Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    17

    Default First Timer Thoughts and Review - CSA

    My husband and I took our first trip to CSA from May 19th-May 24th. As this was our first time to any out of the country beach spot, we were not sure what to expect so I did a ton of research..read reviews and pretty much stalked the boards

    With that said, I won't go into a lot of details about all the stuff you can find on the boards but more give you OUR thoughts on the trip.

    About us: We are 29 & 30 from Chicago and have two very active kids. Our normal daily lives consist of running around with jobs, kids, sports, hobbies, etc. We are on the go ALL the time.

    Tips:
    #1 -- 6 days is truly not long enough. When you break it down; two of those days are travel which really left us 4 full days at the resort. We like to relax and enjoy the beach but we also wanted to do the activities and a few excursions. It took us about a day and a half to just relax and get into “vacation mode”. We spent our first full day looking around, getting to know the area and hanging out on the beach to wind down. We spent our last full day soaking up all we could of the sand, sun and sea. This basically left us with 2 full days to do any excursions and activities. When we go again, we will definitely add a couple of days; for us 8 days would have been perfect!

    #2 -- On your first day when you are getting ready to go to the beach...don’t get to excited and forget to put sunscreen on your legs. YEP! I did that...and for those of you there...I was the one walking about with Lobster legs the rest of the trip

    #3 – We learned from the boards to walk to the left of the resort for some shopping. We had limited time but thought we could hit a few shops right next to it. The shops to the immediate left of the beach (in our opinion) were disappointing. There were a couple right next to the edge of the resort that had very limited unique and authentic items but they were mostly “gift shop” type items. There were even a couple of stores that looked like a gift shop you would see in Vegas just with Jamaica on the products. If you are into that stuff great..but when we travel we like to buy souvenirs that are truly authentic . If you want to go shopping, carve out some time to make the walk that is further down the beach (about 45-1hr down) for the more authentic hand crafted items. We got lucky and few of them came onto the resort so we snagged a few things there (hand painted pictures and hand carved animals, trees, etc)

    #4 – Rick’s Café – We heard a lot of about Rick’s Café and if you want to just check it out and don’t really care to jump off the cliff or be hounded, go on the Catamaran Cruise. We did this and it was completely sufficient for us. The boat stops right in front and you can watch a few people dive and you don’t have the worry about tipping the locals for jumping or dealing with the high prices of the food/drinks.

    #5 – We had the Beachfront Verandah Suite rm #4217. It was toward the left end of the resort (right end if you are on the beach looking at the resort) and we LOVED it. Our view was slightly blocked by some trees but we were on the second floor and able to leave out door open at night and listen to the waves crash in. This end of the beach was also not crowded! We never had any problems getting a chair or a little hut. If you have issues, move towards this end of the beach. We did notice during our walks that the middle part of the beach was really crowded.

    #6 – Forget about using the beach drink service. Place yourself where I described in #5 and there is a bar right there. Much faster to jump up and get it yourself.

    #7 – Enjoy the culture and the bartenders . Some of our favorite moments was sitting at the beachside bar chatting with the bartenders and joking around.

    #8 – Enjoy being surprised! I don’t drink that often so although there was a plethora of mixed drinks I could choose from or drink I could have requested, I found the best drinks were the ones when I said “Surprise Me”. Sometimes they give you one of the items on the suggestion menu but most of the time I got awesome drinks that the bartenders have come up with. Those were the best ones.

    #9 – If you need to use the Wi-Fi then you need to get a unique code for each device that you want to connect to Wi-Fi. We had an iPad and two iPhones and after we connected the iPad we weren’t able to get our iPhones to connect. We just thought that the signal wasn’t catching, but learned on our last day that you have to have a unique login for each.

    Things I wish I would have Taken:
    High Humidity Hair Product & Leave-In Conditioner -- I have long really thick hair and I come from a state where it only gets hot and humid for 3-4 months of the year (if we are lucky) and not used to the salt water. Although during the day it was not an issue because it was generally up, but in the evening for a nice dinner with the husband it was a disaster. The salt water sucked all the moisture out of my hair and the humidity made it “frizzy” even with expensive hair products, blow dryer and flat iron.

    Laundry Detergent – I wish I would have brought a travel size small bottle of laundry detergent to hand wash and rinse out our swimsuits. After playing in the Sea for a few hours, sweating and then leaving them out to dry on our verandah, they started to develop a smell when they were dry.

    Things I am Glad We Took:
    Large Ziplock Bags – We used these on the last day to pack in all of our swimwear and cover-ups that were still moist so it didn’t make the whole suitcase full of clothes damp or smell.

