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  1. #1

    Default Some newbie questions

    I know this is going to sound redundant....but I'm hoping to get opinions across the board, since they are so diverse.

    I was originally planning a trip with my husband for this coming winter. I ended up winning a vacation to Mexico instead, so now I'm trying to plan a trip for the following summer/winter. We have never been to Couples, although my sister did honeymoon at CSS in 2011 and it was she who recommended the chain to me. After some reading and research, I fell in love with CSA. But I couldn't really swallow the price and became concerned with some reviews of the resort looking rundown and over-aggressive vendors. So I looked into CTI and thought it might be a nice fit for us.

    A few questions because I still cant decide, as all 4 resorts sound wonderful and I can see us trying them all over time.

    The resort we are visiting this year has an un-swimmable beach. A real letdown for us. I'd like to stay on a nice beach, and I know Negril-side is said to be beautiful. The other beaches are nice but smaller and more private.

    I'm debating doing the love away plan and purchase airfare later. I've never used a TA before but do they offer similar payment plans?

    How soon in advance would you recommend booking? I'm looking into either Dec 2016 or summer 2017.

    If you had to decide on a "firsts" trip would you do Negril or Ocho Rios first? If it meant a nicer room for a shorter stay vs the basic room, an extra day but maybe on the smaller beach? Basically I'm debating a 5 day stay at either CSA atrium room or oceanview CN, or 6 day stay in a premiere at CTI or one of the new renovated bedroom suites at CSS (but overall I'm drawn there the least of the 4).

    I know everyone has their favorites and reasons as such. We're looking forward to the included activities and beach of this resort since our Mexico vacation we will pretty much be pool bound due to not having ocean access. I know there's no wrong decision and there's no hurry for me to make one, but since the MB seems to be dying out I thought I'd try to get some opinions while I could. Thanks

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elisen81 View Post
    I know this is going to sound redundant....but I'm hoping to get opinions across the board, since they are so diverse.

    I was originally planning a trip with my husband for this coming winter. I ended up winning a vacation to Mexico instead, so now I'm trying to plan a trip for the following summer/winter. We have never been to Couples, although my sister did honeymoon at CSS in 2011 and it was she who recommended the chain to me. After some reading and research, I fell in love with CSA. But I couldn't really swallow the price and became concerned with some reviews of the resort looking rundown and over-aggressive vendors. So I looked into CTI and thought it might be a nice fit for us.

    A few questions because I still cant decide, as all 4 resorts sound wonderful and I can see us trying them all over time.

    The resort we are visiting this year has an un-swimmable beach. A real letdown for us. I'd like to stay on a nice beach, and I know Negril-side is said to be beautiful. The other beaches are nice but smaller and more private.

    I'm debating doing the love away plan and purchase airfare later. I've never used a TA before but do they offer similar payment plans?

    How soon in advance would you recommend booking? I'm looking into either Dec 2016 or summer 2017.

    If you had to decide on a "firsts" trip would you do Negril or Ocho Rios first? If it meant a nicer room for a shorter stay vs the basic room, an extra day but maybe on the smaller beach? Basically I'm debating a 5 day stay at either CSA atrium room or oceanview CN, or 6 day stay in a premiere at CTI or one of the new renovated bedroom suites at CSS (but overall I'm drawn there the least of the 4).

    I know everyone has their favorites and reasons as such. We're looking forward to the included activities and beach of this resort since our Mexico vacation we will pretty much be pool bound due to not having ocean access. I know there's no wrong decision and there's no hurry for me to make one, but since the MB seems to be dying out I thought I'd try to get some opinions while I could. Thanks


    Please don't be afraid of the rooms. they are just fine. The only time you are in your room is to sleep, shower and have some private time. The bathrooms have been remodeled, but even before, they were spotlessly clean. I know that Couples does not have the glitzy showy rooms with marble bathrooms, and such, but that isn't why I choose where to be on vacation.

    The beach is truly the best in Negril. Yes, there are vendors, but never have I experienced a midly aggressive one. A simple "no Thank You" and they are on their way. We enjoy listening to the little groups that come and sing. While we really dislike smoking, we smile when we hear the man selling ciiigaarettes on the beach.

    If you want to float on clear water that is relatively still, walk on silky soft sand, CSA is the place for you.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elisen81 View Post
    I know this is going to sound redundant....but I'm hoping to get opinions across the board, since they are so diverse.

