We stayed at CSA in an Atrium Suite for 7 nights (8/9-8/16). This was our third trip to Jamaica. We have previously stayed at Secrets Wild Orchid, Sandals Whitehouse, as well as a private villa for our honeymoon. Excluding our stay at a villa (which was truly over the top), I would rate our stay at CSA as our best resort experience yet, and by far the best value. We are already discussing booking a return trip next summer, which is a first for us, as we have never repeated a resort.
We booked the hotel portion of our stay through Costco travel, and booked air separately. We chose to book with Costco because they had a great rate, offered very low cost TravelGuard insurance, and tossed in the Club Mobay departure passes. Upon arrival at MBJ, we had quite a long wait to get through immigration, due to our flight arriving at 1pm with several other flights. In the future we will book an earlier flight if possible. Once we made it through immigration, we claimed our luggage and quickly moved through customs, and on to the Couples lounge. We were greeted with a smile, and our luggage was tagged. We enjoyed a few red stripes while we waited for our transfer, and appreciated the clean restrooms. After about 20 minutes or so, we were on our way to Negril with two other couples. The drive was a bit longer than I had anticipated, due to heavy Friday afternoon traffic/rain in the Lucea area, so our transfer ended up taking over 2 hours. When we arrived at CSA, we were greeted with cool towels and champagne. The check in process went very smoothly, and the front desk was able to check in 3 couples simultaneously with ease. We signed up for Romance Rewards prior to our departure, and requested a 2nd floor Atrium suite in the center of the property. While we did not get the specific buildings we had inquired about on our pre check in, we did in fact receive a 2nd floor room in a fairly central location. The entire check in process took about 5 minutes, which I really appreciated after a long day of travelling. After we checked in, we stopped at the concierge desk to secure restaurant/catamaran/trading places reservations, and then we were off to our room!
We were assigned a 2nd floor Atrium suite in building 18, which is fairly centrally located within the property. We didn’t have an ocean view, but we loved the location of our room due to the privacy it offered. As we already knew from extensive research, the rooms are not luxurious or glitzy. I would describe them as retro Caribbean elegant. I loved the décor; it was simple, with crisp white linens, and dark wood furnishings. I felt like we were staying in a tree house style villa, and definitely not in a generic hotel. We loved the vaulted wood beam ceilings, and the very large balcony complete with a couch and a hammock. The bed itself was very comfortable- firm mattresses, which we love. The bathroom is small, but functional. There is a large tiled shower, and if you open the shutters while showering, it felt like you were in an outdoor shower. There are no TV’s in the Atrium suites which we loved- even if there had been one, I doubt we would have even turned it on, as the natural soundtrack of tree frogs was much more pleasant at night. At night, we turned on the AC and fan, and closed the window louvers, and were very comfortable. In fact, it actually got downright chilly in our room at night! The rooms have a very dark and romantic vibe at night, but I do think they could use more lighting options for nighttime. Other suggestions for improvement would be more seating options on the balcony, and perhaps new tile in the bathrooms (showing some wear and tear). No issues with bugs, other than the occasional tiny ant in the bathroom. Being in the second row of Atrium buildings, we did occasionally hear some road noise, but it was pretty infrequent. Next time we will try to get an Atrium suite in the first row of Atrium Buildings. After touring the entire property, the only rooms we would not book would be the garden suites (way too close to the road) or anything in the Great House (lacked atmosphere). Our strong preference would be to stay on the “old” side of the resort again, either in an Atrium, or a Beachfront Suite if it’s within our budget. We loved how spread out and private the guestrooms on the old side were. Most importantly though, the room was clean and comfortable. Housekeeping did a great job keeping our room clean on a daily basis, providing fresh towels, and nightly turndown service.
