We returned back to Ohio last week from our second trip to CSA. We arrived on at CSA on Wed. October 26th and departed on Wed. Nov. 2nd.
ARRIVAL AT MBJ: We flew from Ohio on Air Tran. Can’t say enough positive things about Air Tran – every segment was ahead of schedule. We arrived at MBJ 20 minutes ahead of schedule, landing at 11:00am. We made it through customs and immigration in about 10 minutes. On our way to the Couples Lounge I was looking for a Tim Air and/or Air Link guy so we could book a quick flight to Negril. The airport was essentially empty and we didn't see either before making it to the lounge. Before we even stepped into the Couples lounge, we were approached by the baggage handlers for Couples and asked to which resort we were heading. We told them CSA but that we were thinking about catching a flight; we were immediately told that they had a private car waiting for us and we could leave as soon as we made a quick bathroom stop. Two minutes later we were being escorted to the parking lot and into a private car for the ride to CSA. There was not much traffic and we arrived at CSA in about one hour and fifteen minutes. This driver was particularly careful and was very conscious about the speed limits; in fact we saw several police cars along the way which were apparently trying to catch speeders.
CHECK-IN AT CSA: Our bags were taken from the car, we tipped the driver and then walked in to the lobby. This is where we are usually greeted by smiling friendly faces who come bearing gifts! There was no one there to meet us; no cold wet towels and no offer of champagne. We walked over to the desk to begin the check-in process before we were ever approached by any Couples employee. The lady who assisted us at check-in was very pleasant and helpful. Although we were repeaters and had done the pre-check in, I'm not sure it was any faster. We were staying in an Atrium Suite and I requested to be a little further from the Palms due to the nightly noise. We were told that they were putting us in building 19 and she showed me a map of where the building was located. That building is located very close to the lobby and we thought that building would be fine. Because of our early arrival we were told our room wasn't ready yet. We headed off to Patois for lunch. We were pleasantly surprised to see Dolores was there to wait on us; we hadn't been back to CSA since 2007 and we remembered her from that trip. We had a wonderful lunch and then walked back to the lobby to check on our room status. Our room was done and we headed out to get a bellboy. We waited at least 10 minutes on the steps staring at our bags waiting for a bellboy until Errol finally arrived to take our bags to our room.
ROOM: We stayed in room 2122. It was a first floor room and we loved it! I was a little worried about staying in an Atrium, but it was fantastic. We have an Ocean View Verandah Suite booked for next year, and I am ready to "down grade" to get an Atrium Suite again. We loved the verandah and the hammock. We also enjoyed being on the first floor and being able to walk right off the verandah and be to the beach in about 100 steps. Although we could not see the ocean due to the beautiful palm trees, we could hear the waves from our room when the AC was off and/or while we were on the verandah resting in the hammock. We were just a little disappointed at the nightly “noise” from the Palms. The Palms at night is extremely loud & doesn’t start until 9 or 9:30pm. My wife had earplugs, but she could still hear the very loud music! We survived but would request a building even further from the Palms next time if a room is available.
HOUSEKEEPING: The staff did an incredible job – our room was always done up nicely. We did have some ant issues. We discovered that the pretty flowers they were using to decorate on the towel creations were ant magnets. Also, the empty bottles of pop or any food or candy was a draw for the little ants. We would simply move the fresh cut flowers, bottles etc. out onto the verandah and the issue was basically resolved. We had no mold issues either. I think a lot of the mold issues are resolved in the Atrium Suites because they aren’t closed up in air-conditioning like the other rooms. They could probably do some deeper cleaning between guests & maybe do some cleaning of the light switches, door handles, remote controls, etc.
MATTRESS: The mattress was a pillow-top but it was well worn & thread-bare. Would love to see more luxurious mattresses as our vacation is all about relaxation & catching up on rest!!
MINI-BAR: The mini-bar guy did a fantastic job as well. We are non-alcohol drinkers so I was very specific on what I requested in the mini-bar. They were more than accommodating in keeping us stocked on our requests. We were extremely happy to see that CSA was still serving Pepsi and Ting in the glass bottles!!! When we were at CSS in 2009 and CN in 2010 they had already switched to plastic. We just assumed that CSA had switched as well. Since we are not alcohol drinkers, this was a really nice surprise because it just seems to taste better from the glass bottle.
BUG BITES: Wife had several bites on her body but not sure from what. Didn’t feel the bites initially but had huge bumps that itched like crazy later! Found mosquitoes in room but could’ve been sand fleas??
