CSA Experience 7/5-7/10
So we stayed at CSA from July 5th - July 10th.
We're in our mid thirties and both of us are pretty well traveled. Typically we would go to a new country (to us) and explore it, but in the past three years we've had two girls and the daily grind of life has gotten to us. Getting away and relaxing (and sleeping in, not changing diapers, drinking adult libations and generally acting our age) was our prime objective. One of my wife's colleagues recommended Couples, so we decided to take the plunge.
We flew in to Montego Bay from Miami on American airlines on Thursday July 5th. Immigrations and customs wasn't so bad, and we made it to the Couples reception lounge without problem. We had about a 30 minute wait for the shuttle to the resort. We availed ourselves of the opportunity to sample the Red Stripe, which we did. The porters took our bags to the bus (tip there) and then the shuttle driver took us all to the resort. Drive was relatively uneventful - not a whole lot of commentary except for the first ten minutes, and we stopped half way for a bathroom/beer break. The check in process was pain free and the glass of chanmpagne was quite welcome.
We booked an Atrium room prmarily for the hammock on the balcony, and we are glad that we did. The room was large and comfortable, and the porch nearly perfect. We ended up spending most of our afternoons lounging in our room and on the porch reading. I was worried about the room being cool, but the AC and the fan kept the room nice and cool for us. The minibar was fantastic - it was stocked with what we wanted, and when they came by with an entire bottle of vodka and an entire bottle of rum, we knew we would be just fine in the room.
We were in room 1219, the location of the room was really convenient to the Palms. However, since the room has screens and plantation style shutters, most sounds from the outside are heard in the room. We heard the entertainment from the Palms every night. To boot, the night sounds of Jamaica are *loud*. Much louder than you might think, although you do get used to it. I'm a deep sleeper but my wife is not - but she brought her earplugs as a matter of course and it was fine. Not really a complaint per se since the charm of the atrium room is access to the open air breezes, and night time entertainment noise is going to carry. But just be prepared.
One thing that I was concerned about was smoking. We're nonsmokers, and while we realize that everyone has the right to do what they want in their own room, we're a little sensitive to the smell. We caught the whiff of ganja a number of times, and once we moved at the bar to get away from a smoker, but other than that it really didnt bother us. I bring this up for those non smokers who might be apprehensive about the trip because of this - don't be. It wont be in your face, and you can easily adjust yourself.
My wife and I consider ourselves foodies, and we were not disappointed ANYWHERE in the resort. The two reservation restaurants - Lemongrass and Feathers - were definitely primo. Each course would be something you'd expect in any first class restaurant in DC or NYC. The portions are not American sized, so order accordingly.
But even in the more "pedestrian" restaurants - Patois and the Palms - the food was most excellent. The buffets at the Palm had very little in the way of subpar dishes, and Patois was always excellent. The Jamaican pizza at Patois stand out. If soup is available, try it. It was always excellent.
We stopped at Seagrapes often, for the banana chips, the Jamaican sushi, and the coconut water.
As far as drink: varied, plentiful and ubiquitious. Enjoy!
THe beach and the water are gorgeous. I was concerned reading the message boards about getting seats, but we never had a problem. We often (not always) could get a seat under some sort of shade across We never tried for a palampa, but I had a feeling if I woke up early enough we could score one.
We took a walk along the beach and explored some of the beach outside the resort and did our best to support the local economy by buying a few trinkets and items for our kids.
The pools were also very nice. The swim up bar was always crowded, so we actually only went there once. Dont forget the little jacuzzi over by the Palms - nice little secret there.
This is where we failed. I had much ambition before I came to the resort, including wanting to do a few dives (I'm PADI certified), tennis, taking out a hobie cat, water skiing - the list was long! But we got to CSA and all we wanted to do is to relax and read and reconnect as a couple. We did do a snorkeling trip (decent) and the Catamaran cruise (fun even though that it rained for most of it), and a short kayak cruise. We walked over to the sports side, but we didnt really do anything over there even though we intended on taking a class or two or to play tennis.
The nightlife is also plentiful. Plenty of opportunities at the Aura nightclub and at the Palms. But we were in bed by 9pm except for one night so we really didnt do much. Rest assured there is lots to do if you want to avail yourself.
This trip was exactly what we needed. You need to expect stuff in island time, but the service is always with a smile and generally excellent. The resort is beautiful. If you dont have fun or are bored, it's your fault.
There are a few minor nits and picks, only mentioned here to be thorough. I did a lot of research before going (lurked on the message board daily for months) so I thought I was prepared. I was, but there are a few little things that I wish I had known or was reminded of. Most notably that the Catamaran cruise is not technically part of the Couples family, so tips *are* expected there. I didnt bring any cash and I wish I did. I wasn't alone in not knowing a few things - we were on the beach once and a staff member handed out green flags for the flag service. One foursome overheard me explain what it was to my wife and they commented that they had been there for four days and hadn't known what the green flags were for. While I think some of this stuff may have been covered in the orientiation, a little book in the room explaining some of these things wouldnt be remiss. (There was one xeroxed piece of paper, but it could have been more comprehensive.)
But those are really minor things. The trip was excellent, and we reconnected as a couple and the reset button was hit. I'd highly recommend the resort to anyone.
Uniqueme - thank you for taking the time to post such a detailed and well written review. Yes, it is amazing how the sand gravity kicks in and you are perfectly content laying on the beach sipping cocktails for hours and hours.
That is an excellent point about the cat crew being allowed to accept tips. We didn't know that on our first trip, either. They also sell a few items on the cat cruise (pareos, jewelery, CDs), so it's not a bad idea to pack some small bills for the cruise.
Great review! I feel like I'll be writing this review when we get back - so many big plans (water sports, tennis, etc.) but we'll probably end up completely relaxing, enjoying time away from our 3 kids and reconnecting and resetting, which sounds absolutely perfect to me. Thanks for posting your review! I'm even more excited for our trip now ;)
Great review. My favorite line was "As far as drink: varied, plentiful and ubiquitious." Ha! Love it! :)
We have been to CN 4 times (5 coming in April). Every trip has been different. Some include friends, some solo. Some are full of activities, some are mostly sitting on the beach (though every one includes daily exercise to work off the food/drink). Each visit has been unique in its own way. The truest part of your review is "If you dont have fun or are bored, it's your fault."
Great Review and good suggestions.
Great review and an excellent point about Feathers and Lemongrass. You are meant to have many courses at these restaurants--appetizer, soup, salad, entree, and dessert. They are portioned accordingly. If you don't want one of the courses, like salad, order two appetizers. If you are a big eater, like my powerlifter husband, order two entrees.