    Clorox Wipes – We did get a few ants on our bathroom vanity but I read on a review to take a small pack of Clorox Wipes to wipe down the counter. After I saw the ants, I did just that and did not have any issues the remainder of our trip. (Worth the $.97 at wal-mart in the travel section)

    WaterProof Camera – No matter what you do, there is water and things get wet. We saw a lot of people nervous about their cameras. We highly enjoyed having our camera out to take lots of pictures while Snorkeling, Catamaran Cruise and just hanging out on the beach.

    Excedrin/ Headache Meds – After being in the sun all day and drinking the delicious drinks...definitely needed it.

    LOTS OF SUNSCREEN...people aren’t kidding...we took 6 bottles and came home with 1 (should note, they were the spray on sunscreen bottles).

    Overall Opinion
    AHHHH-MAZING! This was the best trip decision we ever made. Staff was courteous, funny and simply awesome. The food was great (favorite was the Grilled Snapper on Coco bread from Seagrapes). Although cloudy, the weather was still fun! Beach...there are no words to describe how perfect it was. Everything was carefree and relaxing...highly enjoyed the Dolphin’s Cove excursion.

    The best advice for First Timers...RELAX, DON’T STRESS and ENJOY every single second of it! It goes way to fast!

    (Sorry about the long post, but was excited to write this just to re-live last week...really wish we were already back “home”.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,283

    Default

    Thank you for posting such a well written, detailed review. You are spot on about the hair products. Nothing like salt water, chlorine, and sweat to wreak havoc on the hair.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    122

    Default

    Cassie thanks for a great post, our first trip to CSA is October, we can hardly wait!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    52

    Default

    Yah for you!!! Thanks for writing your opinions of it all....you summed it up quite well. We were in that same room last summer-our 2nd trip is this Sunday-can't wait. Woo Hoo!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    29

    Default

    Hi. We will be 'first timers' in July for our 25 anniv.! Can't wait!! Do you have any other 'tips'? I loved hearing your ideas, and have been taking notes for weeks from the boards!! I have a question about customs on the return trip (if we check a bag, we are still trying to decide what to do about that...) if we want to bring a rum home with us, how do you do that? You can't carry it on if you have a connecting flight home, can you? I am nervous (first trip like this), and I know it's silly, but I'm kinda anal about things, haha...? Thanks so much! We realized we will only really have '4 days', also...now it sounds too short, but to late to change now! Counting down...

  6. #6

    Default

    Thank you! This was very helpful...leaving in 1 week!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,044

    Default

    Loved your review. Just made me more excited about going back to Couples.!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    50

    Default

    Great review! We are from the Chicago area too and go for our first time in Nov for our anniversary. We have 3 kids and are getting away for 5 days. We are taking the earliest and latest flights out for our trip to maximize our time.

    If you have any other tips and suggestions, we'd appreciate it!

    Johnie and Crystal

  9. #9

    Default

    Great report. You summed it all up.quite well. We just got back today!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Do you have any pictures to go with the review? These reviews get me so excited for our first trip

  11. #11

    Default

    Tips:
    #1 -- 6 days is truly not long enough. When you break it down; two of those days are travel which really left us 4 full days at the resort. We like to relax and enjoy the beach but we also wanted to do the activities and a few excursions. It took us about a day and a half to just relax and get into “vacation mode”. We spent our first full day looking around, getting to know the area and hanging out on the beach to wind down. We spent our last full day soaking up all we could of the sand, sun and sea. This basically left us with 2 full days to do any excursions and activities. When we go again, we will definitely add a couple of days; for us 8 days would have been perfect!

    totally agree on this...we stayed 5 nights, what a tease! definitely not enough time!

    #3 – We learned from the boards to walk to the left of the resort for some shopping. We had limited time but thought we could hit a few shops right next to it. The shops to the immediate left of the beach (in our opinion) were disappointing. There were a couple right next to the edge of the resort that had very limited unique and authentic items but they were mostly “gift shop” type items. There were even a couple of stores that looked like a gift shop you would see in Vegas just with Jamaica on the products. If you are into that stuff great..but when we travel we like to buy souvenirs that are truly authentic . If you want to go shopping, carve out some time to make the walk that is further down the beach (about 45-1hr down) for the more authentic hand crafted items. We got lucky and few of them came onto the resort so we snagged a few things there (hand painted pictures and hand carved animals, trees, etc)

    we walked to left of the resort and found some nice things, I loved the Destiny Shop!..We also walked to the right near Beaches Resort, and I got an awesome walking stick for my Dad from a local vendor for $20..that stick would have easily gone for $50 on the resort.

