The hotel grounds are maintained beautifully. The staff move at a Jamaican pace (i.e. get on island time, mon!) but are friendly and will make sure you have whatever you need and want.
Be prepared for the 2-hour ride from Montego Bay. We had read a lot of reviews, so we were. It would be a rather nasty surprise if you weren't ready for it.
Arrival at Montego Bay, customs, a couple of beers at the lounge, and the bus ride were all uneventful. Check-in was a breeze (with cool face towels and drinks quickly in hand), and our room was ready when we arrived at 2:45 or 3:00.
The room was exactly what we expected. The bed was on the hard side, but comfortable. Note: in the Deluxe Garden Room, there is only a standing shower, no bathtub. And if you're a light sleeper, you might want earplugs. There are creatures we named the Jamaican Nocturnal Screaming Frogs. They're LOUD, and PERSISTENT, lol! No noticable road noise at all.
The restaurants were all great. Service was very slow in 8 Rivers, but the food was excellent. I'm embarrassed to say I gnawed the bones of my lamb, it was so good. We ate at Bayside twice. I'm not a hugely romantic person, but the view and atmosphere, right there over the water, was just amazing. The food was very good, and the courses came much more quickly here. I think we only at at Veranda once. It was fine. Not particularly memorable. We ate at the breakfast buffet at Patio every morning, and it was good. You can always get made-to-order eggs or omelettes if you don't like what the buffet has to offer.
We spent most of our days on Tower Isle. We LOVED it! We would just sort of lay around and half-doze or sunbathe until lunchtime. After lunch, things tended to get a little busier and more social. They set up chafing dishes every day and brought lunch over. Lunch was a little hit-or-miss, always edible, but not always spectacular. The boyfriend was a big fan of jerk burgers from the Poolside Grill, so we went back over there a couple of times for lunch. I enjoyed the jerk chicken sandwiches and the calamari I had there (also, if you get a craving for 3am french fries, THAT is the place to go!). Many thanks to our bartenders on the island (Pasanga, Terry, Kimoni, Roberto...and I know I'm leaving so many out!), and MANY MANY thanks to Captain Jack Sparrow (aka Gary) for ferrying us tirelessly between the resort's dock and the island, and for singing to us and just generally adding to the fun!
We met some WONDERFUL new friends on Tower Isle!!! Mike and Terra, Jodi and Rob, Michelle and Tommy, Becky and Greg, Sara and Paul, we already miss you! It was just a great vibe, and great people made it soooo much fun. Some days were quieter on the island, some rowdier (with shots and such), but it was always fun. One group (of what we thought of as "newbies" to the island) got completely out of hand and ruined the fun one afternoon (just too drunk and stupid - not worth relating details), but I don't hold one dumb episode against the resort. There are irresponsible people everywhere.
We hit the spa for massages one morning and were glad we did so. The 80-min couples massages were great. Though they didn't offer deep tissue (I like mine a little rougher than Swedish) with the couples massage, they were still enjoyable.
We didn't do many activities; we're not fans of schedules or timelines on vacation. From other guests and our one experience (catamaran cruise cancelled, then rescheduled from another resort so we would have to get on a bus, which we didn't want to do), we know the watersports/excursions are a little hit or miss, depending on weather and perhaps other factors. Just get on island time, mon, know that things can change, be a bit flexible, and you'll be fine. It's Irie!
The only evening entertainment we went to was the Monday night Barefoot Beach Party. The dancers, acrobats, and fire limbo guy were great. The buffet meal that was set up was very good, too, and it was nice to eat with our toes in the sand. Drink service was a bit slow that night, but again, it's irie, just kick back, enjoy the entertainment, and the drinks will soon come.
One note about the drinks: I've seen many reviews on all-inclusives that state the drinks were a bit weak or watered down. They are NOT weak here. I actually had to order weak drinks much of the time, as we got our first drinks on the island at 10:00 or 10:30, and I could NOT make it through the day on the full-strength versions (and I'm a drinker). And you do NOT have to do any Bob Marleys! I don't care what people say, those shots *are* pretty, but they taste like some kind of poisonous, alcoholic cough syrup - BLECH!
We had an excellent vacation and are very glad we ended up at CTI! (We booked the secret rendezvous, so we could have ended up at any of the four.) I recommend the resort, and we hope to go back for another visit sometime.
Good to "see" you here, Sue! Yes, definitely a good time had by all. I was pricing trips again already on Friday, lol. I can't afford to go any time soon, and Q's deployment stuff is all up in the air for a while, so who knows when we'll get to go back. But dreaming is free.