First and foremost, we had a great trip. This was our fourth trip to Couples and second to Swept Away so we do have some perspective on the other properties.
The arrival was quick and easy, with no more than 15 minutes waiting for immigrations, about 10 minutes for luggage and less than 1 minute for customs. It looked like there were not any other airlines arriving at the same time (1030 on a Thursday) so the lines were short for us. It was a good start to our vacation. We waited about 20 minutes in the Couples lounge to see if another couple or couples would share our transportation to CSA, but no one arrived so we had private transport to the resort. Unfortunately, it started raining right as we arrived and rained off and on for the rest of the day…oh well, it is a tropical island. We did lose some beach time due to rains on a few days but usually could return to the beach in the late afternoon or near sunset when the storms moved off or faded.
Our check-in was moving along quickly until the young lady told us our credit card hold was declined ($300 USD for anything purchased on the resort or outside activities) ….huh, well maybe it didn’t like the overseas location so we tried another one…also declined…what the??? Turns out she was trying to put a $30,000 USD hold on the cards…no wonder they declined it. She tried to laugh it off, but we certainly didn’t consider it funny. Our room was ready, so we were able to get unpacked and start relaxing right away.
Our room was a ground level Ocean Verandah Suite, and it was very nice. We like the ground floor since it is easy for the room service folks to drop off the tray with coffee/tea/snacks in the morning. They walk right onto the patio and set it on the table. We are early risers and the room service is such a great way to start the day. We had read of some complaints about the bathrooms, but ours was fine. It was not 5-star hotel quality but it was bright and clean, if a bit worn. There was evidence of construction in at least two of the nearby buildings so it appears renovations of the bathrooms are underway.
Breakfast at The Palms is very nice and we recommend sitting outside by the pool if you can. It is cooler and under the shade of trees. For us, it is even better since we could step from the pool area right to the scuba hut.
We enjoyed a beautiful dive every morning, with two on Saturday morning. The seas were nearly calm with light winds, 86F water temperature and 100 ft+ visibility. The entire dive team is professional and the equipment is in good shape. They do expect you to set up your gear and carry to/from the boat but that is fine with me, especially since I take my own mask and regulator with integrated dive computer. I used their BC, fins and weight belt. Shaggy is by far our favorite on the dive team, with Franz as our second favorite.
There are plenty of discussions on the food on other threads, so we won’t go into an extensive review. We did breakfast at the Palms, generally did lunch at Seagrapes (fish tacos and sweet potato chips rock!), and at least one dinner at each of the other places. If you go to Feathers, and enjoy seafood, be sure to ask for Lionfish. It is a light, flaky fish that reminds me of sea bass. Definitely make your way to the Martini Bar one evening before or after dinner. They have several dozen different martinis. My wife’s favorite is the chocolate martini and I like the Key Lime martini.
The checkout was pretty easy but the luggage pick up didn’t quite work for us. We were told to have it ready for pick up at 7 AM for an 8 AM bus to the airport. That was great since we could get a full breakfast at 7:30 and still make the departure. At 7:30, no one had arrived to pick up the luggage so we pulled it to the lobby ourselves and then got breakfast. I suppose they wanted us to leave it outside the door for pick up sometime before our bus, but the expectation wasn’t clear and we’ve never been comfortable doing that anyway. When you get to the airport, you’ll check in at one of the kiosks and then drop off bags at the airline counter. There are several sets of the kiosks, so if the lines are pretty long around the ones nearest the airport entry, just look farther down the line and you will probably find one that is empty.
Again, it was a great trip to a wonderful all inclusive resort. The beautiful beach and very friendly staff are wonderful!