CTI trip report with a little CSS...LONG read (sorry)
From Feb 20-27th, my lovely wife and I spent another great week at CTI. Our main focus of our trip was to surprise friends of ours, as we knew they were going to be there at this time. We became friends during last year's trip to CTI, and with them being from UK and us from western Canada, it's kind of tough to get together otherwise. They had no idea we were going to be there, and it only took about 5 seconds of us being on the island before they spotted us and ran at us for what I thought would be a more awkward hug (remember, we were on the island). After a few "oh my god!"s and "I can't believe you lied to us! Hahaha"s, the next thing they asked was what we're drinking and then said "Now get naked!" We had now been at the resort for about 15 minutes...here's how the rest of our trip played out.
The arrival at the airport was as fun as any airport...walk a mile, enjoy some riveting conversation at the customs booth, and grab your luggage. Sarcasm aside, the real fun started as you approach what I call, the "Couples Staging Area". A very friendly man is there to grab and tag your bags to prep them to load into the shuttle, while you quickly sign in and enjoy a Red Stripe/Red Stripe Light/soda/juice/or water. Within 20 minutes, you're on your way to your resort, which is about a 1.5-2hr drive, depending mostly on traffic density and the red lights in the couple towns you drive though. If you haven't heard about driving in Jamaica, you should probably grab a 2nd Red Stripe at the Staging Area. I personally don't find it too bad at all, but I'm used to Jamaican cab drivers lacking depth perception now so...
Getting to the resort, the first words that you will probably hear are "Welcome Home!" from the various people working the main entrance. Your luggage again is quickly dealt with as you check-in and get your room number. Before we even sat at the check-in counter, we were offered a refreshing rum punch, and it was in our hands within 2 minutes. The good mood of the staff is infectious, and will imporve the mood of even the most stressed "just rode in a Jamaican cab" person. A casual fist-bump, and a "yeah mon, hahahaha!" will make you forget you just about rear-ended 78 cars on the way there. After getting your room number, one of these fine gentlemen wheel your luggage to your room and go over your room with you. Mini-bar, safe, how to order room service, etc, are all quickly but thoroughly explained. And then you're free to enjoy the resort at your leisure. I recommend getting to guest services quickly and booking any reservations at restaurants that you'd like to check out, or any excursions you wish to do. They book up quick.
I'm not a "foodie", but I think the food here is GREAT, and personally think it's the best of any resort I've been to in Cuba, Dominican, or Mexico. Again, this is more of a "personal preference" kinda thing, so it's tough to tell people "no, THIS food is better than other food YOU ate before". I just enjoyed the variety. The buffet always impressed me at all times of the day. Eight Rivers was quite fancy...one of those four forks, three knives, two spoons kinda joints, where the "un-classy" folks like myself have to ask their wives which one they eat the soup/dinner/desert with. Just ask quietly...some classy folk are appauled by this. The Verandah is also nice, facing the ocean, does not require reservations (but get there before it opens!), and is a nice escape for those who get bored with the buffet. Check out the signs in the hallway for the menu for both Eight Rivers and the Verandah...both these restaurants are located across the hall from one another. The Grill, next to the main pool (no swim up bar)was great for a quick snack later at night, or for "brunch" or "lupper". Primarily simple meals like burgers and fries, chicken strips, calamari, etc. Fills the gap when the hunger pangs strike....especially at 2 am. At the far end is the asian restaurant, Bayside. On this trip, this was our favorite place to eat (reservations needed). We actually tried booking twice, but good nude pool company and too many rums made other plans for us on our second trip. Our waiter was more amazing than the food, believe it or not, explained the menu perfectly, and always talked to you by first names (which he only asks for once). We were VERY impressed with this restaurant. (I cannot comment on the Veggie Bar near the beach on the lower level, but I've heard they have some great options, including shakes).
