Let me start by saying this is my first time posting on a message board EVER, so please be patient with me!
I recently got engaged on November 16, 2013! My Fiance and I are planning on embarking on a vacation to Jamaica, specifically at one of the Couples Resorts. We are 21 and 25 years old.
We are really considering Negril and Swept Away as our top choices and we have read countless reviews, but I want people to respond to what WE want specifically! We are open to Tower Isle as well as Sans Souci if they are proven to be "better."
We are looking for this in a resort:
-A beautiful beach
-Plenty of activities (Nightlife and Daytime i.e. volleyball, tennis, golf, dancing, music, etc.)
-Excursions (i.e. scuba, snorkel, Margaritaville, Dunn's River, Catamaran, Glass bottom boat, etc.)
-Pool/jacuzzi with swim up bar
-Multiple dining options and restaraunts
-Bars, bars, bars
I apologize for writing so much, but I hope you do understand that I am just trying to find the best location possible for my fiance and I. We are open to any and all feedback! Please, just let us know which one was your favorite and why!
Also, we would like a romantic feel to it as well, considering it will be our honeymoon!
We were also curious about the Dunn's River. What resort is this included at? Just CTI and CSS?
Anyways, thanks again!
My husband and I leave TOMORROW (finally....) for our second trip to CSA, and like you, our first trip was for our Honeymoon. On this trip we plan to do the Trading Places excursion to CN, so I'll have more to add when we return hopefully. But, for now, I wanted to respond with what I know, and that is CSA:
We are looking for this in a resort:
-A beautiful beach - Negril has the best option for beach when compared to Ocho Rios. The locals will tell you that, so will people who have visited both sides of the island. From others I have talked to, the beach exists at CTI and CSS, but NOTHING like on the Negril side of the island. If beach is important to you, stay on the Negril side (CN and CSA).
-Plenty of activities (Nightlife and Daytime i.e. volleyball, tennis, golf, dancing, music, etc.) - either resort is going to meet this requirement for you.
-Relaxing - just being at Couples will take care of this for you. Doesn't matter which resort you choose.
-Excursions (i.e. scuba, snorkel, Margaritaville, Dunn's River, Catamaran, Glass bottom boat, etc.) We went to Margaritaville on our HM and to be honest, we enjoyed the walk down more than we actually enjoyed Margaritaville itself. The drinks were very pricey which made them hard to buy, considering we had endless free drinks waiting on us back at the resort. I really just wanted a T-shirt, so we got one and got back to the resort pretty quickly. We took 2 catamaran cruises during our HM and had a great time on both. It was very entertaining to watch "Momma" dance and tell us about the things we were passing on the trip. We also took the glass bottom boat tour and went snorkeling, which we are planning to do again. We also want to go night snorkeling to see the way the ocean looks at night. We've never gone scuba diving because it's not anything we're really interested in. Snorkeling does the trip for us.
-Pool/jacuzzi with swim up bar - The pool bar at both CN and CSA have a swim-up bar in it, but the pool at CN from the pictures I have seen looks "cooler." It was the waterfall that leads down to the bar. The CSA pool bar is just a square pool with a bar in the center. Again, I may have an opinion one way or the other on this when we return the 15th, but for now I'll tell you CSA has one and it serves it's purpose.
-Multiple dining options and restaurants - the food at Couples is great, but CSA has some really special places. Feathers has some of the best dinner we've ever had, and the desserts are AMAZING!!!! The banana stuffed french toast at Patios for breakfast is great and we really enjoy the mimosa and bloody mary bar at the Palms. We didn't make it to Lemongrass on our first trip (too many Bob Marley shots on the day of our reservation that night...if you take no other advice of mine, take this piece - only have ONE) but we fully intend on eating there this time. Also, our friends that we met raved about Seagrapes but it's just not my type of food so personally I can't comment on that one. You can't go wrong with the food at Couples. It's all amazing!
-Bars, bars, bars - done and done. Both places I'm sure, but CSA I KNOW!!! I can't wait to get back to the Martini Bar at CSA and get a Chocolate followed by a Lemon Drop Martini. The bartenders there are great and so very entertaining (don't believe them when they tell you it's their first night). As a honeymooner, you'll receive an invitation to the "Honeymooner's Party" and we made some great friends that night that we spent a lot of the rest of our week with and continue to keep in touch with today (2 years later). The piano bar is very fun, especially because we live in a very small town where we can't get any access to something like that without driving like 30 minutes away. The Friday night bonfire is great too! It's so great to see the locals "do their thing."
I hope this helps....once we return from CSA this trip and do our trading spaces to CN, I'll try to remember to comment on where we'll be booking our next trip. We too keep flirting with the idea of moving to the Ocho Rios side of the island so that we can visit Dunn's River and experience the "other side of Jamaica," but it's that 7 mile beach and getting to walk up and down it each morning that kept us on the Negril side for our return trip.
