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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    276

    Default CSS Reviews and Breakfast/Lunch Buffets

    I am a Couples repeater (5th trip to come in March, and 2nd to CSS) and I was startled to read several of the recent reviews on Trip Advisor from CSS Repeaters, about the diminishing quality of food, service, and rooms at CSS ("stained" towels and "tired" furnishings seems to be increasingly common and repetitive comments). I truly hope it's not true! The Couples brand has always been synonymous with quality! I would hope that Couples, after hearing for several years now that the room furnishings at CSS are frayed, tired, and worn at CSS would respond to these issues and work on refreshing and replacing. Rustic should not be allowed to become dingy. I always tell anyone how amazing Couples has been for us as an upscale, never-disappointing, worth every-precious-penny vacation. I hope these new reviews and recent experiences don't make a liar out of me! The embarrassment....

    I'm curious about the breakfast and lunch buffets. Compared to the breakfast and lunch choices at CN and CSA, CSS is indeed very minimal, however, recent comments seem to indicate that selection at the Pallazina buffets have been cut back further and the quality has declined.

    Can any recent repeaters to CSS comment?

    Thanks!!

  2. #2

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    Hi,
    Hubby and I just returned from CSS on Jan.4th. It was our 6th visit. We found the resort to be as lovely as usual, although you could see where Sandy had damaged some of the foliage. We stayed in the Steve McQueen Penthouse Suite. The entire patio cover had been replaced and outdoor furniture repainted. It was beautiful. Our room was charming--the furniture was slip-covered and the covers were clean and not frayed. Our towels were never stained. Our room was kept spotlessly clean. Upon request and with a call to Room Service, our minibar was quickly restocked. There was no charge for Red Stripe and there was plenty of top shelf alcohol available at the bars --Grey Goose, Stoli's, Campari, to Grand Marnier and Baileys. Granted, CSS will never have the glitz of an S resort, and that's why we love it so much!

    As for the food at breakfast, we never find the breakfast buffet to be boring. There are certain items that are there everyday--bacon and sausages, scrambled eggs, and some type of breakfast potatoes. However, the Jamaican specialties and the hot dishes change on a daily basis. I never found the food to be cold, and if there was an issue you could talk to a staff member and the issue would be rectified immediately if possible. We never did a lunch buffet so I can't speak to that. We found the food to be delicious, hot, and plentiful. If I did have one complaint, I am a bit dissapointed in the changes to the entrees available on the room service menu; but, I did love the inclusion of hot breakfast options--so I guess I've talked myself out of my own complaint!:-)

    Staff was attentive as usual! Especially during the fabulous NYE celebration....there was a fabulous dinner on the main lawn that was interrupted by a heavy rain shower. But staff acted quickly and professionally, and after the rain passed all guests were able to ring in the New Year with style!

    We saw GM Pierre Battaglia several times throughout our stay. He explained the damage that occurred during the hurricane and what steps were taken to restore CSS to all her glory. We saw Pierre as we were leaving and he remarked "will I see you again in July?" He remembered that we come twice a year! We told him yes, and he said he looked forward to welcoming us home again!

    CSS is our home. CSS is like a fine wine, with care and attention--it will continue to grow better with age!

    One Love!
    Last edited by suzyQ; January 13th, 2013 at 09:26 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    689

    Default

    SuzyQ - Oh, Suzette, we could not have said it better than you did in your last sentence!! CSS is our home, too! We still travel to a new destination now and then, but it is the beauty and romance of Sans Souci and it's wonderful staff that have so very much stolen our hearts! After 7 trips, it is still the place that we long to go back to, that we miss so much, and that we think about often. As you said, with care and attention, (and it gets lots of both from all who work there), it will continue to grow better with age!! We'll be back in April, and you and Karl in July, but one day, our paths will cross at CSS and SSB once again.
    (Karen&Paul)

  4. #4

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    Karen! I too hope that you and Paul have a wonderful trip in April and that we can meet again soon at our home, CSS!

