We are going to be going on our first trip to a couples resort this coming January. I've been reading the boards earnestly and have a few questions:
1) I read the tipping policies on the website, but then hear others who say tipping is welcomed. I don't know if I would feel comfortable not leaving a tip, it's almost second nature now. Are there people who will accept a tip? Chambermaids, busboys, etc.?
2) My beverage of choice is rye and ginger. Do they have ginger ale on the resort? I believe I read somewhere that it is pepsi products, but I don't think they carry a ginger ale. Has anyone seen any?
3) I took a look at the menu, and I have to say everything looks delicious. My favourite courses are usually the appetizers. Is it common to order 2 or 3 appetizers? Will they care? I ask that because the last AI I went to, I asked at the a la cartes for 2 appetizers and they always refused. Is it an issue here?
4) Are reservations required at the restaurants? If so, when can you make them? Same day or do you need to book them all on your first day?
1) Tipping resort employees is against policy and can result in disciplinary action against the employee. That doesn't apply to the airport shuttle drivers or the spa staff (they are independent contractors, I believe). If you want to show your appreciation, write something nice on the guest survey.
2) I can't speak to the availability of rye. If they do carry it, they may not have it all the bars, so do keep that in mind. You may have to do some checking. As for ginger ale, I doubt you'll be able to find "American ginger ale," but ginger beer is rather ubiquitous on the island. It's a similar taste but usually with a stronger ginger flavor and not as much sugar (or HFCS as is common in the States). I imagine if you're not incredibly picky, you can find something similar to your preferred drink (or an acceptable substitute as I do, as my drink of choice, Jager, isn't really to be found in Jamaica).
3) The kitchen is very accommodating. Almost everything is "no problem." Two desserts? No problem. Leave off the sauce? No problem. Do be aware that meals are portioned to accommodate multiple courses and thus are quite a big smaller than the caveman-sized meals one gets in America. That's not to say that I would suggest pre-ordering multiple entrees (to avoid potential waste), but if you're still hungry after you've finished, it's "no problem" to order more.
4) Reservations are required at Cassanova and Pallazina. You can make them, I believe, up to three days ahead of time. We've never had a problem with same-day reservations, though you may not get your preferred seating time if you dawdle.
DespyMic - We are just down the 401 from you, in Kingston! We have just booked our 4th trip to CSS (Dec 28th to Jan 4th), it is a beautiful resort with the most wonderful staff! We have a "prepared" e-mail with lots of information about CSS and SSB, which will answer all of your questions (far too lengthy to put on the message board!). If you'd like, send an e-mail to email@example.com, and we'll send that to you as well as lots of pictures of the resort. We are away for the next 2 weeks, so it will be after Sept 12th when we get back to you, but we will definitely write then.
I can't really answer question number 1 about tipping. Although it was hard not to tip, we DID respect the resorts policy and not tip. You can tell that they are use to excepting tips, as they kind of hang around after delivering your bags or coffee in the morning. I did bring a bag full of gifts for our cleaning lady. I wrote a thank you card and signed it the day we left.
2. I drink rye and ginger as well and ginger ale is in your mini bar and all over the resort. It tastes different than ginger ale here, more gingery, which I like better. They sometimes have ginger beer.
3. You may order as many appitizers as you want. They are so easy going, and eager to please.
4. Two restaurants require reservations. You can book that morning if there is availabliity, and up to two days in advance. You can just phone for your reservation. Its so easy. Bella Vista requires no reservation, and although we were not there long enough to try it (4 nights), it looks so romantic.
I hope this helps. We were just there Aug. 10 - 14th.
Tipping of Couples Employees is strictly prohibited. I invariably share my chocolate stash brought from home with our housekeeper or whoever I run into while I have a few in my hand, but that's so I don't feel guilty about my snacks! By the way, the lovely ladies at the spa are also not considered Couples employees, so bring some tip $ if you plan to use their services (which are amazing!). I have also left them with my magazines once I am finished perusing on the beach which they seemed to enjoy.
