CTI Review 3/22-3/29 LONG
At the risk of being slammed, here is my review of Couples Tower Isle.
We were there Monday, March 22 - Monday, March 29, 2010.
The Couples Resort Lounge at the Airport was fine. There was no one there who was overly friendly, but there was a bar that served beers or water and the wait for the bus was not too long. The ride over was uneventful, the driver making two stops. One immediately for beer for the drive, and one for a bathroom and/or snack break. We stopped at Sans Souci first, then on to Tower Isle.
On arriving at Tower Isle, we were not greeted with cool towels or drinks. We had pretty much gone through the registration process when someone finally came by with a tray of rum punches. Again, during registration, no one was overly friendly, but they were pleasant. Being on our honeymoon, I asked if there was anything special we needed to do for the honeymoon package, and they said no - they didn't ask for marriage certificate or invitation. They said that we'd get the package by noon the next day. We were taken up to our room and to put an end to the "are tips expected" question - the answer is YES. The person who took us to our room hung out until he was tipped. Don't get me wrong - he was pleasant and we had no issue with him, but tips are not the taboo management advertises. I put an end to the tipping issue with my husband, advising him that it was not supposed to be allowed, and we did not tip the rest of the week. I did however see money change hands MANY MANY times, and if management is truly against it, I have to believe that if I saw it....well, let's just say I think that a blind eye is turned on the subject.
During orientation, I have to say I felt like we were a herd being moved about the resort. It was okay, but honestly, nothing that we couldn't have skipped and been just as informed from reading the message board. Monday night was the beach party. The only options for eatting that night are on the beach, or at Bayside. Since we arrived that day, the only option was the beach, since you cannot get into a "reservation" restaurant without booking far in advance. The line up on the beach was more "herding", waiting in line for about 20 minutes before we gave up. I called & tried to get into a restaurant, explaining that my husband was not feeling well from the long trip and though the front desk said they'd call me right back and try to get us into Bayside, they never called back, and we ended up being very unhappy that evening.
The food is AMAZING. I have never been at a resort with food as good as Tower Isle. The restaurant reservation system however sucks. I was more upset about that at the beginning of the trip, until I figured out that where ever you ended up eatting, you were in for a treat.
We had a junior ocean suite, room 2207. The room itself was wonderful. Clean, huge, bright, cheerful. If you want to sleep however, you want to book a garden suite. Every night we were serenaded by whatever band or DJ was playing on the patio.......LOUDLY. Also - a mini bar is advertised as part of the suite. The night you arrive, you have no liquor in your room. You fill out a card asking for what you want to have as stock in your room, and the next day the staff may or may not bring it. We ended up not asking for an liquor, however, we did ask for more Pepsi (there is one single serving bottle per room) and we were denied. So if you wanted a cola and had already drank yours, it was a trip down two flights of stairs, find an open bar (not always as easy as you'd think) and then a trip back up the stairs. Also - the bar is not automatically restocked (at least ours was not), again, you fill out the little card with your requests and the next day maybe you get some, maybe not.
The housekeeping staff. Thank you, wonderful job keeping room clean, sand swept up. However, is it necessary to have a dozen different people doing that job? We had one person who knocked on our door in the morning to see if we were still there, one person who then later came to make up room, another who knocked to drop off toilet paper, another who dropped off towels, another who did the minibar, and yet another who just knocked randomly to see if we were happy. Nice....except....we were on our honeymoon and "daytime romance" (shall I say) was interupted so many times that we essentially gave up. Now I know you're going to say....put out the "Do not Disturb" sign, but we did not have one for the first two days, made our own on the third, one showed up later that day, and yes, sometimes we used it, but no, I didn't stop each and everytime "romance" sprang up to go and put out the sign. One day we counted, and our door was knocked on 8 different times by staff while we were in the room.