Bottom line....you cannot go wrong with Couples Resorts, no matter which one you choose. There's just something about them that sets them apart, so please know that no matter what decision you make, it'll be the right one as long as you choose Couples!!! Good luck!
My vote would be for CSA. We have been to both and enjoyed them both, but CSA has more authentic rooms with large verandas and you can walk the beach for miles. The aura lounge is great for dancing after the main entertainment is over. There is more choices of restaurants. If you are into working out, CSA has a great gym and spa across the road. CSS on the Ocho side is very romantic as well, but if you like swimming in the ocean or walking the beach, CSA beats it hands down for those aspects.
All of the Couples resorts are the same but different. Most of the amenities will be the same at all Couples resorts. The food and service will also be equally outstanding. All have more than one bar. All include snorkeling, scuba and glass bottom boat. All except Sans Souci offer the catamaran trip. All have at least 1 swim up bar. All offer at least 1 higher end restaurant that will have a dress code. Many, maybe all, of the rooms include a stocked bar. Place your order when you arrive. Then fill out the slip to have it restocked daily as needed. All will have some sort of snack bar that is open most of the day, reopens at night, and stays open almost until breakfast.
Swept Away is the largest of the Couples Resorts. It has the largest beach. The beach is only semi private as people from other resorts are allowed to cross the resort near the water. Swept Away has Tiki Bars right on the beach which is nice. They have a Disco bar that will stay open until the last person leaves. Swept Away is the only Couples resort without a AU Naturel beach. You can only go topless on the beach at Swept Away. Swept Away was our first Couples experience. A good chance we will go back to this resort some day.
Couples Negril is smaller and more intimate than Swept Away. Never actually been there. I am sure this resort is very nice. We are considering this one for a future trip.
A lot of the more touristy things happen in the Ocho Rios area. They still offer trips to places like Dolphin Cove, Dunn's River Falls, etc at Swept Away and Negril. But expect to get up early, spend a long time on a bus, and they will take up most of the day. Tower Isle and Sans Souci are in Ocho Rios. If you want to do Dunn's River Falls and Margaritaville, you want to be in the Ocho Rios area. The Couples resorts in Negril offer Rick's Cafe instead of Margaritaville.
Tower Isle is also smaller than Swept Away. It has the Island. It has a night life. The Piano Bar will stay open until the last person leaves. If you want to stay up until 5 AM, they will accommodate you. Tower Isle includes Dunns River Falls and golf with your stay. In the Negril area these cost extra. A personal observation about the smaller Couples resorts. When we went to Tower Isle, some of the staff got to know us by name. One in particular worked in the restaurant we frequented the most. He made it a point to wait on us. He greeted us by name. He knew what we liked to drink. Very personal service. Something not possible at Swept Away, simply because it is so large. Tower Isle has very rocky areas on either side of the resort. This completely isolates the resort and the beach area. Nobody from outside the resort will bother you because they can not get to you.
Never been to Sans Souci, but spoke to people who stayed there on the bus to and from the airport. Small like Tower Isle. More stairs. More garden areas. Very similar with one exception. We were told by the people who stayed there that pretty much after dinner everything closed up. Not much night life.
A word of caution about Couples Resorts. You go there once, you will go there again. Many people go again and again and again... But this isn't such a bad thing. Which ever Couples resort you choose, I bet you will have a wonderful time.
Only 72 more days until we return to CTI. Getting a little closer every day.
Last edited by Mad Jack; December 6th, 2013 at 05:10 PM.
MCYoung Thank you very much for putting in the time to write all of that! It truly is a blessing to be able to receive such wonderful information about all of this, as it can be a little overwhelming in trying to pick the "perfect place."
I am glad you informed us about the Honeymooner Party, that sounds like a lot of fun and we would love to be able to meet people. Its a shame you won't be coming to Couples around the July 27-August 3 aread, or else I'm sure we'd get along well!! Anyways, I may bug you in a week to inquire about your stay, I love personal reviews from "real" people! I hope you and your husband have a wonderful trip! Be safe and have fun!
-Mike and Steph
kdgangl, Thanks for the information! We probably most likely won't spend too much time on the "fit and healthy" part of the island, but if we do stay at CSA, I am sure we'd wander over there a few times Thank you for getting back to us!
grayturtless thank you for getting back to us! We appreciate all of the help. The idea of long, mile long beaches really appeals to us! And dancing too, that is a must
softail19 I may have to take you up on the pictures
Mad Jack Wow! Thanks for putting so much time into your reply! It really means a lot! You really make a strong case for all of the resorts (we had a feeling they'd all be fun...), but especially for CSA and CTI. You've been extremely informative about the different regions and what they offer. I have never done any research on Jamaica until about a week ago, so I am still trying to wrap my mind around all of this information. Again, thank you so much for your help!! Have fun in CTI! You'll have to let me know how your trip goes! Have fun and be safe!
