Detailed Trip Review (In Sections) - CTI 9/24-10/2 Plus wedding
Hi everyone! We just got back from our amazing wedding and honeymoon at CTI and wanted to share our experiences with everyone. I'm going to write this in sections, all in this thread, because I want to be detailed and it'll be easier to write this way. I'll also check back frequently for any questions you have. But I want to start this by telling you that it was a wonderful trip that exceeded my expectations for a romantic and fun honeymoon.
I'll start by talking about our flight. We flew US Air from IND to CLT then MBJ. It was painless to say the least. We really liked connecting in Charlotte instead of Atlanta. The airport was easy to navigate. We left on a Monday, and found that the airport in MBJ was not busy at all. We got through customs super fast and easy and on to the Couples lounge. There was only time for one beer before departing to CTI and Sans Souci.
Yes, the bus ride is kinda long. And the bus was crowded. My new husband and I are large people and were the last to board so we rode right behind the driver and had our chins practically on our knees most of the ride. But the bus is air conditioned and the ride through the towns is interesting, as we would have no other way of seeing most of the countryside otherwise. The driver was nice and would talk about the sights on the way, as well as the culture and customs of Jamaica. I recommend grabbing a bottle of water at the Couples lounge at the airport to take with you for the road. You can also take a beer on the bus. Then relax and enjoy the ride. It seems long, but it takes you to paradise!
Be sure to tip the guys who help with your luggage at the airport. And let them help you. Everybody's gotta make a living somehow, and hey, that five dollars means a lot less to you than it does to them.
Tune in next time for my review of arriving at CTI, check in, etc...!
It's so nice to arrive at CTI. When we got to the resort, after stopping briefly and efficiently at San Souci, there was live music playing and cool towel on a tray for us. Lots of front desk agents were there to greet all the guests. After verifying our method of payment, we were presented with freshly mixed rum punch while we were presented the activities schedule and check-in portfolio. Our wedding information and an appointment time with the coordinator, LaToya, was included in the portfolio.
Not included, were our Romance Rewards or Repeaters Dinner invitations. Since this was our "first repeat" (second visit), we didn't know they should be until other guests mentioned it. We did go down to the dinner reservations/excursions desk later in the week to ask about them and were accommodated right away.
Our luggage was taken to our room by a very friendly bellman who pointed out the various restaurants, bars and pools along the way. He also showed us the various amenities in our room, including the mini-bars.
Overall, we found the check-in process quick, easy, friendly, and refreshing after our bus ride.
Tune in next time for a review of our room: 4212 in Deluxe Ocean category!!
Tune in next time for a review of our room: 4212 in Deluxe Ocean category!![/QUOTE]
Thank you for your review so far. Sounds like you've have a great trip so far.
I look forward to your "room review" as we will be arriving at CTI in 13 days.
We booked the Deluxe Room category and are really hoping for Building 4. We've always stayed on that side of the resort and love it!
Have a great time!!!
Lori & Bill
Lori & Bill... Thanks for your comment! I'm sure no matter where you are, it will be fantastic. As you know, you almost can't go wrong at CTI.
When we stayed the first time at CTI (September of 2010), we got a Premier Ocean room and loved it. It felt a bit odd going "down" a category to Deluxe Ocean and felt a bit apprehensive about it, especially for our honeymoon. We wanted to go "all out". However, because of the special they ran, we were able to stay an extra night, and have a resort credit, if we got a Deluxe Ocean, for less than the price of one fewer night and no resort credit at the Premier ocean. So we went for the Deluxe Ocean.
I do not regret the Deluxe Ocean one bit. I actually like that side of the resort (our "Premier Ocean" being closer to the main bar and pool grill), because the views are very nice. We were on the second floor and had a supreme view of Tower Isle and a prime location to the swim-up bar pool. We were close to the end of the fourth building, which worked well for us because we had no problem with sound at all. We never woke up to people in the hall or whatnot.
The only difference I noticed in the rooms is that our room seemed to have a smaller bathroom. No problem. How much do you really care about the size of your bathroom on vacation?! The shower is the walk-in type and yes you would get water on the floor if you weren't careful. BUT - we found that we could use the floor mats provided and when we went to dinner, the turndown service would dry off our floor and replace the mats. It was nice to have a dryer bathroom to turn in, and also if we wanted a second shower before bedtime, the bathroom was ready - not just the bed. Don't pass up the turndown service even if you don't care about the bed. They will service your room and towels also!
We did have some minor issues with the room, but they were unrelated to room category and the kind of thing that could happen anywhere. When we first got there, we noticed the bolt lock was broken. Because that is a safety issue, we wanted it fixed right away. We experienced a bit of "island time" in this regard. We called down and they told us it would be fixed right away. We waited two hours. Then called again. After that, they told us a guy was "on his way". I'm not sure where he was "on his way" from but after 45 minutes, my husband went down to the lobby. Kudos to Andre for following up with a maintenance man and getting someone up there then and sure enough, it was a quick fix. I just don't think they fully understood that we were waiting. After they did understand, it was taken care of.
Another thing, the hair dryer didn't work. After calling to the front desk, they told us that an electrician needed to look at it. After leaving for the beach that day and then coming back to it not being fixed, we called down again and they brought us a working hair dryer.
Again, these are minor issues that could happen anywhere. Overall, we were very satisfied with the location and quality of our room and would get it again. I loved having only one flight of stairs to walk up, a convenient location to the spa and swim-up bar, and also a magnificent view of the ocean and Tower Isle. Will try to post a pic from the balcony...