TIP - the minute you get to the resort fill out your reservation requests, otherwise it's "sorry - all full". That's what we heard almost everytime we tried to get into a restaurant, or partake in an activity. We finally got wait listed for the catamaran cruise and did get to go on it. It was the best part of the whole trip. Make sure you take it. We also went horseback riding, but that was more climb on horse, pose for picture, pose for picture, pose for picture.....(you get the idea), than riding the horse. I don't think I'd do that activity again.
We had the hotel get us a car & driver to go into town. The driver was friendly, the car was very nice. It cost $30. Paid in advance. Once we were in town, the driver dropped us there and that was the last we saw of him. 40 minutes after he was supposed to pick us up, some guy in a ramshackle cab approached us. He had our names, the name of the driver that was supposed to pick us up, and knew where we were staying. He said he was supposed to drive us back, becuase the other driver was busy. So we rode back in a cab I didn't think would make the 10 minute trip. Needless to say there was no air conditioning in the cab. I was not impressed one bit with that.
Okay - now the good stuff:
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. The resort is just gorgeous. Most of the staff is great, though I really didn't find anyone particularly friendly. Shawn, a bartender, in my opinion was the only one of the staff who made an extra effort to make us feel welcome. Sadly, we only saw him one day though.
The pools were never too crowded, the beach was clean, and we never had trouble getting a chair on the beach. (Chairs at the pool were impossible to come by unless you were up REALLY early to claim a spot)
My husband brought his own snorkeling gear and went out on his own just in the area around the beach and said it was great.
Not to belabour the point, but the food was awesome.
Gift Shops - wonderful selection, reasonable prices, friendly service.
Spa - did their jobs well, though not always with a smile.....Fenella was great though!
More freedom - get rid of the reservations system for the restaurants. We've been to other resorts that did this, and it was not an issue.
Budda Pool & hot tub at spa - why not DESIGNATE these as "au natural" after a certain time. There were issues on more than one occassion with "au natural" and "au not". There are lots of pools and hot tubs, why not avoid the issues? If they are designated, then those "au nots" can just stick to the other pools & hot tubs....no one needs to be shocked or confronted.
Pool & Beach chairs - If this is a "couples" resort, how about at least SOME "couples" chairs? Also - flags for beach service. I did notice that certain areas of the beach were much better served than others. I also saw cash exchange hands there.....
Okay - that's my experience. Will I go back to Couples? Probably not. The resort was beautiful, and there are some people I know that would REALLY love it, and I will recommend it highly to them. It just did not meet my expectations. It just wasn't the experience that we were looking for.
Completely Opposite Experience 3-26 to 3-30
I'm sorry your experience was not as pleasurable but my husband and I had just the opposite experience. The guys at the lounge in the airport were nice. At the resort we were greated with towels and asked if we would like any drinks before we got to the reservation desk. Our bell-man did not wait around for a tip, he just gave us a high-five. We did not see ANYONE tipping except one person at the pool bar who gave the social director some rocks received during the game they play as a "tip" and the person from the Catamaran cruise had a tip box but they are not part of Couples. The staff there were exceptionally nice to us and we were greeted with a hello and/or smiles by everyone from the groundsmen to the managers (who introduced themselves to us and asked about our stay.) We provided the names of people who stood out the most on our comment cards. The food was excellent, the shows were good, we felt comfortable and safe on the trips to Dunn's river and horse back riding. When reserving the vacation I mentioned it was for my husband's birthday and we received a complementary bottle of champaigne, I reserved a private dinner on the beach and they wrote Happy Birthday George in Chocolate on his desert tray and they decorated our room with flower petals and the kissing swans after the dinner. We are looking forward to going back next year. My suggestion is to provide your comments to the resort. If anyone is caught tipping they will be fired (we were told that by a staff member) and if anyone is rude to you, there are plenty of managers around and their name tags are labeled appropriately. We didn't have rose-colored glasses on, we were just there to have a good time, get away from the kids and did just that!