    I was originally planning a trip with my husband for this coming winter. I ended up winning a vacation to Mexico instead, so now I'm trying to plan a trip for the following summer/winter. We have never been to Couples, although my sister did honeymoon at CSS in 2011 and it was she who recommended the chain to me. After some reading and research, I fell in love with CSA. But I couldn't really swallow the price and became concerned with some reviews of the resort looking rundown and over-aggressive vendors. So I looked into CTI and thought it might be a nice fit for us.

    A few questions because I still cant decide, as all 4 resorts sound wonderful and I can see us trying them all over time.

    The resort we are visiting this year has an un-swimmable beach. A real letdown for us. I'd like to stay on a nice beach, and I know Negril-side is said to be beautiful. The other beaches are nice but smaller and more private.

    I'm debating doing the love away plan and purchase airfare later. I've never used a TA before but do they offer similar payment plans?

    How soon in advance would you recommend booking? I'm looking into either Dec 2016 or summer 2017.

    If you had to decide on a "firsts" trip would you do Negril or Ocho Rios first? If it meant a nicer room for a shorter stay vs the basic room, an extra day but maybe on the smaller beach? Basically I'm debating a 5 day stay at either CSA atrium room or oceanview CN, or 6 day stay in a premiere at CTI or one of the new renovated bedroom suites at CSS (but overall I'm drawn there the least of the 4).

    I know everyone has their favorites and reasons as such. We're looking forward to the included activities and beach of this resort since our Mexico vacation we will pretty much be pool bound due to not having ocean access. I know there's no wrong decision and there's no hurry for me to make one, but since the MB seems to be dying out I thought I'd try to get some opinions while I could. Thanks
    You need to give us a little more of what you're looking for but off the top of my head I can say a few things.
    Don't make a decision based on a room. You're never in it. Get the longest stay you can afford. It seems pretty much agreed that CN has the best beach. We always use a TA because they do the work and don't cost anything extra. CSA is much larger than CN and has more vendors on the beach. Both CSA & CN are well kept up but try to keep a "caribbean" look but they are not run-down by any means. If you want to walk down a beach & stop at beach bars then CSA is your better choice but why pay for drinks when you've already paid for them at Couples?
    Captain Jim
    "I will grow old....
    But I won't grow up"

  4. #4

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    The Ocho Rios beaches are great, it's just there tends to be more rocks in the water. Water shoes takes care of that, and once in the water, you can float around all day. It is quite beautiful.

    We always purchase airfare separately. We'll start looking at pricing about 3-6 months out, and when things look good, we purchase.

    We have taken advantage of the Love Away plan a few times, however, we modify it a little bit. After booking (through Couples website) we contact them and have them increase the monthly debit from our credit card. We like the vacation to be completely paid for ahead of time. So this time, we'll be back August 2016 to CSS, we increased the monthly auto-debit to $250 per month, so when the final monthly payment comes due, we'll be paid in full. As far Travel agents offering similar arrangements, I have no idea.

    How far in advance should you book? Since the resorts are generally closer to capacity in the winter months, if you want to be sure to get a certain room type/category, then a year out is not unreasonable. That said six months out will likely still have availability. Likewise , summer time gives you a little more flexibility as the resorts generally have more availability. Also, usually cheaper in the summer months.

    We're in love with CSS, but that's likely because it was our first visit. It was so amazing on every level. And while many people go back to Couples year after year, it's hard to replicate that amazing first feeling of reconnecting with your partner (which for us was a long time coming), that on an emotional level at least, CSS will always be paradise for us.

  5. #5

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    Hi Elisen81!


    We have been to all 4 resorts and will be glad to give our opinion. If you feel drawn to CSA then that's the resort we'd recommend you go with. There's nothing like trusting your gut after doing the research. The price is a little higher but the resort is beautiful. It has the longest beachline of all Couples Resorts (though a little shallower). The security folks at Couples do a good job of keeping vendors away from the guests (they aren't allowed to come up past the waterline unless you invite them). The buildings there, except the Great House, have more of villa feel and are not run down. The Atrium Rooms you spoke of are centrally located between the beachfront and garden rooms so allow for easy access to the beach without being right on it or far from it (a nice compromise).

