We stayed at Couples Swept Away from March 19-26, 2010. We are 39 and 40 from Missouri. We've visited Couples Tower Isle twice before. We got married there in April 1995 and returned in April 2005. This was our first trip to Couples Swept Away. We flew from KC to Dallas to Montego Bay, arriving at 1:40pm on Friday, March 19th. Immigration lines were LONG. I don't know if it was the time of day and day of the week or what, but it's the longest we ever remember seeing in Jamaica. Once we got through that the Couples lounge was easy to find and we waited about 20 minutes before boarding the bus.
Travel and Check-in: Traffic in Montego Bay was heavy so it took a long time to get out of the city. The drive was uneventful with the normal bathroom/beer stop and we arrived at Couples Swept Away (after dropping off some Couples Negril guests) sometime before 4:30pm. Check-in was a breeze and very quick. They do take the $300 deposit on your credit card at this point. We were also given our repeaters packet with coupon for free massages, invite to the repeaters dinner and t-shirts. We did not get a gift shop voucher or the departure snack, but I honestly forgot about it so didn't ask. We got to our room quickly and it was what we had requested...ocean verandah suite on the third floor. We also had a corner room which gave us better views than other room in that building. The view is partially blocked by the beachfront buildings, but we still had great views from the front and side of the verandah.
Room: The room was nice and had everything we expected. We were in Building 12, room 4316, which is right next to the Great House building overlooking the pool. The downside to this is that the nightclub and piano bar are also in that building so as people left there at 2am we were awakened to the screaming, laughing, pushing each other into the pool, etc. We slept with the doors open and normally could hear the ocean at night. We'd have booked a beachfront suite, but by the time we booked they were all full. We were very happy with our room though and the views were great. You'd definitely want the third floor though to get the full effect.
Internet: There were more computers than I expected and we never had to wait for one. They worked great.
Housekeeping: The room was kept very clean and housekeeping did a great job. Three days I had to call for hand towels and washclothes since these were not replenished, but they arrived quickly after I called. The room was usually cleaned after 3pm each day. The minibar was restocked prior to that each day.
Beach: The beach is kept very clean and security does a fabulous job of keeping track of those leaving the property and keeping people from other resorts from coming in too far. The water is just so clear and the beach slopes so gently that you can walk out really far. We never had a problem with getting chairs. There are plenty, but shade can be hard to come by as the day goes on. The general manager did tell us that they hope to eventually plant more trees for shade and get rid of the palapas to have the beach be totally natural, in keeping with their green efforts. He also said they are ordering more chairs and some shade sails that will tie between the trees, but not be visible from the water so the beach will still look natural. They are aware that people are pretty much getting up in the middle of the night to reserve palapas and hope to eliminate that game and improve the look of the beach by doing away with the palapas altogether and planting more trees.
Vendors: Like others have said...there are the usual vendors, but if you say "No thank you" they move right along. Couples allows a few vendors up on the property to set up booths on various days and they have some cool stuff...but they are hustlers as well so be prepared to do friendly negotiations!
Spa: We had our free repeaters massages and I upgraded mine to a full hour. It was awesome! The mineral pool is great and the massage therapists were wonderful.
Gym/Running Track: The gym is large enough and was never too busy when we were there. We did not use any of the equipment as we just used the running track, but it looked to be high quality equipment and you can get a personal trainer at any time which I think is just a fabulous perk. The running track really impressed me. It's a half-mile around and is on the back of the property with sort of a jungle feel. Every so often there is a workout station where you can do pull-up, ab work, etc. Very cool. We'd get there around 8:15am and have it mostly to ourselves. It is narrow, but otherwise a really nice place to run in the morning.
Wellness Bar at the gym: The Wellness bar has all kinds of smoothies, infused waters, etc. Very neat options there.
Piano Bar: We were there three times and the first two it was just glorified karoke. The third time the piano player was playing games, name-that-tune kinds of things, etc. and it was more fun.
Aura Nightclub: Very cool. We went twice. The lighting and seating are just really awesome and the staff does a fantastic job and getting people engaged, dancing, etc.
Bars: Flag service on the beach (roughly from 10am-4pm) was great and worked quickly. Cool towels, snowcones and fruit kabobs were also brought around each morning. Drinks of the day were always tasty! Every bar we went to had great service and drinks.