BEACH: When we arrived, the seas were still very rough from the hurricane that had passed to the South and East towards Mexico. In fact, the first 3 days we had red flags. The weather was warm and we had sun so it wasn't that big of an issue. However, it took them forever to get the sea weed and trash cleared from the beach. This was a really disappointing part of our trip. We would walk the beach every morning, and the day after the storm, the B resort next door had their beach pretty much cleared and looking nice. However, Couples took a different approach. The Watersport guys and other workers in yellow shirts would go around and rake up piles of the sea weed and trash. Sometimes they would dig holes to bury it in the sand but often it was left to sit in piles for days. Eventually the stuff started to stink and there were areas you couldn't walk through it because there was so much of it and you were afraid of what you might step on. There was a lot of trash mixed in with the sea weed; we found countless pieces of broken glass bottles and even found a rather large silver fishing lure. On our final day, the beach finally looked like what it should have looked like days earlier! We spend all of our time at the beach and it was disappointing that it took so long to get the beach back in order.
SECURITY ON THE BEACH: Security did a wonderful job with the vendors and they always seemed to be around to keep an eye on things. However, on Saturday afternoon, one of the security guards struck up a conversation with my wife. He then asked us if we would let him take us to YS Falls because that is where he grew up and that Sunday was his day off; he assured me he wouldn't charge us as much as what the other vendors were charging. I was shocked that we were being approached by a security guard in such a manner. We politely told him no. A few minutes later, we watched him approach another couple who had just arrived at CSA and he asked them if the same thing.
FOOD: We had many wonderful meals.
We ate at Feather's 3 nights, Lemon Grass 1 night, Repeater's Dinner 1 night and 2 nights at Patios. All of the evening meals were great, but we really enjoyed our evening meals at Feathers. The Repeater's Dinner was fantastic and should not be missed!
We ate lunch at Patois almost every day. We enjoyed the vegetable pizza with Caesar salad and the shrimp pasta dish. We ate at the Beach Grill only one time. The grill use to be one of our favorite places for lunch but this year the chicken was dry and over cooked and the jerk burger left a little to be desired. (We were at CN last year, and the beach grill rocked) We ate lunch at Sea Grapes once as well. I had fish tacos which were good, but my wife didn't care for the snapper sandwich. (She loved the Snapper sandwich at Patois) The soft serve ice cream was up and running for the first couple of days, but they are doing renovations in that area so it was down for the majority of the trip. However, I discovered that Patois serves fantastic ice cream so I just made sure I ended up on that end of the beach for a daily dish of the good stuff. The first day we had the sweet potato chips and hummus the chips were disappointing. Because we love this snack, we went back on two other occasions and the chips were much better and we really enjoyed them!
We ate lunch at Patois every morning but twice when we decided to grab something a little quicker at Palms so we could get to the sun. The banana stuffed french toast is my favorite and I enjoyed it every morning while we there. They also had a fantastic Breakfast Pizza that is worth the wait.
SPA: We upgraded our Couples Massage to the full hour and we both enjoyed the massage
EXERCISE ROOM: We worked out on the treadmills and the elliptical several mornings. We were usually the first ones there so we turn on the lights and fans, plug in the machines and start walking. I don’t like to watch myself walk (mirrors), I’d rather watch TV or the scenery, but they have nice equipment to use for exercise. One of the mornings we walked several laps around the outdoor course which was a nice change for us.
INTERNATIONAL AIRLINK: We had taken TimAir to and from CN last year. This year we saved a little money by taking Air Link as their scheduled flight was at the exact time we needed. The plane was certainly a little nicer than the TimAir plane and the flight was a lot of fun. For us, spending a little more for the flight was well worth the extra hours we got to spend on the floaties on the day of our departure. If you have never taken one of the "jumper" planes, I would recommend you try it once!
SUMMARY: We were sorry to leave and we are looking forward to our return trip to CSA next year….and yes, we are already booked – actually we were already booked before we even left for this trip!
Quick update: Randy has been in contact with me several times and has been extremely pro-active in addressing the two major negative concerns of our trip. Just want to thank Randy for continuing to make Couples such a great place!
Thank you for posting such a well written and detailed review. I am so glad that Randymon has contacted you directly about your concerns.
Although we dearly love CSA, and are going back there for our fifth trip in January, I always have to remind myself that we are paying for the location on 7 mile beach and not for luxurious rooms (including the mattress).