This was our 3rd trip to CSA and it was as gorgeous as ever. Although there were some surprising differences in this trip, we had a fabulous time as always and will be reflecting back on the trip for some time. I feel like the most helpful reviews I’ve read are the ones that are balanced and discuss the good and the bad, so I’ve tried to both positives and negatives here and grouped them into categories since it’s so long. Overall, it was a beautiful, beautiful trip.
Departure to Check-in: We had fantastic flight into Mo Bay on Easter Sunday landing at around 11:30. We decided to purchase the Club Mo Bay VIP arrival package and found it to be well-worth the cost just to skip lines. (search “Club Mo Bay” for the pros and cons of purchasing the package) Our bags were dropped off at the resort lounge and we made a bee line for the Club MoBay lounge to grab a quick snack and a rum punch. The shuttle arrived in about 20 mins after arrival and we were off. There was one obnoxious passenger who wanted to start the party immediately so the driver stopped at a Texaco right outside the airport and told him it would be $40 American for 12 beers. The passenger handed him a $100 bill but his change was in Jamaican of course and was worth far, far less than $60 American. I’m guessing that guy paid about $80 for those beers. We later had to stop again for him to use the restroom, so I considered it a convenience tax and my husband and I joked about it the whole trip - to us it was worth it! When we arrived at CSA, they seemed a little unprepared for our arrival but were very quick to offer us the cool towels and champagne and all the materials were better organized than I’ve seen in previous trips. The front desk was great and we were off to the beach in 10 mins.
Rooms: We stayed in a 2nd floor atrium. It looks exactly as it did in the pictures. We kindly requested the center of the property and 2nd floor if possible and received just that. It was secluded and very romantic. Just believe what you see in the picutures is 100% real. Housekeeping was fantastic, our minibar was stocked, all was well!
Meals: Food is fabulous as always and we ate at every restaurant at least 2 times. We weren’t able to make it to Patios for dinner at all though. There was always plenty to eat everywhere and the quality was always good. I felt the service was better than ever in every restaurant. The only gripe I had was the group atmosphere. I’ll speak more about it later, but over the course of 7 dinners, only one was quiet and even remotely romantic due to the prevalence of groups. This was new to us and rather disappointing. Patios – amazing service over and over. Palms – delicious breakfasts, this was a go-to every morning and their mimosas were a great way to start every morning. Cabana – ate there every day, loved it. Feathers - this was more delicious than I ever remembered, service was fantastic (although loud, loud groups both times we went..I wish the servers could ask them to keep it to a dull roar)
Bars: Drinks were as great as ever. The service was fantastic but I found the service to be a little less friendly at the Sunset beach bar. Later I realized this was probably because the first few days were Easter Sunday and Easter Monday and the crew would’ve probably preferred to have been with their families, so this is understandable. They were joking and very friendly the remainder of the week and just like we always remembered. Off the topic somewhat but my husband said a new guest recently off the shuttle showed up at the bar and said something very, very disrespectful to a bartender at the Sunset bar. The employee’s response was very civil and witty and although it’s sad that someone would go there – especially an environment like Couples – I was happy to see the bartender rose above it.
Beach: The beach was a bit wider than the last time. Water was clear, turquoise and warm. It was amazing. I noticed a lot more groups (some respectful and some downright obnoxious). I felt like were often crashing parties just by sitting on the beach and we literally couldn’t escape the loud guests as they were everywhere down the beach. The chairs and shade were plentiful and I always felt my belongings were safe. The beach vendors came up higher on the beach I’ve ever seen but it never bothered us and we never felt pestered. The jet skis weren’t back yet, so it was very quiet and the water was very calm. One thing I wanted to note, please, please don’t litter on the beach – including cigarette butts. This place is downright heaven, and who would put out their cigarette butts there?
Activities: We were relatively beach bums the entire time and took it super easy, so I don’t have a ton to report here. We did the daytime snorkel trip once. It seems they have become a bit more “educational” rather than the more laid back/have some drinks & jump in type we were used to. It was much more quiet and serious, but that was OK. We did the catamaran and although we had fun, again, there was a huge wedding party on the boat. They were a very, um, “fun” group, but they took up half the boat and would yell over us, around us, etc. The one interesting part is that I noticed the matriarch of the group was being accompanied by a watersports guy the entire time. Even after the cruise, I noticed in following days that there was always one water sports guy with a member of that group the entire time – on the beach, at lunch, siting at the bar, etc. It was a bit strange.
Atmosphere: Obviously, the groups are becoming a bummer but the people and service and attention is just amazing. Everyone is so happy and honest and real. I love being around the people who work there and just having that quiet time with my husband under a palm tree with the crystal blue waters and a drink of the day...it can’t be beat. On the flip side, there was some loud music coming from off the property 3 out of the 7 nights we were there. I heard some repeaters complaining about it to a Palms employee one morning and they were MAD. I think 2 nights were local Easter parties and one was a Sat night party. This happened the last time too so we were prepared with a portable sound machine for those loud nights – boom, fixed! It’s a small trade-off for paradise.
Check-Out: It was very smooth, and no problems. I noticed some people, including my husband, who were nervous about their bags arriving in time for the bus. Remember, you’re still on vacation, and that bus will not leave without your bag on it. They get everyone’s attention and call room numbers, ask you to ID all your bags and ask you to watch them as they load them into your bus. No problems. Remember to fill out the comment card and include names of fabulous employees. We wrote them down throughout the week on the pad they supply you in your room so it was easy to get your homework done quickly.
Overall: We don’t let anything ruin our trip and how could you ever be unhappy in paradise? Although the groups getting out of control in my opinion, I don’t think you can find a better value or better people anywhere. I think it’s time for us to explore new vacation spots for now – mostly because of the group thing - and my hope is that Couples will listen and maybe try to tweak what they’re doing to get back to that romantic atmosphere that we all love.
Csievers - thank you for posting such a detailed an well written review. We usually go to CSA in January. I do cringe when I see a group of folks walking around all wearing the same custom made t-shirts at CSA. I think a simple solution at least in the restuarants would be to limit the number of tables they will pull together for a group. (I understand exceptions for wedding parties.) On our last trip, Patois at dinner had at least one group of 14 or 16 people pulled together for every night that we had dinner there (3 times). Then what ends up happening is a person from one end of the table conducts a yelling conversation with the person on the other end of the table. And don't even get me started about the groups on the beach who put 12 or more chairs together practically blocking the entire beach.
I agree completely about the large groups. We were at Swept Away the same week and felt there were few quiet times outside of our room. We have visited all 4 Couples resorts now with this trip to Swept Away being the least romantic. We went to Couples Negril the following week and really appreciated the more intimate quiet atmosphere we remembered. I understand that weddings bring larger groups and perhaps Swept Away attracts the larger weddings? It just didn't feel like what we have come to expect from Couples.
We, too, were there at the same time. If you read my few threads you'll see we found most of what you did. I didn't mention the large groups but should have. Agree 1000% they were a pain. Loud and rude. One night we went to dinner at Patios and they tire to seat us right by a huge table set up for a group. We asked to move to the opposite end of the restaurant, which didn't seem to thrill the person seating us, but they moved us.
I do hope couples takes a serious look at booking large groups.