CN Review (5/14/13-5/21/13) and CSA comparison
Overall we had a fabulous time! At check-in I had only two requests. We did not want to be in building one and we did not want to be on the first floor. It turns out they had assigned us to building one, so they reassigned us to the third floor of building two. I would say that if we go there in the future I will request building three or building four. We were a little too close to the early morning aerobics in building 2.
The beach was absolutely fantastic. We both liked and disliked everything being in a central location and the resort being smaller. It was nice that we could quickly get back to our room when a thunderstorm came through, but we missed long walks through the gardens. Also with the resort being smaller, if you just wanted to relax on the beach you still heard all of the noise shouting and yelling from the beach volleyball game.
I really liked the new way that they are stocking the mini bars. Calling for what you need when you need it is much better than having a whole bunch of stuff you won't drink stocked in there every day. The repeaters cocktail party and dinner was fantastic. Don't miss it if you're invited! We liked that the room service breakfast at CSA was just left at your door instead of them knocking and coming in..... There was one morning when we were still asleep when they delivered the breakfast and they kept insistently knocking even though I was shouting I'm coming I have to put a robe on.. They also totally forgot to bring our breakfast on our first morning at CN.
The piano bar was fantastic but the bar itself is way too small. Once you get half a dozen couples seated at the bar there is no where to go up there and get drink service. They really need servers walking around the room and taking orders. This is the only bar that is open late at night and it gets very crowded. Two bartenders making complex martinis is just not enough.
Our biggest complaint at CN was actually with guest relations. We had a private treehouse dinner scheduled and when we checked in I asked what time it was scheduled and was told 7 PM. The day before the dinner I confirmed the time with guest relations and was again told 7 PM. Well on the night of the dinner we were dressed and ready to go at 7 PM and we're waiting for our personal server to pick us up at our room. At 7:15 PM when no one had showed up I called the front desk and they basically said it's only three minutes after seven just relax non-mon they will be there..... I'm not sure what clock they were using but it was way off. They didn't even bother to get our room number to check the computer. At 7:40 PM when no one had showed up my husband again called the front desk and this time he asked them to check their computer because we were worried there was a mixup and we were starving. They finally checked the computer and they said our dinner was scheduled for 8 PM. Someone did promptly knock on the door at 8 PM, but that makes me wonder how we were told 7 PM twice and now it was magically 8 PM when they were 45 minutes late. $180 for a private dinner is a lot of money for a mix up on something as simple as the time.
The dinner itself in the treehouse was very romantic and tasty..... But we do you think that they need to revamp the menu and have something on there that isn't even remotely similar to anything you can get at any of the other restaurants. In our case, the trio of seafood was the same as the trio of seafood at otaheite With just a slight variation on the actual seafood. Plus the rack of lamb dish was exactly the same as the beef tenderloin dish at otaheite, just a different protein. It wasn't lobster season while we were there, but people were talking about getting it at the office of nature. So it would've been a really special dinner if we could get lobster out of season.
Comparing the 2 resorts....overall we liked CSA better.....for the vibe, the extra space, the extra restaurant, the better gardens, and the rooms. CN had a better beach, even though it was only 1/4 the length, it was 10 times deeper. You could not even hear the beach vendors if you were half way up the beach. In general the staff was friendlier at CN.
I didn't like that the only breakfast choice was buffet, as was lunch (except for lunch at the grill, but that was basic stuff like burgers and fries). I think that they should expand the grill menu just a little bit in light of the lack of an à la carte restaurant for lunch. Maybe add grilled cheese and a cheesesteak or some soft pretzels as a snack. CSA had an additional restaurant that was a la carte for breakfast and lunch, which we enjoyed. CSA also has sea grapes where we got sweet potato chips daily....please add them at the grill at CN!
