We were at CTI for our wedding and honeymoon, brought 2 couples with us. Flight down was great, we arrived at the same time as everyone else who wanted to visit Jamaica, so we stood in line for quite some time. It was pleasant, restrooms are available and they get you through as quickly as jamaican time allows. No problem, mon.
found the lounge with ease, even if you are worried, the airport has people stopping you as you walk by to make sure you get where you are supposed to go. the employees at couples took our bags before we could even set foot in the lounge and ushered us right to the bar. had a few red stripes and met some fellow CTI goers, Denise and Rocky. Was a bit longer of a wait than I thought (about 30 minutes) before our bus arrived. apparently we missed the other bus by 5 minutes.
the driver was great, made quick stop where the fellow travellers bought a bucket's worth of red stripes and off we went! the ride was engaging and very interesting, you make friends with everyone and learn all kinds of stuff about jamaica and each other. we did stop for a break about halfway. Thank GOD too, i was about to pass out from hunger (our last option to eat was 9am, and we didnt make it to any place that had food until this stop- at 3pm local time, 4pm ours. Per the driver's suggestion, we tried the meat pocket. it was the most delicious thing i've ever eaten in my entire life, my husband just laughed at me as i inhaled it. got a soda for the road for some more sugar.
arrived at the resort to a cool rag, which was nice, but they blast that A/C on the bus so we were comfy (we're from florida, we thought it was milder in jamaica with the lack of pavement) they get you a drink, usher one person for paperwork and one for bags. even though we've never been, we got the warm welcome as if we were at mom and dad's place. everyone is just so happy. we booked a jr. suite, BEST DECISION EVER. we got to peek into our friends' rooms and just loved our room even more. not that the others were bad, the jr suites, just ROCK! our room overlooked the main pool and was right above the internet cafe and the pool grill (which we lovingly call the "late night nacho" for the nearly all-the-time access to nachos) we used the wifi on the balcony to update facebook and check for emails from our dog sitter.
the room featured a king bed, which we thought was a little too firm for our liking. we have a latex mattress at home, so we're spoiled. considering it's a traditional mattress, i'd give it a thumbs up. you get 4 down style pillows, we requested a few more for a little extra 'gushy' we had a couch, two chairs, a bench- a mini bar- which they keep very well stocked according to your liking. it has a walk in closet, good sized dresser, phenomenal bathroom with jacuzzi tub, great counter space, huge sinks, and a separate open shower with bench- it had two shower heads, one static and one handheld... and our favorite part? the balcony: full size table, two comfy chairs, and a daybed (which we had no idea about- even after reading this board religiously) we used it all.
the staff is second to none. I've done quite a lot of travelling, but this was my husband's first international adventure. we both agree we couldnt have chosen a better place even if for no other reason than the staff. they know your name, what you drink, where your room is, and really take an interest to chat and get to know you.
our first day was devoted to hanging out with our guests. we took the tour in the am- great choice. we found most everything we wanted the evening before, but they go over cool stuff in the tour you may not learn exploring on your own. our guide was Matthew, one of the entertainment coordinators. they are all fun and come up with really neat stuff to fill your time. we met with one of the staff members for our wedding 'interview' as she called it. LaToya was out because they do not do weddings on sundays (our meeting was scheduled for a sunday) it was so quick and painless. we brought our own handmade cake topper and they took great care of it for us. we spent the rest of the day between the swim up bar and the island- yep! i was just SO pumped to go after reading the board that i managed to convinced my husband and our guests to go with me. oh boy what an experience. we had a GREAT time, partied WAY to hard, and became rather well known among all guests and staff. let's just say some of them had to be put to bed to ward of a hangover. the rest of us ate at Bayside, the asian inspired place and it is just fantastic. they bring everything is courses, and it's well portioned.
full day 2 was the wedding. we spent most of the morning at the spa and got married at 2pm. it rained that morning, so the water was even more beautiful. ALL the ladies in the spa are just great. Fennela did my pedicure, hair, and make up. She helped me place my veil and was such a good sport about everything. it wasn't hot at all (but i guess being from florida my idea of hot may be a bit skewed) since we were local celebrities, most ALL of the resort showed up at the pool bar and/or on their balconies for our wedding. it was SO sweet to turn around and see such an overwhelming number of people cheering for us! the cake was AWESOME, the minister was so cool and very patient with my witnesses who didnt follow instructions. lol we hired Diana Campbell for our photos/video and she was just SUCH a doll. she brought richard and garret with her and they walked us around the resort for the rest of the afternoon taking photos/video. i could hear our guests just oo and ah at all of the shots. she had another wedding scheduled at CTI the next afternoon, so they stayed over instead of driving back to Negril and had everything ready for us the next morning. they really worked overtime!
