CSS vs CTI - HELP!
My fiance and I are planning our June 2014 honeymoon! Yay! I have done SO much research and I have even made a spreadsheet to try to determine where would be the best place for us to go. (Silly right, we are going to have a blast no matter what!) But I was still hoping some of you could give me some answers to my questions!
There dont seem to be many restaurant selections. We are big foodies and are SUPER excited about all the delicious food, especially Jerk Chicken! When we go are we going to have a wide variety even though there are only a few restaurants? How many are there exactly, the website says only 1 for Breakfast, 2 for lunch, and 3 for dinner. I dont want to get there and then feel like we are eating the same things over and over!
Are the stairs going to be an issue? We are looking at either the One Bedroom Ocean or Beachfront Suite! My fiance loves the lushness of CSS but seeing some of the pictures I am a little nervous. We are both pretty athletic. (getting in shape for the wedding :P)
My biggest worry is that when we get there it's going to feel like a hotel, I know each person is going to have a difference in opinion. Could you tell me WHY it feels like a hotel to you, or why NOT?
The beach is another big concern, while my fiance loves to swim, I love to just sit and lounge with a good book! I have seen several pictures of the CTI beach which is VERY small. While I dont mind this terribly much, I was wondering if (compared to CSS beach for those of you who have been to both) it was comparable, smaller, larger, etc?
Thank you for taking the time to help me out! I'd love to hear anything else you have to say about why you love either of the resorts (or both)!
Here are some quick differences between the two:
CTI (Ocho Rios)- Completely private beach, yet small; Completely separate island (Tower Island) for AN sunbathing. Island open from 9a-5p pending good weather. Access via small boat that runs all day. AN sunbathers cannot be seen from the main beach. Textiled guests cannot access the island. No beach on island, just rocks. 6 restaurants (Bayside, 8 Rivers, Verandah, Patio, Pool Grill, Veggie Bar) including one that sits on the water; the most inclusions (Dunn's River, catamaran cruise). Only 3 buildings with rooms so the resort is very compact and intimate. Everything revolves around a central location. Recently underwent a $30 million renovation - new rooms, new decor, new pools, etc. Swim-up pool bar. Also includes room service from 7:30am - 9:30pm. All rooms have mini bars.
CSS (Ocho Rios) - the newest to the Couples resort, but not the newest built. It used to be a Grand Lido then Couples bought it. Also has a completely private beach. Completely separate beach for AN sunbathing - Sunset Beach, which opens up to textiled guests at 5pm for the sunset.. Resort is very spread out vertically and built on cliffs. It's split into 3 different levels, lots of steps throughout. Lots of foliage and hidden spots. Does not offer a catamaran cruise. Swim-up pool bar. Only 3 restaurants (Palazzina, Casanova, beach grill/Bella Vista) but room service 6:00am - 11:00pm. All rooms are suites with mini bars. Rooms are more hotel like as far as the decor.
And here's our opinion to your questions based on our stays at both places:
1: CSS food - while their room service was a great perk, we like having the food variety that CTI brings with six restaurants. I will admit that we got tired of eating at the same three places over the ten days at CSS. I know others will disagree.
2: We hated the stairs - and I'm a runner so I'm pretty athletic. We didn't like them for a few reasons - one, I'm a beach bum and our room was on the top level (one bedroom in G) so if I wanted to run back to the room, or forgot something, it got old going up about 150 steps. If we ever went back, we would definitely book the Beachfront Suite on beach level so this wouldn't be an issue. Two, in the evenings, we like to have pre-dinner cocktails then dinner, then have drinks afterwards. With the restaurants and bars being on different levels, we felt like things were far away, so we'd end up doing drinks and dinner on the same level each night. But again, others will tell you the stairs are no big deal. They do have a bus that you can call to drive you if you don't feel like walking.
3: I think CSS felt more like a hotel than CTI, only because the room decor wasn't Caribbean like CTI. I would imagine that others think CTI feels more like a hotel because all of the rooms are in only one of 5 buildings (3 of which are connected) and they all open to an interior hallway, none are on beach level. As opposed to say CSA, there rooms are on the beach and are more like cabanas.
4: CTI and CSS both have the smallest beaches of the four Couples properties. CSS is slightly larger, but neither is one you could take a long walk on. Both are fine for swimming and reading. I'd be happy to share our pics of both beaches - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope this helped!
