Jan 2-9, 2014: a Repeater's Review of CTI (with bonus trading places CSS review)
We first visited CTI for 5 nights in late January 2013 as a belated honeymoon. We had such a fabulous time that by March 2013, we'd booked another stay for early January 2014--this time for 7 nights. This time we also brought two other couples with us. In short, our return trip was just as great as the first one. We had a great time with our friends and also had plenty of alone time as a couple. The food was outstanding, the staff and service were A+, the weather was nearly perfect, and it was just a fantastic vacation. As a bonus, the extra two nights really helped make this feel like a more "complete" vacation.
A few notables:
-MoBay: we again got both the arrival and the departure service, and it was 100% worth it. The line for customs on arrival in Jamaica was going up the ramp; meanwhile, we had to wait about 10 minutes at most. I think we were on the shuttle to CTI before some of our plane-mates were even to the lounge. Our departure flight was delayed almost two hours, and it was wonderful having the quiet lounge and "free" food/drinks. It also saved probably an hour of time at the security check. Well worth it; we will do this for all future vacations to Jamaica.
-Repeater's dinner: now we see why people say how nice this is. It was great to meet other repeaters and get to know the staff a bit more. Charmaine, the Operations Manager at CTI, was at our table and shared a bit of "insider" information (for example, that CSS is going to be renovated and expanded in the near future). It was a very fun evening, but we were disappointed to miss the beach party. By the time dinner was over, all of the entertainment was finished. We would love to see them hold the repeater's dinner on a non-special-event night so that we wouldn't have to choose between the two.
-Dinner on island: we chose to use part of our $300 resort credit for this. It was nice, but I'm not sure that we'd do it again. The best part was just the intimacy of the island and being there together at night (we do go here during the day as well). We also got a nice framed photograph from the night, which was a nice touch.
-Room/view: we had a Premium Ocean room on the 2nd floor of Building 3. We were right above the patio off the main lobby and had a direct view of the island. It was really a great room and had a huge walk-in closet that I didn't expect to love as much as I did. It was really nice to be able to put the suitcases out of sight and have everything readily accessible. I occasionally missed the privacy that Building 5 has (we stayed here on our first visit), but ultimately the view and proximity of Building 3 trumped that. We woke up early one morning to watch the sunrise from our balcony, which was a really cool experience.
-Mini-bar: since our last visit to CTI, they've changed the restocking system. You now have to call to request your bar items and then remain in the room for about 20 minutes for them to deliver it. You also have to sign to acknowledge the receipt of your requests. It wasn't a problem at all, but it was something unexpected.
-Trading places: we went to CSS for one day, and it was well worth our time. Transportation to and from was seamless, and we got to CSS in time for the orientation/tour. It was really interesting to experience the differences between the properties. CSS is beautiful and intimate--it felt like you could go all day without seeing another person--but we really missed the breeze that is always at CTI. We got HOT at CSS and didn't realize how much we love the background ocean noise at CTI until it wasn't there. We ate lunch at Palazzina, which was fine. The rest of the time we basically retraced our steps after the orientation to get a better feel for the grounds, took a brief dip in the mineral pool, and spent the rest of our time at SSB. We did like CSS & would go again for the day, but we can't see ourselves staying at this property. We missed the ocean sounds and view too much!
I could go on, but this is long enough already. We won't be back to Jamaica for probably at least a couple of years, but when we do, we will almost definitely return to a Couples property. I'm interested in experiencing Negril, so we're considering maybe a little bit longer return visit, starting at CN for a handful or so nights and then finishing at CTI for about a week.