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  1. #1

    Default Trading places review with some CN/CSA comparisons

    I am also going to post a separate full review of our 2nd visit to CN, but I know a lot of people ask for comparisons of CN and CSA, so I thought I would do a separate post of our trading places day and provide what comparisons I can.

    We did a trading places day to CSA during our recent 2nd trip to CN, so obviously my experience with CSA is limited and vastly overshadowed by the time we have spent at CN. CN has our heart, and while we enjoyed our day at CSA, nothing about the day changed that. I told my husband going into the day that we had to keep an open mind and be fair to CSA, and we really, really tried! So, I will try to be as fair and objective as possible. (and of course, BOTH are awesome!) (even though hubby was ready to leave and go back home to CN almost as soon as we got there…)

    Our shuttle didn’t leave CN until 10:05, so we didn’t get to CSA until around 10:20, and I inquired about a tour. Of course, the 10:00 tour had already began, but we were able to join it and I think we only missed the tour of the sports complex. I would suggest to Couples that they make sure the trading places folks get there in time for the tour or provide one just for them—we would have been very overwhelmed and lost without it.

    First impressions: CSA is HUGE, especially compared to CN. At CN, everything is very centralized and easy to maneuver, CSA has restaurants on both ends of the property and you will definitely do a lot more walking and have to plan ahead more. To us, CN has a much more intimate and cozy feel. CSA felt busier and more crowded, and while there was diversity in ages, the crowd overall felt younger at CSA, and more dominated by the 20somethings. (Hubby and I are 40 and 38.)

    The beach: I have often read on here that CSA is more of a “beach scene” while CN is more of a “pool scene.” Having been to CN, this always baffled me, because I did not understand how there could be a more beautiful beach than CN, and after visiting CSA, it still baffles me. The beach at CSA is beautiful, to be sure, and definitely longer, but the CN beach is so much wider, and we much preferred the CN beach. At CSA, we felt like there was less room to spread out and a bit like we were on top of others, even though there were plenty of chairs and floaties. At CSA, it felt like there were more vendors and that they were on top of you, as opposed to CN where they have to walk near the water unless you call them up, and there is plenty of distance if you prefer that. There is also a walkway that runs along the beach at CSA, and it seemed to give it a busier feel with constant movement. However, one advantage of CSA was the cold towel service that CN does not have—CN should definitely consider adding this, it was wonderful! Another thing that CSA has that CN does not brings me to my next point…

    The palapas—I had read about these at CSA—for those who don’t know, CSA has these palapas on the beach, which are these little huts, just big enough for 2 beach chairs and they completely shade you from the sun and rain. I think these just may be a blessing and a curse for CSA. A blessing in that they are awesome—we miraculously managed to snag one for our last hour there, and it was great to sit under and read my Kindle without worrying about the random rain drops, and still be on the beach and enjoy that amazing view. The curse comes from the way people obviously save them early and all day—while we were there, most were not being used, but were being saved with towels. I think this would create a lot of frustration for people who don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to save one. The Couples experience is so wonderful that it is strange to think of anyone feeling deprived while there, but the palapas may create this to a degree. As far as shade goes, I think CN already has so much shade available that they do not need them.

    The pool: After trading places, I do now understand why CN is often mentioned as having more of a pool scene. At CN, the main pool is very large and centralized, it really is the focus of the property when you walk in. However, the pool at CN never felt crowded and there were still chairs available. At CSA, there are jacuzzis located throughout the property, and I’m not sure how many larger pools, but the one we saw the most beside the buffet was almost empty. (of course, this is just one day, this may not be the norm.)

    Food: Food at both places is excellent, so you can’t go wrong here. We only ate once at CSA, but based on that experience alone, I would have to give the slight edge to CSA here. We ate the buffet for lunch and it was excellent—the buffet space felt better organized, more streamlined, and the temperature felt cooler. The red velvet cupcake we had there was the best food we had on our entire trip. However CN also has excellent food, but not quite as good as we remembered it from our previous trip last year.

    Night life: Of course, we were not there for the CSA nightlife, but we did see the piano bar and dance space on our tour. The piano bar at CSA is larger, and they do have a separate dedicated space for dancing. However, the piano bar at CN is plenty big, and we enjoyed our time there.