Welcome and congrats. We have stayed at CSA and CTI. We did the day tour of CSS while at CTI and I must say I prefer CTI over CSS because of the beaches, layout and restaurants. I was afraid of the hotel feel also but it was not so hotelly as you may be thinking. I travel for work and this is not so bad because the hallways have the open air stairwells so you can hear and feel the ocean. I actually like CSA the best because of the individual buildings, but CTI was not bad. My only recommendation is to get an ocean view. Worth the extra money. The beach seemed cleaner and more scenic the CSS. I loved the island (it is sans clothing) and you can't beat the view at the Bayside. Here is the link to our pics for that trip. Jamaica CTI - MarthaNourse's Photos
Let me know if you have issues. There are some pretty good ones of the room. Starting with pic 153 - 194 is CSS. P.S. Don;t judge the bathingsuit shots :)
There isn't much difference betwwn the beach size. If you are foodies I would go for CTI. We have stayed at all the Jamaica Couples Resorts and our favorite is CTI. The only one that has more restaurants is CSA. We have stayed at CSS twice and the lack of restaurants is the reason we probably won't stay there again. You can sign up for the Romance Rewards and do a day trip to visit the other Resort but you will only be able to try breakfast and lunch there.
mcotter11, I would like to see your pics of CTI, but a password is needed to view.
you cant go wrong with either. People who like CSS will tell you that's better and people who like CTI will say that's better. We have been to CSS twice love it . We visited CTI and though it was too much like a hotel. If you are worried about stairs at CSS stay in the beachfront suites
First of all, congrats on your upcoming wedding and you have choosen a fabulous destination for your honeymoon! Wherever you choose, you are going to have a wonderful, perfect, fabulous time. My husband and I have stayed at all four couples resorts with CSS and CN being our favourite of the two. Having said that, we absolutely love CTI...so much in fact that on our trip this April we are doing a split between CTI and CSS.
Here is abit of an overview...
CSS - Most beautiful, lush, romantic, breathtaking property I have ever visited. There is a magic to this property that can only be felt, not described. The views are spectacular and it's romance can be felt everywhere. I love the rooms up in the cliffs. The stairs are great for exploring...great for working off all those calories. There are hidden nooks and crannies all over the property which are great for romantic walks at night. I love going to see Crackers every day (the parrot) and going to visit the animals and turtles at the pond. The fact that I can eat just about all our meals outside is a HUGE plus for us. Despite the fact that there are only 3 choices for dinner, all are a la carte and open air/outdoor settings. The Friday night GALA is a beautiful! The AN facilties at Sunset Beach are great. Perfect combination of pool fun and relaxing beach. The main beach is larger then CTI. Still not what I would call a "beach walking" beach but beautiful nonetheless. The main pool at CSS, at least while we were there, was very, very quiet with only a few people sitting around the pool and enjoying the swim up bar. Again, this can vary from week to week and others may have experienced something very different. The SPA at CSS is fan-freakin-tastic! I dream everyday of having a massage in the hideaway listening to waves lapsing below me. Bliss I say!
CTI - Resort feels must busier then CSS as it is more compact. South beach kind of feel with beautiful colours. The island is a very unique AN experience so again, if this is important to you, it is pretty cool! The beach is fairly small and in my opinion not as pretty as CSS...but the pool life at the pools is pretty jumpin' at times:) Good fun to be had at the pool! The restaurants are fabulous with great food! Having said that, 8 Rivers and The Verandah are both indoors so outdoor dining is more limited then CSS.
So, essentially we love both but our heart is at CSS due to the lush romantic feel. Having said that, CTI owns a little piece too...
Thank you all for such great replies! You guys have definitely helped make my decision easier!
@ mcotter11 - I would love to look at those pictures, however, the gallery requires a password! (And while I definitely tried to guess, I am just not that lucky!)
First of all Congratulations!!!!! Researching and wanting your honeymoon to be perfect is not silly at all.
Originally Posted by AmandaD
We have visited all 4 resorts, but stayed at CN & CSS each twice.
My commentary is going to be a bit different than the few previous posts. CSS is my absolute favorite pick for a honeymoon, it has by far the most gorgeous grounds of the resorts! Very romantic and surprises around each corner. We are in our early 50's and choose to stay in the 1 bedroom Ocean Suites with balcony up on the cliffs. We have gotten G block both times (way at the top) so lots of stairs, but the views are incredible, and quite frankly we enjoyed strolling the stairs hand in hand taking different routes each time. Stopping at the Balloon Bar on our way up at night for a nightcap. Sitting out on the balcony at night on our double chaise listening to the tree frogs. The beaches are very similar, and with Sunset Beach at CSS you have another short stretch of beach. We took one overcast day (no lightening or thunder but sprinkles all day) and went into all 4 pools and every hot tub on the property. All rooms have mini bars and all rooms have an ocean view at CSS.
One thing I will agree about is the restaurant selection at CTI has CSS beat, although in a 7 day stay we never felt we did not have enough choices in 10 days I can see you would.
We did a Trade day at CTI and met up with a group of friends at Tower Island, we had so much fun there, BUT the one thing that really disappointed me about CTI is the lack of lush grounds compared to the other Couples Resorts, THAT moreso than the indoor entrance to your rooms made it feel more hotelish to me.
