We stayed at CSA a couple weeks ago as we had friends being married at CN but there was no availability for us at CN. We stayed at CSA for part of the stay and R the second part of the stay.
Upon Arrival to the Couples Lounge at the airport, I had expected a drink since I had read so much about the lounge and having a Red Stripe before departing on to the resort. I don't know if it was the fact that it was 9pm and maybe they do not offer a drink after a certain time or such but we were not offered any drink, just told that the shuttle would be there in about 15min to take us off to CSA. There was one other couple waiting who was also going to CSA.
The ride to the CSA was pretty uneventful. It was dark so really couldn't see anything. The driver had someone else with him who he dropped off eventually. Not a big deal. The other couple did ask a few questions and he did have the answers.
The drive to the resort took about an hour and five minutes. There wasn't much traffic.
Once at the resort we were met with a cold towel and the champagne as I had seen mentioned. I had expected everyone to be sooooo kind and friendly and to be just 'wow' off the bat but unfortunately not. They just did their job checking us in, didn't chat or anythng and we went off to our room.
We were in a Garden Suite. The room itself was really nice. The location was horrible. The traffic noise was TERRIBLE. I had read some other reviews where people mentioned traffic and had issues and other reviews where people said it wasn't such a big deal. My husband sleeps through everything, sometimes I have to yell to get him to wake up. Here though...it was rough. I swear drivers honk their horns everytime they pass! All day and night long! The road noise was just too much. Sleeping was difficult, on and off and I'd be awake again. ugh.
We went to the beach grill since nothing else was open once we got to the resort. The lady working was less than thrilled. I don't expect that she has to cater to our every need, but I was expecting at least a smile. Hamburgers, jerk chicken, hot dogs, fries were a few things that were offered at that time. It was just your typical hamburger etc. nothing to get too excited over and that's what I would expect for snack foods. We did have nachos and some other items throughout our stay here, and the service was the same each time, felt like they didn't want to be there. I told hubby that must be the position they demote people do when they get bad reviews. LOL.
The beach was definately beautiful and it never seemed full. Not many people seemed to use the pool either. The resort itself never seemed crowded and it was at fully booked. Vendors on the beach did move on if you told them no-thank you.
The concierge was standard. We booked couples massages and dinner at Feathers through him. No smile there either. We had Swedish massage, they said that was the most popular, I put that I wanted medium pressure. Felt like a lot of rubbing to me and not much massaging haha. The spa was however beautiful and relaxing.
Feathers was really nice. Everyone was dressed up. It was a nice dinner.
We left Hershey Bars on our bed for the housekeeper and a thank-you twice and she did accept them both times. I had read about this on the boards. :)
The wedding at CN was great. Actually everything at CN was great. We took a taxi from CSA, it was 5$pp one way. CSA is only a couple minutes drive from CN. When we walked into CN we were like WOW, so different for us than CSA, we were only there for that day and another day pass later in the week and we could tell a true difference in service and atmosphere compared to CSA. Everyone was amazing there.
Check-out was simple but they told us to leave luggage in room. The employee did ask how our stay was and we said 'okay'. She said 'just okay?' and we said 'yes'. She didn't ask anything else, but I guess was surprised we only said 'okay'. We were not mean about it, just gave her the answer. She advised someone was getting the luggage and would have it in a few minutes. Around 11:30am with no luggage still DH went to the desk to ask again and the lady said it was coming. At noon with no luggage still and we were changing resorts we were a little aggravated because we had been told twice it was coming and at this point could have just brought it ourselve and wouldn't have been a big deal to do but we left it thinking it was a nice perk to not have to lug it down. DH went to the conceriege and I'm sure they could see we were irritated asked if he could find out what was happening since we were told twice it would be coming. Someone nearby the concierge desk immediately went and got it and at that point we just wanted out of there and there was a taxi pulling up dropping people off for their stay and we aked him to take us to R. He had to clear it with the couples employees who were checking in (I assume is under some contract with them) and then took us over to the R. I will be writing a R review, but cannot believe I am saying this (again because of all the reviews I read) would go back to the RIU in a heartbeat. We loved it there. Everyone was so friendly, smiling, helpful, welcoming us everywhere, engaging us in small talk when appropriate, truly felt welcomed. It was funny cause the service we got there was the service we expected at Couples. A weird twist for us cause we thought we were gonna be sooo sad to be at R!
