CSS Review - May 26 to June 2, 2012 (WARNING: detailed and long - lol!)
CSS detailed review - May 26 to June 2, 2012
We just returned from our third visit to CSS and every time is just as fabulous as the first.
My husband and I (who are both 51) met a couple from Kingston at another resort in Negril (2009) who encouraged us to come to CSS in 2010 because it was so cozy and romantic with great food and entertainment.
We still consider this to be our favorite vacation spot ever.
The first time that we went (April 2010) we were able to get a penthouse suite (Prime Minister Suite-D-13). The past two years, by the time we booked, the penthouses were not available. However, we had booked a One Bedroom Ocean suite last year and I swear, it is better than a penthouse!! We were in G-17 last year which was nice and had a large balcony and a small typical bathroom with tub/shower combo. This year we were in G-13.This one has a large balcony with a fantastic view and a very large living room/dining room area. There are two extra large closets. It has a large bathroom with 2 separate sink areas and extra large walkin shower (you could fit 6 people in there comfortably - haha). It is located in the very last building in G-Block at the end of the resort (next to the Hibiscus cottage). Quiet and peaceful. (minor complaints - The wi-fi signal was weak at times and the numbers on the in-room safe were hard to push to set).
Each block of rooms is labeled with a letter of the alphabet - "A", "B", "C", etc........and the names of the block correspond to flower names (A- Azalea, C-Carnation, D- Dahlia, E-Evergreen, F-Frangipani, G-Gardenia, H-Hibiscus)
In case you are a newbie to Jamaica and the MoBay airport, I will digress a moment - we arrived in MoBay (landing at the very last gate end of the airport) and spent over an hour in Immigration (we think due to it being a Saturday AND Memorial Day weekend???) It was the longest we had ever spent - usually only a half hour in the past. After, we were able to claim our luggage, go through Customs and head to the Couples Lounge for a much needed Red Stripe (they have Light Red Stripe also). Then we were quickly escorted with our luggage to an awaiting bus/taxi and headed to CSS. Most of our group was headed to CTI. We stopped once for a break at a roadside "jerk center and bar" for liquid refreshments and arrived at CSS after about two hours total.
The arrival staff at CSS is always fast and efficient ("Smitty", Hugh, Evol). We were given cool glasses of champagne but no fresh cold white cloth to place on our necks and faces as we have in the past. We were checked in quickly and escorted to our suite. There is much anticipation when you are given your room key to see what room you are given (not so much, I guess if you are in A or B block).We were absolutely thrilled when we entered the doors to our room.
My husband always has a huge tropical bouquet of flowers waiting for me with a sweet note. Of course there was an appetizer plate (cheese and fruit) and champagne and wine in the refrigerator (with Caribe beer, water, pepsi, tomato juice, pineapple juice, orange juice) and Kirov Vodka and Appleton Rum on the bar.
This was our third trip and we have had a particularly stressful past few months with family and work issues so we decided to take it easy this time and just have a relaxing and totally romantic time with the least amount of "booked" dinners and events as possible.
Our friends from Kingston come up to spend a few days at CSS every year when we come. They always book a special dinner at the Casanova for the first night when we arrive. The first year we were at CSS, our friends who were quite familiar with CSS escorted us on a tour of the WHOLE place (35 acres). We had an informative walk around the lake and I remembered that someone said there were restrooms by the tennis courts (convenient - lol!). There were so many interesting nooks and crannies and balconies and hideaway spots (jacuzzis, mineral grottos, tucked-away hammacks for two) and the view and vegetation was gorgeous no matter where you stood! It was tiring and I had to stop every now to catch my breath but I didn't want to miss ANY thing!
The food is excellent at all the restaurants and there is "something-for-everyone" - even vegetarian meals.Try them all. My favs this year was the sweet potato crusted snapper (Casanova) which was so moist and flavorful. Chef Andre explained the recipe to us and at the Bella Vista this year, I experienced the best appetizer I have ever had - the "local fish cakes" (not crab) with the salsa and chutney on the side (yum!!) We did not care for the lobster bisque this year or the chicken that I had a Bella Vista. My husband loves the oxtail ravioli, the snapper fish sandwiches at Beach Grill and the special cut steak that he had at our private dinner. While we were there, we dined at Casanova on Sat, Palazzina on Sunday, Bella Vista on Monday, Beach Party on Tuesday, Repeaters Dinner on Wednesday, Private Dinner in the gazebo on Thursday and the Starlight Gala on Friday. Hugh, the Restaurant manager and Dwight, the Food and Beverage director are wonderful.My husband's only complaint is that we miss "Lobster Night" every year because we come while lobster is not in season.
We always have a private dinner in the wedding gazebo. Keston has been our attendant waiter all three years. He is a fantastic staff member. Usually, he has a cd player and the music he plays (romantic songs from the 60's and 70's) was so romantic that my husband and I would get up and dance cheek to cheek between courses. My husband and Keston even sang to me. The private dinner menu has expanded tremendously and there are many more choices and each couple does not have to order the same appetizer, soup, salad, entree or dessert (bread, water and a bottle of wine are included also). I had the honor of sitting by Pierre (Battaglia - the Genral Manager) for the Repeaters Dinner this year. My husband and I expressed our pleasure with much of CSS and relayed some suggestions. The Repeaters Dinner was held outside by the main pool and was a fancy BBQ type dinner with jerk chicken spring rolls, cream of pumpkin soup, mixed salad with toasted nuts, bacon bits, eggs, chicken, goat cheese, artichoke and vinaigrette, shrimp and spicy grilled beef tenderloin with two sauces, sauteed veggies, and the best scalloped potatoes that I have ever had and then an assortment of delicious dessert bites.
While we do walk most of the resort every day, we concentrate on the east end of the resort near the mineral pool. We usually eat a big breakfast at the Palazzina in the morning (and then maybe get a snack from room service mid afternoon and save our appetites for dinner that night). We spent much of our day time in the water in the cove area by the spa and the mineral pool on two float/rafts. The water was cool on the surface and warm underneath and 90% of the time, we had the cove area all to ourselves. Since we stayed in G block the last two times, it was convenient for us to go up and freshen our drinks. We usually bring our own insulated cups or styrofoam cups to the resort. I have even cheated a bit (un healthy) by getting a fruit smoothie at the "bar" by the mineral pool and then adding rum to it (mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!)
The stairs??? Well ... the stairs can be intimidating but the rooms in Blocks F and G are well worth it! I suggest that you take time after you eat to enjoy the beach or sit under the trees before you attempt the stairs.However, this year I traveled to and from CSS with a torn tendon in my foot/ankle in a walking boot (on the plane and van). I was able to wear the ankle and sport brace for the whole time and was able to climb up and down the stairs easily. We even learned the "long way" and the "short way" this time - LOL!
In the past, I think that my favorite drink was shooting Bob Marleys. However, this year, I became addicted to Frozen Bikinis, IDK, Peach on the Beach, and Rum Punch. Sorry - I dont like bananas so I dont do any drinks with bananas in them but I have heard that you should not miss the Dirty Bananas!
The Staff. The Staff. The Staff.
One reason people keep coming back to all Couples Resorts! (See my Staff Shoutouts post for more details on that thread).
My favorite "wait-staff" people, as always, are Maureen and Keston (and Gavin and Melesia) They always had smiles on their faces and were always willing to accommodate us.
The entertainment staff is extremely friendly - Simone (Fluffy) who could sympathize with me and my ankle this time because she had a knee injury and was not able to dance around like she usually does, ShellyAnn, Chadrick and the new-kid-on-the-block, Sasha.
Kudos to all the young men with room service that brought buckets of ice to us at least 3 or 4 times a day. (They really should put ice machines by each Block - I mean, they give us the mixers and alcohol in each room and then have to deliver ice to each room every time they want a drink?)
In the past years, we had CSS get us a private car/driver to go to the grocery (to get Kahlua for my husband), drive through Fern Gully (awesome), take a private tour of Coyaba River Gardens and Mahoe Waterfalls (Absolutely Gorgeous!!). We have wanted to go over to Port Antonio or to the Glistening Waters/Luminous Lagoon at Falmouth but still have not made it there.
Things to do??
Floating on the water on a comfortable float mats all day
Enjoy your balcony and the amazing view
Sit on your balcony between 5 and 6pm to be seranaded by the saxophone player strolling the grounds
Walk around the lake at least once and try to find all the pathways and secluded nooks and hideaways
Play bingo by the main pool
Attend the cooking demonstration class on Wed afternoons
Take a ride out in the Glass Bottom boat to see the resort from a different perspective (Bring your camera!)
Take the dance lessons?
Spend some time in every area of the 35 acre resort
Take a champagne cruise down to the west of the resort
Enjoy the night time entertainment
Go to the After Party on SSB after the Beach Party and Starlight Gala
Be sure to pictures every day
Put your feet in the mineral pool cove where the cold spring water flows
Relax with a bloody mary or mimosas outside at Pallazina in the morning before or with breakfast and then get a made-to-order omelet from Edgar (even egg whites only)
Above all, be sure to make the most of this romantic paradise with your significant other.
Relax. Relax. Relax.
The two of you will talks about it for days, weeks, months to come --- until you go back, of course.