he just simply rocked.
The Room: Great location and really nice overall. The bathroom was a great size offering plenty of room for us both to get ready at the same time without tripping over each other. It has a shower only, but it's a LARGE shower. Water pressure could be better. The lighting setup in the room leaves a bit to be desired. Since the closet light is tied into the bathroom light, you can't turn on the bathroom light during the night (if you need to) without the closet light (which lights up the bedroom) turning on, risking waking up someone who might be sleeping. The windows are screens only with plantation (?) shutters. It looks really cool but trying to keep the room a good temp is difficult. We found that we'd close the shutters and turn the A/C on low to keep it comfortable but the housekeeping staff could turn the A/C off when they came in, so that when we returned it would be burning up again. Speaking of housekeeping, I really didn't get why they never bothered to take away dirty glasses from the room. A full mini bar stays stocked (very well - great job!) but if you make a drink in your room make sure you leave the glass outside your room when you are finished or you'll find the area covered in ants and other bugs a short while later. Bugs in the room area bit of an issue, but never so much that they really drove us crazy. Our biggest issue with the room was the bed. It's HARD! As a frame of reference we typically stay at Hampton Inn and our own bed is a Novafoam mattress. I woke up every morning we were there in pain with my hands and feet numb and tingling. We went to the office the first morning to see if there was anything that could be done and they did put a blanket or something under the bottom sheet to soften it up some and it did help some. What helped more was making sure I was pass out drunk when I went to bed (which helped me sleep through the night but I still woke up hurting).
The Restaurants: We ate at all of them at some point during our stay. I have food allergies and we never had an issue at any of the restaurants because of this. Typically the chef came out and talked to me about my allergies and helped me choose my meal. This just added another level to the personal service we received throughout the resort. We ate at Seagrapes A LOT. I think Nicola got tired of us at one point. She actually said "see you tomorrow or later"! LOL. She was great as were all the staff at Seagrapes. The sweet potato chips & dip are really can't miss. But, so are the fish tacos, fish sandwich (I just had the fish without the bread buy my hubby had the whole thing and loved it enough to order it again and again). Really you can't go wrong at Seagrapes if you enjoy veggies at all. We ordered the continental breakfast every morning and enjoyed that from our balcony. Feathers was amazing. Lemongrass was very good. Patois never disappointed. The beach buffet at Palms was quite good. However, the one time we ordered from their regular menu we were both unhappy with our meal (dry tough pork loin) and ended up heading back to Patois to get a second dinner. Be sure to get Micheal to make you a smoothie during breakfast at The Palms. When you go to Lemongrass know that the appetizers are in single servings so order any that you want to try (or get the sampler platter to share). All the fruits and veggies are fresh and grown on property and you can taste the difference. I really can't say enough about the food.
There was only one other meal we were not happy with and it had nothing to do with the food....
Private Dining on the Beach: We decided to use some of our resort credits towards this option for our anniversary. I wouldn't recommend it. The food was good, but no better than it would have been at Feathers. At first we were enthralled because they actually set us up inside the wedding pavilion on the beach. That was a really nice touch. Unfortunately, the service left a lot to be desired. Sacha, our waitress, kept disapearing for long stretches of time, leaving me to have to go hunt down the water pitcher at one point. Then it started raining and while we watched every other couple get moved underneath a palapa we were left to fend for ourselves. The wedding pavilion doesn't really provide any protection from the rain, it actually kinda makes it worse. Instead of getting sprinkled or drizzled on, the rain would pool then splatter on us and our food in giant drops. After watching everyone else get moved we finally just moved our chairs ourselves out from under the pavilion to keep from getting hit with the giant drops. We considered just bailing on the dinner altogether before she finally showed up and helped us move the table under a palapa. Then we had to ask her to move the torches so we could see anything. It felt like pulling teeth to get even basic service out of her. Luckily, she was an exception and far from the rule when it came to the staff at CSA.
The Watersports Crew: OMG! I can't say enough about these guys. They were really the highlight of our trip. We took full advantage of everything the water sports hut had to offer. Clayton gave me some awesome water skiiing lessons. Even though I never made it up on the skiis, I know I would have if the weather hadn't kept me from getting back out on them the last two days. He was such a sweetie. We also took out the paddleboards (a definite must) and the Hobiecat. Marshall took us out snorkling and he and Oliver were great. Marshall kept me from freaking out when my snorkel (which i brought from home) malfunctioned. We also took (or tried to) the basic Scuba class. Unfortunately, it wasn't something either of us could handle. We did the Cat cruise but the weather was crummy. We still enjoyed it but it was obvious how much more fun it would have been if the weather had been better.
The Fitness Center: We did take a tennis lesson with Brenton and he was great fun. We wanted to get back over there for another one and really should have. I'm not sure why we didn't. We did do the couples massage class over there and we were a little disappointed in that. We felt like there wasn't much instruction given.
Nightlife: For us, this is where this resort lacks. I think it's partially because it is so spread out and there are so many places for people to go that it feels like there's hardly anyone anywhere. The Martini bar was our favorite place to go in the evening. There was always a fun vibe there and Shaun and Ricardo make some awesome drinks and just smile. You can't have a bad time with them. The Piano bar varied from a lot of fun (the last night we were there) with Name That Tune, to really bad karaoke (most of the other times we were there - although there were some exceptionally talented guests). We often found ourselves bored and in bed before the Night Club DJs kicked off at 11 or so.
The overall vibe of the resort to us was romantic. I would say it's an awesome place to have a wedding and/or honeymoon.