Dates of stay: 12/14/10 - 12/22/10

This was our first time in Jamaica, and we chose Couples Swept Away. We have done all inclusive trips before, but this one was by far the best one yet. In fact, after coming home and telling my brother and his fiancée about how great the staff was, they are planning on getting married at CTI next April, so it looks like we'll be back in 17 months. So, here's my review of our 8 day stay at CSA...

Arrival:
After going through customs, we walked over to the couples lounge, where we were greeted with red stripes, and some friendly chit chat with the guy behind the counter. After 20 minutes, we loaded our bags onto the bus with 2 other couples ($1 per bag for the airport porters) and where off to the resort. The drive really wasn't that bad. Our driver was polite, and stopped after an hour for a bathroom break. The trip took us about 90 minutes.

Check-in
We were met at the entrance with cold towels and choice of champagne or sorell (christmas drink). We signed in at the front desk, where I was informed that they didn't have anymore beach view suites, so we were being put into a beach view verandah suite instead, which was apparently an upgrade. I was kind of looking forward to the BVS, but was told if we weren't happy with our room, we could switch in a day when they had a BVS available. We ended up staying in the room they gave us though, we loved the view from it! The room wasn't as nice as what we were expecting, but the view was amazing, and we really were hardly in the room at all. And it was amazing to sleep at night with the doors open and listen to the ocean (we were on the 2nd floor). By the end of the week, the room had really grown on us.

Beach:
The beach was absolutely beautiful! There was always chairs available, but to get under a palapa, you had to get up early. There was a cold front moving through for our first couple of days (70 degrees and choppy water), but for the last 6 days it was 80 and sunny most of the time. We didn't get to do the water sports the first few days, due to the red flag being up, but we still enjoyed laying on the beach. The green flag service was very nice, as where the fruit kabobs the staff passed out in the morning. The vendors would stay close to the ocean, and really wouldn't bother you at all. You just had to say no thank you politely, and they would leave you alone.

Activities:
We went to the work out center a few times throughout the week. Mostly we just took the aerobic classes (Yoga, Pilate's, etc). The instructors (including the traveling instructors) we had were all very knowledgeable.
We tried to do all of the available water activites, when the green flag was up. The water sports staff were all really nice and helpful. They taught me how to sail the Hobi Cat, which turned out to be really simple to learn. We went on the scuba trip, and the glass bottom boat trip. Both were excellent.
We also did the Catamaran Cruise past Rick's cafe, too the caves. They let you get out and swim in the caves for about 25 minutes. On the way back, you get to drink rum punch and see the sunset. We tipped the boat driver, since he wasn't a couples employee.
We tried to watch all of the shows at night. They were ok, nothing special. Although, the entertainment staff does try hard, and are all super friendly.
We also did the casino night, where they give you fake chips, let you play games for about an hour, and then cash in your chips for prizes. That was pretty fun.

Food and Drinks:
First off, let me say that my wife is a very picky eater (I am not). She was floored by how delicious the food was. It was hard to find something she didn't like. I thought it was all excellent, top notch. Some of my favorites included, the fish tacos or snapper sandwhich from SeaGrapes, the jerk chicken from the other grill by the pool bar, any Pizza from Patois, the fillet tenderloin from Feathers. We liked Feathers so much, we made reservations for a 2nd night. Again, the food is the one area where Couples just blew the other all inclusive out of the water (the excellent customer service as the other area). We went to every bar throughout the week, and all the bartenders were awesome, especially Fraser at Patois. The martini bar had a huge selection of martini's. I really liked the Blue Mountain Martini. We also liked how they had the drink menu out at each bar, so you could scroll through it and try all the different drinks out (there is a lot of them!!). Be careful with the Bob Marley, that one packs a punch. Looks pretty though.

Overall impressions:
We loved CSA. I think the super friendly staff had a lot to do with this, but the excellent food, abundance of activities, beautiful beach, sunny weather probably played a part in this too. By the last day, we were really bummed that we had to leave, and saying goodbye to the staff was like parting ways with good friends. We definitely want to go back some day, and can't wait to try out Couples Tower Isle next April.