There's a whiteboard near the steps by the buffet that lays out that days activities and locations, as well as nightly entertainment. I was quite impressed with the beach activities this time around in comparison to a year ago. There were always people out on the water in Hobie Cats and kayaks, full dive boats leaving at 9:30 each morning, and the option of beach volleyball (although I didn't see anyone play). As night arrives, there is the option of the band/show in the buffet area. Sometimes a steel drum band, sometimes a dance show (I've never seen people dance across a dance floor on ONE HAND BEFORE...wow!). My wife and I only attended these two shows and therefore can't vouche much for what else happens there, because we were usually at the piano bar! For you see, after a steady flow of rum, lots of people like myself think they can sing. If you're a music critic, stay away!! If you like laughing with other people who think they can sing, enjoy chatting with very interesting piano players, and nearly no line up at the bar, this might be the place for you. Usually it starts shutting down at around the 11:30-12:00 kinda area. Usually the sun and rum has beaten people up enough that they don't last much past this, but if so, you pretty much make your own fun later in the night. We'd mingle with friends at the piano bar, hit one of the hot tubs, etc. I almost forgot to mention the beach BBQ on Monday evening. Food was again, incredible. The show was also fantastic, and a good change from the usual nightly entertainment....watching traditional Jamaican dancing, followed by a very funny game played with couples from the crowd. Long story short, the guys had to show their dance moves...then the finalists brought their wives up and had to dance with each other, but imitating how their partner dances. Hilarious!
The main beach is smaller than many other resorts, and runs about 2/3rds the length of the resort. The option is there to swim in the ocean, but mostly people are just tanning. Others will get their "social on" at the swim up bar, and casually lounge around in the pool. My wife and I spent very little time here, so again, take this part of the report with a grain of salt. We spend all our time on the island! People often ask "what happens over there?" And usually their views of it range somewhere in the "everyone just stares at everyone's PARTS" to "it's basically Hedo". A quick trip over there would delete any of these ignorant views. You wanna know what happens over there?? Whatever happens on other beaches, but everyone is naked. In the morning, most people are reading books or soaking up the sun, and some are in the pool, "swimming" (walking) up to the bar. The worst thing I've seen out there was when the locks to the bar were corroded and we couldn't get in for like.....minutes!! Thanks bolt cutters. I think one reason that the nude areas are so much more social is because you know for sure that you have at least ONE thing in common with whoever you talk to, and makes for a good ice-breaker. "Hey, I see you like being naked...me too! So where ya from?" (Actual conversations are much more intellectual, and this was just for example purposes) Then you go from there. We were actually able to talk some people into trying it, and saw them out there a few times after. We've also read a lot of people concerned about their scars/"mom belly"/weight/moles/tail...and I can't stress enough to anyone that reads this. DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT! You're not there for a pageant, contest, or any kind of judgement. You are there to relax, just like everyone else. We all have our "imperfections" if you want to call them that, but it's what makes us who we are. As a prime example, on this trip, we saw a woman, probably in her early 40's. The only thing she was wearing was a pink hat and pink sunglasses...both with the familiar pink bow. And she had no nipples. And she was having a fantastic time every time we saw her. I said to my wife that I thought that was incredible. You can't help but be proud of her, first of all for the obvious hardships she overcame, but to also have the confidence to hit the nude side of the resort. She's an inspiration in my books. If she reads this, I really hope she isn't offended by this mentioning of her, as I only bring it up to inspire.
Moving on...the island itself is pretty small, but holds a place in our hearts. It's got everything you need...bathroom, bar, chairs, and always some good company. While we are partial to the island, I believe that we will book at Sans Souci next time based STRICTLY on the size of the AN area. There is a large beach, lots of room back from the beach, and a very large pool (especially by AN standards). Entering the ocean is rocky...but it's not coral! You can get out far enough to hop on your floatie and enjoy some rays out on the water. Be aware however, that the waves DO pull you out...quicker than you think. It's so relaxing that you don't really notice, but the swim back is not nearly as relaxing. My wife really enjoyed floating in the pool after that (because there's ROOM for it). For those that are maybe trying it out for the first time, there is lots of room to sit far away from others if needed. Some might even find that the mostly female bar staff is a more comfortable aspect as well. Not sure if this is all the time, but it was the 2 times we went there. We really enjoyed the San Souci nude side, but did not enjoy any other facilities, and therefore have no input on restaurants or anything. The lunch by the nude pool was amazing both times.
I'm very sorry this is so long, but hopefully those that read it found it helpful/interesting. My wife and I would be more than happy to answer any questions anyone might have. Also, remember that everything written here was just based on our perceptions. Anything that we said was good or bad are strictly our opinions, and not fact. Thanks for reading.
P.S. The trip from resort to airport was terrible. I don't recommend doing it at all.