I know that everyone has good and bad experiences and not everyone is going to like the same things and places as someone else. I suppose just going into high expectations like we were, we were let down. We will not return to CSA. We would consider going to CN if the price were right I think and give it a try but unfortunately we were left feeling unsatisfied overall at CSA and I wanted to be left feeling in awe. :(
I say we're just one bad experience out of a 1000 good ones so if you're thinking of going don't say no just because of one review. :)
oh and a side note: we flew Air Jamaica and did make it there. :)
Thank you for your honest review. For whatever reasons, people can have vastly different experiences anywhere they go. I think it's good to have reasonable expectations when you go somewhere, so it's good to be prepared for less than expected service. as with anything, it's all what you make of it.
My future hubby and I will be at CSA for the first time celebrating our honeymoon in 16 days, and I'm still super excited!!!
The Future Mrs. Andrea Turner
I have never read anything about the Hershey bars... can someone explain. We frequent Couples and this is the first I have heard of this. Thanks :)
I know exactly what you are saying. It did seem that the waitstaff would have liked to be anywhere else but at CSA. Some associates wore a smile but most seemed like it was a chore to wait on you. My experience at the couples lounge was similar but different where as I was served a Red Stripe but it tasted as if it was about one week past its prime.
I also went to CSA with high expectations and I felt that CSA didnt deliver. Perhaps CN is nicer, my buddy went on his honeymoon there and said it was a real good time. Perhaps not working for tips isnt really working here..
We have only experienced EXCELLENT service and warmth from the Staff there, they chat with us all the time, we know where they live, who they're married to, what their kids names are.....and they ask about us too.
We are also very kind in return....which could have something to do with it.
Chocolate is a very expensive item in Jamaica. We were at CSA from 4/1 to 4/9 which meant we were there over the traditional US Easter Sunday and Easter Monday as it's celebrated in Jamaica. We brought a couple of small Easter baskets and filled them with different chocolates for houskeeping and the lady who does the turn down each evening. We left them out for them on Easter Monday. They never acknwledged getting them but we didn't do it expecting them to. We're confident that it was appreciated and that was all we wanted.
Originally Posted by yookster
Sorry your experiance wasn't what you were expecting at CSA. Although our experiance wasn't as bad as your's, we too will not be returning to CSA but we will be returning to CN for our third time next April. We also have been to CSS 2 times and love that resort too. Overall, Couples has great resorts and they are all a little different in their own special ways. I hope you try one again, I think you may be very glad you did.
I have to disagree..every member of staff I encountered was pleasent and chatty. I never saw a 'sour' face anywhere on that entire resort..and believe me..if I had to work as hard as those lovely folk do, I wouldn't be smiling like they were!!
I do agree with the Couples Lounge at the Airport tho..my hub and his friend were offered a beer ..but neither I nor our friends' wife drink beer and we would have appreciated a glass of wine while waiting for out bus..not a major problem tho :))
I know that the Couples management reviews these boards so I really hope they'll take your review into serious consideration. My husband and I are going to be at CSA for the first time May 27 - June 3. We've only been to one other AI (S) and were pretty disppointed there. After reading all the reviews about CSA, I convince my hubby to give it a try because I was sure that our experience must have been isolated to S. We were told by repeat guests that the staff had been significantly cut there. We figured the remaining staff was overworked. Everyone is experiencing tough times right now. But at the same time, this is not our fault and if it weren't for the guests that DO save up in order to make these vacations, many more of the staff might be out of work. This is a big expense for us and all I really want is for the staff to smile and at least pretend that they like their jobs and are happy that I'm there. It's such a bummer when you feel like you're inconveniencing people -- especially when you're not supposed to tip to show your gratitude. CSA management -- please stress to your staff that it is their best interest to make guests feel welcome and happy so they come back and tell their friends to come, too. It's a mutually beneficial thing!
While the vast majority of reviews I've read on CSA have been nothing short of fantastic, every so often I do read a less-than-favorable take, and it seems the common denominator for what turns folks off from their stay revolves around room location. Not saying that's the only negative, but it does tend to be consistent. It seems the odds of a less favorable review increase when it's from someone who stayed in a room close to the road. Apparently there are a few locations at CSA which hug the road or face it directly - not sure, never having stayed there.