You will interact with drivers to and from the airport and if you go on excursions, there will be tour guides who are NOT Couples employees and they will, unfortunately, *expect* to be tipped. For this reason, we take a decent amount of $1's and $5's with us. Remember that you are going to Jamaica, with all of its problems and beauty, so giving a few dollars to someone who is welcoming you to their country and hopefully doing it with a smile isn't such a big deal (off the resort).
The ginger beverage at the resort is not like the ginger ale we are accustomed to in the US (not Canada Dry!), but try it, you just might like it! And you can't go wrong with the drink of the day or the bartenders signature drink or something frozen. It made me explore new beverages myself.
At CSS, reservations are required for Cassanova (the most formal restaurant) and at Pallazina (also where you can have lunch and breakfast, but reservations are only needed for dinner). You should make your reservations fairly early on once you arrive, say the first day or so if you are picky about where and when you want to eat. (Outside vs. inside, early vs. late) You can book your reservations for your entire stay or one day at a time. The desk is in the Lobby next to the excursion desk where you sign up for shopping trips or Dunn's River Falls. Tuesday & Friday are the beach/Gala events so you won't need reservations those evenings. Bella Vista by the beach and room service never need reservations.
I don't think they will mind too much if you ask for an extra appetizer, but they may give you a funny look. One evening when my SO couldn't decide on an entree, they brought him both. Just save room for dessert!
I loved our January trip and while some of the evenings were a bit brisk (for the tropics), a light sweater was all I needed and it was perfect for an evening dip in the jacuzzi. Have a great time!
1) Couple's has a "No Tipping" policy at all of their resorts. Although I have seen a few people sneak a tip directly to an employee, these employees, according to Randymon can loose their jobs. I would not give them the temptation. There are several really great employees at CSS as there is at all the Couple's resorts. The best think to do for them is to get their name and write it on the exit survey (I remember asking a waitress to write her name down because I would not have known how to spell it, and she was thrilled I asked, so don't be afraid to)
2) I don't drink ginger ale, but have heard others order drinks with it, so I do believe they have it, but my opinion is check out the "drink of the day" a couple of times, you might be pleasantly surprised.
3) Go ahead and order as many appitizers as you wish, they do not care. My husband ordered 2 lobster right away on lobster night, and the cook came out to see who ordered that many, and then stood and talked to us for a little while. That was sort of nice.
4) Reservations are required for Casanova and Pallazina. If you want prime, early times, you may want to make them early, especially for Casanova. Last year we could not get into Casanova, even trying to book a few days ahead, but had no problem with Pallazina, however, the year before it was the other way around, so it depends on who is at the resort at the time, but again, I would suggest you do it at least a couple days out.
1) Tipping at any Couples resort is a huge no-no. Tip the guys at the airport who handle your bags and the driver and any other non-Couples employees only.
I tend to overtip because I worked many jobs for tips while going through college so it was a tough adjustment for me not to tip at Couples on our first few trips...it just didn't feel right because the service is so outstanding. But...rules are rules and it is not expected by any employee. It's another reason we love Couples. The great service you get is not tip related. It's a pretty nice feeling to know that the person giving you the great service with a smile is doing so because they want to see you have a great time & experience at Couples, not just to get your money. They can also get fired for it!
2) I'm pretty sure that they have Ginger Ale, but hopefully someone else will confirm that.
3) Order as many appetizers as you want, not only will you not be denied, you will get a big smile with a "no problem mon".
4) You do need reservations for Casanova & Palazinna for dinner and can reserve them at any time. Casanove you may want to book when you arrive but the Palazinna should never be a problem booking the same day as long as your a little flexible on your desired time.
Bella Vista (which is the beach grill by day) does not require reservations. They set it up very nice on the beach at night.
Another wonderful this about CSS is the in suite dining option...no reservation required!
Hope that helps and, by the way, you will absolutely love CSS!
When they say no tipping...thats what they mean. We did tip the masseuses in the spa because they are not resort employees. Bus/shuttle drivers also got a little here and there. But thats about it. I think on the day we left we left something for the room attendants.
