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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    29

    Default Couples Negril - a winner!!

    We posted this review on TripAdvisor, but forgot to put it on the Couples Message Boards also. Here goes:

    We had the pleasure of spending Jan 31 to Feb 7, 2010 at Couples Negril and had a lovely time. There is truly nothing unpleasant or negative to report about our stay there. We have a few observations about our stay on the following topics:

    Cost
    Cuisine
    Rooms
    Beach
    Activities and Amenities
    Resort Nightlife
    Staff
    Guests

    Cost
    The price of staying at Couples Negril seemed to be more than what was charged for other resorts in the same class. Because many people can now easily compare resorts & prices, make selections, and finally book & pay for holidays in advance over the internet, price is often an issue. People feel 'the pain' of comparative cost long before they feel the pleasure of the holiday. So when booking, they may illogically base their ultimate choice on only a few dollars difference. The Couples chain needs to bear that in mind and be cautious about being positioned too high on the price scale. That being said, the value of a Couples holiday is quite good for the price they currently charge.

    Cuisine
    We have had only a small amount of experience with all-inclusive resorts in the past. The negative thing that seems to frequently stand out in our minds is the food. Understandably, food is probably the single biggest expense that an all-inclusive resort has to contend with. The price of food, combined with the fact that guests can consume as much as they wish, often compels resort administrations to do what they can to minimize this expense thereby maximizing profits. The outcome of these efforts often leads to menu choices that are inferior and have little real variety. One resort we stayed at in Mexico a while back featured buffet-style cuisine that all seemed to taste like it had been deep-fried in the same frier. There was a certain common blandness to everything we had. The dairy didn't taste 100% right, and the fresh fruit and vegetables were decent but worrisome because of concerns about the origin of the water used to wash them.

    At Couples Negril, we had none of these concerns. The food was fantastic. No short-cuts seem to have been taken with cuisine. They even offered tours of the kitchen on the one of the days. I was surprised to have some of the best Thai food I've ever had at this all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. The other restaurants, of which there are 4 or 5, were also very good. The main dining area, Cassava Terrace, frequently had buffet-style cuisine. But it was in no way inferior to the other 'high-end' restaurants on the property. My wife is rather picky about breakfast, especially egg dishes such as omelets. All breakfast foods were excellent and fresh-tasting. Many nutritious choices along with more decadent ones. We missed the lobster night, which is reportedly a big highlight. But because the alternates were also so good, we did not feel like we had missed anything.

    I would encourage Couples to continue to focus on maintaining this level of quality in the future. Guests are very influenced by food quality, and a large part of their opinion of any resort will be based on the food experience.

    Rooms
    The resort is not lavish or ostentatious in its structure and layout by any means. I am often cynical when looking at resorts with fantastically appointed lobbies. Unless the guests will actually be sleeping and spending their entire stay in the lobby, it seems somewhat pointless to feature the lobby as a representation of the entire resort. Couples Negril seems to agree with my view, and have not funneled their budget exclusively to appearance at the expense of guest experience.

    The room we had on the second floor of building #6 was adequate and comfortable. There was a small balcony with chairs. A small fridge was stocked daily with whatever we requested. The safe was secure with a combination-style lock. Many reviewers of resorts seem to be very concerned with water pressure in the showers - there were no problems with this in our room at Couples.

    One couple that we met on the beach mentioned that their room had a faintly musty smell to it which was solved by periodically burning a scented candle. In hot humid tropical climates where buildings are air-conditioned, it is understandable that condensation will develop indoors. This can lead to odors if left unchecked or infrequently cleaned. Our room did not have an odor of any kind, and the maid was very thorough and accommodating.

    We were pleased at the size of the resort. It is not so mammoth that a shuttle is required to traverse the complex. A short walk provides access to all points of the resort. A smaller resort means fewer guests and no over-crowding. One of the staff mentioned to me that they were at 90-95% capacity during our stay. Although the place looked well-populated and full of life, there was no feeling of limitation or competition. There was always an available table for all meals no matter what time we ate. There were always beach chairs available no matter what time we went. There was always a spot at the bar for a good drink.

    We would encourage Couples Negril to strive to maintain this balance between capacity and comfort for their guests. This fosters a relaxed attitude in guests and contributes to the 'no worries mon' atmosphere. Nothing wrecks a holiday like having to compete with other guests for amenities. The rat race is what people are trying get away from.

    Beach
    People come to the Caribbean for the beaches. We generally have the freedom to walk across the beachfront of our and other resorts. So the beach is a feature by which we are able to directly and visually compare resorts.

