CSA Rewiew 04/20/13-04/27/13
This is the exact text of a review I just submitted to TA with a solid four star rating. Really enjoyed our first trip to CSA and can't wait to go back someday. Just wanted to share it for any of you that might be getting ready to go.
We visited Couples Swept Away for seven days recently and really could not be happier with the experience. This place is a solid 3 ½-4 star resort, but we knew that going into it. However, what it really has going for it is the location and the people that work there.
Located on Seven Mile beach, Couples Swept Away is 17 acres of sun and beach beauty. The resort seems to be fairly close to the cliffs of Negril, shopping, and other local attractions. It is located on a very busy road, and there are times that you hear road noise. The grounds are gorgeous with palms and tropical landscaping all over. Numerous koi ponds are on the property.
We stayed in an ocean view veranda room (3315) and the room was just fine. There wasn't much of an ocean view in our room thanks to some rather tall palm trees, but that was fine because we only went to the room to sleep, shower, and do adult things. About the size of a normal hotel room, with a patio the room was fine for the two of us to exist in for a week. As many reviewers have said, the rooms do need a little TLC. Small things like chipped paint on the tubs and mirrors that are starting to chip and fall apart should be addressed. Overall, the bed was just ok even though it was a bit hard. I think that really comes down to personal tastes, but the resort could probably opt for one category softer. I say this simply because I think it would make for a better stay for all guests. We are all there to relax and enjoy our vacations, and a good night’s sleep is a big part of that. The furnishings are rustic and fit the theme of a beach resort. A good mini fridge in the room with a mini bar and a nice flat panel TV. In room safe was a plus and a good way to lock up important items.
Overall, the food at this resort was food 3-4 star food. Was it first class food? Not really, but it wasn’t garbage either. Understanding that the resort has to cook and cater to the likes and dislikes of 1000 people a week is important. That being said, everything we ate was good and fresh. About the only issue I had was the buffet. Not being a huge buffet person, the nights where we were kind of forced into eating it were nothing to write home about. The food was just eh. The Palms restaurant (the buffet) apparently offers a la carte choices on some nights, but it appears that is only Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Having other plans those nights, we were stuck eating buffet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Patios Patio was a personal favorite. Mostly due to location on the resort with a great view of the ocean, the food here was prepared to order and always solid. We had the banana stuffed French toast a few mornings, and they were out of this world.
For a quick bite on the resort, there is the Cabana Grill and Seagrapes Café. The Cabana grill is great for some greasy food, but also has some lighter fair like Jerk Chicken and salads. This is also, where you get the famous Jamaican Patties. Overall, we ate at the Cabana Grill at least three times and the food was great each time. I really enjoyed Seagrapes a lot, mostly because of their sweet potato chips and hummus. This became a daily treat for us around 2.30. The fish tacos at Seagrapes were also a highlight of the dinning week for me. Freshly grilled as you wait, they really were stellar.
Lemongrass and Feathers are the “fine” dining restaurants that require reservations. Both were good as well. Lemongrass is the Thai inspired restaurant at the resort, and the food was good. The menu was a bit confusing to us, but we made it work. We had a late reservation, and because of this, the entertainment had already started below in the Palms restaurant so it wasn’t that romantic of an evening. Seating was open air and on a hot muggy Jamaican night, it wasn’t too comfortable. Overall, that meal was good. Lemongrass is the continental restaurant and really is the best restaurant on site. We had a five-course meal over about two hours and it was nice and romantic. Food was excellent and the location is climate controlled. A nice touch when you have to dress fancier for dinner. We also did a private beach dinner one night and it was nice. We suspect the food is produced from Lemongrass because it seemed very similar to that dinner for us. However, the beach dinner is all about location and romance. Well worth the 170 dollars if it is your first time or if you are there for your wedding/anniversary.
I don’t think we hit all the bars on the resort. Most of our drinking occurred at the two beach bars. All the drinks made at these bars were good tasting. I highly recommend trying the daily drink special every day. The Cool Running’s was a personal favorite. Of course, they will make you pretty much anything you want. As far as selection, the best vodka I saw was Grey Goose and Stoli. They had a fair share of the more popular whisky and scotch brands. All the rums were local Jamaica brands. Service at the bars is a real highlight of the resort. We met Lincoln the first day and he remembered us the whole time. Anytime we ran into him on the beach, he always stopped to make sure we were having a good time. Orville at the other beach bar was a great person to talk to as well. He came around every morning with fruit skewers and to drop off our green drink flag. He was so nice I felt guilty using it and usually walked to the bar. The Martini bar was good before we ate at Lemongrass. I assume that the service at the other bars were good as the beach bars. Drinks provided in room were good to make the occasional drink in room.