    CN is a good alternative for those who can't quite stomach the cost of CSA. The Ocean View rooms are nicely situated with a good view of the ocean. Both CSA and CN have comparable views of the ocean (and sunsets). The beach at CN is not as long as that of CSA but is deeper. CN, like CSA, is not a private beach, like CSS or CTI, so vendors can walk along selling their wares but are restricted to the waterline. The ocean at CN is a little calmer as it's in a cove.

    CTI is a nice resort. It is more "hotel like" but not a problem if you don't like a big resort explore. If you like to wander the beach you'll be limited. Unlike CN or CSA you can't "walk down the beach". While it is a smaller resort it's a little easier to get around than any of the other Couples Resorts as it's not so spread out. One drawback that we've found is that if faces north so you won't see much of a sunset (except from the pier).

    We've not tried the Love Away plan and have either booked direct with Couples or used a TA so can't give any advice there. Usually Couples offers a special rate plan somewhere in the Spring or Fall (can't remember which) where you can get some good deals for a limited time. We watch for those and try to get them when they happen for the best pricing.

    For a first trip we'd choose one of the Negril resorts if you're looking for the best view. One thing you can do to enhance your visit is to sign up for Romance Rewards. By doing that you're able, even on your first visit, to do a day trip to the other Couples Resort on the same side of the island. This gives the ability to enjoy one Couples Resort and try out another. This is what has lead us to return and stay at the resort we "test drove".

    Something to remember about Couples Resorts is that there is no wrong one. Each has its own flavor and appeals to some more than the others. The staff and food at each are awesome! The people of Jamaica will strive to make your vacation the best it can be. The fun is finding out which Couples Resort is your favorite. Enjoy whichever one you go with and share your thoughts on the Message Board so that you can help others in their decision.

    You're welcome and have fun at whichever Couples Resort you choose!!

  6. #6

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    We always use a Travel Agent. We typically book 8-9 months in advance. We have to pay a deposit at booking that is based on the airfare which is about 15% of the total cost. Then we pay the remainder 45 days from departure.

    As far as which resort, we have only stayed at CN. So I don't think I can be of much help. On the nicer room vs longer stay question, I would go with the longer stay. Since you don't know which resort is best I say take the cheaper option that gets you more days.

  7. #7

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    Is a long, expansive beach important to you? If yes, the Negril side might be a better fit. Do you mind beach vendors? If so, Negril has less than CSA. If you'd rather not be bothered at all, the other Couples resorts could be your best bet. I know some take big issue with the vendors, I'm a fairly social person so I don't mind having a brief chat with the locals on the beach. I've not experienced one that didn't walk away after we said our second "no thank you". Negril's beach is world famous for a reason. If you're really going for a beach vibe, I wouldn't miss out on 7 mile beach, but that's what's important to me. I care less about room décor and upgrades assuming all is clean and in good working order. Either way, you really won't go wrong with couples.

  8. #8

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    I have been to all four resorts and enjoyed them all. Once you go to Negril though, you will not enjoy the beach in Ocho as much if you are a beach person. So maybe go to Ocho first and love it and then return to Negril and love it even more? Negril's beach is nicer by FAR--if that is your main concern. However, both CTI ans CSS have pretty and swimable beaches (though small) and snorkeling is available (I prefer the beaches at CSS of the Ocho resorts personally).

    Whatever resort you choose, my recommendation is to do the garden view or least expensive room and stay longer--if the budget is tight--or maybe the next level up if the cost increase is minimal. Do 7 nights if possible, since that way you'll get to experience the featured activities for each night. You might be sad if you miss lobster night, the beach party, the bon fire or whatever it is that you don't want to miss. The worst room at Couples is actually pretty nice and you will spend most of your time at the beach unless it rains. Another thing to consider is that summer is usually cheaper, but you can get good rates for early December if you book far in advance. For summer, I think July has the best (driest) weather. If you know you are going, book asap as the rates rarely get lower (especially for December). I think Couple's payment plan is the best.

