Background: I have traveled to Jamaica 15-20 times. I actually worked down there right out of college and spent 2 months a year in Negril about a decade ago. I now work for a travel company and have visited/stayed/toured over 100 All Inclusives throughout the Caribbean and Mexico. Because of this I did a lot of research on the Couples brand but had set my expectations realistically but based on price I expected a pretty great experience. However, I know and love Jamaica and did not expect a 5 diamond resort either. My wife and I headed down for a few nights to a local Negril hotel and then we were meeting 3 other couples from college at CSA for 7 nights.
Arrival/Departure: Unfortunately this was probably the worst part of our trip. My wife and I actually arrived a few days early from our check in date into CSA. We were first going to spend a few nights in a small hotel in Negril before our friends arrived. Because we paid for the airport transfers we decided to ask prior to arrival if Couples would still transfer us from MoBay to CSA at which point we would take a cab to our own hotel. We called CSA three times before our arrival to clarify this and ensure this would not be a problem. Each and every time we were told no problem just pass through Customs come to the desk and we will be on our way. Well…we arrive through immigration and customs in about 10 minutes which was fantastic. We walk up to Couples desk and give our name. They look at the list and say we do not have you on list. We summarize the situation and are told no we cannot have a transfer. We tell the desk that we clarified this multiple times and he says that is not their policy and their company would never say this. I ask to use the phone and we call the desk at CSA, I explain the situation and say if I arrive earlier than my check in day can I still get a transfer. The front desk confirms this is not a problem. The transfer desk is shocked that their team is giving false information. They call a manager and the manager says even though we told you 4 separate times we can do this we will not transfer you. I am obviously upset at this point but in the end I say forget about it and I use a previous Jamaica contact to arrange travel to Negril. In the end it wasn’t about the transfer as I was able to arrange anyway but the fact that the desk told us over and over it would not be a problem only to arrive and be told no is frustrating. One of the most important things of travel and hotel is consistent messaging and proper information. Again this was a the worst part of the Couples Experience which all in all isn’t horrible.
Check In: We arrived to check in early on a Saturday as we were already in Negril. The desk was courteous and polite and checked us in and told us to enjoy the property until 2 or 3 and then check back to see if our room was ready. No problem as we expected this. We spent the morning and afternoon on the beach and checked out the property. We checked back around 2 and our room was ready and they completed check in.
Room: We booked an Ocean Veranda Suite. We had a fantastic unit. Huge balcony. We requested 3rd floor corner and received that. We had views in both directions of the water and Negril coast all the way to point on the cliffs. Great views during day and night. Prior to arrival we had requested items in our refrigerator and liquor. Later that afternoon all the items were delivered. I though housekeeping was great. Twice a day the room was cleaned and plenty of towels left. After the first day beach towels were left as well. Every time we had food of any sort in the room the ants came out within minutes. Not a big deal-this is a tropical environment and I did see the grounds crews spraying for bugs around the property. Room was quiet at night and breakfast was delivered on time every day we ordered it. One suggestion would be to include 24 hour room service. This is standard at any 5 star all inclusive throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. Even though food is available around the property it is a service that is expected at this price range.
Food: Overall I thought the food was great. Plenty of variety and options. I thought all of the a la carte restaurants were good. Only complaint was at Lemongrass it felt as if we were being somewhat rushed through dinner as I am sure they had other reservations to seat. This is kind of annoying on vacation.
Beach: The beach is phenomenal. This is the reason we keep coming back to Negril again and again. I always tell people it is like a giant swimming pool. We never had a problem getting chairs for our group of 8. I am sure it makes people feel safer but it was a little strange to have security take your room number every time we walked down the beach off the property. I have never felt unsafe in Negril on the beach in the day time but again I am sure it helps people feel safer.
Service: I thought it was above average but not 5 star. I thought the staff was friendly but again not above and beyond. I thought the beach bars and swim up bars were understaffed. The flag service on the beach is nonexistent. They would come by once an hour. Not exactly 5 star service. At many resorts in this price range they should be serving drinks before you even finish. Again not a deal breaker for me but I think there is room for improvement.
Amenities: This is probably one of the best features of this resort. This property has more amenities than most resorts. Between kayaks, SUP’s, Hobie Cats, Water Skiing, Snorkeling, SCUBA, tennis, racquetball, fitness facility…..The list goes on. Definitely something for everyone. We snorkeled twice and the staff was outstanding. I would have to say the pools are not that great but almost none of the hotels even have pools because the beach and sea are so phenomenal. Although for a resort of this caliber they probably could invest some in the pool situation.
Overall: We had a great trip and would highly recommend this resort to anyone. I think you get a great experience for your money. I would say 4.5 stars out of 5. We will most likely return again in the future.