CSA Review May 21-28 2011
We just returned home to Louisiana from a week at Couples Swept Away (May 21-28). This was our second time there, as we spent our honeymoon there in 2009. We had booked this trip almost 2 years in advance in order to take advantage of previous rates and to give us time to save up for the trip. There was a lot of anticipation and very high expectations, all of which were met. I have to say that this may be my favorite place on earth. I always try other places and continue to compare everything to Swept Away. It will be hard to go elsewhere from now on.
We arrived in Montego Bay through Charlotte on a Saturday. I expected long lines at immigration but as soon as we walked down the ramp they opened up another line so we walked right on up. From there we went to get our luggage and walk through customs. This process from the plane to the end of customs probably took no more than 30 minutes. From there we walked out to the lobby where all the resort desks are. We headed straight towards the Couples lounge and looked down upon those who were standing in front of S (the Walmart of All Inclusive Vacations). We handed our bags to the guy at the door, told them our name and headed to the bar. We had time to use the bathroom, grab a few beers each and then it was on to the bus. Our last trip we werent prepared to tip anyone since it isnt allowed at the resort, but this time we had a few dollars ready for the guys putting our luggage on the bus as they arent Couples employees. The ride from Montego Bay to Negril was about an hour. We didnt stop, but the driver did ask if anyone needed to. The road construction was completed since our last stay and it was a very smooth ride.
We arrived at Swept Away around 4:00 pm and I checked us in. They passed out cold towels and champaigne while we waited to get to our rooms. We had a $500 resort credit from a promotion when we booked, as well as a romance rewards bag with tshirts and another $100 credit. Check in didnt take 15 minutes and we told the bellman what room we were in. We had requested a Garden Verandah Suite in the newer section, close to the swim up bar, and on the ground floor. We got exactly what we wanted. I had hoped to land the same room as before but it was already taken. They brought us to our room and we immediately changed clothes to go get some lunch at the Cabana Grill. Overall, the trip was amazing. We could have had better weather but you cant control that. Here is an overview of the stay:
As far as all-inclusives go, you wont find better food. You wont. So dont try. There are 6 restaurants on site and we tried all of them. Our favorite lunch spot was the Cabana Grill for Patties, Onion Rings, Jerk Chicken, Burgers, and Grilled Cheese w/ Tomato sandwiches. We also enjoyed the chips, dips, and fish tacos at Seagrapes. Patois Patio had very good pizzas for lunch and the Palms was an excellent buffet with a variety of choices. For breakfast we mostly went to the Palms for omelets, fruit and pastries. We tried Patois Patio twice for omelets, french toast, and waffles. Both were very good. For dinner our favorite by far was Feathers. It is an excellent restaurant!! We both had the steak and it was amazing. My wife made us reservations for Lemongrass before our arrival for my birthday and it was very good. We arent huge Thai food eaters but what they have there is good. They even brought out a nice birthday cake and sang for me. The brownie here might be the best Ive ever had in my life. We also ate at the Palms an Patois Patio for dinner and each were good. The service at all were excellent. Since the Palms was a buffet, you really didnt get great service for drink refills but you could get them yourself from the bar if needed.
Best beach Ive ever been on. Period. I have been all over the Caribbean and while Turks and Caicos is amazing, this beach in Negril is better. The water was a lot closer to the resort than before which took away some of the beach but there was still plenty of room to lay out and always chairs available. The palapas and shade was hard to come by but we went to the beach for the sun not the shade. It would have been nice to have during the rain though. There are a lot of vendors that walk along the beach which can get annoying sometimes, especially now that the waterline isnt as far as before. The security guards do a great job of keeping them moving though. I enjoy seeing what they have to sell and the musicians are good for the most part.
You have to know before you go that rooms arent the Ritz Carlton. But its Jamaica. We dont need some fancy room to track sand into. The reason we booked CSA the first time was because we loved the look of the rooms. You feel like youre in Jamaica and to us, we love that. The beds are very nice though and the bathrooms are very big. We also love the patios to lay out on or enjoy a room service breakfast on. We had a flat screen tv that was nice to watch late at night before going to sleep, and a mini bar with plenty of pepsi (which is far inferior to coke), 7Up, juices, Carib Beer, and water. There was also some full bottles of liquor which we didnt use much since there is always a bar open.
It can be hit or miss but we did enjoy a few things. We loved the casino night auction with Feeva and Akeem. It was a lot of fun. I played volleyball on the beach every day and had fun. The music at night was decent but not really our thing. We would have loved more reggae bands but it was a lot of jazz. They had a steel drum band one night that was good. It rained for the beach party on Friday so that was moved inside, which wasnt as fun. The nightclub and pianobar didnt open till 11 and each time we went it just wasnt our thing so we went swimming instead. We loved the Catamaran and Snorkle trips though. Id recommend everyone do that early in your trip to see if you want to do it again. We would have if the weather cooperated better.
One of my favorite things about Swept Away is the spa. Since we had the credit for our stay, we planned to use it often. We booked an hour couples massage and it was incredible. The giant jacuzzi to relax in before or after is great. We each had pedicures which were nice but nothing fantastic. My wife had a manicure and it didnt last 2 days before it peeled off. It was free so who cares. While she was getting her manicure I walked around the whole sports complex and garden area over there. I was quite impressed! I think the guy said its around 25 acres over there which is across the street from the resort for those who dont know. There is a lap swimming pool, a juice bar, a dozen tennis courts, a walking trail, a few gyms, and an area where they grow their own herbs and such. Its worth seeing even if you dont go to the spa.
We love the swim up bar and we spent a lot of time there due to the rain. Romaine, Curtis, and Marion took care of us there. After 2 days, Romaine new what drink to make before I even sat down. That is service!! The martini bar by Lemongrass was great too. I never got their names but it was the same guy each night we went and he was great. You can get Red Stripe in the bottle here which I like over on tap. As busy as these bars get they all do a great job of keeping your glasses filled. The Patois bar was nice as well before or after dinner.
There arent many bad things I can say about CSA. Sure there are bugs around because of the lush vegetation on the resort. We didnt have any in our room though. The maid service would run really late some days and twice they ran out of hand towels but I got more later when they were available. One day the room service came about 30 minutes late and we didnt get to enjoy it as we had a massage to go to. Other than that I cant really think of anything negative to say. We met a lot of people there, many of which had been before or at least been to Jamaica before. Most agreed that they would come back again. We only met one couple who didnt like it there, but they also didnt like the Vegas strip, New York City, Paris, or a cruise they went on. I dont think they like much about life to be honest.
I love to travel and enjoy seeing new places. But as much as I like to try new places, it becomes very hard to not go to Jamaica. I love Negril - the food, the people, the beach, just everything really. From talking to people who stayed at other resorts there, none of them had as many great things to say as the people who stayed at CSA. Once you go, you know.
"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain" - Bob Marley