Sadly, we didn’t really hang out for much of the entertainment. We were tired from the sun all day and had other “in room” entertainment going on, so we had many early nights. However, from what I gathered the entertainment was really good. We dropped into the piano lounge for a few minutes and it seemed fun. Beach entertainment consisted of the various musicians stopping to play. And good reggae at the beach bars. The best part of the music at the beach bars was the variety they provided. You were not bombarded with Bob Marley for seven days. Nothing wrong with Bob, but he isn’t the only Jamaican musician.
The beach is top notch. As many reviewers will state, the palapas are always taken by enterprising souls getting up at the crack of dawn to throw a towel on them and then not show up until the afternoon to use them. That being said, there is still plenty of shade on the beach if you need it. My wife is fair skinned and we couldn’t do the full sun. But we were able to find shade in the morning on the north part of the beach and then move south as the day went on to take advantage of shade there. The sand is perfect on the beach, the water is warm, and the swimming area is huge. There are parts that are neck deep (I’m 6’5) and some that are waist deep. The chair cushion floats are great and make the loungers much more comfortable. We got to enjoy seeing quite a few couples get married on the beach and that put us in a romantic mood. I will give a big shout out to the security on the beach, as they kept the random vendors down near the water line the whole week. A small tip is to time your movements to and from the water to avoid them. While they are all fairly nice people just trying to get buy, the vast majority of them are drug dealers. A simple “No Thanks” is usually good for them, but some can be a bit pushier and require some light sarcasm to get the point. We took a stroll up the beach for some local food and it was the worst experience of the week for us. Every five feet we were hit up to buy stuff (i.e. weed) and it just ruined what could have been a nice morning walk. To each his own on that stuff, but they must honestly think that every American likes to get high. That all being said, the beach is great, plenty of room and the water is perfect.
We went on the sunset cruise and that is a must. Depending on your crowd, it can become a bit of a booze cruise (ours was) but we didn’t mind that one bit. It made for a really fun time. We got to anchor near Rick’s café to see a cliff diver and then some time down the coast for a swim into the caves. Romantic sailing back as the sunset. A must do early on in your trip. We snorkeled once and went the to Mexico site. Very clear and nice water with great reefs. Chavez and Julian were our escorts that day and provided a safe and fun hour out of the resort. I did try to water ski and paddle surf. The instruction was good by the water sports staff, and I think it was lack of coordination that caused me to fail. There appeared to be beach volleyball, bocce ball, and horseshoes available, but we didn’t do any of that. Seemed like too much effort when I was on vacation!
We went over and had an 80 minute couples massage the first day we were there. Worth every penny! They really helped us relax and start the week off right. The smoothie bar at the complex was nice and we had a couple smoothies during the week. There is a nice pool there if you want to swim some laps, and I think there is a gym there for those of you that like to work out on vacation. Pool table, putting green and a jogging trail round out some of the available amenities. We didn’t spend a lot of time on that side of the resort, but heard many good things from other couples that spent more time over there.
Overall, the staff was great. A few shout outs to Julian, Chavez, Orville, Salmon, and most of all Lincoln. It is my sincerest hope that Couples understands the value they bring to their brand and they are well taken care of. From check in to check out, the staff was all great. Not everyone was exceptional, but they were all good. The only real complaint I had was our luggage porter asking if we liked to party, which I assume was asking if we wanted to buy weed. The first night we were there, the tree frogs were rather loud and we didn’t know what they were. When we called the front desk to ask what the noise was they didn’t seem to know what we were talking about and when we asked our maid she also played dumb. I don’t know if that is a resort policy because other people really complain about it. We simply wanted to know what the heck the noise was. The frogs were so loud that we thought it was a fake noise. But we got used to it after a day or so.
Overall, this is currently residing as the top spot in our vacations memories. For the money, we spent and the time we took to get there, it was worth every penny and minute. A few suggestions to the resort would be to give some of the rooms some TLC and touch ups. Even though most people don’t spend a lot of time in the rooms, but the time there should be perfect. Our room category was a bit misleading because we had two palm trees blocking our view of the ocean. Given two years, it might not be an issue but the property manager should really take time to stand in all the rooms in a category to determine if they are delivering on the category. Some pruning of those trees would have made the view much better. The resort needs to update some of the in room literature to include all the buffet nights at the Palms. We went Wednesday thinking we could have A la carte and it was buffet. Room service was kind of hit or miss because you never knew what time it was going to happen so sometimes the maid was there when you needed some privacy.
A lot of the above is really just nitpicky things. Overall, we had a wonderful time and would return to Couples Swept Away in a heartbeat. We see why so many guests return repeatedly. The property is beautiful, the food is good, and the staff is great. We loved our time there getting to know some of the people of Jamaica.