CTI or CSS... Foodies, Scuba, Relaxation, Balconies, Price...
First off, thanks to everyone for all the amazing info you all so freely share. I have been on the boards for a few weeks taking all kinds of notes, have made my own grids for the costs and airfare, and just can't make a decision. We have been to S in St. Lucia and loved it, but don't want the extended flight time past Jamaica, and found out about Couples on some boards. Looks like I can get the same or better experience for cheaper. So help us out please.
We are visiting with another couple who have never really had this kind of paradise relaxing experience. We are all late 30s. We are foodies, and we want to be able to work out and take fitness classes. We want a relaxing, paradise-like environment. We need a view of the ocean, and a nice big balcony. I called the Couples number and was told every room at every resort has huge balconies, but I know from pics and this board that it is not correct.
We want to golf, have in-room dining, be able to snorkel from the resort, and go Scuba diving. A swim up bar is great, and a piano bar would be cool, but the night life isn't a high priority. We would really like to be close to the beach with our room, but I don't know that the bottom floor beach-front suite with everyone being right on top of us is the best idea for romance.
We don't care about the A/N experience
It seems that CSS is smaller, older, quieter, with less restaurants, and less to do, but with nicer rooms with larger balconies, and less expensive.
It seems that CTI is more compact and hotel-like with smaller rooms and balconies, but more restaurants, younger people, more activities and excursion, and a somewhat higher price.
What am I missing? Either way we will do a one-day trade to the other resort to check it out. Maybe stay at CSS and do a one-day to CTI to hit the veggie bar, the catamaran, and bayside or 8 rivers. Who knows. We want to do Dunns River, and it looks like CSA and CN are a bit too pricey for us, I think the Ocho side is calling us this trip. Any help would be really appreciated.
If there are particular room types (not penthouses, on a budget) that have huge balconies with hammocks or loungers for napping, room suggestions would be greatly appreciated).
It sounds like all your needs would be met by CSS. We've been there 3x now and really love it! CSS has a nice workout facility with good group fitness classes. CSS has a more "paradise-like environment" with lots of places to walk and explore with comparison to CTI who, as you put it, is more "hotel-like." With the exception of the Beachfront Suites we've found that the rooms at CSS have large balconies with loungers and CSS is the only Couples resort with in-room dining. We've found that the view from the cliffs is best compared to the Beachfronts. We liked the Oceanview rooms in G-block but D & E blocks are nice too.
We've been to CTI once and it is nice also but. as you mentioned, you'll be able to visit it on the one day Trading Places. While you'll be able to try out their veggie bar you won't be able to try the catamaran, 8 Rivers or the Bayside as you have to be a guest at CTI to enjoy those things especially since those restaurants are only open for dinner and Trading Places ends at 4 PM.
We're sure you'll enjoy Dunn's River Falls. Be sure to bring water shoes with you and a waterproof camera so you can have some neat pictures to bring home. Another great excursion is horseback riding in the ocean with Hooves.
In our humble opinion you've made a great choice in selecting CSS and we're sure you'll enjoy your stay there.
We did a CTI/CSS split in Jan. This is my opinion from our experience...
Price - We found CTI to be a bit cheaper than CSS actually, even though we were there over NY, and had a room 3 categories up, whereas at CSS we were only 2 categories up.
Rooms - We loved the view from both resorts. At CTI it was so direct over the water, as we were 1st floor (not ground level) in a deluxe category. The balcony was small, but ok for 2 for the amount of time we spent there. I don't know that any balconies are very big at CTI. The room was large enough and nice and bright and modern. At CSS we had a deluxe ocean verandah and ended up in G block, which is at the top, far from the beach, but with amazing views and an enormous balcony with assorted furniture. It seems not alll balconies are that big though. The room itself was kind of dark and not as modern as CTI, but fine as we didn't spend much time there. We packed for the beach before breakfast then stayed out all day. So we enjoyed both but found them very different.