    Overall, I think all would agree that you can’t go wrong with either—it’s Couples, after all! However, we dearly love CN and prefer the intimacy and coziness of the property, the wide, uncrowded, quiet beach, and the amazing staff at CN. Our day at CSA did not entice us away at all, but I can see how others would love it. I’m sure others with more experience with both of them can provide more details as well.

  2. #2


    Thanks for your review PJ and really appreciate you writing it! We have not been to Couples and we are not going until Dec of 2012 so I have to picture in my mind everything every body writes about. Luckily we get to stay 7 nights at CSA and 7 nights at CN and I keep asking my fiance "I wonder where our heart will be after our trip?"
    But I think I have decided that if we could just arrange it to stay at both resorts every time we go there then we'll both be happy that we get to go back to our "home" every time but PJ I'm ready to go now!! LOL

  3. #3


    I couldn't agree with you more about the beach at CSA. To us it always felt crowded and busy,and it was an issue getting a chair and floatie together some days, which makes you want to rush to get to the beach. There are a lot of beach vendors very close to you, although they are very polite, but still there. And the biggest thing was the pools. I am not a pool person, but I do like a change of scenery in the day, and the pools at CSA were empyt as well while we were there. We are heading to CN for the first time in August, and have booked it again for 2012. I am hoping we will love it as much as you do and a lot of others on this message board. Love your comparison, and thank you for taking the time.

  4. #4

    Default Awesome comparison

    I know it was only for a few hours, but you hit on some of the things I was wondering about and addressed them perfectly. We LOVE CN and I keep wondering if we want to try another resort. If we did, it would probably be CSA but I can't seem to break away from the things we love about CN and they revolve around the nice, smaller size and intimacy of the resort. Also the large size of CSA seems more challenging to me though I love to walk. Not sure how I would feel about it but it is always good to see the opinion of someone who loves CN, and have them compare both resorts.

    thanks for taking the time to do it.

  5. #5


    Great review! We are going back to CSA in February and will be able to take advantage of Trading Places for the first time. I can't wait to check out CN, but like your husband, Im afraid to tear myself away from my beautiful CSA-I'll try to be brave though,lol. Im looking forward to comparing CN's beach and the overall "vibe" of the resort. I know CN's pool scene cant be beat-That pool is humungous!!! I thought your comment about CSA's size was funny-because I thought it was small when I was there for the 1st time-HOWEVER- I'm used to Disney resorts, which are massive, so to me CSA was compact. Anyway, thanx for your review-I'll be writing my own about CN come February (if it ever gets here, sheesh!!)
    Back to Couples April 2012

  6. #6


    Thank you so much for your Trading Spaces review of CSA. We were going to try CN for the day the last time we visited CSA, but couldn't seem to fight the sand gravity once we were there!! Maybe this upcoming trip we'll finally see what's up with CN....

    I understand that CSA may be a bit more spread out than CN, but I always chuckle when I hear people talk about how spread out it is. Honestly, it only takes about 5 minutes to walk from end to end, although if you have mobility or breathing problems I'm sure that distance could seem a bit daunting. We really enjoy the walk (and even getting lost)....I think having such different resorts with such different personalities is part of the strength of the Couples brand....

  7. #7


    After years of going to Jamaica w/ other resorts we discovered Couples and visited CN (3) times. Then 2 years ago we visited CSS and we liked it but we are trying CSA in November because of all that we have read from loyal CSA regulars. We are looking forward to trying the other Negril resort.

  8. #8


    PJ, that was JUST what I needed! I'm trying to decide between CSA and CN and despite all the reasearch I've done, I hadn't found any rviews or descriptions that communicated the spirit/vibe of each place so well.
    Ever think about travel writing as a career?

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by eve_ecs View Post
    PJ, that was JUST what I needed! I'm trying to decide between CSA and CN and despite all the reasearch I've done, I hadn't found any rviews or descriptions that communicated the spirit/vibe of each place so well.
    Ever think about travel writing as a career?
    eve_ecs, that would be my dream job! My day job is as a counselor, but I have done some freelance writing--not quite sure how to break into the travel world, though! Thanks for thinking that--I'm glad it was helpful for some people.

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