Review from a first-timer at CTI!
Well, we just got back from CTI yesterday and I'm trying to not be depressed that it's over! I don't want to write a super-detailed review, BUT before my trip I really enjoyed reading the thoughts from other first timers.
OK this was my favorite part probably! I love to eat :) I was not disappointed by any meal we had all week. I wish we'd gone to Verandah more than once though, since you don't need reservations. I love variety so the breakfast/lunch/dinner buffet was great to me. Breakfast was somewhat repetitive every day but delish nonetheless. Room service was so nice to have and it took no more than 30 minutes each time we did it. The variety of desserts was great! The beach party on Monday was awesome too - all other restaurants are closed that night. The pool grill was nice to have for a snack and I loved there was a soda fountain and soft-serve! Be sure to know they will put cheese on your tortilla chips if you don't want the salsa that's sitting out.
This wasn't a draw for me, so we only went to the shows a couple of nights. The beach party night entertainment was great - my husband and I actually won the dance contest!! The "Steel Birds" entertainment night was the other than we went to & they were really talented!
ohhhh the yummy tropical drink goodness! I tried many different drinks all week and liked every single one. Our faves were Miami Vice, Hummingbird & Rum Punch. It did occur to us about halfway through the week that if you want a top shelf drink, you have to ask for it; first-timer naivety. We signed up for Romance Rewards and did the pre-request minibar and it was a thrill to have our goodies in our room when we arrives :) However we didn't drink nearly as much in-room as we thought we would!
No doubt, our favorite inclusion! We are not lay-on-the-beach-all-day folks. We did just about every included activity at least once. Our favorite was probably scuba. It was my first time and I found the pool lesson to be INCREDIBLY helpful and our instructor Douglas was patient and explanatory. The 4-lap prerequisite pool swim was a hard surprise, but scuba was nowhere near as aerobic-inducing so don't let the pool swim scare you! The only off-site thing we did was Dunn's River Falls and it was SO FUN! Loved it. Don't bring anything you don't want to get submerged.
We had the basic room garden view, and luckily ours was on the 1st floor close to the lobby. We met some people who were on the top floor in a distant building, and I don't know if there was an elevator. Either way they would have a really long "quick run" back up to the room. The room wasn't fancy, but it did have a king bed, walk-in shower, and large balcony with nearby hammock in the garden. Be sure to bring some slippers, because the floor gets sandy and it sticks to your feet, gets in your bed, etc. Plus the tile is cold :) Housekeeping was very good but they don't clean the floors. I found the mattress to be really hard. Cable TV was a great plus! Ceiling fan was also great to help move air to dry out wet clothes.
I had a hard time understanding the Jamaicans about half the time but it was just fine! Restaurant servers were great. Most of the bartenders weren't overly friendly, nor was the front desk staff but they got the job done. The activities team members were fun & friendly. All in all, just talk to the people & make conversation and you will be fast friends!
It was so convenient to have airport transfers included. The driver on the way to CTI was pretty daring, but the one on the way back to the airport seems safer (and it was a bigger van).
We did not go to the AN island, the spa, golf, tennis, or do any extra cost activities. Also we did not get to Eight Rivers :(
I probably left out some stuff so if you have questions just ask!