My husband and I just returned from a split trip CTI/CSS. This was our fourth visit to CTI, and our first stay at CSS.
Here is my review for CSS:
Our departure from CTI was somewhat slow, and our arrival at CSS was sort of helter-skelter. The girls behind the desk at CSS were incredibly nice, however, and we received our romance rewards credits, shirts, etc. at check-in. Months ago, we had added a day at the end of our stay, so they showed it as two separate reservations. They asked us to fill out paperwork for each “stay”. Totally unnecessary in my opinion. It’s all in the computer, why all the handwritten stuff? Housekeeping never got the memo about the extra day, apparently, even with the extra paperwork and my husband had to call the next to last day and make sure we weren’t evicted, as housekeeping was ready to clear us out.
Our rooms were not quite ready yet when we arrived. So we made dinner reservations for the week through the guest services desk, checked on some details about a private dinner, and then Earl drove us down to the beach bar so we could have lunch and drinks while we waited on our rooms.
Once the rooms were ready, Lenworth drove us to our room. We had a beachfront suite in Block B. I loved it - the room, the view, the location - just perfect. Our suite was neat and clean and roomy. I couldn’t have asked for more. After getting checked in, and only slightly unpacked, we and headed to Sunset Beach, where we proceeded to go every single day for our five day stay here. It's a more roomy au natural facility than the Island at CTI, and I prefer it over the island.
The spa was amazing! If you want a great deep-tissue massage, ask for Joan. She’s the best! I could’ve stayed in that massage hut overlooking the sea all day. Joan got a knot out of my back that has been there for months. I wanted to bring her home with me! Be sure to book at least one massage - you'll love it!
The food at CSS is incredible, just like at CTI. The omlett/egg guy (Edgar) was friendly, although maddeningly slow some days. The veal ravioli appetizer at Cassanova was so good, I wanted a dozen of them. The escargot was delicious too! I ordered lamb chops on a couple of occasions and they were perfect each time. The pasta station at Palazzina was incredible. We had this for dinner one night, and for lunch one day. I would've happily eaten it every day. We opted out of the repeaters dinner at CSS for a return trip to Cassanova. We were glad to see one of our favorite staff members, Gracie Ann there on our last night. She is a total sweetheart!
As far as staff goes, we found them to be far more aloof than the staff at CTI. One could interpret this as them being unfriendly, but I actually think they are a little more stand-offish because CSS has more of a spa/retreat feel to it than CTI and they are perhaps trying to be un-intrusive to add to that vibe. Every staff member I engaged in conversation was warm and friendly, but rarely did a staff member approach you first, like they do at CTI. The bartenders at SSB were so much fun! Gloria, Veronique and Saskianne (sp) all kept us full of drinks and good conversation. Orlando and Tina at the beach bar were super friendly. One young lady that just stole my heart was Jilleen. She was on the housekeeping staff and the first time I ran into her she was cleaning the restrooms at Palazzina. This girl is so full of life, and such a spark! She was singing while she cleaned and just lit up the room with her smile. I saw her several more times around the resort and made a point to tell her how much I enjoyed her and gave her a big hug. What a sweetheart!
We only ran into the general manager one time, at a staff basketball game behind Sunset Beach. We introduced ourselves and only chatted for a minute. He was much less engaging than Mr. Henry from CTI, but then again, perhaps that's just a personality difference. He was nice enough. We were surprised he didn't really seem to know Mr. Henry - couldn't come up with his name at first - as we thought perhaps the individual GM's might have company-wide interaction (management meetings, etc.).
The weak point at CSS, in my opinion, is the staff at check-out. I failed to get their names, but the two gentlemen that checked us out on the morning of Thursday, June 14 were so unorganized, and their attitude was to the point of being rude. It seemed like we were an inconvenience to them. They had us dig through our packed luggage for the slip of paper showing our Romance Rewards credit, even though they showed it on their computer system. Frustrating! Also, we were two couples traveling together, checking out at the same time, both repeaters, and yet they had only one “snack bag” brought up. Shouldn’t have been a problem to get another one quickly, but they basically argued with the second couple asking them, “Are you sure you’re repeaters?” This was immediately after they had entered their Romance Rewards Credit against their bill! They finally came up with it and we were on our way.
The other “negative” at CSS is their completely ridiculous beach towel policy. You are informed by way of a note card in your room on arrival that you must present two beach towels prior to check-out or be charged $15 per towel. What a nuisance! I doubt many people go to Jamaica to steal plain, white beach towels. But we were careful to keep two on hand at all times so we'd have something to present at check-out, and guess what? Housekeeping picked them up when they did our turn-down service the night before we were leaving! We came up with two towels to turn in, but it was ridiculous, in my opinion, to have to go to the trouble to acquire them, only carry them to the front desk. They should do away with this policy!
The beauty and lush vegetation at CSS is just incredible. I loved wandering around, looking at all the different plants, trees and flowers. It truly is a jungle paradise. I also enjoyed the birds. Cracker (or is it Crackers?) was such a sweetie. We loved stopping by the cage every day on the way to sunset beach. I think I could wander around the grounds for days and never get tired of looking at everything. There is so much to see!
The gym facilities at CSS are great. They even have a pull-up bar! It’s hard to tell from the online pictures, but I was glad to see it when we got there. They also have bumper plates for any of you who lift. I had some decent workouts there. I also took a run around the retention pond. It is roughly 1/3 of a mile around and lots of pretty scenery. But I will tell you what no other runners have mentioned here – at the back of loop around the pond, you are running right past the sewage treatment plant for the resort, so be prepared for the smell to overwhelm you!! Other than that it was a nice running track; a good break from the treadmill - great scenery!
My amazing husband arranged for a private dinner on Sunset Beach for our anniversary. It was simply one of the best meals of my life. The chef, Craig, was very sweet and did a wonderful job of putting our meal together. The steak he prepared was seasoned and cooked to perfection. Our waiter, Ryan, was very young and shy, but so attentive and professional. They made our night so special – one I will never forget! Such a romantic setting; truly a special night.
I am certain we will return to CSS. I have to say I like it slightly more than CTI, just based on the physical beauty of the grounds and the more spa/retreat feel it hast to it. That being said, I don't think I could just stop going to CTI, as I love the staff there and the good times we have with our friends. It's just a different vibe. I think we'll be doing split trips from now on!
Same as for CTI: if you are considering booking a trip to CSS - do it!