Split Stay - Long Review Part 1: CTI
My husband and I just returned from a split trip CTI/CSS. This was our fourth visit to CTI, and our first stay at CSS. I’ll review our stay at CTI first:
Customs and Immigration was a breeze. Our trip from the airport was fun, with a quick stop for bathroom break, beef patties and beer. The driver wasn’t very talkative (some are) but we had a good time anyway. Our arrival at CTI was nice, with Captain Kirk there to greet us, and quickly bringing us drinks and cool towels.
Check-in was relatively smooth. We received our Repeater’s shirts and water bottles, resort credit for early booking and headed up to our room. The check-in staff was a little less friendly than usual but nothing I would consider rude – just the end of a long day for them and us I suppose.
Our mini-bar was stocked as requested during the pre check-in process, though we ended up drinking only the soft drinks and sparkling wine. The vodka was “Kirov” brand and if you are a fan of good vodka you know this stuff isn't good vodka. (More on this later!)
We hit the island every single day and met up with many friends we have seen before at CTI, as well as some new ones. It was great to see Damion tending bar on the island a few times, and later at the main bar. Terry, another of my faves, was tending bar on the island at least once and in the Piano bar at night.
Some have mentioned that there is good snorkeling near Bayside. This is apparently an urban legend. The snorkeling there was horrible. I saw dead coral, trash, broken glass and not much else. Don't bother.
We enjoyed several dinners at Eight Rivers, all delicious; one dinner at Bayside (mixed reviews from our group) and a couple of evenings at the Patio (gala night and one other night). We like the new format of menu service on the Patio in the evenings. It’s a lot more practical than the huge buffet every night, although there are still plenty of offerings on the salad and dessert bars.
The infamous Pumpkin Soup eluded us. Every time we thought we were getting “THE” pumpkin soup, it was something else, just a variation, but never “the one”. Still, most of the soups were delicious.
Our private island dinner was amazing! Champagne and appetizers on the pier before the boat ride over was a nice touch! The menu was chosen for us, and we enjoyed all of it. The sound of the ocean crashing against the rocks almost lulled us to sleep there on the island. We returned to our room, stuffed and sleepy, but satisfied. Totally worth the time and money for a memorable, special meal.
We ate so many fried snapper sandwiches at the grill - I know I gained at least one pound just from those sandwiches alone. Then there is the sweet potato chips and smoked marlin dip at the veggie bar! Wow!
We also loved the martini bar up on the roof. Very enjoyable and great views of the resort. Our friends danced to their wedding song up there on their anniversary. Very romantic, especially with the full moon!
The small gym facility at CTI has plenty of equipment to get in a decent workout whether you're into weight lifting, running, biking or walking. You can get a full workout here, with the exception of a pull-up bar. They even have bumper plates for the barbells.
So many of the staff made our stay enjoyable. Kenesha (sp?) and Kevin from entertainment are so much fun! Maxine was at our table for the Repeater’s dinner. She’s always nice to chat with. Everald and Kirk in the lobby are always friendly. We had a really great waiter at Eight Rivers on our last night there – his name I believe is Chevaughn. Very nice young man, who took the time to talk with us after dinner. Enjoyed meeting him. As usual, the majority of the staff at CTI are so engaging and will greet you in passing without fail. The one exception at CTI was so rude it was almost unbelievable - Shauna-Kay at the omlette/egg station. She would barely acknowledge anyone with more than a grunt or an eye roll. Other than her, the CTI staff is incredible.
We requested, and were granted, a tour of the kitchen facilities. Sous Chef Christopher (his last name escapes me now) took us through every step of the kitchen. We were amazed at the cleanliness, the organization and the incredible amount of effort that goes into the meal planning there. It is a huge operation, and simply amazing the quantity and quality of food they produce on a daily basis.
I mentioned the Kirov vodka earlier. Holy cow!! This is the most gawd-awful, nasty excuse for vodka on the entire planet. And, if it’s not the most awful, I don’t want to taste what might be worse! This is my only complaint about anything consumable we had at the resort. The drinks start off “top shelf”, i.e., Absolut or Grey Goose vodka, but toward the end of the evening they start pouring Kirov and look out! Nasty is the kindest word I can think of for it. It tastes like lighter fluid. Please, whoever is in charge of ordering vodka, get rid of this stuff!
We had a visit to the spa for a couples massage, which I enjoyed (Ginny did mine) but my husband did not (Clover did his). I should’ve requested deep tissue for him but I forgot. It was a very relaxing afternoon, though and I still would recommend the spa – just be sure to ask for what you want.
To summarize, we had a great stay at CTI, once again, and I’m certain we will return. You cannot beat the value, the food, the good times or the staff at CTI! If you’re thinking of booking here – do it!