I remember having ginger ale but dont remember what kind...i think it might have been canada dry. but its there and in the mini bars.
And the food....you can get all you want...pretty much when you want. There were times we called up room service just to bring us some nachos and cookies. lol
as far as reservations go...you can pretty much make them the day of, unless you have something specific in mind. But I HIGHLY recommend you reserving Casanova for Wednesday night (if you're there on a wednesday that is) the day you get there. Wednesdays = lobster nights....and it was simply the best meal of my life last time. I almost wish we where there for 2 wednesdays this time around specifically for that meal...lol Oh well....we're there for 2 fridays...so I guess its 2 galas
Hi There- first off the tipping policy is strictly enforced... do not tip anybody at the resort except for the spa personnel after the service. That means don't tip any of the room serivce, housekeeping, waiters/waitresses, bartenders etc... no tipping!!
You can order as much of anything you want, it's all included. We have ordered a few appetizers and that was our meal before, no problem.
Reservations are only required for dinner for two restaurants (Cassanova and Pallazina)... Bella Vista does not require reservations for dinner. Breakfast and lunch just show up during their operating hours. You can make reservations anytime, even up to that afternoon when you are wanting to go that evening. Or you can make them a day or two in advance (once you arrive at the resort). It really is easy and not a problem.
If you want to go snorkeling etc... just pop over to the hut on the beach and put in when you want to go, all of those watersports are included as well.
Have a wonderful time and feel free to ask any more questions if you have any. We're returning to CSS in December and can't wait!!
I strictly adhere to the no tipping policy. If a staff member is caught accepting a tip they can be fired. The small amount of money you would give as a tip is not worth causing someone to lose his/her job. I know others do tip, but I don't. It may be difficult at first, but you will still be given wonderful service without tipping.
Yes, I have had ginger ale while at CSS. It is wonderful--better than the ginger ale you get in the US.
As for appetizers, yes you can order multiple appetizers during your meal. My husband and I do it all the time, and the wait staff do not make you feel odd asking for multiple appetizers! So ENJOY!!!
I forgot to answer your last question in my previous reply. Palazzina and Casanova's require reservations for dinner. The Beach Grill becomes Bella Vista in the evenings, and no reservations are required. You make your reservations when you arrive. It's your choice to make all your reservations at once, or you can call Guest Services the same day and make a reservation. If you're not picky about what time you want to eat, we usually eat late, you shouldn't have to much of a problem getting a reservation.
As an aside, you can often find Caribbean/British-style ginger beer/ale in the States if you want to give it a try before you go. I really like it a lot better and don't drink a lot of the Canada Dry stuff (unless I'm sick, and then it's sort of a comfort thing) or, God forbid, Vernors (which is rather ubiquituous in Michigan).
And you'll find that Coca-Cola tastes different, too, since it's made with cane sugar rather than HFCS (or as my husband calls it, high-fructose corn s***). If you want to try that, it's becoming common to see Coke imported from Mexico in some higher-end grocery stores, Mexican grocery stores and even some megamart-type grocery stores.
Quote:"We tipped often! We were discrete and wanted staff to know how much we appreciated them. Bartenders, servers, maids, room service - everyone took tips"
As I posted earlier, I found it hard to not tip, especially since the service is so courteous & sincere. But I understood the reasoning behind the policy and respected it.
I could be wrong but I feel tipping could ruin some of the beautiful things about Couples. For one thing, you can spend all week without the need to carry any cash. This to me means a lot. To be able to eat & drink all week without reaching for cash or credit card...priceless.
The other thing is that the wonderful staff at Couples are genuine in that they really want to see that you have a great time. They are happy to be a part of your experience at Couples.
Lets face it, anyone would be hard pressed to turn down any offer of free cash so yes, they will take the money. Who wouldn't? That doesn't make it OK.
If people continue to break the "no tipping" policy, I could see the staff eventually start to expect tips and the level of service could possibly become less then genuine and the level of service become "tip dependent".
Couples has the right idea, it's one of the many reasons we love to come "home" every year. Please respect this policy and give some thought as to why it is the policy.