    All the best!
    Suz

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    276

    Default

    Thanks Suzy Q! Your review and comments have made me feel much better about those not so good reviews. I'm happy you had a wonderful vacation!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    454

    Default

    I'm with Suzy and Karen on this one. We first went for our honeymoon in October 2011. Loved it so much, we returned October 2012. We were even more amazed at the place. Almost brought a tear to my eye as we first stood looking out over the balloon bar terrace pool when we arrived, sipping a glass of welcome home champange. A few days in and the sax player that wanders the property started right below our window. I had to go get my wife to come and listen. His sweet music gave me a chill up my spine, and the realization that in fact we were in paradise, we were "home"
    This time the service was still amazing and I thought the food was even better. Now not everything they serve will appeal to everyone, but we found the variety and quality outstanding. When you go for breakfast, you have to try Edgar's special omelette. Absolutely awesome.
    As far as the decor goes.... yes it's dated and the place is old, but that is part of the charm of CSS. It's like stepping back in time and truly having an island experience. There is no place I've ever been that has that certain ambiance about it that CSS does. You feel welcome. You feel relaxed. You feel the romance in the air. I will take this so called outdated, worn down, needs refurbishment place over any new, glitzy, marble, granite, white elephant any day of the week. If Couples does do a major overhaul, I hope they do nothing but spruce the place up and not really change a thing. We love CSS the way it is!!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    10

    Default

    Novostar,

    We too love the Caribbean feel and the throw-back in time idea without the glitz and glamour. However, this can be accomplished with an occasional infusion of money for a refreshing of furniture, paint and linens. For any 5 star, whether it be Couples, S Resort, R Resorts or any of the other main AI chains, there should be no reason to have furniture that is thread-bare, holes in upholstery, stains on linens, broken fixtures or mould in bathrooms. Not saying that Couples is like this but a general comment for all the chains that boast they are a 5 star.

    Yes, you could get the odd piece of furniture that has a small hole or has some normal wear (within reason)because someone dropped a cigarette on it but it should still be clean and fresh looking regardless of a contemporary or throw-back in time look.

    The challenge, I guess, would be for each resort to determine the level to which they will allow the physical structure or furniture to deteriorate before the guests start to get the impression that the resort doesn't care versus the laid-back Caribbean feel. If a resort boasts and publishes that they are a five star then they must invest some money to attain the standards they are striving to achieve or maintain. Couples, in our opinion, achieves the high standards when it comes to service and food (two things that are important to us).

    I realize that everyone's standard of what a five star is varies. I guess it all boils down to the impression of what the resort wants to have their guests leaving with..."great service, great food, fantastic employees, great location but the hotel is older and worn and needs a refreshing (not modernizing to contemporary etc)" versus "the resort truly amazing in all aspects."

    It is comments from repeat customers like yours Novostar and SuzyQ that says that CSS is a wonderful place but could use a sprucing up or with care and attention it will continue to grow that the resort should be paying close attention to if they haven't been. Maybe it is getting time for that refresher but not to do so as to change the atmosphere that has made it so succesful and love by so many. It wouldn't surprise me with Couples' reputation that they already have a refresher planned for the resort that we are not be aware of.

    Looking forward to experiencing CSS for our first time to see how this resort compares to CN (our current favourite).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    454

