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  1. #1

    Default For the newbies - differences between CN and CSA

    Hello everyone...

    It was a cold, blistery winters day in Ontario when my husband and I booked our two week stay at CN and CSA to celebrate our five year anniversary. All I can say is the countless research we did truly paid off...and when I say say countless I mean reading hundreds of reviews on Trip Advisor and spending days on the message board. We knew we wanted to go to Jamaica but were contemplating between CTI, CN, and CSA. The more research we did, the more difficult the decision proved to be, as all the resorts were beautiful in their own way. When posting threads on the message board in hopes of helping me decide I would receive numerous responses, all of which raved about the food, the service, beach, and staff...and to just go to the one "that called to me". Well guess what...they all called to me! What I was never able to get a handle on however was the "feel" of these resorts and how they differed from one another. Once you have been, this can easily be felt, but for those who have never been....well, what does this mean? So, with that said, I hope this review will help some of you better understand how CN and CSA are different from one another. I'm not going to necessarily explain the restaurants, the room categories, which rooms have mini bars, and what items were on the breakfast buffet as that is easy to find, but rather how they differ, how they are similar, and yes, which one we preferred!

    A little about us
    We had never been to a couples resort prior to this trip and have no loyalty to any resort. We're a couple in our 30's who were looking for a relaxing but FUN vacation. Although we love the beach, I am not one to sit on my beach chair in the hot! hot! hot! sun all day and am not an ocean swimmer. This does not mean however that I don't love a beautiful beach, it's just not all that I look for in a property. We love to meet new people and are very social but also look to our vacations as a time to reconnect. I certainly wasn't looking for a "spring break" party atmosphere but certainly let my hair down when away on holiday, and experience the odd "how much did I drink last night?" moment. I found the perfect combination of romance, tranquility, fun people, jamaican culture, sophistication, class, and that "chill vibe" I was searching for. I love a fun, social, active pool, a beautiful beach, and a laid back atmosphere. Did I find all this...yes, was it at the same resort...NO! Here goes my attempt to explain....

    The beach and pools
    Let's be honest, anyone who goes to Negril is expecting a gorgeous beach...and this is exactly what you will find at either of these two resorts - if you are a "beach bum" you have found your oasis! It is truly breathtaking, stunning, beyond words beautiful at both these resorts. CSA has nicer sand (barely) and the water is a little rougher. It is a much busier beach, with more activity (people walking by, jet skis, water skiing, parasailers, etc.)...always something to keep you entertained! The beach at CN is much, much quieter. Lots of vacant beach chairs and it is more tranquil and relaxing. The water is literally like bath water and very calm. I would actually go so far as to say the water is even clearer at CN then at CSA. The majority of the guests at CSA gravitate towards the beach making the pools very quiet..until about 3:00 when the pool bar starts to see some action! The pool at CSA is not ideal for those who enjoy "pool life". And please do not say "why would you come all the way to Negril, where the most beautiful beaches are, if you want to sit by the pool" as I enjoy time by the beach but not everyday, all day. The activity around the pool at CSA was disappointing, very small (even smaller then expected) and not overly inviting. CN's pool on the other hand is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful, funnest (I know that's not a word but I like it!), livliest, most social pools I have ever stepped foot in. There were days that I was literally in the water all day (and yes I got out to pee!) It was never out of hand, rowdy, or obnoxious, just adults doing what adults do when they are away from lifes responsibilities. The pool at CN is the heart of the hotel and sitting in the water with the ocean just steps away is beautiful. Simply put, if you plan on spending any time around the pool then you may very well be disappointed in CSA and will love! CN.

    The Grounds
    CN is very compact and signficantly smaller to CSA, which is why it is so conducive to the socializing and meeting new people. You will see the same faces each day (which can be a blessing or a curse ha ha). It is very easy to make friends and build relationships with the staff. The resort has an older look to it, which is done deliberately, and although you may have prepared yourself for the non lavish feel you may have experienced in the past, it still takes a few hours to adjust. But you will, and you will settle in and appreciate CN for the little gem that it is! Laid back does not even begin to describe this resort...nothing pretentious about this place.

    CSA on the other hand is beautiful in all ways that a Caribbean resort should be. The grounds and paths are stunning with lush flora and fawna, beautifully lit walk ways, and because the resort runs horizontally you are always following the beach! The beauty of CSA far surpasses that of CN. Not even close! The buildings, the tiki bars along the beach, the beautiful beach side Sea Grapes. It is gorgeous.

    Please don't interpret this as CN being's just more rustic. CN grounds scream "chill, you are on vacation and every little 'ting is gonna be all right"...where CSA is more beautiful, romantic, lush, and tropical.

    CSA wins this one WITHOUT A DOUBT! We stayed in a atrium suite and it was exactly as it looked in the pictures. Simple and sexy! And that balcony...unbelievable. We completely underestimated how much time we would spend enjoying this space! I loved the way the rooms at CSA are situated throughout the property and although there are some stunning ocean front rooms with views that are postcard perfect, we were thrilled with our Atrium Suite and wouldn't book anything else (especially for the price difference). There would be a lot of foot traffic along the beach front rooms, and this may be of concern to some. But the views would offset this in my opinion.

    The rooms at CN were better then I was expecting. We had a standard, gardenview room with a small balcony. Very colourful and vibrant. The bathroom was smaller but did the trick and everthing was always clean. Nothing special but nothing to complain about either. Although I haven't seen the upgraded rooms at CN, from what I can tell there are VERY few rooms that would offer much of an ocean view. If a true ocean front/ocean view room is important to you, again, CSA is the best choice for you!

    The Food
    The food at both these resorts is most definitely a step above other all inclusives we have travelled. Very tender beef which is nice surprise after eating tuff beef in Mexico for the last few years. I do have to say however that although the food at CSA was nothing short of fabulous, CN was even better! The a la carte dinners were about equal but the food and atmosphere for the buffet dinners were better at CN. Sitting around the pool at CN enjoying great food with the beautiful lobby behind you was great....I always prefer to eat outside and despite the fact that the Palms at CSA is open air, nothing beats the beautiful lights, the crashing waves, and stars above to dine with.

    I will admit, prior to leaving I was expecting to notice a difference between the service within these two resorts. What I was not expecting to receive however was better quality service at CN then CSA! During our time at CN we never waited for anything, were always greeted with a smile, and everyone from the front desk staff, the guest relations desk, the maid, the gardener, and the bartenders, everyone truly seemed to care about their job and how we were enjoying our stay with them. Although not an issue for me, and I use this for the purpose of example only, there were a few occasions at CSA where food and drink orders took a considerably long time, or would never arrive at all. This never happened at CN. Drinks were ready before you even ordered, they made an effort to get to know you, remembered not only your name but where you are from, and definitely seemed to be having fun! I feel I make a real effort to get to know the staff and that my efforts were always well received at CN...made lots of friends from the resort and even went out with the staff on a few occasions. CSA's staff, although friendly, just didn't seem to be enjoying there job and the guests in the same way. Of course there are exceptions to this (ex: Winston and Fraser in the Martini Bar at CSA are fabulous), but overall, the service at CN was warmer and friendlier then the service at CSA.

    This is the easiest one for me...these two resorts are total opposite's during the evening. CN is quite quiet at night. In fact, many times my husband and I would say "where does everybody go?". We usually ate around 7:30-8:00 and the non-reservation restaurants would be half empty. During the evening entertainment the Terrace would maybe be 1/3 full...and that's likely stretching it. I actually felt bad for some of the entertainers who were doing there best to get the crowd involved but it's kind of hard when you are performing for maybe 50 people. So, we made our own fun in the evening. Often would grab a drink and sit out on the beach, often with other couples who we'd met during our stay. Sometimes we would just chat and have a drink at the bar, others we would hit up the hot tub for a late night soak. In my opinion, CN during our stay was somewhat of a sleepy hollow after the sun went down and the majority of people were tuckered out and bed bound by 10:00! Now CSA on the other hand...totally different story. With the exception of a few nights, I don't think we turned in much before 12:00ish. Whether it be hanging out with Winston and Fraser at the Martini Bar, having post dinner drinks with Ultimate Chocolate, playing 'name that tune' (I know, sounds corny but surprisingly fun!), enjoying the entertainment at the Palms, or dancing the night away at Aura Lounge, I found the evenings to be energetic, fun, and extremely entertaining. If night life is of importance to you then CSA is where you want to will likely be disappointed at CN.

    Day life - Not that many people talk about this and although I've touched upon it a little in previous categories I will attempt to summarize here. CN is non stop action around the pool during the day. The pool is FULL of people chatting, lazing by the waterfall wall, floating on rafties, playing volleyball, and of course, socializing at the swimup bar. The beach at CN on the other hand is very relaxed with many people reading, napping, or just gazing at the beautiful beach. So there is definitely something for everybody. Having said that, if you were to close your eyes and picture the perfect beach resort, and could care less about pools, then the vision you see will be that of CSA. It's a true beach resort in every sense of the word. There is no way, in my opinion, that anyone who considers themself a die hard beach lover could ever be disappointed with this resort. However, again, if you like to mix beach days with pool days then CSA will not deliver and CN would be a better choice.

    Many people, as I once did, post threads on the message board asking for advice on which resort to go to....but, it's always difficult because these people whom we seek suggestions or advice from don't know the first thing about us, or what we look for in a vacation. So, because of this, my words are simply my thoughts about my ideal vacation. Having said that, if i were recommending resorts to my friends, this is what I would say:

    "If great beach, fun night life, lush sprawling grounds and beautiful rooms are most important to you, then CSA is likely best for you. True beach babies will be in heaven here.
    If the opportunity to be social and make new friends, a great combination of pool life and beach life, amazing food, a village type feel, and fabulous, personalized service are most important to you, then CN is your new home!"

    So, where will we a heartbeat to either. But, if I had to choose between the two I'd have to place my bet on CN! Despite the fact that it is not as "post card" pretty, not as lush, and doesn't have the fun night life of CSA, there was something about the people and the size of CN that worked for us....and I loved it! The combination of lazy mornings by the beach and afternoons with friends in the pool was perfect. We found CN to be the perfect combination of romance, relaxation, and fun. I will miss those Martini's at the CSA Martini Bar with Winston though...


  2. #2


    Thank you so much! I enjoyed reading! We are set for Swept Away in 3 weeks and I think we made the right choice. This is our first time to Jamaica (well our first time anywhere together). We are going for the beach and love the nightlife. I think with any newbie, you are always second guessing your choice of resort when you book, but thanks to your review, I think we'll be in the right place!

  3. #3


    Wow!! I've stayed at both, and this is such a wonderful review!!!! Great job! You have probably answered a ton of questions.

  4. #4


    Well put! We have been to both resorts and agree 100%. Both are amazing places but have a different "feel". We have booked a split trip this year just because we couldn't decide which one we wanted to go to. I can't wait! December is too far away.

  5. #5


    Great review, very descriptive. We recently returned from a trip where we spent four nites at CN, but also had the pleasure of a day trip to CSA via the TP program. Your descriptions of everything seems to be pretty much dead on, altho obviously I can't agree or disagree too much on CSA being we only spent 6 daylight hours there. Our one regret was not being able to spend the evening hours there as well, as I heard from others too that the place lights up nicely at night and that CSA's nightlife tends to be more energetic.

    The only part of your description with CN that I would slightly (and I do mean just slightly) disagree with is their own late night activities. While I agree that you don't go to CN for its night time partying, we did find there was a decent amount of activity taking place - probably not on the level as what CSA offers, but it's not like CN just calls it quits at 10:00 or something. There were a couple of nights when we were still up and about after midnite. I can't speak for the other two nights as we voluntarily called it an early evening on those occasions.

    But overall, this is a very nice, detailed review. Many thanks.

    Reading is fundamental. It's just that for some, it's more mental than fun.

  6. #6


    Not a newbie here .... actually two oldbies... LOL...
    Thoroughly Enjoyed your Review of Two Beautiful And Fun Resorts!!!
    Art xo Francine

  7. #7


    thanks a lot! I am definitely a beach baby and now looking forward to my CSA stay even more. 13 more months!

  8. #8


    Excellent review. I really enjoyed it.

    We too wonder where everyone goes at night at CN. But then we also turn in rather early (around 11pm). We enjoy the quiet evenings at CN. Perhaps with all the socializing during the day everyone is worn out and ready for quiet time. Who knows....
    Juliann & Jeff
    Jamaica Soon Come

  9. #9


    Thanks for your long, but great review! We are headed back to CSA in July. I tried to talk my hubby into trying CN, but he wouldnt go for it. We are going to have to do a day pass and check it out for sure. I was interested to hear that CN had no nite life. Me I could do without, but the hubby likes that. We spent a few nights with ultimate chocolate sitting around the piano. We also had a fun night in the Disco although it was not always hoppin!! I can say my ONLY complaint about CSA compaired to other resorts we had been to was exactly what you had mentioned. I felt the staff was nice but not "fun". No bartenders ever remembered what our names were or what we were drinking. We didnt really meet too many other couples, a few but not many. Resort was just too big. We did enjoy walking the lighted beach paths at night and the romantic feel. The one deciding factor for us was one thing you did not mention. Location. We like to wonder. Each day we wondered up 7 mile beach often stopping at local venders looking at their goods. we also liked to stop at the local chill/beach bars to have a cold Red stripe and chat with the locals. You also have the option to walk to Margaritaville and other nite life spots. Once again thanks for the great review just thought I would add the location factor....

