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  1. #1

    Default CSA review - end Feb 2010, long

    Just got back from CSA -
    Pictures here
    http://s736.photobucket.com/albums/x...%20Feb%202010/

    and Review / Observations -
    Expectations
    20th anniversary vacation. Wanted a place with no kids. Wife and I are not big partiers, especially for this vacation. I am a vegetarian, my wife eats a little chicken. We enjoy working out.

    Arrival / Room / Checkout
    Went smooth, found the Couples area and got our transfer with no problems. They were well organized. Airport luggage handlers expected tips.
    Check-in was fine, they were handling about 10 couples at once – so we had to wait a bit.
    This was high season and from what we heard the place was at full capacity.
    Room was an ocean view – got room 3211, 2nd floor.
    Room was nice, clean, big. King sized bed. While everything was clean – the room showed its age/wear a bit (patched ceiling, re-grout around tub). This was common for a few areas on the resort – could use an update (décor, paint) in a number of areas. Not a problem, but not a ‘pristine’ resort/room either.
    Room had an iPod radio which was nice. TV. Stocked fridge. Bottles of wine, rum, whiskey, etc.
    Deck had a sitting bench and rocking chair.
    Ocean View – well….OK. 2nd floor, we could not see the ocean thru the trees. I think first floor or 3rd floor would have offered a ‘view’ – but certainly not the 2nd floor. Had I known…I would have gladly paid the extra $400 or so for the week and got an oceanfront room – would have been well worth it. In any event, we were still less than 50 yards to the beach.
    Maid service was great and basically did not interrupt anything.
    Upon checkout, they pickup your bags for you and you just showup at the lobby. Very well organized.

    Restaurants / Amenities
    We really loved the food and the differences among all of the restaurants. We don’t seek out great food when we vacation – but this was really something special. The resort was very similar in philosophy to how my wife and I like to eat. Smallish portions, fresh, healthy.
    Patois - restaurant was full service. A bit slow, but I enjoyed it. We were limited at times with some selections as not everything was vegetarian. One time I asked if there was meat in a soup – waitress said no, so I ordered it. She came back in a few minutes and said that it was made with chicken stock. I thought it was a nice catch for her to go the extra mile and ask.
    Palms - was a great idea where that had salad and pasta buffet and appetizer/entrée/desert as full service. They were a bit faster in service here. Of all the restaurants, I’d say for dinner, the food here was a bit more of the ‘normal’ buffet type (ie not the greatest) but still good. Breakfast here offered a great variety and very good quality.
    Seagrapes – we ate lunch here every day. Our favorite place. Juice of the day (pumpkin soy / cucumber ginger…), sweet potato chips, veggie burger, falafel, salads…really nice.
    LemonGrass – We ended up eating here twice. The first night we both requested vegetarian meals. The waitress made sure with the kitchen what they could do. The main chef actually came out and spoke to us! Nice touch. We ended up with a fantastic meal, everything was superb. The next time, we again requested vegetarian. Not that we expected a visit from the chef, but the waiter said OK – we ended up with an abbreviated meal (he did not bring out soup or salad for some reason…but he also forgot the spices). I think this was more due to an inexperienced waiter.
    Feathers – Did not go (I forgot to pack long pants!)…however, after looking at the menu, we were OK as there were mostly meat options. I could have bought a pair of pants, but we decided to go to Lemongrass twice.

    A couple of observations / complaints:
    1) I would have liked to have seen more ability to replace a meat option with tofu. There were a number of dishes that I would have loved to have tried if the meat/fish were able to have been substituted with tofu. I know they have and use tofu a good deal, but when asking for vegetarian options – many times it comes down to a more boring selection.
    2) Espresso…I love espresso and make it at home every morning. I was happy to see a few high end espresso machines. The only real espresso I had was the first morning at the sports bar. Every other person who made an espresso for me (there were about 6 other times) did not make it correctly – end result was basically a small, weak cup of coffee. I even tried to help one of the women by telling her that she has to tamp the grounds – but that did not help much. Typically espresso drinkers like to taste espresso and it is a big disappointment when you get a weak result. What a waste of some really good machines…all it would take is a little education for a handful of people who operate the machines.
    3) Juice bar – one day I asked for a carrot, beet, cucumber drink. I juice at home and am familiar with the flavors. The guy made one for me and for the rest of the day into the next morning – I had a scratchy throat. In retrospect, I wondered when the last time their juice machine was cleaned. I know with mine at home, I must clean it immediately after using it or else the pulp left behind will oxidize / go bad. I did not notice them clean the machine before or after I got my drink…so I would assume that they have a sanitary issue. In general, they seemed to be diligent with cleaning their equipment – so I’ll chalk this up to a ‘one-off’ issue

    Beach / etc
    Phenomenal beach. Very clean, clear water, lots of shade, lots of chairs / floaties. Even though they were at capacity, we were able to get chairs at 11:00. Other days, we hand picked chairs by 7:30 and it was more enjoyable to get dibs on a good location.
    Locals walk the beach and sing/sell their wares (for money) – They are respectful enough if you don’t care to talk to them.
    Guard presence was great thru the week. Always felt safe.
    Catamaran cruise (free) was superb – great people, great scenery. Got to dock and use the slide, swim – nice experience
    Snorkeling (free) was excellent although a bit short. We tried to book for another day, but they had no room. The other day we did get was too rough and all watersports were cancelled.
    We, sadly, did not participate in the entertainment activities. It was our 20th anniversary so we spent time together instead of staying out late with others. However, we heard great things about the piano bar, bonfire, etc. Would likely do these things on another trip.
    Sports area and lap pool was great. A good amount of equipment (that worked) for a resort. Ended working out every morning from 7-9ish
    Wife got 2 massages and thoroughly enjoyed them