The resort grounds at CSA are beautiful, and it feels like you are living in a tropical jungle. The vegetation is lush and well maintained, and there are hidden surprises throughout the property (such as a koi pond). As many have mentioned, the real star at CSA is the breathtakingly beautiful beach. Words cannot describe how great the beach is at CSA. The beach is long, with ample comfortable loungers, and plenty of shade to be found under the trees. The water is crystal clear, and free of rocks and sea grass. We underestimated how great it would be to take floats into the water- it was truly amazing. I spent so many hours just floating around, totally relaxed. Beach service was excellent, each day we were offered cold towels, fruit kebabs, and beverages. We were given a green flag to use for beverage service on the beach, which was very nice, but we found it just as easy to walk to the beach bar most of the time. Prior to our trip, I was a bit nervous about the beach vendors, but they were no problem at all. In fact, we have many great memories of some of them (the ring man, the shell man). Most vendors were very pleasant, and a simple no thank you was all that was needed. We also enjoyed the beach musicians. The only peddlers we found slightly annoying were the jet ski/parasail guys, but again, a simple no thank you and a smile was all that was needed. Negril is a living, breathing beach, and I found it fascinating to watch the vendors/musicians each day. My favorite time of day on the beach was the early morning, I loved the peacefulness, as well as watching the beach “come to life” for the day. The pools are fairly small for a resort of this size, so if you are a pool person I’d look elsewhere, but who needs a pool when you have such a great beach! For the first time on vacation, we never stepped foot in a pool (with the exception of the indoor spa Buddha pool), and I loved it.
The food at CSA was the best food we have experienced at an all-inclusive resort, hands down. It was also the least “Americanized”, which I really appreciated. The abundance of Jamaican inspired dishes was appreciated- we had oxtails, callaloo, lionfish, soursop, and many other very tasty Jamaican dishes. We were able to dine at both Lemongrass and Feathers twice each during our stay. We ate at Patois three times for dinner, and also stopped at The Palms one night to check out the Beach Party Buffet (moved inside due to rain). While we are not vegetarians, we both noted that there were a lot of vegetarian friendly options at every restaurant. We noticed an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, which made eating healthy while on vacation possible (but plenty of splurge items as well, for when you feel like indulging!) Some highlights from the restaurants:
Lemongrass- Loved the outdoor atmosphere and the tiki torches. We dined here for lobster night, which was excellent. The lobster was served in a spicy red curry sauce. We also enjoyed snapper in a yellow massaman curry here. Don’t miss the tasting sampler for two, or their version of Tom Kha (coconut based) soup. My husband raved about the chili chocolate dessert here. While the food isn’t 100% authentic Thai (nor would I really expect it to be) it was still quite enjoyable.
Feathers- We loved the food at Feathers, but felt that the atmosphere/music could use some updating. Some of our favorite dishes included the rack of lamb, the lionfish, the poached pear/goat cheese appetizer, the deconstructed oxtail ravioli, and the crème brule. Pretty much everything we ate at Feathers was delicious, but the zen-style music made me very sleepy each time we ate there. Feathers had excellent service, the best we experienced at CSA.
Patois Patio- Great for both breakfast and dinner! We loved the option of a la carte breakfast. Don’t miss the banana stuffed French toast, the smoothie of the day, or the breakfast burrito with goat cheese. We had a surprisingly tasty steak at Patois, which (based on our past experiences) is often hard to find in the Caribbean. We also enjoyed the pizza and flatbread at Patois.
The Palms- While we are not huge fans of buffets, we did enjoy the large breakfast buffet at the Palms. The made to order omelets are tasty, as are the made to order fresh fruit smoothies. We also stopped at the Palms for lunch one day and enjoyed the lunch buffet offerings (Oxtails, Jerk Pork, Coconut Curry Veggie Stew, and Coconut Sorbet). We also stopped by the Palms to check out the beach party that was moved indoors, and sampled some very good jerk chicken with a spicy guava sauce.
Seagrapes- My favorite lunch spot! Fresh, delicious food served right alongside the beach, it doesn’t get much better! Highlights included the famous fish tacos, the snapper sandwich, the veggie burger, the sweet potato chips (both the pumpkin jalapeno and the spicy ackee dips were delicious), gazpacho, and chilled leek and sweet potato vichyssoise.
Beach Grill- Not my favorite place (this general area of the resort could use some TLC), but I do think this type of food has its place at a beach resort when you are craving a junk food snack. We stopped here for patties a few times, and my husband had a burger and fries once. The area with self-serve soda/nachos is nice in theory, but attracts a lot of bees.
Room Service- We enjoyed the option of having continental breakfast delivered as our “pre-breakfast” snack, and most importantly, coffee! We used room service 4 out of 7 days, and they were always prompt. We selected the 6:30-7:00 am delivery, and the latest they delivered was 6:45 one day…..impressive! We took Tervis tumblers to put our coffee in so that we could head to the beach early in the morning, and drink our coffee on the beautiful beach before heading to breakfast.
Overall, drink quality was very good. CSA does not skimp on the alcohol! Our favorite bar was the Sunset Bar on the beach, the bartenders Omar and Oshane were friendly and always had the crowd engaged and having a fun time. The beach bars had mid-range liquors (Stoli, etc), and the martini bar had higher end options such as Grey Goose and GM. Appleton Rum was available at all bars. The included house wine was Tavernello, an Italian table wine, which was not great, but drinkable. In the restaurants at night, there are dedicated cocktail servers who work separately from the food servers- what a great idea, and it works really well. We never had to wait more than a few minutes at dinner for a drink, and they were excellent about constantly refilling wine and beer without us even asking. The in room mini bar was a lovely perk, and each day it was refilled with our requested items. The only suggestion for improvement I have would be to increase the standard amount of bottled water provided- there are only 4 small bottles stocked daily, and we frequently ran out.
The amount of inclusions Couples provides is astounding compared to other resort options. We took advantage of the snorkeling, kayaking, and the catamaran cruise. We intended to take the free shuttle to Pushcart one day for sunset drinks, but sand gravity kicked and, and we were unable to peel ourselves away from the beach. The snorkeling trip was fun, and the water sports guys who took us on the trip were excellent. We went to the “Mexico” site, and saw lots of fish, coral, urchins, a squid, and an octopus. Unfortunately, during our catamaran cruise, we experienced an epic downpour that drastically reduced our swim time in the cave area, so that was only so-so. Aside from the weather, it was great- we had a very tame group, and no one was drinking excessively, and it was very pleasant to cruise along the coast and take in the sights of the cliffs. Big shout out to Mama on the catamaran cruise for keeping the fun going even in a downpour! I regret not taking advantage of the free scuba resort course to try scuba for the first time, everyone I met who had tried it raved about it. Maybe next time! There are so many options for things to do throughout the day at Couples, and there is no way you will be bored. While we did not use the gym this trip, we did tour the sports complex, which is excellent. We opted to purchase a couples massage at the Oasis spa, which was quite lovely- this would be an excellent use of resort credits if you have them! We also took advantage of the trading places day swap, and visited Couples Negril for 6 hours one day (10am-4pm). This was a great perk, and we loved being able to scope out another resort, as well as have a change of scenery for the day. Both CN and CSA have large beaches, but we much preferred the layout of CSA. CSA felt more spread out in terms of the chair placement, and CN had deep rows of chairs. We noticed more noise at CN from surrounding resorts during our one day visit (one neighboring resort had a constant thump of bass), as well as from the resort guests (lots of larger groups), simply because there was less room to spread out. There were about the same amount of vendors at both resorts. Maybe it was just the day we chose, but based on our experiences, CSA actually felt more secluded/quiet. My husband commented that CN had more of a boutique hotel on the beach feel (not necessarily a bad thing depending on your personal preferences!), compared to the large resort feel of CSA. In the future, CSA will likely be our first choice in Negril, with the possibility of adding a short stay at CN (2-3 days) on to experience a variety in restaurants. Both resorts are very nice, and have a lovely Jamaican vibe, and I think the advice posted on TA frequently to pick the resort that calls to you is spot on. CSA was just a better fit for us for a longer stay, and I am glad that it was the resort we chose.
We were early to rise, and early to bed for the duration of our trip in order to maximize beach time, so we didn’t make it up past 11pm most nights. We did enjoy the steel drum band (The Silverbirds), as well as the blazing piano at Aura (we won a bottle of Appleton VX at the name that tune contest!). While I wouldn’t classify the nightlife as ultra-exciting, it was perfect for us to enjoy a little time together before retiring to bed. I noticed that Aura appeared to be just getting started for the night around 11pm when we left, so if you are looking for late night music/drinks, options are available. I very much enjoyed the bonfire night, complete with Shyman Moses playing acoustic guitar. We chose to go off-resort one day to do the One Love Bus Tour- this was a big highlight of our trip, and I would 100% recommend this to anyone who wants to go off the beaten path and visit less touristy establishments in the west end- what a lovely day, and we met many wonderful people.
We had a great, relaxing, and romantic getaway. We felt that Couples offers great value, and really shined in the areas most important to us (food, beach, and vibe). We had originally considered booking 6 nights, but we were so glad we went with 7. In fact, on our last day, we actually discussed adding an extra night, because neither one of us wanted to leave (unfortunately airline change fees squashed that plan). As I said previously, we are already considering booking for next year, we loved CSA and Negril that much!
We loved the "old side" of the resort! Rooms were spread out, and lots of privacy! We woul...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.