We were booked for our trip to CB June 29 - July 6. This was our 7th visit to Couples having visited each of the resorts in Jamaica at least once. We love Jamaica and are headed back to CSS in November.
Unfortunately, and through no fault of Couples, we didn't arrive until July 1 due to flight cancellations. We were beginning to think we'd never get there, but eventually did, just disappointed to lose 2 days of our 7 day vacation.
Arrival at Barbados - immigration lines at the airport were long, I think we were one of 3 flights arriving at the same time. It took us about 1hr 15 minutes to get through immigration. We quickly collected our luggage and it took about 15 minutes to get through customs. As we walked out of the customs hall, the Couples rep was directly in front of us holding the Couples sign, no problem finding them. They took us to the van where we were joined by 2 other couples. The A/C in the van, and the van itself, were perhaps a bit better than those we've ridden in Jamaica. Great driver sharing information about Barbados during the quick 15 minute ride.
Check-in - welcomed with cold towels and champagne. The process wasn't fast, but certainly not as slow as some have commented. By the time we'd finished our drinks, check-in was complete and we were escorted to our room. The bellman had just left with another couple and we were told as soon as he returned our luggage would be delivered. We had reserved an Ocean Junior Suite; on arrival we asked if there was a room available on a high floor. We were given room 1512 and the view was amazing. As we were admiring the view and our luggage was delivered - no long wait.
Food - as others have said, the food was up to the usual Couples standard of excellence. Plenty of choices available. The only thing we really missed was the ice cream. At each of the other resorts, there was ice cream available in the buffet during lunch/dinner, hopefully this is something that may be added.
Service - we had no major problems; twice we had a long wait for coffee at breakfast, this may be due to the fact that some guests wait to be seated (allowing them to be divided between each of the servers) but many just walked in and sat down. It might be helpful if there was a sign asking guests to wait. On our second visit to Yes Please, they were extremely busy. We had to wait for other customers to finish with the menus and then request them. That could be easily and inexpensively remedied by copying additional menus. The staff that night did seem very hurried, I think that was partly due to the amount of customers and probably the fact some may still be learning the menus, etc. Have to mention Margaret who served us on our first visit to Yes Please, she was very helpful, knew the menu well and provided excellent service. One other recommendation, if you want to go to Dover Grill, make your reservation as soon as you arrive. It's very popular.
Drinks - unfortunately, there's no Ting at CB. The good news is that Ricardo at the beach bar knew how to replicate the flavor. Service at the bars was good; not too many used the pool bar the first couple of days we were there but it seemed to grow in popularity. I also have to call out Jason, another great bar tender who could remember our drinks from the previous day and was amazingly efficient in the evening when the bar was busy.
Beach - what can I say? It's beautiful! We only saw a couple of vendors and they are far less pushy than those in Jamaica. There's plenty of room on the beach and a number of hammocks (6?) to choose from. There is no shortage of shade either provided by the trees along the beach. The sea isn't as calm as Jamaica, but you can certainly go in it. The waves break close to the shore, but once you get past that line, the sea was much calmer, warm and clear. Drinks are served on the beach, and for those who complain they have to wait, I can only say get up and get your own. It's a 20 second walk to the bar!
Beach towels - we never went without a towel, but we saw a few guests taking as many as 4 towels each. On our final day, a staff member from watersports was overseeing the towel stand. I'm not sure how you control people's greed. You can exchange towels as often as you wish, so if each guest takes one and returns one, there's no shortage. Perhaps that should be pointed out in the orientation.
Grounds - the grounds are beautiful and new plants are being added. I recommend exploring as much of the resort as possible.
Pools - we spent a day working our way around each of the pools. At the back of the resort, there are 2 pools that we had to ourselves. Someone had complained there were leaves in one of these. Well yes, there were a few, but the pool is surrounded by the tropical foliage and even though it was cleaned every day, you can't control when a leaf falls off a tree.