  10. #10


    Kris thanks for the awesome review/comparison of CN and CSA. We'd never been to CN and have only been to CTI & CSA once each. On the van to Negril we were the only two couples headed for CSA. The other couples were raving about how good CN was and how many times they'd been there. I was stressing that I had made the wrong choice for us and our friends. We've been travelling with one or two other couples on our trips and I'm usually the guy who plans everything. Since we were with friends we had no need to mingle at the swim up bar and meet poeple CSA fit us to the tee...thank god. For others that look to this review for input you also failed to mention the sports complex across the street at CSA. I took several exercise classes with their travelling insturctors and had a great time. I also learned that they usually have a resident tennis instructor that gives FREE lessons. After a workout grabbing a smoothie at the bar and taking a dip in the lap pool or watching the big screen tv was really nice. We even watched american pro football a few times there. It's a long time to wait to go home again, but we'll be at CSA in Dec, 2011. I doubt we'll do the trading places and miss a day at CSA. Thanks again for bringing back some fond memories of our time at CSA.

  11. #11


    We stayed at CN last July and just returned from CSA. We loved CN but wanted to try out CSA. I definately agree with your review for the most part. We are beach people and CSA's beach is just amazing. The beach is the main reason we would go back to CSA next time. Also, the fact that CSA has more a-la-carte options for all meals is important to us. We stayed at CSA for 6 nights, and never went to the buffet once. It is true about the staff... I must admit I was a little bit dissapointed with the staff at CSA compared to CN. Especially the front desk staff at CSA. I'm surprised they don't have friendlier staff working the front desk since it is the beginning of your Couple's vacation - first impressions are important. Like you said, there were exceptions to this rule. Thanks for the review/comparison.
    Kerri & Dean
    CN 7/25/09 - 7/31/09
    CSA 4/24/10 - 4/30/10

  12. #12


    Great review and I think you nailed the differences. We love CSA. CN just wasn't for us for the exact same reason that it is the resort for you. To us, having everything so compact in the middle felt claustrophobic. I love the length of CSA's beach and resort and the nightlife. Good times!

  13. #13


    Great review Kris, so glad you had such a good time. We haven't heard from you since you got back, wondered if you stayed in Jamaica!

  14. #14


    Thanks for writing such a great review with such an interesting perspective. We’ve only been to CSA so far, but now I have a better idea than ever about the different “feel” of those 2 resorts. Maybe you can try CTI and CSS next time?
    We’re doing a CSS/CSA split and planning to do the TP program and go to CTI and CN as well. Of course just spending part of a day at a resort doesn’t give one a full experience of the resort, but it at least gives an impression. We’re really looking forward to discovering CSS. I have it as my screen saver now. lol. It just looks so lush and gorgeous, (not that CSA isn’t, just different to CSA) Hopefully I can come back and do a similar sort of objective comparison review about all 4 resorts!
    Oh, and I just wanted to add that although right now we have no other Couples to compare to, we thought the staff at CSA (Jan. 2008) were the most amazing, friendly, helpful people at any resort (talking non-Couples) we’ve ever been to. So I hope it isn’t that it has changed, but rather that the CN staff are just that much MORE friendly!

  15. #15


    One other main difference between the two resorts which should be mentioned is that CN has an Au Naturel beach and CSA doesn't. There is a large hot tub on the AN side which is frequented by some before bedtime for a dip and a drink. Maybe this will help answer that "where does everyone go at night?" question.

    And in regards to the CN nightlife, the piano bar turns into more of a nightclub after the live entertainment is done. Depending on the guests, it can get lively there. The group of people that we hung out with were out past midnight on most nights.

  16. #16

    Default 3 weeks & counting....

    We are getting married on May 29th & have booked a week's honeymoon at CN. Your review just confirmed exactly what we were hoping for - thank you for posting this review. We too had done a lot of research for this special trip. Although we have been to a couple of high end "glitzy" resorts in Punta Cana & the Mayan we felt we wanted something romantic & special this time. I don't think we'll be disappointed. We will post our own review when we return....that is if we do return - by the sounds of your review it will be very difficult to come home.

  17. #17


    WOW...I am blown blown away by what you managed to capture with both resorts. I had posted a thread when we got back from CN in early March in which I asked for comparisons of the two resorts from people who have been to both. Having been to one of the two that I seriously debated between, I was very curious about their differences and similarities. You meticulously described things that would enable any individual to decide what are the most important factors to them when picking a resort. Now that I've read your details however, I almost wish that I could combine some of the features of each to make it just PERFECT for me. But, I guess the only solution would be to split one's time at both CN & CSA and capiture it all in each of it's element, like you did. But I must admit, if we go back to CN, I'll be wondering if I made the right choice in not trying CSA. If we go to CSA, I'll be wondering if I made the right choice in not getting to see the people and surroundings that we have come to love and feel so comfortable with. I find that I'm in the same dilemma that I was in a year ago...... But...what a dilemma to be in, huh? Thanks for your time and the excellent review - Kudos!

  18. #18


    Thanks. That was a great review. I've stayed at CSA twice and always wondered about CN. I had a notion that it was more of a party place, but now that's been dispelled.

    Am I correct in thinking that CN has only one pool? At CSA, if one pool got too crowded and we had already spent a few hours on the beach, we would go over to the beautiful and underutilized pool at the fitness center. Is changing pools an option at CN or is there only one?

  19. #19


    Wish we were in Negril Right Now!!! Although CN is our Home away from Home.... either CN OR CSA Would be Just Fine Right Now!!! LOL!!!
    Art xo Francine

  20. #20


    What a fantastic review! It makes me even more excited for our honeymoon to CSA! By nature, I'm a very predictable/strait laced type of gal, so when I'm on a vacation I like to unwind and relax and let my hair down a, it sounds like CSA is going to be perfect! I'm not a nightlife person at all, but I do like the idea of things be a bit more livlier at night around CSA. I know my husband will love that! Only 184 more days to go! lol

  21. #21

    Default Thank you Thank You Thank You

    My headache has ceased. My husband is military so he is used to travel. He does love the beach. I, however have never been out of the USA and have been anxious about our trip to CSA in July. Also my birthday weekend. He works really hard and I want him to relax. I have spent hours online reading travelers reviews and became more and more confused. Thank you sooooo much for your detailed reviews.

  22. #22

    Default Thanks Kris

    Hi, I have been looking forward to your review of your week at CSA after your week at CN. I agree with just about everything you stated. CN worked perfectly for us, I could not imagine a better week. At the same time we would still like to check out CSA for a day trip or night or two. CN pool area was great, the beach was perfect for us, usually split the day between the two, golf and tennis in the mornings, food and drink (way too much), a little quiet at night but I was done anyway and up early every morning, great swim suits, a suit for each day? What was really nice was in the evenings some couples felt compelled to dress up, ladies in nice skirts, cocktail, sun dresses. It just added to the tropic, couples only atmosphere. Oh, Franklin and Marlin at the pool bar were awesome. We will be back next year, same week. Thanks again for the in depth, objective review.

  23. #23


    Thank you! My wife and I are going to CN mid-June. We've never been to Jamacia and we're worried about the Resort. We don't go away that often and it would be a disapointment if the Resort isn't that great! We are early 50's and like hanging out at night for a couple of quite drinks before turning in (Not that we wouldn't sit all night drinking with the right people!). You will find us between the Beach and the pool, on days that we're not golfing or I'm not diving. After reading your review, I know we made the right choice for us and CAN'T wait to get there!

  24. #24


    Great review of both. We just returned from CSA and have been to CN 2 times. You were spot on with your differences. We like both resorts.

  25. #25

    Default Thank You!!

    Hello everyone,

    I'm new to the Couples Message Board and have certainly enjoyed the information shared by many of you. My honey is (60), and I am (52) have traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean with 16 of those visits to Jamaica since 1999.

    Like many of you, Jamaica is our destination of choice, but we’ve outgrown many resorts we use to frequent and became somewhat disappointed with the newer/mega resorts so I decided to research a few tried & true upscale resorts.

    As a newbie, I wasn't really sure which resort to select until I begin researching the Couples Resorts. The more reviews I read, the more excited I became as it sounded like a place where the Jamaica ambiance resonate throughout the property, guest are provided excellent customer service in addition to delicious food and the other perks that are included, and at this stage of our life Couples is ideal.

    That said I began asking the question which Couples will be selected. Moments after the inquiry, I came across the post by Sun Kissed who really provided a wealth of information and answers to many of my questions. I have more research to do, but I have narrowed the choice between CSS & CSA.

    I would like to thank you Sun Kissed for taking so much time sharing your detailed review that will surely help many other confused souls like myself.



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