    Default

    I certainly agree Red. When we were there, I did notice some areas that did need repairs and/or replacement for sure. I'm a general contractor, so I actually notice more than most. Certain aspects of CSS could use some tlc and sprucing up. Over time, things do wear out, get nicked, scratched, burned, etc. It may be time for an overhaul for CSS.
    I know that the public washrooms were under renovation beside the main pool when we were there in October and the washrooms at SSB were done shortly after that. The washrooms beside the Pallazina and inside the balloon bar are new as well. So they are spending some money on the resort. The problem with a major reno on a resort is a future loss of business.
    From a reliable source, I found out that CTI, prior to their renovations were pretty much constantly booked. People love it there, and still do, but during the reno's, many tried out some of the other Couples resorts and now go there instead, even though the reno is complete. I think, from a business standpoint that a bit by bit reno may be more likely because of that.
    When it comes down to it, IMO, CSS needs to be redone, but not updated. So no marble and granite, no modern anything. Keep the style, re-do the retro. I have seen too many wonderful homes, Victorian style or Georgian style with some form of modernization done in some way. Totally throws the whole house off. Imagine a Tudor style house with an ultra modern kitchen and shag carpet in the living room from the 70's!!!! Don't laugh.... I have seen both.
    I say keep CSS the way it is, just spruce it up.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    99

    Default

    We were at CSS in late Nov/early Dec 2012. Our room was in the H block, and the sofa/chair was nicely slipcovered (not worn at all). There are some details which are not quite "perfect" such as pictures hung slightly out of alignment with each other, but this was not an issue for us. The bathroom looked to be fairly recently refreshed, walk-in shower grouting was in good condition (not stained/mouldy). Aircon worked very well, to the point where we kept it on a relatively "warm" setting - it could have gone loads cooler. There were mosquitoes around when we were there, likely a post-Sandy increase. Manageable in the room if we kept the sliding doors shut when lights were on.

    As for the Pallazina buffets, we went at opening for breakfast and found plenty of variety to suit our own needs. There were a few days when fresh fruit options were limited due to Sandy destroying banana crop, etc, but there was always some fruit on offer. Lunchtime was good, with daily "themes" such as Chinese, Tex-Mex, Jamaican/Creole, etc.. Towards the end of our stay they added a "made to order" salad station for chef-prepared Caesar or Oriental salads (depending on the day). Thought this was a really good addition, as by the end of our stay we'd already seen the daily offering before... and we were ready to have a lighter meal, also. The coconut creme brulee, which appeared sometimes on the lunch dessert bar, was absolutely awesome. {sigh}.

    Personally, having also stayed at CSA, I would have liked for CSS to have a more expanded Charley's Juice Bar menu the way CSA's Seagrapes does. (Yes, the CSS beach grill has a fish taco - but it is fried fish, so not really like the grilled fish tacos at CSA...) We ate more at CSS during lunch due to going to the buffet... but perhaps CSS doesn't have enough guests who go to that area of the resort to justify this idea.

    Think you will be fine! I too would rather have a comfortable (but clean!) island-feel room v/s a cold, sterile, marble-clad cell to stay in.

    Note that after the initial mini-bar stocking for your check-in, you now must phone for refills as and when you need. This is a new policy within the past year. For us, the deliveries were always made quickly, and we were asked how the new system was working for us - so they are obviously trying to find the best solution. My longest wait was about 15 or 20 mins, and that was with us in a room at the furthest point. (No doubt it took a lot of manpower to visit every room/minibar daily when many may not have needed anything... so reasonable to be on-request.) Also, all minibar sodas are now in plastic bottles, and Coke Classic/Diet Coke has replaced Pepsi. (My preference anyhow.) Ting is still available too.

  10. #10

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    Hi novastar! I think you, Karen, and I are CSS kindred spirits!

    Happy 2013!
    suzyQ

  11. #11

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    Well-said, Redsolocup !! I agree completely !!

    We've been to Couples 11x (CSS: 7x) (CN: 2x) (CSA: 1x) (COR: 1x), w/ #s 12 & 13 coming up in Apr to CSA & Aug to CSS. And, overall, we've had 46 Caribbean/tropical vacations. So, we have lots of resorts to compare & critique. Obviously, Couples is doing something right for us to keep returning at least once or more a year (out of 3 or 4 vacas a year for us). But, the "older & worn" theme seems to always end up on our comment cards every time.

    Anyway, great post !!

    Jackie

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