Food - The food was great at both resorts. True, CTI has 1 more option for dinner, but we weren't fond of the Patio buffet for dinner, so really we stuck to the other 3, which were all great, but 2 are indoors. We do prefer more open/outdoor dining. Eight Rivers was freezing. Food was great but not keen on the closed in cold room. Enjoyed the Verandah food and atmosphere more. Bayside is a great setting. At CSS we loved that we could dine at the beach, and enjoyed the a la carte menu there as much as anywhere else. We did Palazina and Casanova both indoors and outdoors, which made it feel like two separate restaurants. Both have full room service now.
Diving/snorkeling - We couldn't dive or snorkel at CTI due to rough water all week. They have a nicer boat, so at first I was disappointed, but then we did dive at CSS. The boat is smaller, but it was fine. The entry was an easy roll off the side. The dive staff at CSS are awesome. We enjoyed diving with them. We didn't take the snorkel trips, but we did sort of snorkel with just mask/snorkel from the beach. Not a lot to see there, but there are some fish and urchins and I did see a stingray. It's just nice that it's calm and shallow and you can putter around over to the spa area. Good for kayaking too.
Beach - Both are nice and private, but we enjoyed CSS more for the space and distance from the buildings.
Pools - We didn't use as they were freezing. I seemed the only one brave enough to swim at CTI. Wow, was it cold. So no swimup bar for us. Both are nice, but CTI's has a better view being closer to the ocean.
Fitness - we didn't partake, but checked it out. CSS's fitness area is overlooking the water. Great setting! CTI's is behind the pool. CSS also has the pond to walk or jog around.
We loved both for their differences, but did prefer CSS for the lush, romantic grounds. CTI is great for a more modern, hotel trip and people who like a more compact resort and less walking or stairs.
I think CSS might be more of a better fit for you, but only you can decide based on what you see/read. Look at lots of photos too.
We just returned from our 5th trip to CTI. All the "ocean rooms" are close to the beach/ocean. We have had decent balconies in all our rooms--Deluxe and Premier. Also as of August 21, CTI rooms will all have mini bars and in room dining from 6-11. So not only will you have the dining options in the morning of the Patio, but you can have a full breakfast in your room, lunch can be at the Patio, the Grill or the Veggie Bar or in your room. For evening, you have 8 Rivers, Verandah, Bay Side & Patio (except for Gala and Beach Party night, the Patio now is ala cart at night) or in room dining. Then for late night snacks, the Grill re-opens after dinner until 5 am. The main bar at the main pool does not close at sunset. Only the swim up bar closes at 5. The only rooms that are "ground level" are garden rooms. Everything else has a balcony. The exercise room looks out over the main pool and the beach. Classes are in the group fitness room and have the same view. Alford from the fitness center does a "power walk" off the resort 3/4 days a week. The rooms in Building 2 are just a few years old as they were added when the resort went through a $30mil. renovation. Visit the spa, it is voted the top spa in the Caribbean.
. . . . Maybe stay at CSS and do a one-day to CTI to hit the veggie bar, the catamaran, and bayside or 8 rivers . . . .
While you can participate in the Trading Places Program if you have a Romance Rewards account, you won't be able to go on the catamaran cruise or go to either Bayside or 8 Rivers. Bayside and 8 Rivers are only open for dinner, and you'll have returned to CSS by that time.
I know everything, and I'm always right (just ask my husband).
Thanks, great info from everyone. I didn't realize that Trading places sends you back at 4pm. When we did go to S, it was nice to just get on the shuttle and head to another resort for the day or for meals, didn't realize it was so restrictive. I think we are leaning towards CSS, will be working with our other couple to decide on either a split or just hanging at CSS.
I think we are leaning towards CSS, will be working with our other couple to decide on either a split or just hanging at CSS.
A split is a nice way to experience both (if you have enough time to personally not feel rushed to pack up again and move). They're so close to each other that the transfer is quick and easy. If you decide to do a split, I'd personally suggest CTI first then CSS. We enjoyed CTI for many aspects (modern, room, food, people we met), but by the end of the week were just feeling it was a bit too compact and we were ready to switch. Going to CSS with all the space was a welcome change of scenery. So if you do a split and have an uneven number of days, (most people seem to have a week), I'd do say 3 at CTI and 4 at CSS.