Perhaps someday we may choose to either book a trip or at least a split stay at this resort. But I've read enough to state that no way no how will we book any room type which could place us over by the road.
Wow...how depressing. Sucks to hear that an experience in paradise can be so bad. You must have pretty high expectations. Sounds like someone must have been in a bad mood:( Its ok.. you're entitled to your opinion. Hopefully our experience won't be so negative and gloomy.
["I know exactly what you are saying. It did seem that the waitstaff would have liked to be anywhere else but at CSA. Some associates wore a smile but most seemed like it was a chore to wait on you. ..... Perhaps not working for tips isnt really working here"]
Strange, how everyone has a different experience.
We've always felt very welcome at Swept Away-especialy from the waitstaff. Even on our first day back after a year, familiar faces will welcome us with hugs and genuine warmth. They remember our names and who we are- they don't just pretend to remember us :)
During our stay, at each meal in The Palms, someone will point us to a table in their section, grab our drinks and visit with us, making sure we've got whatever we need. In the other restaurants, and the two grills, we've always had excellent service.
Tips have nothing to do with it.
Thank you for your honest review. We would like to take the kids to the "R" resort someday, so your comments were great to hear! Hopefully when we go we will experience the same service that you encountered. So much of any trip is left to chance. Even with Couples I suppose.
If I'm being honest, while we almost always return home "in awe" I can't say there aren't moments when we think "Where IS that server?" Mostly in the mornings when we need our coffee! And no, the grill employees don't look thrilled when they see us coming. While we probably overlook these things because we are just so darn happy to be on vacation, it is a legit complaint, and CSA should definitely acknowledge these service issues if only out of respect for their very loyal guests.
We absolutely LOVE Couples, and count down the days every year to our return, no guest is guaranteed to return if the anticipated service level isn't met. Hopefully this will continue to be a non-issue for us. Once we hit the beach, we seem to forget what it was that had bothered us at breakfast!
For the most part our contact with the staff at CSA is always pleasant and friendly, hopefully genuinely so. But on occasion I have encountered that rare staff member that, on first impression, seems to be having a not so great day. However for just such occasions I have a secret weapon, mrs. dirtleg. She is so outgoing and disarming to even the most sour of moods that after a few minutes of usually pointless conversation about something completely irrelevant to anything at all, most people can't help but grow a smile and brighten up considerably. She is amazing like that.
My point is this, everyone has a down day now and then. Maybe in our expectation for them to be cheerful and positive towards us to make us feel welcome and at home, we need to step back and perhaps play that same role for them. Be positive in your approach, be outwardly cheerful and happy that they are there to take care of you and your needs. I mean, aren't we? Really? Mention that you are having a wonderful time and are grateful that they have welcomed you into their beautiful country and town. Complement them occasionally for doing a wonderful job, they really are trying. Maybe go back and tell the person at the grill how wonderful that snapper sandwich, or meat patty was, and that you look forward to coming back tomorrow for another. Heck, put on a front if need be, for someone that appears to be a bit off that day. Try to make someone happy that needs a boost. I know we are on vacation, but sometimes even on vacation it is quite rewarding to help make someone else's day a bit better if we can. Even the grounds crew at CSA will put on a wonderful smile and a thank you if you mention how beautiful things are kept up when you pass by. We have asked about a particular flower or plant and gotten a delightful short lecture on what they are, how they grow and how proud the crew is of their work at CSA.
It is a two way street folks. I am not trying to disrespect anyone's experience or opinion, not at all. On the contrary, if you had an unpleasant experience I am completely understanding and agree that it is your absolute right to report it and to seek out another place to spend your hard earned dollar. However, if it was just a chance encounter or two that seemed to sour an otherwise "perfect" vacation, then perhaps just a bit of effort on your part may make that next trip that elusive and long pursued holiday in paradise that we are all after. It works for us anyway.
Dirtleg, what a great comment and so very true. Sometimes we expect people to be the ones to cheer us up and so often we can make the difference just by smiling. I tend to be a smiling person and speak to everyone, not as much as ms. dirtleg, but always a friendly word....sometimes my husband isn't but will join the conversation once it gets started and is often VERY animated and silly. But good points in that we shouldn't expect them to always smile for us first, we can start the reaction.