I have been to CSA three times, with one "Trading Places" day at CN, so you can tell up front that I'm probably a bit biased. I wanted to echo what some others have said, that if a great beach is important, you really should probably limit yourself to either CSA or CN. While I have heard fabulous things about CTI and CSS (and I'm going to spend a couple of nights at CSS next week to find out for myself), the beaches in Negril are among the best in the world. The CSA beach is very wide (the resort is quite long), but not all that deep. The CN beach is not nearly as wide, but it is quite a bit deeper as I recall.
Both CSA and CN have vendors that can stroll along the water line, but there are more of them at CSA. For me, they are not a bother, and can be quite amusing; others feel differently. But the reason for more CSA vendors is caused by another thing we like; the resort is on Long Bay, with several miles of pure white sand beaches and more resorts, bars, shops, etc. then you could count. It draws way more people than Bloody Bay (where CN is located), and where there are more people, there are more vendors trying to sell things. If you're looking for long walks on the beach, CSA has an advantage.
In terms of the swim up bar, most will likely say the one at CN is nicer. I'm not sure it's really "nicer" (they are both fairly similar), but the bar at CN is larger, and the resort at CN is smaller, so that large bar becomes more of a focal point, or social hub for the resort, which many people like. At CSA, people tend to be more spread out, with some at the swim up bar, and others congregated around the other "tiki" bars right on the sand.
I will wrap up by telling you another thing others have said as well. In the end, you can't really go wrong here. Your favorite Couples resort will likely end up being whichever one you go to first, since it will have that "first time" place in your hearts. But you've already made the only decison that really counts here: choosing Couples. From there, you can't get it wrong, whichever one you choose for your honeymoon.
We've been to CN 8 times and are 14 days away from #9.
Negril beach is perfect. Seriously. However, you cannot walk the same distance at CN as you can at CSA b/c CN is on Bloody Bay whereas CSA is on 7-mile beach. The plus of CN is there are only a handful of resorts on Bloody Bay.
I think most people consider the pool and swim-up bar at CN superior to CSA.
CSA has the better sports complex. If you are into sports, CSA is your place. CN has fewer room choices (basic room and suite). CSA has more categories. CSA is a larger property. We personally prefer the intimacy of CN, but that's us. I would also say that the CSA clientele is slightly younger than the CN crowd. BTW, I say this as a (horrors!) older person. I do NOT want to suggest that CN is an "old" crowd only that the average age appears (from folks at airport and these boards) to be 5-10 years older at CN. That said, there are plenty of guest of every age at both resorts.
BTW, you can't really do Dunn's river from Negril. I've done it; it's overrated. There are plenty of excursions from Negril but . . . why leave the resort?
IMO, the other criteria you've mentioned are largely the same at both resorts. Look at the pictures. Read the reviews. I think you'll find that one "speaks" to you.
Sounds like CSA is your best bet, but between CSA and CN you can't got wrong. We honeymooned at CN and had our 2nd anniversary at CSA. Loved them both but CN has our hearts and we are going back there in April (we love the relaxed, layed back feel and smaller resort). Beaches are awesome at both and CN has a better pool/swim up bar but who needs it with an amazing beach! I give CSA an edge for food but both are awesome! The main thing that came to mind about your wants is nightlife & dancing which CSA has a big advantage with the nightclub (CN has a piano bar but not a nightclub to dance all night at). I couldn't get my husband to dance for anything so that didn't matter to us. Both are very romantic and have lots of activities too. Beaches are very important to me so if your the same id for sure stay on the Negril side and also we really didn't want to ever leave the resort so I'm glad we didn't book any off site excursions. (The catamaran offered by Couples is a must do though).
We've been to CSS and CSA. People are correct. If a great beach is important you want to be in Negril, not Ocho Rios.
We chose CSA over CN for basically two reasons. First in looking at the pictures of the rooms, we like CSA better. I'd suggest you look at photos and see if either of the resorts seem to call more to you. Secondly, it was our first time in Jamaica and though there are a lot of all nude beaches, we weren't too keen on that idea and CSA didn't have a nude beach.
As it turned out we loved CSA for the beach. One person who has made multiple trips to CN talked about the pool and the swim up bar. In fact, I did see a lot of that in previous postings comparing the two resorts. CN is smaller and it seems everything funnels by their pool. It appears to the social hub of CN. CSA doesn't have anything like that since the beach is the main attraction and it is about 1000 feet long so it is too spread out to pull everyone together.
Most other things are similar (Couples is a great brand) with activities, service and the friendliness of the staff.