For those that go, you already know and can stop reading now. For those looking for a resort that, provides the best return on investment, pulls on your heart strings, leaves you with the feeling that you have finally found your one and only true vacation destination, will be the benchmark that you compare other resorts to (warning: you won’t want to visit any other resort after staying at a Couples resort because you will no longer accept mediocrity), keep reading.
Background (for perspective purposes only) - My wife & I are from Canada, in our early fifties and have stayed at many resorts that we are able to draw on for comparison purposes. We are not fussy people but do recognize when something or someone excels at what it is they are doing. This was our first visit to CSS following two previous stays at CN (for those that don’t know, both belong to Couples Resorts). Please note that everyone has different expectations when on vacation so my view will differ from someone else.
Trip Date – December 6th – 16th, 2011
Weather – Unusually cloudy, cold and wet (our previous two visits to Jamaica during the same time frame were hot and sunny, so this year, in our opinion, it was not the norm)
Comparison – We have learned from this visit that Couples resorts are if nothing else, consistent. Consistent in the way they deliver the goods. Everyone is somewhat responsible for making their vacation what it is but Couples exemplify when it comes to making it what it is that a resort should offer to make your vacation one of the most memorable ones you will ever have. Now that we have been to both CSS and CN we can indicate that neither one is better at this or better at that. Both resorts offer up the best there is in dining, interaction between guests and staff, immaculate grounds and the services they provide. I believe the only difference between the two is that CSS is located in Ochos Rios and gives you the feeling that you are secluded from the rest of the world. Unless you are on Sunset Beach (SSB … the “au natural” beach during the day) you would honestly think you are on your own private island. Note: SSB is the only location on the resort where you can see other resorts off in the distance. CN on the other hand is built on one of the best soft powdery sand beaches in Jamaica between two other resorts. Mind you, you would never know unless you are sitting by the ocean and watching people from other resorts walk by wishing that they were staying where you are.
Grounds – Lush and beautiful. The groundskeepers are amazing… we would watch them from our balcony working feverously in the wind and rain keeping the grounds immaculate.
Beaches – SSB is one of the best “au natural” beaches we have seen. You can be shy and stay on the beach area simply enjoying the serenity the beach has to offer or you can sit around the pool and bar area and meet the friendliest people in the world. During our stay, we would see most newcomers start-off in the beach area getting comfortable with each other and the concept of being “au natural”. Later in the day most of them would have migrated to the pool / bar area laughing and joking with staff and fellow guests. The food served here was just as good as the food served at the main beach grill. Lance’s spiced fries are the best. The sand is grainier than the soft white baby powder type beaches in Negril. The ocean bottom is rough with sporadic weeds, broken shells, etc. and the water had plenty of cold thermal pockets thanks to the river that dumps into the ocean adjacent to the beach.
The main beach is a textile beach with the same sand and ocean bottom and this is where the sport activity area is located as a beach bar grill.
Dining – What can I say. Gained 8 lbs. For comparison purposes we felt like we were dining on a cruise ship. Exquisite no matter where you dined on the resort.
Staff – In our humble opinion, this is what makes Couples what it is. The staff really do go out of their way to make you feel like you’re the only thing that matters to them. Everyone is treated the same way. The interaction between guests and staff is like family… genuine and real. The thing to note is that there is no tipping and as a result it doesn’t create “special privileges” for some and not others. I would love to say that one staff member is better than another but the truth of the matter is that they are all the same. From the groundskeeper to the manager, they all care about making your stay the best it can be. My wife and I had the pleasure of dining with Randy Russell several times during our stay and the passion he has for Couples reflects in every employee there.
Summary – If you had any doubts, I hope this review helped alleviate them. CN, CSS, it doesn’t matter when it comes to staff, dining, or the experience. The only difference in our opinion is the location. Want to take nice long walks on white powdery beaches… I’d suggest Negril. Want to experience quiet and romantic seclusion, I’d suggest CSS.