I didn't go to the grill late at night but my husband did and said the same thing. We ate lunch there a lot though. The food was good and the people were friendly. He got a hot dog around 10pm and he said the person there was not very friendly and the hot dog seemed old like it was made a long time ago but was kept warm until someone ate it.
Overall it did seem like people were less friendly and helpful than the first time we were there. We would talk to and smile at everyone and some people just were not having it. We said thank you to everyone. When we would leave a restaurant we would always find our servers and thank them and tell them how great it was before we would leave. It's not like people were just mirroring our attitude. The first day we were there we both felt like it just wasn't as nice as we remembered it. Of course the majority of the people we met were friendly but it just seemed like there were more people who were unhappy or unhelpful than in the past.
When we checked in the first time everyone was so friendly and was trying really hard to make us comfortable and happy. This time it just wasn't like that at all. They would not take our room requests into consideration. I wasn't even asking for a specific room or anything like that, I just wanted one that was not by the Palms or Sea Grapes because of the noise and the first floor due to a recent injury. They said no rooms were available at all and we were to get the one that had been assigned to us before we got there. It was written down in an envelope and there was to be no straying from that. The room we were assigned was a second floor room, one building away from the Palms and directly in front of Sea Grapes. Since there were no rooms available at all in our category at the time we had to wait until one was cleaned for us. No problem. They said that when someone was waiting on a room like that they would clean it right away rather than cleaning the ones that already had people in them. This was not the case. Since we knew which room we were in we kept an eye out to see when it was cleaned. I don't think the lady knew we were waiting on it because it was the last one she cleaned that day. I had been awake for 30 hours when we got there, 35 by the time we got a room. All I wanted to do was take a shower, take my wedding dress out of the bag to avoid damage and lay down. Instead my dress sat in the sun for 5 hours (brides know this is something you are never supposed to let happen) while we waited. They kept telling me it would be just a few more minutes. Couldn't someone call housekeeping or something? We saw bus after bus of people arrive after us and get a room right away. What really frustrated me (aside from being so tired and uncomfortable) is that we saw a room just like what we wanted get cleaned before ours and sit empty for a while.
This didn't ruin our vacation or anything but I was really disappointed. Of course we will return, we actually had a trip booked for Oct before we left for this trip. We will not be booking a beachfront suite again though and I really hope we won't arrive at the resort before 5pm.
That was our thought too. As much as I know it gets poo-pooed by some, the road noise complaint has popped up often enough and been consistent enough that I figure it's gotta be a valid issue. So we picked the rooms as far from the road as possible, which conveniently landed us on the beachfront. Oh, shucks. =)
Originally Posted by Ron & Rosa 25
We went to CSA back in Dec, 08 and had a wonderful time. I also noticed that some of the wait staff were not very outgoing. If you take that to mean that you think they wished that they were anywhere else then I think it was your misunderstanding. Maybe it's just me but I like to kid around with people and almost always find something to say to them. I'll say something kinda stupid and then laugh. Bugs my wife sometimes but that's just me. I found that the staff would open up to us then because I made them feel comfortable. Some of them were fairly new to their jobs and were concentrating too much on what they were doing. Like the young man who was serving us dinner the first night we arrived at Patois Patio. He was too serious and after I kidded with him I found out he was celebrating his birthday soon and he smiled the rest of the time. Maybe at CSA you have to make more of an effort but I feel that you get back what you put in to this world.
As far as the loud road traffic goes. Yes, some of the standard Garden Suites are right along the road in the original section of the resort. Yes it can be loud at times especially since there is no glass in the windows, just screens and wooden louvers. If you're a light sleeper I suggest you reserve one of the rooms with "Verandah" in the title because they have window glass to keep out sound.
Final note: Every review is a good review to learn from so thanks InPink for your review and I feel bad that you didn't enjoy CSA as much as we did.
We left two pieces of Dove chocolate for the turn down service one night at the foot of the bead. One piece of chocolate at each corner. We were expecting them to be gone when we returned that evening. The turn down lady had picked up the chocolate, turned down the bed, and place them back exactly in the same location that they were previously located. Even the heart shape of the candies were rotated the same direction. We laughed and set them out the next night. This time with a note. The candies were taken the reset of the nights. :)
Please don't mistake shyness for aloofness or for not being outgoing. Understand... these folks are still working (very hard, I might add). While the Jamaican people are known for their friendliness and warmth, I've also known many to be shy and retiring... in other words, just plain folks.