    Random observations –
    - I could not believe how many people had tattoos
    - Most people never missed a meal
    - Crowd in general was older (wife and I are 45/44) – I’d guess most were more in their 50s. We felt like the ‘young ones’. Not a problem, just an observation.
    - There were a good deal of Europeans and people from cold weather states
    - The walking path can fit about 3 people across…funny because there are always couples…ie 4 people across and someone has to yield! Not an issue – just funny.
    - The staff was very friendly. Sometimes you could tell that you have a newbie or a kid who is not as ‘in tune’ as others. My wife and I commented at how in Mexico, the staff would move aside as you approached or they would stop sweeping as you passed. But not here. The staff went about their business. It is OK, just a different experience – not at all ‘stuffy’. We ended up really enjoying it as it created it’s unique experience.
    - Staff was constantly cleaning (chairs/floaties/even raking the sand…some seaweed when the water was rough)
    - A number of people smoked (wife and I hate this) but it was never an issue
    - Bugs were not an issue…there were noseeums in the room, but no bites or welts…and my wife typically gets bitten a lot.

    Overall – A very special place, we thoroughly enjoyed it! (And hope to return)

  2. #2

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    Thanks for your review. My wife and I (40 and 44 so same age brackett) will be going to CSA in just 33 days so I appreciate the full review. Sounds like, overall, you had a great time. We'll be there on our anniversary as well. One question....you said you had room 3211 but what type of room was that? I'm just curious. We will be staying in a Greathouse Verandah Suite.

  3. #3

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    3211 was an OceanView room. As it is high season - there was no room for 'negotiation' of 1st floor/ 3rd floor / upgrade...etc

    From what I heard, romms in 1xxx, 2xxx, 3xxx are 'older.
    The 4xxx and Patois area is newer.

    You will love it!!

    I was amazed at how many repeat couples go there - but I can certainly see why.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeyboy View Post
    Just got back from CSA -
    Pictures here
    http://s736.photobucket.com/albums/x...%20Feb%202010/

    Random observations –
    - Most people never missed a meal

    Overall – A very special place, we thoroughly enjoyed it! (And hope to return)
    Priceless!!!

  5. #5

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    Now that was one heckuva review. BTW, love the moniker. Monkeyboy...that's just classic!

    I really like that you threw in those random observations, a nice little extra beyond the usual and may just inspire me to do likewise when I post my reviews upon return.

    One of your general observations/mild complaints that I'm wondering if you couldn't have done something about in advance - I'm talking about the lack of tofu substitution for meat options. Did you mention this when making your reservations or upon arrival so that Couples could perhaps be better prepared? Not criticizing mind you, simply bringing it up because I could have sworn I've read where Couples encourages their guests to bring up issues when it comes to specific dietary needs and such. It obviously would have made your culinary experience that much more enoyable.

    Regardless, I very much enjoyed reading your review, much appreciated.
    Ron

    Reading is fundamental. It's just that for some, it's more mental than fun.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeyboy View Post
    3211 was an OceanView room. As it is high season - there was no room for 'negotiation' of 1st floor/ 3rd floor / upgrade...etc

    From what I heard, romms in 1xxx, 2xxx, 3xxx are 'older.
    The 4xxx and Patois area is newer.

    You will love it!!

    I was amazed at how many repeat couples go there - but I can certainly see why.
    Just to clarify for those not familiar with SweptAway...

    Any room category that has the word "Verandah" in its description (for example, Beachfront Verandah Suite) is in what is known as the new section (nominally, the south half) of the resort. I hear and read a lot of how these rooms are "showing their age"... I find this interesting, as none of these rooms, along with the GreatHouse Complex, is more than about 5 or 6 years old.

    The original area of the resort has the Beachfront Suites, Atrium Suites and Garden Suites, as well as the Palms facility.

    Couples, overall, has a recitivism rate of better than 40% (per a recent interview with Randy Russell); for any destination resort, much less four under a single umbrella of ownership, this is a remarkable accomplishment!
    Chris

    "In an abundance of water, the fool is thirsty..." - Bob Marley - "Rat Race"


  7. #7

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    Great Pics Monkeyboy!!

  8. #8

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    "One of your general observations/mild complaints that I'm wondering if you couldn't have done something about in advance - I'm talking about the lack of tofu substitution for meat options. Did you mention this when making your reservations or upon arrival so that Couples could perhaps be better prepared? Not criticizing mind you, simply bringing it up because I could have sworn I've read where Couples encourages their guests to bring up issues when it comes to specific dietary needs and such. It obviously would have made your culinary experience that much more enoyable."

    Yes - I mentioned that I was vegetarian when making my reservation with travel agent, upon checkin to Swept Away - and when ordering each meal (if options were limited on the menu). The consensus was to "let them know you are vegetarian at each meal."
    I really do not like to make a big deal out of my eating choice...and overall I was not disappointed in my meal at all.

    All I am saying is that it could open up alot of variety/options if more of the planned courses could offer a 'protein' (either meat/tofu) instead of listing it as a meat only dish and having to always ask if they could do something 'special'.
    As a vegetarian - I am used to only having one item to select on a menu, or always getting the veggie plate/salad while others get more options and more creative dishes...

    It does not seem to be alot of effort to make most any dish and top it with the 'protein of choice'.

    However I understand the difficulty for restaurants to stock / be prepared for handling these additional options.

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