We traveled to Jamaica for the first time in July and we were not disappointed! Sorry it's so long, but it's honest!

Here are a few ups and downs about CTI and an amazing excursion suggestion :

- The resort is further away from the airport than I hoped. After dealing with airports and flying all day, it was rough knowing we had another 2 hours ahead of us. On the plus side- you get to see a lot of the countryside and experience Jamaican life. We had Dan the Man with the Van as our driver and I felt completely safe the whole time. It was also pretty cool to bring beers on the journey with us.

- Arrival was great! Kirk was there to offer us a drink, cold towel and welcome smile the moment we stepped off the van. After a 2 minute check in, he brought us up to our room and (when I discovered our pre-check in items weren't there) came back to the room within minutes with my requests.

- The food was always great- very tasty. It didn't always agree with me, so I recommend you pack some Pepto pills. Our favourite restaurant was the Verandah. You don't need a reservation, there's no dress code and the food was amazing! Eight Rivers was fabulous- but a few members of our group couldn't join us for dinner due to the dress code... probably my only complaint about the restaurant. Bayside was good, but took way too long to get our food (3 hours- and there was only 10 of us)

We loved the fact that the Grill was always open (except during dinner) and that you could order fresh cooked food anytime. The calamari was amazing and so were the fries and onion rings. Definitely a happy place after a few drinks And who doesn't like soft serve ice cream anytime you want it?!

- Room service was always very prompt- which was appreciated.

- One small, weird complaint we had was the lack of CocaCola at the resort... the fountain machines are all Pepsi (including those at the bar) so you couldn't get a Crown and Coke. On our second last day, we saw a bellhop with CocaCola in his cart and convinced him to find us some. Funny enough, I understand CSA only has Coke and no Pepsi... odd.

- The beach, as mentioned in other posts, was very small. The nice thing was, though- it never felt crowded and you never had to fight for a chair or floaty. There was sufficient shade area and someone always happy to bring you a drink. The water had sea-weedy parts and rocky parts, but it gets deep quick enough that you only have to encounter them for a few steps.

- I loved that the pools were open 24 hours. There's nothing better than a late night swim with a few cocktails in you! The pools are shallow- but it made for some great Marco Polo grounds!

- We had a garden view room in building 3. Sadly, we were right above the lobby so it got loud (really loud) during the day (about 9am to 5pm) when the staff were out and about taking care of the place. I guess they expect that everyone is an early riser and out of bed by then- but we're night hawks... The nice thing, though was how quiet it got after 5pm- pure silence.

The room was really nice with a King bed, a few chairs and a walk in closet. Our friends were in buildings 4 and 5 and they all felt our room was biggest and nicest (even those who paid for an ocean view!) Our balcony was nice and large also- and very private!

If you're booking a garden view room- make sure to request floors 3 and up. Floors 1 and 2 had views of tree trunks, where we could see over the tree tops with views of the mountains!

- There was ZERO nightlife after midnight. Do not go to CTI expecting a party... unless daytime parties are your thing.

- Every day I tried the 'drink of the day' and loved it. So cool to get something different and new each time!!

- The resort is well laid out. I never felt like I was walking too far to get to anything.

- We did not participate in any 'resort provided' excursions. Did not visit Nude Island (as we called it) and did not try any sports. We went to relax and have a nice time with our friends. Mission accomplished! The nice thing was that you never felt pressured to play or join in anything- it was so relaxed and easy going.

We did, however, pay for a private tour that was WORTH EVERY PENNY. Check out Home - Paul's Jamaica Tours & Airport Transfers and book Paul for any trips. He didn't end up costing more than a 'booked' excursion with a travel company AND took us to the Blue Hole- where we were the only tourists being shown around by Kevin, a lovely young local man who was amazing. Kevin took our photos throughout our visit and showed us 'the spots' to jump and swing into crystal clear waters. He was well worth the $10 guide fee (per person) and more! Make sure to tip off resort!!!

Back to Paul... he has a large van and can be booked for various tours around Jamaica. I felt 100% safe the entire time and he was extremely knowledgeable about every topic we asked about. We paid for his services separately and paid to enter the destinations ourselves- which saved us money. We went to Bob Marley's birthplace (I believe it's called the Nine Mile Tour) which was nice, but a little too commercial for my liking.

DEFINITELY VISIT THE BLUE HOLE!!! It's only half an hour away from CTI and WAAAAAY better than Dunns Falls (we didn't visit Dunns, but our friends did and they said the Blue Hole was better!)

- Lastly, the staff were incredible. Never once did I see someone who wasn't smiling from ear to ear. They seemed very happy and eager to make your stay comfortable. None of my requests were turned down (except one... oddly enough, it's hard to get ice after room service shuts down {9pm} and I went on an adventure to find some! We learned our lesson and asked for it by 9pm!)

I wish we could have tipped- but appreciated not feeling obligated to do so. We provided our maid with chocolates and she seemed indifferent about it. I think she would have preferred that we 'hide' some money somewhere for her! Regardless, our room was made up everytime we hung the sign out- whether it was in the morning or during dinner. Everytime.

I would highly, highly recommend this resort. It was very relaxing and a very enjoyable time. We WILL be going back to Jamaica and we WILL be booking Couples. I think this time we're going to try Negril...