Yes, one would hope that a hospitality venture would place the most egrarious and outgoing at point (front of house, as its known), but remember... you, along with several other couples have just stepped off a bus. Its been a long day of travel, and you're all anxious to get to your room and start your vacation. Your perception of how your check-in is being handled is your own. The folks doing the paperwork have been doing it all day. They need to do this while trying to maintain a warm welcome and gauge and adjust to your mood all at the same time.
This is why I always maintain that the last thing you should pack, and the very FIRST thing you should unpack on arrival, is a respectful attitude toward your hosts (and it fits well in your carryon). A smile goes a LOOOONG way.
Chris is right- It's a different culture...and they're WORKING...
Also, you have to realize that many people who work there are from small towns and aren't as socially outgoing or worldly as the others...like the Entertainment Team and Bartenders for example, who are more high profile.
Someone high up in Management there once told me that he has noticed how the female Staffers in Negril are much shyer and quiet than those in Ochi. Most are considered "country girls" as opposed to those from Kingston or Mo Bay.
It's like the difference between people from the City and Country in the US.
WandA what a great point you have made. And a very helpful comparison. Thanks!
Sorry haven't been by in a few days and thought I'd check to see if anyone had any questions. :)
I don't think my review was mean, just honest. We had high expectations only because of this board and tripadvisor and having read so many reviews and thought we were gonna be in heaven. It just didn't happen for us. We are not snooty people by any means. We are polite. We were polite to all the employees and curteous, even at the grill where the gal was not happy to be. :) We just expected to be blown away. Like I said, one bad review out of hundreds of good reviews shouldn't keep someone from not going and we DID like it at CN and noticed such a difference between there and CSA. Our vacation was not ruined by any means we just won't be back to CSA. :)
LOL I finished reading all the replies. I don't know where everyone got the idea that we were not smiling at the employees or were not trying to be nice to them and etc. LOL. Then I read my review thinking I must have wrote really horrible things and trashed the place I had good and bad things to say about the resort. I simply just though it was unfortunate I couldn't come back with a glowing review. Everyone put all the Couples resorts up on such high pedastools, that I don't think it was wrong at all for me to expect the same level of satisfaction that everyone else comes away with. Ya'll make me feel like you think we were sulking in our rooms all day because we weren't as happy with CSA as everyone else hahaa. We did not sulk, we did not cry, we relaxed, got tan and hung out with great friends all week, I promise. :)
I don't think you needed to clarify anything InPink. Your review was honest and to the point.
In the matter of the employees' attitudes, I think part of the problem is so many of us post such glowing reviews of the employees by lumping them altogether with such verbiage as "incredible service", "great attitudes", "super friendly", etc, that most guests-to-be are all but programmed into high expectation levels. As Chris put it, Couples employees are human. They have their good and bad days just like everyone else.
In my reviews of CTI and CN the worst thing I could say about them was that they were courteous and professional in their demeanor, which was true, we never had bad service at any time, perhaps a little slow at CN during the check in, but nothing to get in a snit over, that's for sure. However, by stating they were at worst courteous and professional, it was really a code phrase for implying they were not always all that friendly, yet they still did their jobs as required. Actually there were a couple of them at CN that were borderline unfriendly, but they still performed their respective functions with due diligence, so I certainly can't fault them for being in a less-than-great mood. My attitude is so long as they're not rude or fail to perform their duties, I can more than live with a few here and there not being all that friendly.
Anyway, sorry Couples is not the resort for you, sometimes it just doesn't work for people. No place is perfect. Good luck with your next vacation, hopefully you'll find a resort more to your liking.
Didn't take it that way... so that's all cool. But rest assured, my comments were also intended to temper expectations, which you correctly state are often times overblown. There have been many reviews, here and on other sites, where some folks allowed their first impressions to cloud their whole week, and I maintain that a small effort on their part very early on would change that around in a hurry.
Naturally, we're very happy you had a great time at Couples! Thanks for you review!