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    Default Couples Negril Trip report 09/23 to 09/30

    COUPLES NEGRIL TRIP REPORT 09/23/17 to 09/30/17
    This was our 4th trip to a Couples resort. We renewed our wedding vows in 2011 at Swept Away and then stayed at San Souci in 2013 and 2014. We are big fans of the Couples chain, which I should note is only found on the island of Jamaica.

    All of our prior trips were in February, but, quite frankly, high season has become too expensive for us. To go somewhere else? No way. We love Jamaica and after a trip to Mexico and a cruise to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Martin, we knew we wanted our toes in the sand on our beloved island.

    We arrived at MBJ around noon after leaving MSP at 5:30 am with a layover in Atlanta. Normally, we do Club Mobay, but this time, because we were coming in low season, we threw caution to the wind and skipped it. There were absolutely no lines. We literally got off the plan and had no waiting. From the time we got off the plane to the Couples headquarters at MBJ was maybe 10 minutes (we walked). I note that we did carry on luggage (if you can swing it, so worth it!), so no luggage to wait for.

    We handed our bags off to a Couples employee who quickly tagged our bags and told us to get a drink and relax. Ya Mon!! Hubby grabbed a Red Stripe and I got a water and we were on the road within about 10 minutes.

    On the way to the resort, we made a quick stop at “Cousins Cove” for a bathroom break and a drink. The van was full. I had to sit up front with the driver and hubby sat behind me. Given that I am prone to motion sickness, this actually worked out really good. I can see how some couples may not have appreciated the seating arrangement, but it was all good here.

    Check In (FAIL!!):
    When we arrived at the resort, I literally ran to the front desk while husband orchestrated the bags. There was at least 3 Couples employees there. I told one of them who I was and I was checking in. No smile. No “welcome”. I was simply told to sit down and someone would be right with me. WHAT?????? I sat in front of the desk for about 10 minutes before the rest of the bus came in. At this point, someone had passed out champagne and cold towels. One lady addressed the group and told us about the rules and the credit card hold, etc. She then announced our names and handed out clip boards and pens.
    I signed the document and was given my room key. Still no smile or a “Welcome Home”. We went to gather our bags and the bell man indicated he would bring our bags to our room. We told him that we had only carry ons and wanted to take our own bags. He told us again no. We insisted and he said that we could take our bags but only if we didn’t tell anyone, which we agreed too. He pointed us in the right direction and we quickly found our room.

    The Room (Pass with flying colors!)
    We had room number 1202 which was steps from the beach, restaurants and pool. This room is beautiful. Our housekeepers were fantastic and took such good care of us morning and night. We loved the towel animals and turn down service. We loved the location. The AC worked great. The only complaint is the light on the AC unit was really bright. We remedied that by putting my robe over the light. If we stay here again, we want this room again. We had no issues with ants or bugs, though, if we did, we wouldn’t have had a problem with it…this is the Caribbean..right? Overall, we loved the room and the staff that went with it.

    Food (Mediocre??)
    We ate at all of the restaurants. The food at Otatheite (spelling) was really good. Lots of prior reviewers loved Lychee, but I was a bit disappointed. What exactly was the issue? The only thing I can put my finger on is that it seemed like everything was heavily sauced and mostly overcooked. I would have loved a steak without a bunch of stuff on top of it or simple grilled lobster with a side of drawn butter. The jerk chicken at the beach grill was good, but again tons of sauce. The food was not BAD. It just wasn’t great. The last 2 visits were to CSS and we constantly found ourselves comparing our food to there. We did trading spaces at Swept Away while there and had lunch and enjoyed the lunch very much at Swept Away (grilled fish tacos and sweet potato chips anyone?? ).

    Bar service/Red flag beach service (Very good to EXCELLENT)
    Bartenders were friendly and attentive, but I really wished for a martini bar like CSS. I asked several bar tenders for a Lychee martini and was told I could only get it at the Lychee restaurant. The problem with that (for me) is I want a martini (or 2) BEFORE dinner, not during dinner. So, the Lychee martini eluded me. We did think the beach drink service was much better here than CSS or CSA, so props to the people who were constantly available to fill our drink orders while we lounged around.