We liked Lychee better at CN, but Feathers at CSA better. We really liked that you didn't need a reservation at Lychee and wish they would do the same at Lemongrass. In general the dinner restaurant service was better at CN. Otaheite..... For such a small restaurant there were way too many large tables. We went there twice. The first night that we went they did not have any reservations available for a table for two so they seated us with three other couples at a table of eight. None of us knew each other. We did enjoy this dinner, but at one point when we were all laughing at something I looked around and realized we were being the of noisy big table annoying all of the couples who were there trying to be romantic. I really don't think there should be more than one 8 top table there..... And I think it would be better to push together small tables to making an 8 top if there is a group that knows each other that wants to dine together instead of having a large round 8 top where you seat people who aren't together. If i wanted that, i would have gone on a cruise instead. Our second night there we were at a table by ourselves and there was no one at either of the large tables and the atmosphere was much better that night.
The pool bar was better at CN (Franklin and Omar are awesome)...the CSA bartender was a jerk to my husband....really. My husband is a very powerfully built power lifter and the bartender at CSA felt the need to constantly comment on it instead of making our drinks.
I didn't like the fact that there was nothing around the second pool at CN and we had to walk back to the other side of the resort or to our room for a drink.
The room was okay at CN, but more hotel like and we definitely appreciated the hut feeling of our CSA room (We were in a premier beachfront suite, but when we return we will probably get an atrium suite). We had a much bigger veranda at CSA as well.
Because of the small size of CN, it was a quick walk to get anywhere, but everything was centrally located. So, everyone was in the same area most of the day and night, even if they were doing different things (pool, beach, bars, eating). Also, having the rooms so close means that if you were trying to have a romantic time on your veranda with a bottle of champagne, you could hear the music and cheering from the stage 2 buildings away.
People seemed to gather in groups more at CN because we were always around the same people. Not that I'm unfriendly, but I'm there to have a good time with my hubby. CSA is better for that. Plus because of the small size of CN, We kept encountering this one really annoying woman that we first encountered on about our second day there. I am not going to go into too much detail in case she is on this board. LOL. The first time we encountered her she was quite drunk and quite loud and found herself to be really funny, but in fact she was actually harassing us and we just wanted to get away from her. Yet because of the small size of CN we found ourselves encountering her every day. We just couldn't get away from her.
The grounds were much more beautiful CSA. I spent a couple of hours wandering around the resort taking pictures of all the beautiful flowers. CN Was a lot of palm trees and very few flowers.
There was a much bigger problem with birds in the buffet restaurant at CN..... One of them stole my omelette one day. This may be because of the lack of cats at CN.... I missed my vacation kitties.
The evening entertainment at both resorts is only okay. On our bus trip back to the airport one man from Oklahoma said it perfectly when he said That when we go to Jamaica we want to hear reggae music not dance party stuff from the US..... He said it would be like Jamaicans visiting Oklahoma and wanting to hear country music but instead playing reggae.
Scuba..... I am certified and my husband got certified CSA last year. The scuba guys at CSA are awesome. We ended up not diving at CN because I had a little mishap my first night there and slipped on the wet tile floor, landing right on my tailbone which hurt like hell the entire time we were there. The thought of carrying all the scuba equipment on my back to and from the dive boat with my tailbone hurting was enough to prevent me from doing it.
Water sports... We did not do the snorkeling trip while at CSA because we spent all of our time diving. Since we weren't diving at CN we did the snorkel trip. First let me explain that I am 40 years old and have been snorkeling since I was a teenager. I have never used a life vest because I am very bouyant and I am also an extremely strong swimmer. I do understand the policy of everyone having to wear one of those little snorkeling vests but they really should get their act together and tell you that when you were checking in. We had our mask and snorkel so we told them that we just needed fins. They should have informed us that we had to get a snorkeling vest but they didn't. So my husband and I as well as one other couple didn't get one and when we got the snorkeling spot that's when we were informed that we had to wear one, but we didn't have to inflate it if we didn't want to. So then they made us where the actual foam life jackets from the boat which were huge and bulky. The entire time we were snorkeling I had to use one hand to forcefully pull it down otherwise it was going to strangle me to death. This was literally the worst snorkeling trip I have ever been on.
I guess that is about everything. One final suggestion for CN before I wrap this up..... Have the frozen drink menu at the bars not just been mixed drink menu. We discovered that we could get all of our favorite frozen drinks from CSA at CN but there wasn't a menu out.
All in all we had an excellent time, but if someone told us we could only go to one of the two resorts ever again it would be CSA.