Food: Food overall was awesome! We ate breakfast and lunch at the Palms buffet. They have the standards each time, but also had new and different things each day. Service here was always great. Seagrapes had good options and the sweet potato chips with hummus were a favorite snack in the afternoon. The Cabana grill was so-so in my opinion. Good fries and we also had the jerk chicken and snapper sandwiches. We ate at Feathers and while the experience and service were top notch we thought the food was average. Great experience though and very friendly staff. Lemongrass was good and interesting. The location and second floor open air setting is really nice. Our favorite restaurant was Patois Patio. We ate there three times and had a variety of things. Very good!! The crawfish appetizer and soups were great! The repeaters dinner was held outside Patois and was the best meal we had. The cocktail hour and dinner were well orchestrated and you wanted for nothing. They do a fabulous job with this and really make you feel appreciated. The outdoor setting and entertainment really made it a great evening and the willingness of the top level staff to answer questions, etc., is really commendable.
Everything was always very clean and the staff...from the guys sweeping the walks to the bartenders to anyone you met...were friendly and always asking if everything is okay, etc. The only place we encountered unfriendly service was at the Wellness bar and at the Cabana grill. We were at each place three times and each time the servers behind the counter acted as though they really wished they weren't being bothered.
Activities: We did the catamaran cruise which was a lot of fun. Ours wasn't very full and we liked that. It was a good time. We also went snorkeling which was fine, but you wait longer for the boat to leave and getting there than you actually do snorkeling. But it's free and we did see some colorful fish, an eel and a stingray. The beach party on Friday night had a great buffet and entertainment. The romantic bonfire on Wednesday night was really neat, too. My husband did the martini mixology class and had a good time with that.
I'd seen some people mention the noisy carts in the early morning and we did hear these sometimes...I'd say as early as 5:30 or 6am. But it was easy to go back to sleep and worth it to keep the doors open to hear the waves.
Staff we particularly loved: Dewayne and Martino doing beach service, Orrin at Patios--very sweet and talented young man, and Lensworth at Feathers. Also Paul who is part of the entertainment staff was great and EVERYWHERE. I swear he was there 24 hours a day.
Misc: We bought a calling card...100 minutes for $9 with a $2 connection fee each time you use it. This seemed very reasonable and worked well to call home every other day. Also, water pressure was fine. I have very thick, very long hair and had no trouble getting it washed and rinsed. Speaking of---tip for those whose hair gets whacked from the humidity--I tried the John Frieda Frizz-eze (I don't think I spelled that right) and it worked GREAT! I could actually wear my hair down without it being a mess. Also...I'd seen some posts about tons of cats, but we only saw a few, mostly at night, and they were really cute and not bothering a thing.
Check-out: Was easy...we paid our bill with cash and they credit back the original deposit. Our flight was at 2:45pm. We had to have our bags ready by 9am and meet the bus at 10am. This was earlier than I'd hoped, but gave us time to do some shopping at the airport.
Guests: Seemed that most guests were in their 30s or above and we saw some couples well into their 80s who were having as good a time as the younger ones. Lots of diversity in terms of where the guests were from. I'd say the Americans and Canadians were there in equal numbers, but also lots of British, French and some German and Irish.
Suggestions: The beach bars close at 6 and 6:30pm which seems really early. The indoor bars open then, but I really wish the beach bars were open a little later. Also, the towel huts were not always open at the times posted (8am-4pm), especially the one by the Great House pool. So we often had to take wet towels to our room and wait till mid-morning the next day to exchange them. 4pm seems too early to close these as well as a lot of people stay on the beach till after 5pm or past sunset.
Overall our stay totally met our expectations and we had a wonderful time. We would definitely go back. Couples gives a great experience and the things that are included are amazing. One highlight was meeting another couple on the message boards a couple of weeks before going and then getting to be in their wedding. Lots of fun!
Thanks for the review! We left CSA 4 days before you arrived. We were 1st timers and CSA exceeded our expectations in every way, we loved it! I must agree with you, we thought the towel exchange hut wasn't manned when we sometimes needed it to be. No big deal though. We also enjoyed the Palms, we never had a bad meal there, or anywhere at CSA (well, I could have done without the Cabana Grill,lol)
Question for you about the noise issue. Did the noise bother you if you kept your door shut? We are actually booked for a Great House VS next year, so I'm hoping if I just keep the door shut during the night I wont hear anything.
The umbrellas in pic 2 are at the pool. It does kinda look like the beach in the pic, but they are around the Great House pool by the pool bar.
About the noise...no, if the doors were shut we didn't notice it. And when we did hear stuff it usually passed pretty quickly, with the exception of one night when people really got into throwing each other in the pool as they left the nightclub.
ENJOY all of you who are on your way! Wish I was returning with you!!
Wow - this makes me even more homesick. We will be returning to Jamaica in August with our first trip to CSA, second to Couples. Thanks for the review and pictures, it gives us something to look foward to.