    Water sports/included activities (FANTASTIC)
    We snorkeled and took out a hobby cat and stand up paddle boards. We also did the Catamaran cruise. The water sports guys were fun, attentive and always willing to lend a helping hand. The snorkeling was pretty good. I heard others say snorkeling at other islands was better, but this has nothing to do with CN.

    Repeaters Dinner (Meh…)
    Husband and I were seated across from each other. Just before the program started, I excused myself for a quick bathroom break. I returned to find my seat occupied with one of the most gorgeous Jamaican women I have ever seen. The chair next to her was vacant (why wasn’t she sitting there???). I finally told her that I had concerns with her chosen seat and she changed seats with me. This lady was part of Couples Human Resources. At the repeaters dinner, several Couples’ executives are seated with the guests to find out concerns, questions and get feedback. I have always enjoyed the repeaters dinner, but this situation annoyed me. I am still wondering why I had to kick a Couples Executive out of my chair that was directly across from my husband? The food was really good and the service excellent, however, we couldn’t help but compare this repeaters dinners to the 2 we had at CSS. CSS wins hands down. At CSS, the GM was present at both dinners and made a point to talk to and thank each and every guest. At CSS, we were served lobster that was grilled in front of our eyes with no sauces. There was not a GM at this dinner as he had gone to Montego Bay for something. I understand he/she can’t be at all of them.

    Overall Trip/Resort Ranking: Good to Excellent with a few hiccups. We enjoyed our time here and I hope my honest review doesn’t make the reader think they should reconsider this resort.

    We are in our 50’s and we found most of the guests to be right around our age group and A LOT OF FUN! Most guests were die hard Couples Negril fans with multiple visits to CN under their belts. Quite honestly, I hope they don’t read this review or I am going to get all kinds of hate mail…lol. It seems that you either fall madly in love with CN or you don’t. We didn’t, but that is only because we are in love with another Couples resort. Would we recommend this resort? Yes!! Would we return? Probably not. My heart belongs to CSS and my husband’s heart belongs to CSA.

    This was our 8th trip to Jamaica. We have stayed in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Negril at several different resorts. We have gone the “all inclusive route” and the “on your own route”. We finally have come to the determination that we LOVE COUPLES. We won’t be looking at any other brand for our next trip.

    Thank you Couples for a great week. We will be back, but only time will tell if it will be CSS or CSA.

  2. #2

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    Thanks for recapping your trip!! Fair review with pros and cons. No problem mon.

    Glad you stood up to your end of the agreement with the bellman.

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    LOL jimpat1 - I was thinking the exact thing about the bellman! JoleenG - thanks for your honest review. We have been to CSA & CSS (we LOVED CSS!!) and this will be our first time to CN (May 2018). We really loved the beach on the Negril side so we wanted to go back to Negril after visiting CSS in 2016. We look forward to it and had to chuckle about the "you either fall in love immediately or you don't" as that happened to us at CSA. We were SURE we were going to fall immediately, we liked it, a lot, (that's where we fell in love w/ Jamaica) but we definitely weren't die hard CSA fans. WE both love CSS but do want to see what the excitement at CN is all about. I'll report back next Spring. Glad you had a great time! Maybe we'll see you sometime at CSS

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    FYI there is a button on the AC remote to turn off the LED, I have to have a dark room to sleep so I understand where you're coming from their.

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    iowahawkeyes,
    "FYI there is a button on the AC remote to turn off the LED," That's good to know (though we actually like the light).

    Joleen G.,
    TY for the honest report.

    Shame about the check-in process. First impressions are a big deal. While we love CN and have no issues with reception staff, we recall a few years ago there were numerous reports that the staff was less-than-friendly and it seems some changes were put in place.
    Years ago we went to CSA and were disappointed by the unfriendliness of the staff (We had been to CN several times). Probably just unlucky timing on our part but, as noted, 1st impressions matter and it was a downer for us.
    I do know the check-in process is (or was, anyway) slightly different between CN, CSA, and CSS.

