Hello all! I've been reading the boards quite a bit in preparation from my wife and I's second trip to Jamaica, first at CSS. We stayed at CSA in 2011. My favorite thing about reading the boards was getting the insider view of the resort from repeaters, so I'm going to add my two cents regarding CSS.
Obligatory first line: We had an amazing time. The grounds are beautiful, the staff is excellent, and the restaurants are high-quality. But, we did have a few issues. I felt like the dining options were limited. There are only 3 restaurants on premises, not counting the Beach Grills. Two of those restaurants require reservations for dinner (including the buffet restaurant). This is not practical, in my opinion. It forces you to make reservations when you really want to relax and not think about time and all those people who just relaxing end up storming the one "free seating" restaurant, which means there will inevitably be a line. CSA, by comparison, seemed to have a lot more dining options and we just did reservations at the end. Also, the Cassanova restaurant, which is the more modern one, was just "okay." The Bella Vista and Palazzino were excellent, although with the ample options at the buffet in Palazinno, you can sometimes get a hit or miss and the dinner at Palazinno is half bufffet/half service, which I'd never seen before and frankly confused us. We expected to be blown away by the food like we did at CSA and, although it was occasionally amazing and mostly great, we were not blown away. We had a few bad or bland dishes, mostly at Cassanova.
The first night we were "upgraded" to a penthouse suite in the E Block and told we'd be moving to a Beachfront Suite the next day. I really liked the layout of the Beachfront Suite so I was glad we were getting the room we wanted, just not right away. The Penthouse was, simply, bad. It was old, the bathroom was tiny and just awful. There was only one iHome in the suite and it was way in the bedroom and you couldn't hear it from the living room or balcony. We like to have music when we can and this did not help. It rained that first day and the roof the balcony leaked so that the balcony floor was flooded. It was very dangerous. We were so happy when we moved. We were at the top floor of the A block in what looked like an updated Beachfront Suite. The bathroom was huge, the bed was comfortable, and I loved the layout of the room.
This is a strange one and I wouldn't even talk about it but it happened to friends of ours two days after it happened to us so I feel like it's worth mentioning. I came back from the beach one day to freshen up in the room and found that my keycard didn't work. Long story short, the battery (four AA's) on the lock went dead and needed to be replaced. I waited about 2 or 3 hours by my front door for someone from maintenance to come. I didn't walk over to the Front Desk on my own because I kept running into helpful staff members who assured me "someone was on the way." Obviously, the property is huge, but it doesn't seem like they have little golf carts to get around quick and I had to wait for not one, but two maintenance guys, to walk over with tools to pry open the cover for the old-fashioned key in the door. It seemed like a freak occurrence and I didn't let it spoil my day or anything, but then the SAME THING happened to our friends, who required 2 visits to the Front Desk to get it resolved and cost them hours of relaxing.
The walking. I feel like the Couples website should make it clearer than this is not the place to go if you have any walking disability. My wife and I don't have any, thankfully, BUT after days of walking the property, our legs were feeling quite traumatized. Yes, it is a good way to balance out the amount of food you'll inevitably be eating, but I think it should be clear to stay away from this property if you have any difficulty walking.
When we did CSA, we tried to be friendly and ended up making some friends at the end, but we mostly kept to ourselves and relaxed. CSS felt different, much more social. Everyone is talking to each other. Maybe because the resort is smaller than CSA, it feels that way, but it was really nice. I think we made some lifelong friends there. And the staff is amazingly friendly. I know that's fairly common for the Jamaiacan people, but the staff we met were so friendly and welcoming, they felt like instant family.
As were there for New Year's Eve, I should briefly mention the NYE party that the Entertainment people put on. It was amazing. A highlight of our week. It was a Great Gatsby theme and there were 1920's cars scattered throughout the main lawn. There was a cool lounge area set up for a cocktail hour and then dinner was under these great tents and a huge stage/dance floor was set up. Lots of scheduled entertainment (bands, singers, dancers), and then when the clock struck midnight, it felt like the absolute best place to be at the best time. The food that night did cross the threshold into AMAZING. Felt like they pulled out all the stops for that night and we appreciated it.
We only did one excursion, Dunn's River Falls, and it was a great time. We had spectacular couples massage at the Spa in one of the cliffside gazebos, which is a massage experience I've never had before and was truly relaxing and memorable. The rest of the time we stayed on premises and lived like royalty.
Overall, I can't decide whether I liked CSA or CSS better, which I think is a good problem to have. The beach in CSA is better but I enjoyed the social aspect of CSS and it made for a more lively week. I'd grade the food at CSA a little higher than CSS. But the CSS property is breath-taking. We'll definitely be back, either to one of the Couples we stayed at before or to try a new one.
Thanks for the review.
We were at CN in Oct. 2013 our first time at a Couples or any All Inclusive. We had a great time and I can't stop thinking about going back.
I just can't decide whether to go back to CN or try CSS. I've been scanning these boards just about everyday since August, ( I know, I'm obsessed) looking for a nugget that will help me make up my mind. There are so many places in this world to go, my wife and I are reluctant to go to the same place twice. Even though CSS is in Jamaica it's there that is calling me. I really like the way "Couples" does things, their staff seems to be happy and outgoing with guests and guests seem to be quite loyal once they have been to a Couples they keep coming back. I'd like to say we are going to CSS in 2014 but it will probably be 2015.
I understand what you mean about having reservations of returning to Jamaica when there are so many wonderful places in the world. But the truth is that there is something unique and special about Jamaica that you can't quantify. It may be the hospitality of the people, the quiet of the beach, or just the fact that it's just far enough away from home. I don't think you should be reluctant at all about returning.
I have yet to go to CSS. Just returned from a split stay at CN & CSA. Went to CTI in 2010. I think CN has my vote for our favorite. It is smaller, more intimate, we kept to ourselves, but there were people socializing. The beach is very nice, walkable, but everything is so close together. CSA was nice, loved the sports complex, but found the vendors and the jet ski renter were more present than at CN. CN had a nice central area. Can't go wrong with any choice, we are in our mid 50's, did some paddle boarding, cat cruise, snorkeling, so we stay active. Meals and restaurants were no issue with reservations. Food was very good.Tempted to go to CSS, just may do a split stay at CN and CSS, just to return to our favorite.