    Couples Negril is situated between the Riu Hotel to the right, and Breezes Grand Negril to the left. Riu is an impressive-looking place. But their beach is somewhat narrow for the number of guests that they entertain. The beach seemed a little crowded and the guests were pushed up close to the water. Breezes was the opposite - very few guests the week we were there. Their beach was wide and spacious, but almost desolate. Only about 10% of their beach was occupied. Perhaps they were renovating or partially shut-down during our week.

    Couple's beach was perfect. Lots of life without over-crowding. Sufficient width with plenty of area for sunbathing, walking, and games. Instead of clear-cutting their beach, Couples Negril has left natural tree growth and even planted additional palm trees while we were there. This provides a pleasing mix of sun and shade.

    Bloody Bay Beach does not have the degree of traffic that Seven Mile Beach has. There does not seem to be as much vending and uninvited musical performances. Some guests prefer the additional local traffic, some don't. Couples Negril had a non-intrusive amount. We appreciated that. Much of the vending allowed near Couples was actually quite nice. Various crafts and jewelry were available.

    I have a feeling that some readers are curious about the nude beach - well, we noticed that Couples Negril does have a nude beach on the left side of the property adjacent to Breezes. The nude area is surrounded by tall hedges and a fence with only the front section open to the beach. They have a dedicated bar, hot-tub, and washroom. There seemed to be about 20-30 people in the nude section during our week, with potential room for about double that. We have never been to a nude beach and thus have nothing to compare it with - but the facilities seemed quite good for those so inclined.

    I rather suspect some of the nude bathers did not appreciate the occasional 'gawker' who stared in disbelief. This is not the fault of Couples though. There is a misconception that nudity automatically means pornography. Some people just cannot reconcile themselves to the reality that nudity would be quite common if you took away everyone's clothes. We noticed that there were guards on duty who diligently prevented clothed guests from walking into the nude area. The guards also queried passersby about which hotel they were from. If they were from Couples, they would write down their room number. I assume this is to provide some security for the guests and the resorts.

    Activities and Amenities
    We enjoyed the glass bottom boat ride, although the coral reefs near the resort are not stunning 'National Geographic' sites. We also enjoyed the catamaran cruise to Negril's old pirate caves. The cruise itself featured primarily music, drinking, and some swimming. It was fun, and provided some of the best sunset photo opportunities we had all week.

    There is a free scuba excursion and free sailing. There is also a gym and massage facility. We spoke with guests who thoroughly enjoyed these activities. There are also some town and golf excursions available. One couple who we spoke with enjoyed the free green-fees at the nearby golf course every day. There are numerous low-pressure activities at the resort throughout the day. Anyone who wishes can join in.

    Those of us who are parents and wish to stay connected with children back home can make use of the internet room which is open all the time.

    Resort Nightlife
    We did not see the need to venture off the resort at nighttime. Every night there was a live band. They played decent quality jazz/reggae during dinner at the Terrance dining area. Later, this usually lead into an evening performance featuring a local talent performer. Going to progressive rock live shows is a bit of a hobby of mine (e.g. Nearfest). By comparison, the quality of Couple's shows was not bad at all. They seem to please adult audiences of all tastes without being too bland or generic. That is, if you don't mind a reggae twist on everything.

    We enjoyed the dance nights at the piano lounge. They have a decent sound system in there. They played some loud dance music to which one might get one's 'groove on'. (At least I think that's how the cool young cats say it.) We went on two of the three nights available. It was great fun. I would almost suggest that Couples try having some kind of dance thing at the piano lounge every night with a different musical theme. New stuff, old school, reggae, Motown, funk, etc.

    There was a beach bonfire one night, a chocolate bar, a beach party, a beach dinner, and some other events that I'm probably forgetting about. Every night was great fun for us.

    Staff
    The collective staff character seemed to be a 70/30% mix of a) staff who are truly hospitable and have a genuine fondness for guests, and b) staff who carry out their duties with a cool efficiency but display little overt friendliness. I can't complain either way - both types get the job done.

    There are two sides to the coin though.

    From the guest perspective, there is a delicate subsurface dynamic that needs to be respected - indigenous people in a position of service to affluent white visitors. We are guests and it seems reasonable that we treat our hosts with dignity, kindness, and good cheer. This isn't Walmart; it's another culture of people. How we treat the staff will be reflected in their attitude toward us.