Spa – this was opened the week before we arrived. Some work was still happening – the plant wall was being installed, but they were up and running. Appeared to be very popular when we were making our reservations.
Nature walk – do not miss the nature walk to see the Green Monkeys. Mark was the absolute highlight of our visit. He was entertaining and full of information. We had the opportunity of chatting with him at the end of the walk, an employee who displays this level of dedication, enthusiasm and passion for making Couples successful in Barbados.
The birds – we didn't find them a problem but as in all of the open air restaurants, birds fly around taking advantage of unattended plates. Wait staff covered unattended plates whenever possible, but they can’t control the birds. In a review on Trip Advisor, someone had said, “put nets around the restaurant”. Personally, I think that would be a terrible idea. This happens everywhere in the world there are outdoor restaurants, you simply need to cover your plate if you leave it on the table. We also had some early morning visits to our room from the endemic Barbados Bullfinch, known by Bajan locals as a sparrow. They were very entertaining to watch as they searched for food.
Safety – just as anywhere, you should use common sense, but Barbados felt a very safe place to be. We walked into St. Lawrence Gap and along the beach and had no concerns for our safety whatsoever. As we were leaving the beach we were approached by a vendor (the only one we saw) selling beads. He was friendly and not at all pushy. We simply said no thanks and he went on his way.
Miscellaneous - we didn’t visit Oistens as we could only get a reservation at the Dover Grill on Friday. Due to losing a couple of days, the catamaran was fully booked also. Unlike the Jamaican Couples catamaran tours, the boat isn’t reserved just for Couples guests, and you catch a bus to its departure point, it doesn’t come to the resort. Although we would have liked to do this, we simply didn’t have time.
Departure - our suitcases were collected at exactly the time specified. As repeat guests, we usually receive a departure “gift”. We didn’t get this at CB, but with such a short ride to the airport, we really didn’t miss this. Once we’d checked in, we had an hour to spare so we walked over to the Concord exhibit next to the airport. We would definitely recommend doing this if you have time. You need at least an hour to enjoy this and the cost is $20 USD each.
The resort had approximately an 80% European, 20% North American guest ratio during our visit. We did not see any major work being done. There is always general maintenance, e.g. fans were being replaced, but no jack hammers or anything else that created a disturbance.
Overall, CB far exceeded our expectations. We knew there could be teething problems, and there is still work to be done to streamline operations and continue to raise the level of service. The staff we spoke with recognized the shortcomings and are working diligently to improve processes. We were pleasantly surprised by how well the Couples team is resolving these issues. Other guests we spoke with also mentioned how things had improved during their stay. We would definitely have no reservations about returning to CB in the future.
Thanks for posting, and so glad to read that you had a good trip. I'm going in December and have no doubts that its going to be great! I don't expect to love it as much as CSA, my personal heaven on earth, but I"m really excited to see Barbados.
I read somewhere here on the MB that the resort can get you a rental car; I'm sure the guest relations desk will be able to assist. When we walked into St. Lawrence Gap, we also saw a rental car company there so I don't think you'll have any problems getting a car.
That's a good question about the 24 hour food. We were talking about that the other night and I asked the same question. It does state on the CB page that a 24 hour food service is available but we were always so full that we never had a need to go and find where this was located.
We have been to Barbados a few times previously (but not with Couples). You DO NOT want to rent a car in Barbados. We thought it would be a nice way to tour around the island. However, most of the cars are manuals, and combine that with driving on the left side of the road, well it was difficult to say the least. The roads are also not marked very well. Finally, we made sure to buy the extra car insurance, but couldn't understand why the insurance excluded any damage to the tires or wheel rims. Well, because the roads are very narrow (and did I mention goats??), there is a tendency to bump into any curbs that might be there. Instant wheel damage. We rented a car for a week and returned it after 1/2 day. Much easier to "rent" a driver who knows the roads and can safely drive you any where that you want to go.