We just got back from another great trip at CSA (our third). We also spent two nights at CSS, so we have a bit of a comparison. I'm hoping to find time for a more detailed review, but I feel compelled to hit a few highlights.
First, our overall experience was every bit as good as it was in the past. While I'd really like to see all of the world, there is something about this place that just draws you back, and I can't imagine not returning. I've been many other places in the world, but have never felt the same overwhelming drive to return time and again to the same spot.
Second, while we had really good food on both of our prior trips, this one was a bit different. And by that, I mean that the food was almost universally better this trip. Before, I felt like the food was really outstanding -- for an all inclusive resort. This time, it was simply outstanding by any measure. I don't think we had a bad meal (heck, hardly a bad course) the entire trip. While there were any number of highlights, the one I'll mention for now is the Lionfish at Feathers. If you have a chance, just order it. You can thank me later. (And you can also enjoy knowing that eating Lionfish helps with the efforts to eradicate them from those beautiful reefs that they are destroying.)
Third, I have to compliment the staff in the dive shop. Seeing Shaggy, Antony, Franz and the others was great, but we had one particularly good experience that shows how they really feel about what they do. My wife is certified, but still gets a bit nervous and doesn't get to dive much. We tried a dive Thursday afternoon, but she had problems with her BCD, her regulator, and her mask, and before we even went down, she had called off the dive. They helped her back onto the boat, and I assumed that would be it for her. But Shaggy and Antony convinced her to try again Friday afternoon, and Shaggy worked closely with her to make sure her equipment was OK before we started, and all the way to the bottom. She ended up having a great dive, and it would not have been possible without the persistence and the caring of the dive staff. If you have any interest in diving, go over and sign up. They will take outstanding care of you.
Fourth, one somewhat negative note. We had the remodeled bathroom with the larger shower, and we can echo what others have said about the design flaw. There simply is no way to take a shower without having water all over the bathroom floor. It certainly didn't cause us any major problems, but it seems like an unfortunate design and/or execution issue that will hopefully get resolved.
Finally, a quick comparison with CSS. CSS is one of the most beautiful properties I've seen. It has so many quiet nooks and crannies and just oozes romance. Sure, there are a lot of stairs, but the way I see it, that just helps offset the food and drinks. I will say that I thought the food at CSA was much better (but we were only at CSS, so perhaps not a truly fair comparison). I will also say that while everything looks beautiful at CSS, once you're down on the beach itself, it pales by comparison. It's a perfectly fine beach, but it just doesn't have that powder-soft white sand and crystal clear water that you get in Negril. And for that reason alone, I cannot imagine commiting an entire trip there. (On the other hand, we got to climb Dunn's River Falls, which was the single best experience of the entire trip.)
In the end, I don't think it's possible to go wrong choosing any Couples Resort. For us, we'll stick to the Negril side of the island, but I can absolutely see how people can be drawn over and over again to the beauty of CSS.
thanks for taking time to post-- im curious, we have thought of doing a split stay like this also, with css and csa. After 3 trips to csa, i cant imagine enjoying any of the other resorts like we do with Swept Away-but we feel like we should at least try one of the others. Is 2 nights at he other resort enough- did you feel like you were "wasting" a day traveling between? Having done it now, would you do anything differently ? Did you call Couples directly to make the reservation, or is there a way to do the dual booking ? Any wisdom would be appreciated. mike
We loved our split stay between CSS and CSA, 4/10. So much so we are going to do it again for our next trip in 193 days. Doing 4 night at CSS gives you a chance to eat at all the restaurants and one social dinner. As much as we love CSA(4 trips) we loved CSS, we found that for everything we enjoyed about one there was something at the other that we enjoyed just as much. Example, Our room at CSS was huge with a amazing view but at CSA we go with the Atrium love the feel of that room and hammock. The beach at CSS is a feast for the eyes and very quite, but the beach at CSA is better for actually using. CSS was very romantic but CSA has more of a night life. The views at CSS are just breathe taking but CSA is easier to walk around. I could go on and on. If you have time do the split stay its a great way to check out another resort without worrying about all the what ifs, plus you get your romance rewards at both resorts.
We booked our 10 days with CSA using the love away plan then later booked our flight and nights at CSS using a different travel site, most sites give a small discount when booking flight and resort together. The transfer was really no big deal, we left CSS at 11am, it gave us time to have breakfast in our room and pack with out feeling rushed. We got to CSA a little before 2pm, we traveled in our swim wear with a nicer cover up incase our room wasn't ready but it was : ) Next time I think we would like to stop for lunch along the way.
For a truly unique experience....why not try a split stay without leaving Negril?? The Issa family owns 2 small properties (1 beach, 1 cliffs) that are beautiful and charming(not all-inclusive though) ...and keep with the standard of Couples properties..Perhaps before a CN or CSA stay, a couple of nights at Hide Awhile on the cliffs?
The sun & the sand & a drink in my hand, with no bottom
Mike, two days was definitely NOT enough time to really get to know the resort. I think it would have taken at least one more full day. But we only had two "extra" nights, so that's what we did. We did not really feel like we lost an entire day traveling. I dove at CSS Sunday morning, and we left around 11:30. The driver stopped at Scotchies along the way to get some great jerk, and he was a really great guy with a very interesting life. The drive flew by and we were settled in at CSA by around 3:00. So we ended up with a real morning at CSS and were at CSA well before sunset, with a nice trip in between.
As for the reservation, I called Couples directly, and they set it all up for me. When I pre-registered, I simply noted on the CSS form that I had no departing flight, but was going over to CSA. On my CSA form, I noted that I had not arrival flight, but was arriving from CSS. It was easy.
Thanks for the input Rick- we are thinking of a 4/6 spilt on a 10 day trip- and as "redinthehead" points out, this will allow us to try each restaurants. im not really concerned about the travel in between-if anything like the trip from Mobay to Negril, it is part of the experience, and allows one to get a better feel for the country as well as the people. I assume we are to tip the shuttle driver much the same way we do to and from the airport.
Had to laugh at your story with the dive guys- while my wife and I aren't divers, we did the resort cert class, and shaggy spent a good 15 to 20 minutes working on my lovely wife-with a great deal more patience than I would be able to afford ! They are absolutely a class act . Thanks again to all- mike