Just back and posted the following review. Great time on our vacation! Thanks Couples!
If I can answer anything, I would be happy to.
We stayed at CSA from Dec 29 - Jan 5 after previously trying couples san souci in the same timeframe last year and really enjoying it. We also very much enjoyed Couples Swept Away and would go back. Here are our thoughts with some comparisons between the two listed at the end. (For your reference, I have also stayed at the following AI chains in addition to Couples ) I will provide both the good and a few items that could be improved upon. All the improvement areas were really minor and did not impact our vacation overall just observations that may be important to some other potential guests.
Arrival was disrupted due to our airline - Airtran, but couples was happy to greet us. We were treated kindly in the lounge and didn't wait long before boarding our van to CSA. The driver was friendly and accommodated the request of the group to stop along the way for a bathroom and red stripe. This is part of the trip for us and we actually really enjoy the ride. I know others do not and perhaps TimAir would be appropriate in that case.
Reception was very friendly and professional. Special requests are not guaranteed and couples is very upfront about that policy. However, we had booked a beachfront suite and had requested a second floor room if possible as well as not being situated in the building closest to the palms restaurant. Unfortunately, neither request was accommodated. I was a little put off by that especially the request for the quieter building but the staff did try to see if they could accommodate the next day but the resort was just too full. So, we went to our room and we also saw the other buildings we could have gotten and by comparison, I learned that we really liked our room 1130 because it was a bit more private than many of the others. Lesson learned for me is that pre-vacation research is a lot of fun but not to be disappointed in not getting exactly what others have told you that you need to request because their needs may not be the same as yours.
Room - Beachfront suite 1130 was in good shape, very tropical feel. Cleaning staff was very good and room was well kept throughout the stay. Our room was most always cleaned immediately when we left it in the morning around 8:30 or 9. View was pretty obstructed but more privacy to be had both in the room and on the patio. Loved having the patio key to come and go off the beach or even at night. Very convenient. Turndown was consistent. Sometimes the towels were a little off - no washclothes or something odd but it seemed they always gave us extra of everything else and we were never in need of anything. We used the AC the first couple nights but after that just the ceiling fan and the louvres open. With that system, we were plenty cool and I am a hot blooded gal. My significant other would love to go back with this concept as listening to the waves and the tree frogs was an awesome experience!
Beach/Water - as others have said - excellent! Security was great and the vendors were respectful to us. Beach was pretty crowded as the resort was at high capacity. We did see another tourist (not staying at the resort) casing the beach area for possible theft we believe. I don't see where it was even possible for him to try as security was tight and they would have easily brought him down. It may have been somewhat amusing to see him try....
Food - Food was very good. Portions were pretty small in some cases, others were fine. We know you can order more. Quality was good. Lemongrass was our favorite for food quality and atmosphere, Patois was second, feathers was third. We didn't have dinner at the palms. We were surprised that we were not that impressed with Feathers but to each their own. Beach party was ok (beach party buffets are never really our thing). We were able to secure reservations but it was tough to get much in the 7 -8:30 timeframe. We got 9, 8:45 and 7 once. Wasn't a huge deal for us but did cause us to often miss the entertainment. Both the grill and seagrapes served up great lunch. We did hear a couple staff comments at seagrapes - not directed at us - just overheard as we were walking by such as "another great day with the americans..." Being American myself, I would love that to be different but unfortunately, I did see some people behaving in ways that I would never behave so I can't blame the staff for getting frustrated. I saw bad behavior from all nationalities though to be fair. It is sad to see the way some people treat the staff and other guests. We just tried to be kind and were always treated well by the staff in return.
Drinks - Bar service was hit or miss some days but mostly good. The guys in the martini bar were excellent and much fun - Damion and Ricardo. The bars did often run out of items - bananas at beach bars, grey goose and stoli at feathers, grey goose at martini bar. Sometimes beach bar service was not too happy to provide service but this was an exception not a trend. It wasn't a problem for us if something ran out, we just tried something new.
Entertainment - yikes, this is where the resort fell a little short for me. It was odd. Entertainment inside the palms singing the pointer sisters?? It wasn't what I was looking for but may have worked well for some. We tried it out most every night but aside from new years and reggae night were not that taken. It would be an area for improvement from our standpoint. This excludes the beach bonfire as that singer was fantastic. That was a soothing night though - the upbeat stuff needs improving.
New Years Eve - the party was well done. Entertainment was fun although no music or anything during dinner was odd. Great variety and quality of food just a lot of lines to get it made it a little chilled by the time you got to eat. Also the party was indoors and extremely hot with no AC and many people crammed into a very tight dance floor. Cocktail party was really pretty, good music and great food and drink. Met the GM at the cocktail party but she was not seen at any other point during the stay. The lantern lighting on the beach after midnight was fantastic and well done.
Misc - took the cat cruise and it was very well done and a great inclusion. We also did the one love bus with Lenbert. It was awesome! We love a more true interaction with Jamaica and Lenbert provided that - highly recommend him. It was a blast. We had some photos taken. Pretty steep as they told us it was 100 pics for $250 or 75 for $250 or 50 for $250 or 25 and a framed one for $253.... seemed odd to us but we love photos so it is what it is. Gift shops were well equipped and friendly. We filled out the precheckin but our bar was not stocked and I had to re-request the items the next day to get that done. Not a big deal for us though. We are couples repeaters but we were not invited to the repeaters dinner - perhaps you needed to be CSA repeaters? We did receive all the other romance rewards perks. Red Stripe is now in the minibar and that is awesome!
So, how did it rate versus sans souci? CSA has a better beach and water. We liked our CSA room better but our CSS balcony and view were far superior. (Not enough furnishings on our CSA patio. The stone couch was sticky and not comfortable). The cleaniness and service of the room and minibar were similar. We liked CSS food better. More restaurant selections at CSA but not much outdoor dining to be had which is important to us. More privacy and romance vibe at CSS hands down. Entertainment was far superior at CSS with dancing each night around the pool with cocktail tables under the stars. Feels less crowded at CSS. Great walking beach at CSA which we really enjoy and miss at CSS. Loved the martini bar at CSA. GM was very visible and involved at CSS, MIA at CSA. CSS photographers were better. Inclusions were on par between the resorts. While we do not frequent SSB, we like the option. We liked that CSS new years party was outside, cool, and that tables were set up as first come, first serve. At CSA, tables were assigned based on arrival and since we arrived on Saturday, we received a back table, blocked view of the entertainment by a wall, bright light, next to the fire alarm. Luckily someone didn't show up and our incredibly fun server, Avious, moved us without being prompted because we had the worst table of any of the tables in the restaurant. Every other table could see, except us. Avious was fairly new to the resort and should be commended for recognizing a situation and proactively addressing it. He made our night both with that move and his fun attitude.
CSS stole my heart and is my first love but we would certainly return to CSA without hesitation. I think it all depends on what is most critical to you on your vacation. Every couple has different criteria that make their stay. I hope this assessment assists you in evaluating the areas most critical to making your vacation the best it can be!