This year we decided to try a new resort, CTI, after going to CSA for the last three years (2010, 2011, and 2012). My wife was starting to have second thoughts about going to CTI, but I told her that she should not worry about it, and that we would have a good time. Unknown to her, I was having the same thoughts as we both considered CSA our second home and having also renewing our wedding vows for our 40th anniversary there. It is human nature to compare the resorts to each other, which I did for the time that we were there. We truly love CSA, the grounds, the staff, I am a diver so I got to be good friends with all of the dive staff for the last 3 years, and the new friends that we made there. So let me start comparing starting with the beach. The beach at CSA is much larger and prettier. You can walk out into the ocean for a long way and not get much over waist deep. I can say that my wife never got into the ocean other than to snorkel while we were at CTI, but I did every day before my dives. The water gets deeper closer to the shore, but I found nothing in the water that I would have needed water shoes for. The beach at CTI is totally private, meaning no vendors or no one other than guests walking the beach. I will give CSA the check for the beach.
We always spend a great deal of our time at the swim up pool bar at both of the resorts and I will have to say that CTI has the advantage there. The pool is larger, the staff at the resort has different activities (games) that interact at the pool bar, which even if you don’t play, it is fun to watch. The bar staff is equal between CTI and CSA, both are excellent and make one hell of a good drink and are good with conversation and laughs. The only suggestion for CTI is to have mint for the Mojito’s. We loved them at CSA, none at CTI. At CSA the Patio grill is close to the pool bar and the roof is thatched, which I liked. I still would have to give the check to CTI for the pool bar experience.
We ate at all of the restaurants at each resort and could find no fault at each. I will compare starting with the Patio grill. The menus are basically the same, but my wife and I both felt that the calamari was better at CTI. I feel like Lemongrass at CSA had better food than Bayside at CTI, but the atmosphere and the setting at Bayside is better. I give a check to Lemongrass and CSA for the food and a check to Bayside for atmosphere and setting. We will call this one a tie. We ate several times at the Patio Restaurant which compares to the Palm’s at CSA and again rate them about equal in food, service and atmosphere. I rarely ate breakfast other than pastries before my dives, but when I did the food was excellent at each. I am going to also call this one a tie. The Verandah is about the equivalent to Patois, but it is air-conditioned and has a nicer demeanor. I felt like the food at the Verandah had a better presentation although the food at each was very good. The service at the Verandah was better than Patois, not as slow, and the setting fancier. I will give the check to CTI and the Verandah. Now saving the best for last, Eight Rivers vs. Feathers. I truly love Feathers having eaten there numerous times in the last 3 visits. I am not really a “foodie”, but I do love good food. I think that Feathers has more of a variety on their menu and if you love a good steak, lionfish, escargot, etc., then this is the place for you. The food at Eight Rivers is excellent, but the setting is not as good there and they could improve the menu somewhat. At Feathers the menu changed a couple of times in a 10 day stay, but at Eight Rivers there was no change to the basic menu. I did not eat anything at Eight Rivers that I did not like, in fact everything was very good, including the food served for the repeaters dinner. The room is air conditioned, but because of the high ceilings, it always seemed warm in the room the 3 times that we ate there. I will have to give the check to Feathers and CSA. We did a private dinner on the beach at CSA and a private dinner on the island at CTI and I will have to give a check to CTI and the island, - Hands Down here. Both meals were excellent at both, but cooked on the island and the chef there knew what he was doing. The meal was to die for! Check to CTI.
I cannot say anything but good about the staff at CTI and CSA. Yes you will always find someone having a bad day, but those are few and far between. I am not good at remembering names of the staff but the ones that I interacted with the most, the Dive Staff, at each resort could not have been any better. I am going to call this one a push, both excellent. We had 2 massages each at CTI this year and have gotten them in the past at CSA and my wife and I feel that CTI is better, Hands Down. CTI is a much smaller setting and compact than CSA, set up more like a hotel than the bungalows at CSA. My wife and I feel that this makes CTI feel more intimate than CSA and makes it easier to meet people and become friends as you see them more often. I will have to give the check to CTI.
WATERSPORTS. We only snorkeled at CTI one time vs. several times at CSA, but feel like CSA is better there. The water is not as rough and there are more things to see. I dove at CSA 50+ times including night dives, and thought the diving is good, but the Staff Excellent. I only dove 10 times at CTI with no night dives. The reef’s appeared to be in better shape and more alive. We dove 2 different large shipwrecks that you could actually dive through. There seemed to be more fish there on the reefs. I did spearfish for lionfish, taking 25+ during my trip. We could also make deeper dives on several of the reefs. The Staff at CTI is also Excellent, so I will give a push to the dive staff, but give the check to CTI for the total diving experience.
THE ISLAND. My wife before this trip had told me in no uncertain terms that a trip to the island would happen only in my dreams, that there was no way she would ever go over there. Well, we did go over there three times and I can say that she did have fun or she would not have gone the second time. We did meet another couple that we became very good friends with and he also wanted to go to the island. His better half told my better half that she would go to the island only if mine would agree to go, so after a little arm twisting and drinks, we did. It is not what you think and it is very laid back. The people that go to the island are of all shapes, sizes and ages. No one stares!! After you are there a short while, it seems normal. It’s just like being at the swim up pool bar at the main resort, but with a bathing suit on. In fact it felt strange getting in the pool with clothes on after the island. We spent a lot of time in the Island Pool and met friends that we will have for life.
FRIENDS. Although we have made good friends at CSA, and I do not want them to feel slighted, we made more friends at CTI. I think that this was the best part of our trip. As I stated earlier, the resort being smaller made it easier to make friends as you see the same people more during your time there. I do remember all of the friends that we made there and hopefully will see you there again at a future date. I also hope that some of our CSA friends will venture to CTI. Once you go, you know. We truly love CSA and I would not rule out any future trip there, but CTI is our new second home. I have never done a review after of any of our 4 trips, but I thought that anyone that is having any doubts or concerns about CTI vs. CSA would find this review helpful. Couples Resorts knows what they are doing and are doing it right. You cannot go wrong going to any of the Couples Resorts. We will be returning home next August 22, for 10 more days, having had to change my 2014 reservations that I made last March, from CSA back to CTI. If we were not totally and completely happy there we would not be going back. If anyone would have any questions or want any other information, I will be more than happy to help you out. Just post here in the threads and I will answer. Jay & Ann
Thanks for the great review and comparison! I'm very intrigued by CSS and CTI - but, our next visit to Jamaica, in 24 days, is back at CN. Love the beach and water in Negril. If CSA had a au naturel area, we might have chosen it. But, since it doesn't, it's doubtful we'll ever stay there. But, we're looking forward to checking out CSA for a Trading Places day. Again, thanks for the great post.