  9. #9

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    Hi Elisen, Congrats on winning a vacation to Mexico! How exciting! I once won a trip to Madrid, Spain to see Depeche Mode in concert off the radio. That was a once in a lifetime Win!!! Anyways, I wanted to share my first Couples experience. Friends of ours planned a destination wedding in Montego Bay (rented a villa and everything), and we wanted to extend our vacation for 'us' but not interfere with the Brides plans. Not having kids, we decided on an adult only AI resort which narrowed things down, and we found Couples. This was our first all-inclusive AND our first encounter with au-natural. After researching all 4 Couples resorts we decided on CTI. This was 2010 and they had just completed a major (several million dollars) renovation. The AN is on the island so we felt it was a comfortable fit for us. Also, CTI is in a cove of sorts. The beach is not accessible unless you are staying at the resort. CTI gave us the insurance that we wouldn't be hassled by vendors, or left feeling uncomfortable around the au-natural's, or disappointed in anyway due to the renovations. We were right! We stayed 7 nights and we LOVED it!!! Everything exceeded our expectations. CTI also had amazing inclusions that we took advantage of, Dunn's River Falls and the Plantation Horseback ride, also the Catamaran cruise. At the time, only the suite's had a mini bar at CTI so we stayed in that level. I believe all the room categories at all the resorts have a mini-bar in the room. If I had to chose between a bigger bathroom over a longer stay....I would chose longer stay. every. time. You don't really spend that much time in them anyways.
    We are going back to Jamaica in 25 days to CN. We wanted to try a different resort....a different Couples resort.
    We are staying 7 nights and cannot wait. CN was always going to be our next stay because of the beach. At CTI we spent most of our time near or around the pool. Their beach is limited and wasn't very appealing to us. Maybe at CN 'sand gravity' will hit us more and we will spend more time at the sea shore rather than the pool. But for sure I love walking along the beach and I will have plenty of that at CN. Im also more comfortable with Jamaican time, and the feel for Jamaica, so the beach vendors will only add to the experience. And AN...hey whatever makes you happy. It's all irie mon!
    I guess what I would say to you is: know what you want out of your vacation. If you want to get out and explore, stay at the resort that includes them and that is near the excursions. For example, CTI is very close to Dunn's river falls (less than a 30min drive for sure). But if you want to try Dunn's falls from CN you are going on a three hour drive to get to the falls, and a three hour ride back....your whole day is taken up. Know what you want out of your vacation. If you want to reconnect your other half, and romance is number one, you wont go wrong with any of the resorts. If you want nightlife, chose the resort that has activities at night. CTI was low-key and most activities were over around 10pm, where CN has nightlife starting at 10pm. Once you know what you want out of your vacation, you will make a confident decision on which Couples resort is right for you.

    Becky & Wayne
    CTI in April 2010

  10. #10

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    Elisen81
    If you fell in love with CSA - go there. Each Couples resort has it's own charm and all are beautiful. CSA has the best beach. That said, The beach at CSA is a public beach, but we have never had any trouble with over-aggressive vendors during any of our stays there. Just tell them no thanks and they will leave you alone.

    Monica and I recommend December 2016 for your trip. We are there every year in December and love it. Hurricane season is over, it's not excessively hot, and in 8 trips we've never seen more than 20 minutes of rain during the day. We have had some high winds due to offshore storms that cancelled water activities for a few days but everything else was still available. Atrium suites are the choice of many repeat guests.

    Like you, we also plan on visiting all four resorts over time. We did finally try the Trading Places with Couples Negril and enjoyed it a lot, but not as much as CSA.

    As for the Love Away Plan, we do that every year and most of the time we book two years in advance. We book our airline 330 days in advance. TA's may be able to get you a better price. It never hurts to shop around.

    Regardless, you've got some time to make your decisions but I hope that we will get a chance to meet you in December 2016. If you are there between the 12th thru the 20th, we'll introduce you to A Bob Marley. LOL

    Mike and Monica
    Jamaica Soon Come.
    Bob Marleys for everyone!!!!

  11. #11

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    Elisen81, we've been to csa 5 times with#6 booked. Css once and cn on a trading places day. Csa beach blows them all out of the water. The food and service are comparable at all resorts. Like others have said, stay as long as you can and the cheaper rooms are really great. We are always on the beach so stay in the garden rooms now. Beachfront is great but too expensive for us now. If you'd like some pics of csa, email me at clemonssara40@gmail.com

  12. #12

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    Hello there,
    Let me first start out by saying in no way am I anywhere near the amounts of visits or expert to the Couples resorts as many of the helpful people on these boards, but after going to CSA for our honeymoon last year we decided with 100% certainty we wanted to see all the Couples resorts after being treated like royalty and the amazing food and the incredibly surreal beach. I do want to clear something up about the room, I was hesitant about the rooms also because of reading the reviews and let me tell you, as long as you realign your expectations that this isn't some ginormous marble mega resort and that is this beyond words charming true Jamaican vibe and feel to the resort. And the photos of the rooms did NOT do them justice, I feel like in a handful of photos I came across like you after doing endless research, the photos did not do the rooms truthfully how they look. They are incredibly clean and white colored and I don't think it translates into photos well, because I think they looked so much better in person. Also, the vendors were present but if you just politely said no they went away, we were never bothered. In fact, we loved the people playing on the beach, which I found out CTI won't have, which is where we are going this year since we loved our stay last November, I was sort of bummed I really enjoyed them. One of my favorite memories on the beach with them performing, very softly not in your face. Authentic reggae beach music! I loved it.
    So, I agree with all the posts on here that you need to figure out what is important to you. Just because I loved the beach performers doesn't mean everyone else would. So make a decision based on your priorities and expectations. I know anyone what you stay at will not be the wrong choice!!!!!!

  13. #13

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    We've never had good luck with prices using a TA. We usually go with either Travelocity or Expedia, they are both pretty much the same and both price in Canadian dollars which is a plus for us due to high USD to CDN rates. Yes, rates have gone up with Couples due to the fact that it's not a hidden gem like it use to be anymore, when you keep receiving awards, people catch on and prices inevitably go up.. enough economics.

    Personal choice for us is CSA, we've been twice and will continue to go back, here are some things we like about it...

    1. CN was nice but smaller, we liked the beach on CSA better, you could walk forever on CSA's beach, CN's beach is closed off so more privacy from beach vendors, I believe CN has a spot for nude bathers if you're into that but both resorts were nice
    2. CSA has two separated pools, one with bar one without, so if the pool bar gets too rowdy for you, you can always go to the other one, vice versa, this happened to us last time we were there, there was a group of people who set up a floating beer pong thing right beside the pool bar, wasn't our thing.
    3. CSA is also closer to town or Margaritaville or Rick's Cafe, but there are shuttles that go there from both resorts I believe. We loved walking the long beach down to Margaritaville for a "treat"

    Those are really the only differences I could tell, we didn't really spend a lot of time at CN cause we did the Resort swap day pass thingy. I'm sure the food is just as good and the staff is just as courteous. We've never been to the other resorts but would love to in the future. We have been to a resort in Ochos Rios and it's beautiful out there.

    As for prices, TA's don't do anything for us but has for others. I've even taken a quote from Expedia to my TA and they said they can't even touch that price. The trick with online agents like Expedia or Travelocity is you have to pretty much check daily. I work at my home on a computer so I was pretty much checking prices every 3-4 hours. You probably think that's silly but it works, prices can jump anywhere from $200 to $400 per person in a matter of hours. There was an hour where the price dropped from $2800 cdn pp to $2400 cdn pp, I booked it. You may think that's a lot but factor in that this price is in CDN, all taxes in flight and resort. All we have to do is pay for luggage which is no biggie. Funny thing was, Expedia call us a couple of days ago and said there was a slight error in booking due to a computer glitch, they fixed it and gave us another $200 off, I'm not complaining.

    Good luck and I hope you enjoy Couples, doesn't where you go, you'll love it either way.

  14. #14

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    Just FYI, the summer months are cheaper because it's the rainy season, hurricane season and very hot and humid.

  15. #15

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    June 1- November 30 is considered hurricane season. It's the tropics so you can expect an afternoon rain shower most days and you won't see too many washouts.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by softail19 View Post
    Just FYI, the summer months are cheaper because it's the rainy season, hurricane season and very hot and humid.
    We go in July for a few of reasons, first, it's a bit cheaper, not really that much more unless it's high season like christmas time or march break, 2nd, my wife is a teacher so really we can only go after June, third, it's our anniversary in July and final and not least, I prefer to travel when there is no snow or it's not cold. I hate flying in the winter, too many times have we been grounded or delayed due to weather problems. Rain is never a real issue, it pours for 5 minutes around 1/2 pm then it's sunny and hot again, pretty consistent, of the times we went, there was only one time where the rain lasted longer then 5 minutes, there was a storm coming but that gave us an excuse to spend it at the pool bar, it was awesome, we had a good crowd and the bartender was awesome, he even let me and another bartend for a bit cause we use to be bartenders

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