This is our review of our second visit to Couples Sans Souci, which occurred shortly after Hurricane Sandy had hit Jamaica. We had been concerned, but reassured with research, that any damages had been attended to by the competent management. What we didn't know, but found out later, was that they did experience several challenges that did in fact affect some of the repeat guests, including us, but handled the situation with total grace under pressure.
Background ~ we've travelled quite extensively, and know what we want ~ and "especially" what we don't want, deciding ahead of time what our current "need" is, and book accordingly. Sometimes we want adventure, other times just to "chill", while still other times we splurge to feel just a tad more spoilt and pampered. That said, we don't want to feel like the "poor cousins", so we book resorts where we can be rest-assured of never ever feeling 'slighted" for not upgrading by staff. We always pay up front for what we want on our vacations, we don't play games and never rely on free upgrades. We know that vacations are what you make of them. We've held a little gem of advise close to our hearts for years… "The best advice I can give you is, no matter where you go, take the time to enjoy every minute for what it is, and not what it isn't…"
So there it was… We had to swallow and take our own medicine with this visit to CSS! LOL… When is an "upgrade" NOT an "upgrade"? When you book a category, and aren't guaranteed of getting said category. We had no idea that the resort had lost the use of their Penthouses over a period of 8 weeks, and were apparently using some of the larger OBOV suites for the penthouse guests. So upon checkin, were advised that instead of an OBOV in the cliffs, we were to be upgraded to a One Bedroom BeachFront Suite in B-block. After some discussion, explaining we would prefer our One Bedroom OceanView Suite category… we were given the option of a room in D-block that was "technically" an OBOV, but was more of a deluxe suite with a tiny balcony. As well, we were assured that we could still come back in a couple of days if we still wanted to switch to an OBOV higher in the cliffs. Which we eventually did ~ nothing to do with the room, though! It was terrific with a wonderful view of the main beach and was in a perfectly central location! What eventually made us choose to move? Mainly due to the "hallway echos" of D-block, with the constant construction of the carpenters fixing the Penthouses above us (from the Hurricane Sandy damage)... we were granted the same room as our first visit ~ the room that made us fall in love with CSS! We think that they had "a lot on their plates" during our time there, but we were reassured that they were sincerely and fully committed to providing the total satisfaction for which Couples Sans Souci is renowned. CSS is well deserved to be rated the highest of all the Couples Resorts by Travel & Leisure magazine, in its recently released 2012 ratings for the region. Kudos to Pierre Battaglia and his top-notch management team!
Actually, we could hardly tell there had been a Hurricane through the grounds ~ they were that pristine and cleaned-up. Apparently SSB had some major bulldozing during our visit, to build a natural sand barrier (almost like a dry "sandbar") for directing the river out further… which made the beach much larger. The debris from the river had been cleaned up and we enjoyed beautiful sunsets from its shores.
The new policy of restocking the MiniBar was painless for us, as veritable newbies, they even had our initial Pre-Checkin order switched from B-block to D-block's suite, in a "blink of an eye" once we "moved in"! It wasn't too much trouble to call for re-stocking while we were in the room, either, however, I suppose Repeaters who were used to the old way, may have had trouble getting used to this new way of stocking.
We barely scratched the surface of meeting the hundreds of employees at CSS, yet we believe it was a good cross-section of the team that we had the pleasure to meet and appreciate. Some staff remembered us, and throughout our visit we met and got to know some others, impressing us with their efficiency and courtesy:
Hugh ~ who helped resolve everything at checkin by telling us we were going to love D-Block! He's a Gem!
Evol at both Guest Services ~ booking us, upon arrival, our first evening's a la carte ~ and later, at the FrontDesk ~ when he very graciously assisted us with our move.
Milton ~ the ever hospitable young man who showed us exceptional service, both at the Pallazina and the Bella Vista ~ that young man is exceptional!
Lennon ~ we cannot stop grinning every-time we remember Lennon! His amazing smile greeted us many times at the Pallazina, and his dynamic personality made our week!
The staff here are very well trained, and seemed to be able to read their guests well. It takes good intuition to tell which guest wants to visit and chat, while some other guests are there just to spend time together ~ for us, the staff members were very friendly and helpful, but never overly intrusive.
Upon reflection, it felt as though we had two vacations with the room exchange. We loved that we were able to be relocated up in the cliffs, to recapture our first experience at CSS… but we truly enjoyed the discovery and experiencing the special location of D-block, with it's view over the main beach. We especially enjoyed the one evening whilst getting ready for dinner, listening to the Strolling Saxophone player below our balcony. It was a magical moment in time ~ watching him at the top of the rustic stone stairway, leisurely descending, disappearing from view, yet still being able to hear the wafting tunes…. the sun slowly sinking over the horizon… glimpses of twinkly lights through the foliage from the resort below… while the tree frogs gently, gradually and eventually took over the sounds of sax and surf. Quite surreal:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
For us, Couples Sans Souci is an infusion of the best of every one of our previous trips, encompassing a total immersion of Caribbean style and elegance. Once you go, you know. We're looking forward to another return visit… soon... come…