    #4 – Rick’s Café – We heard a lot of about Rick’s Café and if you want to just check it out and don’t really care to jump off the cliff or be hounded, go on the Catamaran Cruise. We did this and it was completely sufficient for us. The boat stops right in front and you can watch a few people dive and you don’t have the worry about tipping the locals for jumping or dealing with the high prices of the food/drinks.

    We did this too, but will not visit again! to touristy for our taste!

    #6 – Forget about using the beach drink service. Place yourself where I described in #5 and there is a bar right there. Much faster to jump up and get it yourself.

    Beach service worked out great for us..I forgot the bartenders name, but he was awesome..His favorite line was "Don't Be Afraid"!

    #8 – Enjoy being surprised! I don’t drink that often so although there was a plethora of mixed drinks I could choose from or drink I could have requested, I found the best drinks were the ones when I said “Surprise Me”. Sometimes they give you one of the items on the suggestion menu but most of the time I got awesome drinks that the bartenders have come up with. Those were the best ones.

    I agree, I got a few surprise Martini drinks that were great!

    Things I wish I would have Taken:
    High Humidity Hair Product & Leave-In Conditioner -- I have long really thick hair and I come from a state where it only gets hot and humid for 3-4 months of the year (if we are lucky) and not used to the salt water. Although during the day it was not an issue because it was generally up, but in the evening for a nice dinner with the husband it was a disaster. The salt water sucked all the moisture out of my hair and the humidity made it “frizzy” even with expensive hair products, blow dryer and flat iron.

    Lets not talk about the hair! OMG! One day it rained like Niagara falls and my hair paid a hefty price for it! YIKES!

    Laundry Detergent – I wish I would have brought a travel size small bottle of laundry detergent to hand wash and rinse out our swimsuits. After playing in the Sea for a few hours, sweating and then leaving them out to dry on our verandah, they started to develop a smell when they were dry.

    Yup, good point.. I purchased a small travel container, and filled it with detergent from home, and we used it for our swim wear!

    Things I am Glad We Took:
    Large Ziplock Bags – We used these on the last day to pack in all of our swimwear and cover-ups that were still moist so it didn’t make the whole suitcase full of clothes damp or smell.

    Good point! I purchased two large drawstring laundry bags from walmart that we always take on vacation if its more than 2 days...



    Great review

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    17

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cdjbook View Post
    Hi. We will be 'first timers' in July for our 25 anniv.! Can't wait!! Do you have any other 'tips'? I loved hearing your ideas, and have been taking notes for weeks from the boards!! I have a question about customs on the return trip (if we check a bag, we are still trying to decide what to do about that...) if we want to bring a rum home with us, how do you do that? You can't carry it on if you have a connecting flight home, can you? I am nervous (first trip like this), and I know it's silly, but I'm kinda anal about things, haha...? Thanks so much! We realized we will only really have '4 days', also...now it sounds too short, but to late to change now! Counting down...
    We actually had a direct flight there but a connecting flight home. This being our first trip we were not sure what to expect but here is how it went down (for us - I will leave out the bit of drama we had because our connecting time was too short):

    We checked two bags in Jamaica, flew from MoBay to Miami, we unloaded the plane where we were directed to customs. We had to go through customs to show our passports, etc. Once through customs we were taken to a special baggage claim area where you had to find your bags. (If you bought any liquid over the regulated amounts, load them into your bags here--dont forget any spices, sauce or liquor). You then take your bags to be checked in again (this isnt like arriving at the airport for the first time, more like a short walk...the staff will direct you where to go). Hand your bags and go through the airport to catch your connecting flight.

    When you are on the plane going there and returning (because you have to hit customs both times); the flight attendants will pass out the documents that you need to fill out for customs...I recommend taking a pen and having them completed before landing. Then have your passports and stuff ready to go. Read through all the documentation and answer all the questions so you won't be that person that is searching through their bags for 10 minutes looking for things. (UGH!)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    17

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnieReb View Post
    Great review! We are from the Chicago area too and go for our first time in Nov for our anniversary. We have 3 kids and are getting away for 5 days. We are taking the earliest and latest flights out for our trip to maximize our time.

    If you have any other tips and suggestions, we'd appreciate it!

    Johnie and Crystal
    We did that as well. We took the direct flight from O'hare at 8am (got to resort around 2:30 or so) on day of arrival and then flew home on a 3:55pm flight from Montego Bay... our shuttle from the resort left at noon. We had to have the luggage ready by 11am on day of departure. Truly a super sad day!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Great review and advice; thanks:

    We're booked for 9 nights in September (only 82 days left! and are already getting excited to go)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •