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  1. #1

    Default CTI Review 3/22-3/29 LONG

    At the risk of being slammed, here is my review of Couples Tower Isle.

    We were there Monday, March 22 - Monday, March 29, 2010.

    The Couples Resort Lounge at the Airport was fine. There was no one there who was overly friendly, but there was a bar that served beers or water and the wait for the bus was not too long. The ride over was uneventful, the driver making two stops. One immediately for beer for the drive, and one for a bathroom and/or snack break. We stopped at Sans Souci first, then on to Tower Isle.

    On arriving at Tower Isle, we were not greeted with cool towels or drinks. We had pretty much gone through the registration process when someone finally came by with a tray of rum punches. Again, during registration, no one was overly friendly, but they were pleasant. Being on our honeymoon, I asked if there was anything special we needed to do for the honeymoon package, and they said no - they didn't ask for marriage certificate or invitation. They said that we'd get the package by noon the next day. We were taken up to our room and to put an end to the "are tips expected" question - the answer is YES. The person who took us to our room hung out until he was tipped. Don't get me wrong - he was pleasant and we had no issue with him, but tips are not the taboo management advertises. I put an end to the tipping issue with my husband, advising him that it was not supposed to be allowed, and we did not tip the rest of the week. I did however see money change hands MANY MANY times, and if management is truly against it, I have to believe that if I saw it....well, let's just say I think that a blind eye is turned on the subject.

    During orientation, I have to say I felt like we were a herd being moved about the resort. It was okay, but honestly, nothing that we couldn't have skipped and been just as informed from reading the message board. Monday night was the beach party. The only options for eatting that night are on the beach, or at Bayside. Since we arrived that day, the only option was the beach, since you cannot get into a "reservation" restaurant without booking far in advance. The line up on the beach was more "herding", waiting in line for about 20 minutes before we gave up. I called & tried to get into a restaurant, explaining that my husband was not feeling well from the long trip and though the front desk said they'd call me right back and try to get us into Bayside, they never called back, and we ended up being very unhappy that evening.

    The food is AMAZING. I have never been at a resort with food as good as Tower Isle. The restaurant reservation system however sucks. I was more upset about that at the beginning of the trip, until I figured out that where ever you ended up eatting, you were in for a treat.

    We had a junior ocean suite, room 2207. The room itself was wonderful. Clean, huge, bright, cheerful. If you want to sleep however, you want to book a garden suite. Every night we were serenaded by whatever band or DJ was playing on the patio.......LOUDLY. Also - a mini bar is advertised as part of the suite. The night you arrive, you have no liquor in your room. You fill out a card asking for what you want to have as stock in your room, and the next day the staff may or may not bring it. We ended up not asking for an liquor, however, we did ask for more Pepsi (there is one single serving bottle per room) and we were denied. So if you wanted a cola and had already drank yours, it was a trip down two flights of stairs, find an open bar (not always as easy as you'd think) and then a trip back up the stairs. Also - the bar is not automatically restocked (at least ours was not), again, you fill out the little card with your requests and the next day maybe you get some, maybe not.

    The housekeeping staff. Thank you, wonderful job keeping room clean, sand swept up. However, is it necessary to have a dozen different people doing that job? We had one person who knocked on our door in the morning to see if we were still there, one person who then later came to make up room, another who knocked to drop off toilet paper, another who dropped off towels, another who did the minibar, and yet another who just knocked randomly to see if we were happy. Nice....except....we were on our honeymoon and "daytime romance" (shall I say) was interupted so many times that we essentially gave up. Now I know you're going to say....put out the "Do not Disturb" sign, but we did not have one for the first two days, made our own on the third, one showed up later that day, and yes, sometimes we used it, but no, I didn't stop each and everytime "romance" sprang up to go and put out the sign. One day we counted, and our door was knocked on 8 different times by staff while we were in the room.

    TIP - the minute you get to the resort fill out your reservation requests, otherwise it's "sorry - all full". That's what we heard almost everytime we tried to get into a restaurant, or partake in an activity. We finally got wait listed for the catamaran cruise and did get to go on it. It was the best part of the whole trip. Make sure you take it. We also went horseback riding, but that was more climb on horse, pose for picture, pose for picture, pose for picture.....(you get the idea), than riding the horse. I don't think I'd do that activity again.

    We had the hotel get us a car & driver to go into town. The driver was friendly, the car was very nice. It cost $30. Paid in advance. Once we were in town, the driver dropped us there and that was the last we saw of him. 40 minutes after he was supposed to pick us up, some guy in a ramshackle cab approached us. He had our names, the name of the driver that was supposed to pick us up, and knew where we were staying. He said he was supposed to drive us back, becuase the other driver was busy. So we rode back in a cab I didn't think would make the 10 minute trip. Needless to say there was no air conditioning in the cab. I was not impressed one bit with that.

    Okay - now the good stuff:

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. The resort is just gorgeous. Most of the staff is great, though I really didn't find anyone particularly friendly. Shawn, a bartender, in my opinion was the only one of the staff who made an extra effort to make us feel welcome. Sadly, we only saw him one day though.

    The pools were never too crowded, the beach was clean, and we never had trouble getting a chair on the beach. (Chairs at the pool were impossible to come by unless you were up REALLY early to claim a spot)

    My husband brought his own snorkeling gear and went out on his own just in the area around the beach and said it was great.

    Not to belabour the point, but the food was awesome.

    Gift Shops - wonderful selection, reasonable prices, friendly service.

    Spa - did their jobs well, though not always with a smile.....Fenella was great though!

    Suggestions:

    More freedom - get rid of the reservations system for the restaurants. We've been to other resorts that did this, and it was not an issue.

    Budda Pool & hot tub at spa - why not DESIGNATE these as "au natural" after a certain time. There were issues on more than one occassion with "au natural" and "au not". There are lots of pools and hot tubs, why not avoid the issues? If they are designated, then those "au nots" can just stick to the other pools & hot tubs....no one needs to be shocked or confronted.

    Pool & Beach chairs - If this is a "couples" resort, how about at least SOME "couples" chairs? Also - flags for beach service. I did notice that certain areas of the beach were much better served than others. I also saw cash exchange hands there.....

    Okay - that's my experience. Will I go back to Couples? Probably not. The resort was beautiful, and there are some people I know that would REALLY love it, and I will recommend it highly to them. It just did not meet my expectations. It just wasn't the experience that we were looking for.

    Flame away........

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    1,274

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    Considering that next week will mark our 28th visit to COR/CTI, all I can say is Wow!!

    Richie

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    5

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    Just to clear up one of you misconceptions.
    Tipping is extremely frowned upon at Couples. Are you sure that the man that brought your bags to your rooms was looking for a tip? I have been to Couples resorts numerous times and never felt like someone was "looking" for a tip even though I definitely tip deserving workers same as I would in the States. And to give you an idea of how much it is frowned upon, Couples send "Shoppers" into the resorts to try to get employees to take tips. Once the tips is accepted they are fired within the day. Believe me, this DOES HAPPEN!!!

    And you did not bash CTI that badly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    1,390

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    Richie, wow indeed. From other post's on here I wonder if the resort was at capacity. Sure was a different experience to any we've had.
    K and S, no tiping means no tipping. You should have thanked the person and started to unpack. You could've also reported them for accepting a tip. March is always a busy Month we always go a different time of year.

  5. #5

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    No flaming. You obviously gave an honest and factual interpretation of your experience there. This isn't a yes board, altho some may treat it as if it is.

    Not sure if you let management know about the tipping issue - no, not to snitch, just merely mention discreetly (in other words, don't have to name names) that contrary to stated policy, there are the occasional situations where tipping came into play. We'll make sure that's not an issue with us at all, and if any employee does by chance attempt to secure a tip from us, we'll nicely but distinctly remind him/her that we will be filling out a complete evaluation of the employees at the end of our trip. That should cool anyone's jets right then and there.

    While your idea about eliminating reservations may have some merit in principle, it just ain't gonna happen, unless Couples makes all dining establishments pretty much the same and on par with one another - again, not gonna happen. Besides, I gots me a hunch the idea of different dining levels & experiences are wildly popular with the vast majority of the guests.

    Good stuff, thanks for posting.
    Ron

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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    408

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    Richie,
    Considering we have only done three trips, but are booked for June 2010 and June 2011, all I can say is Wow, also!!!!
    I guess I am just way to easy going, or else just walk around with rose colored glasses on, but I just didn't think it was possible for anyone not to absolutely LOVE everything about COR/CTI. I have always found that a little graciousness towards my hosts, paired with a little understanding has always netted me perfection in my vacation.
    Peace, Love, and Respect
    Billy
    CN 2002, COR 2007, CTI 2009, 2010, 2011
    CTI June 4-15, 2012

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy_Audra View Post
    I have always found that a little graciousness towards my hosts, paired with a little understanding has always netted me perfection in my vacation.
    Excellent words there, and it just so happens to be a personal philosophy by which we operate. Kill em with kindness is my motto. Make it HARD for them to be grouchy or cranky. And above all, carry a positive attitude with you at all times. Good attitudes feed from other good attitudes.
    Ron

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

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy_Audra View Post
    Richie,
    Considering we have only done three trips, but are booked for June 2010 and June 2011, all I can say is Wow, also!!!!
    I guess I am just way to easy going, or else just walk around with rose colored glasses on, but I just didn't think it was possible for anyone not to absolutely LOVE everything about COR/CTI. I have always found that a little graciousness towards my hosts, paired with a little understanding has always netted me perfection in my vacation.
    Ditto! Except April 2010 and April 2011 (you guys need to move up a couple months)
    Amy Welch...Woooohoooo!!
    CTI - 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013
    CN - 2003/2004 CSS - 2008
    CSA - 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    1,274

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    It's just hard to imagine any of the staff, especially staff that are checking you in, to be anything less than pleasant and efficient. As to the tipping thing. They can and have fired individuals for accepting tips. No tipping really does mean No Tipping.
    KandS, I am sorry that your first experience was so unpleasant. I honestly believe that the vast majority of couples that visit CTI, or any of the other three resorts, have a better time than they thought they would.

    I don't think that anyone will "slam" you. It is just so out of character for so many unpleasant issues to occur. I hope that you wrote some information on the check-out survey. Management can't fix the problem if no one tells them. They do want to hear from everyone as to how their stay was.
    I'm sorry guys!

    Richie

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    317

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    Kands,

    Thank you so much for this recap. I am so sorry that your honeymoon was not what u expected. I have been reading this board constantly for last 2weeks for reviews on CTI. I have told everyone that would listen that we are going 09/2011 and we r very excited. My only problem now, is that I can't find many positive reviews for CTI. All of the complaints r the same; wait list for activites, reservation system bad and the staff not as friendly as at the other resorts. I am so considering switching from CTI to CSS or CSA. What do u think? I noticed that u said that u probably would not go to Couples again. Would u consider trying Couples resort besides CTI? Please respond. I am very interested in your opinions. I think this was the worse one that I have read in the 2 weeks. Keep your head up and again I am soooooo sorry for the experience.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    8

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    I have never posted on this message board before but am not new to couples. We have been to CTI 3 times and will be at CSS this June. When I saw your post I had to comment. I LOVE CTI, all I can say is sorry you did not enjoy it. WOW!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    13

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    Arriving on "beach party night" was unfortunate.

    And I wonder how your experience would have been different if you were a returning guest. There's usually a private dinner for returning guests on the night of the beach party. You would have started with a nice dinner there instead of the "herd dinner" and not been in the "orientation herd" the next day.


    But you stuck to the facts and embelished very little. I don't know how anybody could slam you.

  13. #13
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    Jun 2009
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    I am adding my "WOW" here also and using my rose colored glasses. As this must be what I am wearing when we have been there during out three trips with #4 booked for July. It is perfect? No, BUT then we are two deprived parents who just need some alone time.
    Vicky

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    603

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    Too bad KandJ - maybe you should try CSA. While there is tipping there, we haven't noticed ppl with their hands out, and it is really a beautiful resort with maybe a bit more sophisticated restaurant reservation system. I understand that Couples may not be your cup of tea, but if you do decide to recommend, please consider CSA....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    33

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    We were at CTI 22nd Feb until the 8th March. Although we had a wonderful time and the food and staff were absolutely fantastic, we did find it difficult getting reservations in the restaurants, there always seemed to be a 3 or 4 day waiting list, which meant you didn't necessarily get in when it was the menu that you wanted. This is one of the main reasons why we preferred our trip to CN last year, where we never once had an issue getting a reservation at any of the restaurants. WE went to CN at the same time of the year, and yes it was also full to capacity, yet never any problem. CTI DO definately need to sort out their reservation system.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by glenalk View Post
    We were at CTI 22nd Feb until the 8th March. Although we had a wonderful time and the food and staff were absolutely fantastic, we did find it difficult getting reservations in the restaurants, there always seemed to be a 3 or 4 day waiting list, which meant you didn't necessarily get in when it was the menu that you wanted. This is one of the main reasons why we preferred our trip to CN last year, where we never once had an issue getting a reservation at any of the restaurants. WE went to CN at the same time of the year, and yes it was also full to capacity, yet never any problem. CTI DO definately need to sort out their reservation system.
    Here's what blows me away. CTI is one of three resorts with two restaurants requiring reservations, the other properties being CSS and CSA. But CSS has one fewer restaurant, correct? And CSA, altho with the same number of restaurants open for dinner, is also bigger and more populated than CTI - again, correct?

    Therefore, it's not unreasonable to assume that reservations should be easiest to obtain at CTI, based on the math alone. So what gives here? Is it a case that 8 Rivers and Bayside are just overwhelmingly popular in relation to the Patio and the Verandah? Are these two dining establishments that much smaller than the reservation-required restaurants at the other resorts? Something seems out of kilter here.
    Ron

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

  17. #17

    Default Thanks

    Thanks to everyone for not slamming my thoughts. Some lose ends:

    RE: Tipping. The gentleman who checked us in is mentioned often on this board as a staff favorite. He did wait for and accepted a tip from my husband who (my fault) was unaware of the no tipping policy. I spoke to my husband immediately after the gentlemen left the room and we did not tip further. We did not discuss the issue with management as there is no way that we would want anyone to lose their job. That's not us.

    RE: Staff - I didn't say they were grouchy or unpleasant, just not overly helpful, and not as friendly as my expectations had been built up to. I am a very gracious person, please and thank you are staples in my vocabulary. So it wasn't a grouch begets grouch situation. Again, not unpleasant staff, just not what I expected after reading the many posts that boasted of the incredible staff.

    RE: Reservations - I didn't get it either, when we DID get into 8 Rivers, half the tables were empty. It was late though (the 8:45 seating was the only we could get in) and perhaps people made reservations then didn't keep them.

    To the person who asked if we would consider any of the other couples resorts, for us, I think the answer is no. We did complete the comment cards and addressed most of the issues we mentioned. Management has made no attempt whatsoever to contact us to investigate or follow up. That to me says something. But I did state that I would recommend the resort to others. If you are looking for a completely "down" vacation, and by that I mean, very little activity just tanning, sitting by pool, swimming, drinking and eating great food, then couples is a great place. I've only been to one resort that was better for that type of vacation. We are just looking for more flexibility in a resort.

    To everyone - try it out. We read good and bad reviews about CTI before we went, we tried, it's not for us, but that doesn't mean that it's not for you.

    Hope everyone enjoys their vacations!

    (Oh and Amy - read your book while I was sitting on beach at CTI - great read! Thanks!)