    "Repeaters Dinner (Meh…)
    Husband and I were seated across from each other. "

    This has us thinking/wondering ... were you at a rectangular table then? (sometimes they have circular tables, sometimes rectangular, and often a mix of both).
    In all cases we, and other couples, sit adjacent to each other. Though I don't see anything wrong with being across from each other at a rectangular table, it may make it odd for the person at the end. Usually, though not always, the staff/manager will take an end spot for a rectangular table.
    Perhaps your seating arrangement confused her as to who was coupled with whom, but in any case it is unfortunate that you were made to feel uncomfortable - impressions matter.

    On our lone trip to CSS the GM was not present (though certainly no fault of his own - a death in the family) and the assistant GM didn't visit our table. However we enjoyed the dinner very much along with the wonderful conversation with the manager at our table. (For what it's worth, the table was circular).

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    Thanks for your report. We've been to all four resorts but remain one of those CN loyalists with our 11th visit planned for May 2018. A quick comment on your check in experience.

    It took us several visits before we finally figured out how to make the process more enjoyable. It may not be everyone's preference, but it works for us.

    Old Way:

    Rush off the airport transport bus like a kid jacked up on cotton candy on Christmas morning. Wait to make sure all the luggage is removed. This is usually the same time we are handed a glass of champagne and towel. Quick wipe with towel and down the champagne so that we can get checked in ASAP. Keep a watchful eye on that luggage as it might get misplaced. Fill out that clipboard promptly so that there aren't delays caused by the other arriving guests. Whip out that credit card to get that ball rolling. Paperwork handed out and off to the room to wait for the luggage. Afterwards, it was all a blur.

    New way:

    Relax! Often we book these trips more than a year in advance and it's a long, enjoyable waiting game. On travel day, we wait in traffic heading to airport, wait to board, wait to deplane, wait in customs, wait at baggage claim, wait in the Couples lounge, etc... Sorry, once we step off the transport bus, it's now OUR time. Of course verify the luggage got off the bus, but then forget about it. It's not going anywhere. Step aside the frenzy and let others go to the front desk ahead of you. Take that champagne and towel and walk straight thru the lobby to the rail overlooking the resort. Take a deep breath, pause and realize how freakin' fortunate we are to be standing where we are. We made it . Only CN has that view from the lobby. Set down the clipboard and let the front desk know that we'll be ready in 15 minutes. Get a refill on that champagne and think about the amazing times that lay ahead.

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    That’s a fact Jack. Tell me where in a Minnesota winter, we can get that smell and we will be the ones rushing through the best head rush of the year. Island time...

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joleen G. View Post
    Repeaters Dinner (Meh…)
    Husband and I were seated across from each other. Just before the program started, I excused myself for a quick bathroom break. I returned to find my seat occupied with one of the most gorgeous Jamaican women I have ever seen. The chair next to her was vacant (why wasn’t she sitting there???). I finally told her that I had concerns with her chosen seat and she changed seats with me. This lady was part of Couples Human Resources.
    I've read this post a few times and something didn't seem to jive, and I think it was this part. If you had a seat already, and someone was going to sit in it, why didn't your husband say anything before you got back? That seems odd. Also curious about the choice to point out how "gorgeous" this woman was... LOL
    "Brutalize me with music..."

    CN: 11/2007, 11/2010, 11/2011, 11/2013, 11/2015, 11/2016, 11/2017, 11/2018

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Breeze View Post
    ...we finally figured out how to make the process more enjoyable.
    Our first trip to CN, we completely bungled the travel/arrival process (rookie mistakes). We are now pros.

    Say what you will about NJ, but it affords us the luxury of a selection of direct flights. We fly as early as possible - so early that we often arrive at CN before our room is ready (often before noon). When we get to the Couples lounge in MoBay, we change into our swimsuits. Sometimes we fly to Negril, sometimes the bus. When we arrive in the lobby, we do the requisite paperwork, leave our bags with the front desk and head to the beach to start our vacation. Sometimes we don't get to our room until maybe 6:00, after a nearly full day on the beach. I usually get just a little sunburn on that first day - and it feels so good.

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