Just back from yet another fantastic stay at CN in late December. Overall, it was as great as ever and left us ready to come “home” yet again. For repeaters and newbies, below are some thoughts, focused mostly on what’s new or changed from our last visit about a year ago.
Christmas Day worship service: First year it was held on site (at Lychee). It was a wonderful non-denominational Christian service with a local pastor and choir of CN employees. A special event for those who want a religious activity without going into town.
Mini-bar: Super fast service! Never waited more than 10 minutes and usually less than 5. Loved the Red Stripe. Only negative is that dirty glasses were removed and not replaced so guests were asking for glasses at the bars to take back to their rooms. Would be great if housekeeping replaced used glasses.
Dinner: Loved new (to us) menus at Heliconia, Cassava, and Lychee. The presentation, food and service were uniformly excellent. Special menus for Christmas Eve/Day were nice. Lobster night featured two tails and was very tender and tasty. At Otaheite, we missed the Caesar salad and great soups of the past; the current menus didn’t really appeal to us.
Speaking of Otaheite . . . disappointed in the service. Our waitress spoke barely a word to any of the diners and almost threw plates onto the tables – possibly just a bad night. We’ve not traditionally been Lychee fans, but in our view, it’s now tops for service and atmosphere.
Breakfast and lunch: No lines at the omelet station even when the resort was full. The Heliconia lunch “buzzer” service is quite efficient. Jerk chicken includes sauce on the side and option for white or dark meat –delicious as ever. Unless you’re really hungry, ask for a half-portion. Please bring back the hot cheese sauce for the nachos!
Entertainment: There was more on and around Christmas than in prior years and it was terrific. The “Jamaican traditions” music and dancing was a standout. The steel band was fantastic as ever. Loved all of it -- including Santa's arrival.
Piano bar: There seems to be a real effort to use this venue, including a lovely Christmas night wine and cheese party. The room could use more cushioned (non-stool) seating to encourage people to stay longer.
Beach: They’ve added a roped off lap swim lane at the edge of the wading/swimming area. Also, the annoying jet ski guys were almost absent – never came up to anyone during the times we were in the water – the lap lane helps!
Pool: Kept super clean! There are new chairs outside of the pool bar. The lounge mats were in good shape – quite a few new ones on the beach. Red flag service was speedy even at the end of the day and dirty glasses were removed promptly.
Towel Service: THANK YOU for listening! There is still an exchange but you don’t have to give your room number or get a receipt upon leaving. The only downside is some people leave towels on loungers at the end of the day, making it unclear whether the chairs are taken. Not CN’s issue but please be considerate and, if you’re done, take your towels. It might help to have a dirty towel bin poolside.
Speaking of pool loungers: There were a few guests who put stuff on chairs at 6:30 a.m. (no kidding) and then basically disappeared until mid-afternoon. Yes, there are plenty of loungers but it’s not nice to reserve chairs/an umbrella all day when you’re not using them 90% of the time.
Rooms: Kept very clean and housekeeping service was always finished early. Recent renovations have, in our view, taken away from the Jamaican décor. Not sure if permanent, but yellow bedspreads have been replaced with white . . . well, they look like hospital blankets. They’re comfortable enough (and washable) but not attractive and don’t match the wallhanging over the bed. The new seaweed green bedskirts clash with the drapes and neither goes with the stark blue/white striped chairs or the peach window treatments. Basically, nothing matches and nothing evokes Jamaica. All clean and functional but . . . hope it’s temporary.
Shops: Suntan lotion is now sold in a beach shop, which is open during beach hours. For those who do carry-on bags, prices are reasonable.
Spa: Great massage – the therapist made a real effort to personalize the treatment.
Thanks CN for another great trip. As always, the people make it special and keep us coming back year after year. Can't wait to return.