So again weigh your pro's and con's and decide what is important to you. One should be tugging at you more than the other. That is your destination!
Congratulations again, and have a great time! Whichever you choose, do a trade day and check the other one out!
Ditto to Dandj - we love the food at CTI. Both CTI and CSA are similar with 6 restaurants each, both have veggie bars, pool grills that don't turn into another restaurant at night and an Asian/Thai restaurant. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
April 2014 honeymoon here! My fiance and I have never been to Couples (or any other AI, for that matter) and we opted for CSS. The photos absolutely took our breath away - it is the perfect atmosphere for us! We were torn between CTI and CSS as well, but we had a gut feeling drawing us to CSS. We'll be there for 8 days, and if the food is as great as we hear, eating at the same restaurant multiple nights will still be a treat, plus the beach party and starlight gala will break up the routine a little.
Good luck making your choice - it sure seems like you can't go wrong with either :)
We have been fortunate to stay at the Couples resorts. Each resort provides excellent service and each resort does something to make it unique from the others. They are all wonderful and which ever you choose you will not be disappointed. As others have commented CTI is more condensed in its layout while CSS is spread out. At CSS if you book the beachfront suite you will be taking the stairs up and down to go to the fitness center and restaurants and bars at night but we liked exercise. At CTI they had hydro bikes to take out which was fun as well as the catamaran. If you want to stay in a beachfront suite you will have to stay at CSS as the suites at CTI are not beach level - having said that they do have amazing ocean views. Also, not sure if this matters but our experience when we stayed which was March 2009 at CSS and November 2009 at CTI is that the crowd was younger at CTI. Plus the friends we met at CSS said the same. Good luck in your decision.
Ok from what I can summarize from this and many other posts: If you don't mind more stairs, more spread out, less restaurants and more foliage, less hotelish CSS it is. If it is more compact, hotelish, more restaurants (and better food), slightly nicer beach, less foliage, slightly more personal service and better AN options, CTI it is.
Personally, you will enjoy any Couples resort. Period.
Congratulations! You have definitely chosen the best place to honeymoon...no matter which resort you chose, you will love Couples!! Although we can't comment on the other resorts we can tell you that CSS is amazing. We were there for 1 week for the first time last year and will be "home" again in one week's time (can't wait!!!!). I've never fallen in love with a place like I did with CSS. We knew we would be returning...the most romantic place ever.
So just to address some of your questions...neither of us is athletic (haha). I have fibromyalgia and my hubby has asthma...I'm 45 and he's 51. We were actually grateful for the stairs (we were in F block) because it was just about the only exercise we got the whole week!! Really needed to work off some calories from the amazing food and drinks:D. Speaking of food...well I guess we're not too worried about getting bored of the selections because this time we're staying for 2 weeks!!! We loved the room...ours was beautiful. Just want to make a comment too that the that the service at CSS was wonderful and very personal.... I'm sure it is at CTI as well...we are looking forward to visiting CTI for a day this time.
CSS is a stunningly beautiful, tropical paradise spread out amongst the hillside. The stairs aren't that bad as my wife had brain surgery and could manage them fine. The drawback is as others have noted, that if you need to go back to your room, it could be a long haul. The property is its strength. The food is great, but we did find it repetitive, but since it was good, we didn't care.
CTI is a hotel. It doesn't mean there aren't beautiful places, nooks or crannies like at CSS. But there aren't as many and you have to know where to look. CTI is lush and tropical, and it's view of the Island and Carribean is amazing. The food quality and choices were better at CTI. It's compact, easy to get around. It never seemed crowded to us as the two pools split the crowd along with the beach and island. CSS seems even less crowded, mostly as there are more private areas. We also liked being able to hear the ocean in your room at CTI whereas it's more difficult to get a room that close to the water at CSS.
Both have private beaches, which while smaller than Negril, are quite adequate. I prefer CTI for swimming off the beach as the water was deeper. Neither are great for long walks, but CSS is great for long walks around the property.
Congrats and enjoy!
You have already heard from my wife, Sunkissed, but I would also like to add a comment. First of all, congratulations on your upcoming wedding and your excellent choice for a honeymoon destination. So relax, you simply can't go wrong with any of the Couples properties!
I guess my answer to your question is: Why choose, go to both! My wife and I almost always do split vacations when we travel to Couples, especially if we are going for more than 7 days. Simply book direct with Couples for the room and you have ultimate flexibility to package your stay any way you like. Then go to Expedia to find a cheap flight to match your dates and you are ready to go. Couples will look after your transportation to and from the airport and they will shuttle you between the Ocho Rios properties for free. The ride from CTI to CSS is about 5 minutes - piece of cake!
I love the excitement of arriving at a new resort and exploring a new property and you'll get to do it twice on your honeymoon - sounds perfect to me!