went to the beach party that night, they reserved us a table all together and filed through the buffet. tried a LOT of food we've never eaten and stuffed ourselves silly on it. the entertainment was fun, especially the fire- well everything. they just lit it all on fire. haha. they had a dj for dancing later in the evening, but we were just beat and missed that.
all of the rest of the days were less structured as we sent everyone home and enjoyed our honeymoon. we received champagne cookies and strawberries in the room that evening and breakfast the next morning. we preferred to eat breakfast on the patio, as the selection was always different and varied. We did order room service once and just wrote in the margins for bacon and eggs- they brought us a ton and it was delish. we snorkeled but the water was a bit rough so they took us out by the island instead of over to the sunken ship (you'll see that on the glass bottom boat tour, did the catamaran cruise- highly recommended, very fun. horseback riding was great. i was told my horse was the laziest and is on jamaican time. i was probably the most experienced rider of the group so i had no problem with him lagging behind the rest of the crew. the ride is a very leisurely pace and they stop for a bit to let you experience the plantation while standing. they supposedly have camel rides on the same plantation. now THAT would be cool! they take your pic and you can buy a cd of just you and yours for $15.
we traded places to sans souci for the day mid week. the resort is just stunning, but there are a million stairs. we're young and we can handle it, but we joked as we winded our way down to the beach. they have hammocks available halfway down. so don't fret, if you can't take it anymore. just take a nap and finish the trip later! no problem, mon! we did hobie cat sailing, and windsurfing while there. no experience with either so we had one of the watersports guys navigate the boat, and he's a pro! it was a great ride, but you will get soaked lots of spray. windsurfing was great. they take their time and walk you through it. i'm totally hooked and am ready to run down to buy one of my own. watersports was a bit better here, for beginners because they have more of a bay and the water is calmer. never had a problem at CTI though, was just as fun. CSS is must more spread out and we felt a little anti social. so we were very happy with our decision to stay at CTI.
we ate at all the restaurants at CTI. bayside twice, the patio for breakfast and some lunches, one dinner. the verandah once and 8 rivers 3 times. we spent most of our lunches at the pool grill because we didnt want to change for a more formal lunch. the food is great, make sure you ask what the special is every day,one of us always ordered it and we split two meals. we did learn later, by asking, they change the menus for bayside, veranda and 8 rivers every thursday. all the food is 5 star, but we would have to say that 8 rivers is 6 star the food is slower to come out, but such is standard for a restaurant of the caliber in the states. the meal is definitely fresh and enjoyable. great time to spend some cozy QT with the spouse. my husband is a VERY (almost ridiculously) picky eater and was able to find food at every restaurant, with the occasional alteration. Everyone is VERY accommodating.
we didnt carry a watch and asked if they were sold at the gift shop- turns out we ended up asking the hotel manager: he suggested we stop and ask any staff member for the time if we needed it and even offered us his watch. we declined of course, but we used it as an excuse to chat with people along the way.
Dunn's river falls was great. take water shoes. we bought ours at the resort for $15 each. you can rent a pair for $5, but i have this weird thing about that. they will video the excursion for you. it's fun and a cool little souvenir. you sign up to order it before you leave to go back to the resort and they meet you back over there early evening for pick up. they will tell you it's $40 (ouch) but i wheedled it to $25. Everything is negotiable.
if you have any questions or want more details just let me know!!
check out diana here: www.digitalmemoriescollection.com
her website isnt as impressive as others, but she does a great job and is the most reasonably priced based on my research. we found out that she actually owns/operates her business and others are sometimes more costly because they rent the equipment. she is great to work with on prices and even though she is based in Negril she drove to CTI with no hesitations.
I have *some* pics on my facebook of the wedding/jamaic stay. if you can't access them, then add me as a friend- make sure you tell me you're from the couples message board. if you want to see more, i'll upload everything i've got to photobucket.