    From the resort perspective, guests usually quietly make value judgments about an entire facility based on one or two verbal or even non-verbal interactions with staff. Unfortunately, negative interactions sometimes seem to be more memorable and durable. Decent guests who care about the happiness of their hosts (the kind of guests that are probably the most desirable to a resort) will take notice of staff who are aloof, or unfriendly. These non-verbal cues may cause some guests to view the resort with a critical eye and may reduce their level of enjoyment.

    It is in Couple's best interests to continue to focus on providing genuine incentives for staff to be genuinely happy. Visitors can almost instinctively sense staff morale and it will influence their over-all opinion.

    Guests
    Obviously, all guests that we saw were probably couples. This precluded the single frat-boy/party-girl type. I believe there is an age minimum of 18 or 21yrs. So there were also no children. (We missed our kids a lot, but enjoyed the much-needed break from them.)

    The formula of couples with no children provides a pleasing mix of fun-but-not-too-wild clientele. This seems to be a winning combination. Couples have a very healthy guest return rate. There is a weekly dinner party for the return guests. The week we were there, 80 people were invited. That's 80 people in one week who have returned to Couples. And they have this party every week. A rather good testimony to the value Couples offers.

    Conclusion
    If the grandparents offer to watch the kids again in the future, we would go back without hesitation. We may also try Couples Sans Souci - we hear that resort is quite good too. But once you find a place you really love, you sometimes hesitate to go elsewhere.

    Keep it up Couples Negril! You have a good formula. Don't dilute or weaken it for short-term cost reduction. Try to keep your prices stable and your staff smiling. You will continue to find brand strength in your high guest return rate and the viral advertising that that brings.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    235

    Default Nice review!

    Hi dsm221b,

    Very nice review! Very detailed. I could actually picture the things I was reading about.

    Glad you liked CN - you're hooked now!

    Beergirl

  3. #3

    Default Thank you!

    Thank you for taking the time to write this detailed review. People don't often speek of the staff / guest dynamic that can make or break a vacation. I always try to be respectful and friendly and expect the same in return. I love how you observe the little things and desribe them in terms everyone can relate with! We'll be visiting CN for the first time in November 2010 and can't wait!!

  4. #4

    Default

    Wow, a double beauty. Not only a very detailed review of CN, but a super thumbs up one at that! And this coming on the heels of a recent review from another guest that was less than flattering. Good to know the queen of the Couples chain is still making a huge and positive impression on the folks. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Ron

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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,047

    Default

    WOW! You transformed me back to CN. I was there while reading your post.
    Thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    29

    Default You're welcome folks!

    Before staying at Couples, like everyone, we read every review on the internet that we could find. Most of them were positive, but not all of them were really informative. And when an intriguing reference was made, it was rarely explained or elaborated upon. Teasers!

    So I promised myself that I would put together a review that I would like to have read before going. Of course, when we returned home the urgency faded and nothing got written down.

    It will probably be a year before we can return. And I hate to rush through a whole year of the gift of life in anticipation of just one wonderful week.

    So, I discovered later that writing a review is a lovely way to re-live your vacation. Especially when the Canadian snow is flying and you have to drag your butt back to the office.

    We look forward to feeling like Eddie Money again, who had "Two Tickets to Paradise".

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    256

    Default

    What an amazing review. While we have not yet visited CN we have just returned from our third visit to CSA and once again had an amazing time. I especially appreciated your comments regarding the guests treating staff with respect. The wonderful staff of CSA have become like family to us and they are the primary reason we continue to visit. I find it so disheartening when I see a guest being less than respectful to the staff and treating them like they are obligated to do things for them. I truly believe that staff are much more open and friendly with those they feel appreciate what they are doing. Even addressing an employee by name can mean so much. We encourage all who travel to Couples to take the time to get to know the staff who work there. They are the most amazing people. We have made some dear life-long friends who we treasure greatly. We look forward to returning as often as we can to visit with them. To us it is like paying a visit to family and we are honoured to be in their company!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    117

    Default

    Great review! We have been to CN 3 times and love it, but recently fell even more in love with CSA! Welcome to the Couples family! I enjoyed reading your review. Thanks!
    Melea & Joseph
    CN - '06, '07, '08
    CSS and CSA - '09
    CSA - '10

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    636

    Default

    Great report!!! Maybe we will see you there next year you shooting for February again?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    29

    Default

    Thank you for the kind responses everyone.

    Hi columbo - yeah maybe February. It depends on the availability of the grandparents. And my wife was thinking about trying May. Any experience doing CN or CSS in May in terms of weather or crowd?

    Hi Melea - say, just curious, what did you like more about CSA vs CN?

    Hi Northern gal - appreciated your excellent comments about interactions with staff. All very true. I love your guest-name, how far north are you?

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