One thing I forgot to add about the room is that the air conditioning worked fabulously, and we love the "mini bar"(with full-size bottles of alcohol). I would add that there is lotion, body wash and shampoo provided in large pump bottles in the bathroom. However, I have long hair and should've brought my own conditioner.
Thank you so much for the room review and the picture! That looks like exactly where we would like to be when there!
We were also in a Premier room there last year. We were further over towards the Island and pier. I was so happy when I saw the great deal for the Deluxe rooms! That was the category that we wanted to book anyway! I like being further out away from the main building. Such a great view!
I feel so sorry for the housekeeping staff with all the water that gets on the floor from the new showers. Was like that at CSS too. Too bad they can't put up some kind of barrier to keep it from happening, but I guess that would take away from the modern look that they have.
I usually bring my own hairdryer along with me (I don't really care for the wall dryers) and I always bring my own conditioner whereever I go. Without it, I'm a fuzz-head! AHH!
Bayside was awesome. We ate there two times by design and it was great both times. Although the menu varies a bit daily, it was similar each time. Brian and I especially liked that we were offered only chopsticks and no silverware at dinner.
At our first visit, the chef (a female chef - KUDOS!) visited us to ask our preferences. I asked what was the spiciest thing on the menu, as typically at home we eat Thai and Indian food very spicy but I think Indiana tastes aren't necessarily as spicy as world tastes. She told me the red curry, so I ordered that with a combo of meats (you can order shrimp, chicken, beef... whatever) the first time. Yes it was the right amount of spicy!! It was not spicy enough to burn your mouth but spicy enough to have lots of flavor. Thank you for the wonderful recommendation.
The bar worked hard to mix our drinks and our drinks were served promptly both times. The second time we visited, there was a thunderstorm. The reservations ran behind a bit as they were scrunching people under the shelters to keep them dry. Boy, are we glad we waited!!! We had a drink at the bar (promptly served), and then were seated next to the ocean but under some shelter. We had a fireworks dinner, with natural lightning fireworks, like you could only dream about. The staff was very concerned about safety and kept checking to make sure we were comfortable and dry. They assured us that if the storm got close enough, we would be moved mainland. We did see some fireworks of lightning, but didn't worry about our safety or the rain. It was really beautiful and cooled things off.
The one thing I would add is that the appetizer platter is amazing. It offers a lot of choices for two. One thing we missed, however, was sushi. It wasn't offered either of the nights we dined at Bayside. And the seafood was universally so amazing at CTI, we missed it, especially at Bayside.
One other shout-out: I didn't get his name, but the night it was raining, a wonderful server from The Patio walked us to Bayside with an umbrella. He wasn't even working Bayside. But he made sure I watched my step on the wet walkways and held the umbrella over us to help guard our short trip. Thank you! I wish I could give you proper credit name-wise...
The Island... I'm going over to the "Au Naturel" section to post a detailed review of the Island for those who are curious, just to keep the sections separate. If you've ever considered going, I encourage you to read this. I'll be honest!!!
We absolutely LOVE Eight Rivers. First of all, we are lovers of air conditioning and this is part of the main building where there is air conditioning all the time. Yes, it is cool enough in the areas of the resort without air conditioning in the evenings with the ocean breeze, but my chronic sinus infections love conditioned air, so consider me spoiled.
I consider Eight Rivers the preferred restaurant for "turf" lovers, those who eat meat. There are always 2 - 3 meat choices on the menu, plus a veggie, in case you don't like seafood, like my husband. However, we ate there on CTI's Lobster Night (Friday) and you could add lobster to any menu selection, in addition to having it on the menu as its own entree. My husband did add a lobster tail to his entree and loved it! For those who haven't tried it, Caribbean lobster is much different than most of the lobster you get in restaurants in the states. It's much more tender and succulent. You'll get hooked!
At Eight Rivers, you can order drinks made from the Piano Bar because it is right next door. That's a plus because all the super top shelf liquors are there, like the Grey Goose that my hubby and I might enjoy in an occasional pre-dinner martini. And the bar service is FAST.
When you get there and order your drinks, the waiter will bring around a bread basket with 5 or more choices of rolls. It's such a challenge to limit myself to 1 or 2 knowing that if I over-order, I won't have room for dessert. At Eight Rivers, you get a palate cleansing sorbet not listed on the menu before your main course. I found this a nice touch.
Do not be in a hurry when you go there. Try to enjoy the experience of each course. Some diners might wish for less time in between courses and I perceive that there is some impatience when dining there. I assure you, you will have plenty of beverage, relax and savor each course. Save room for dessert because the fresh offerings each day can't be beat! Wander over to the Piano Bar when you're done for a little cognac and some singing and it's truly the perfect romantic evening.
There are two drawbacks to Eight Rivers that I can think of. One is that there is such limited seating. You are in close quarters. That was nice for us when we wanted to eat with other folks, not so nice when we wanted to have a quiet evening just the two of us without interaction. They are pretty good about staggering the seating so you're not at a table right next to the same people for the entire duration of your meal. The other drawback: the restrooms are across the lobby. During a slow-paced meal... us ladies might have to walk over there 2 or more times.
Otherwise, I would likely eat at Eight Rivers every night of our vacation....
NEXT UP: Special events! (Tower Isle dinner, repeaters dinner, beach party, wedding... etc!)