  18. #18

    Default Completely Opposite Experience 3-26 to 3-30

    I'm sorry your experience was not as pleasurable but my husband and I had just the opposite experience. The guys at the lounge in the airport were nice. At the resort we were greated with towels and asked if we would like any drinks before we got to the reservation desk. Our bell-man did not wait around for a tip, he just gave us a high-five. We did not see ANYONE tipping except one person at the pool bar who gave the social director some rocks received during the game they play as a "tip" and the person from the Catamaran cruise had a tip box but they are not part of Couples. The staff there were exceptionally nice to us and we were greeted with a hello and/or smiles by everyone from the groundsmen to the managers (who introduced themselves to us and asked about our stay.) We provided the names of people who stood out the most on our comment cards. The food was excellent, the shows were good, we felt comfortable and safe on the trips to Dunn's river and horse back riding. When reserving the vacation I mentioned it was for my husband's birthday and we received a complementary bottle of champaigne, I reserved a private dinner on the beach and they wrote Happy Birthday George in Chocolate on his desert tray and they decorated our room with flower petals and the kissing swans after the dinner. We are looking forward to going back next year. My suggestion is to provide your comments to the resort. If anyone is caught tipping they will be fired (we were told that by a staff member) and if anyone is rude to you, there are plenty of managers around and their name tags are labeled appropriately. We didn't have rose-colored glasses on, we were just there to have a good time, get away from the kids and did just that!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    1,948

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    As far as reservations, I think it is important to remember that January and February are high months for CTI in particular. It's not only a hot travel time for Jamaica and the Caribbean in general, it's also CTI anniversary time. Last year the anniversary party didn't happen as the resort closed due to delay in renovations.

    We travel to CTI in July and have never had problems getting reservations for anything. We have even booked the morning of for some dinners.
    Last edited by Vickyj; April 2nd, 2010 at 07:05 PM.
    Vicky

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    296

    Default Good review of CTI

    Spice505
    Check out our review from CTI posted in February
    http://couplesjamaica.biz/mb/showthread.php?t=4705
    We were there in Dec 2009
    We have been to CSS several times but made a quickie trip to CTI
    We had a great time
    Even though we were only there 4 days we were able to get reservations at Bayside twice and 8 Rivers once
    We ate at the buffet the other night because we wanted to

    KandS
    I am sorry that you didn't have a great time
    We don't consider CTI our "home" but we had a great time there and would happily go back again if CSS was not available. For us it mostly comes down to the AN facilities. We like SSB better than the Island
    I routinely tell people what a great place it is and how much fun we had

    John

  21. #21

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    We were at CTI almost the same dates as you (3/20-3/27). In fact, I think I saw your husband snorkeling right off-shore one day!

    I'm surprised about the tipping incidents you mentioned. We changed rooms and so we had two bell hops dealing with our bags (one to bring them to the first room, and another to bring them to the second room). I had no sense at any time that either one was expecting a tip.

    I also never got that sense at the spa, which was not the same experience as at CSA 2 years ago. At CSA, we tipped the masseuse because the web site at the time stated that tipping was only allowed at the spa. The web site has since been changed, and we were pleasantly surprised when we had our couple massages and felt no expectation of a tip from the masseuses.

    We thought the beach drink service at CTI was pretty amazing, considering at CSA you had the flag system, and usually it took 15-20 minutes before someone noticed your flag was up, then another 15-20 minutes for them to return with your drink. We eventually gave up and just got our own drinks. But not at CTI -- someone was around every 10 minutes, checking to see if we wanted a drink. I was very impressed by the beach drink service, and I almost felt guilty telling them "No thanks" most of the time, so I ordered a couple of drinks that I normally wouldn't have just to keep them happy and give them something to do!

    I also never saw any money changing hands on the beach, but that doesn't mean you didn't. In fact, I never saw any money changing hands anywhere on the resort, at any time. Maybe I'm clueless and just missed it, but I really never saw any indication that tipping was going on. I never even saw anyone with money in their hand at any point -- it's an all-inclusive, and you can charge any incidentals to your room, so really it would have looked out of place for someone to be carrying money around with them.

    Thanks for your review!

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    317

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    Jed,

    Thank u so much for giving me the link for your review. My co-worker just came back from Couples and they stayed @ CTI. She absolutely loved it! She said her only complaint was that they didn't stay longer (only 5 days). They went on many excursions and even ate at a restaurant offsite. She begged me not to change our resort. She loved the staff but, hated they didn't have a room with a minibar. So, we have decided to stay with CTI and try to do the day @ CSS. Again, thank u so much.

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