We just returned from our first trip to CSS (12/30-1/4). It was also our first trip to any Couples resort as well. We traded places on Friday at Tower Isle. This is a rather long winded review, but I hope it will help others who are planning their first trip or who want to know what CSS may be like for their return trip.
Our beach front one bedroom suite on the third floor of building A at CSS was clean and cozy from an old world perspective. I liked the wood trimmed glass doors to the deck, but the very heavy/thick curtains didn't open all the way so the views were hindered. It had dual wall mounted hvac units that were a little tricky to get set properly and a couple spindles in the rails on the deck were worn, but overall, we were satisfied with the room. The GM announced that they are planning an overall room remodel sometime in 2014 and a model room is set up, but we didn't see it. I personally liked the very firm mattress and the large, thick bath towels. The bathrobes are a little small though for anyone over 6'. Although it had a two person spa tub, we didn't use it.
Room service/mini bar met our expectations. We don't drink sodas or beer so they accommodated our requests for red and white wine served in carafes, lots of water and lots of orange juice.
Food/Parties: We are Vegan. All menus had options for us to choose from. The chef greeted us and guided us to items that didnt have meat, eggs or dairy. We were never hungry or lacking something to eat.
There were 3 very large and elaborate parties on the lawn and beach in front of our unit (new years eve celebration, repeaters dinner, and the Friday night gala.) A review of each follows:
NYE - The theme was "The Great Gatsby". The staff went all out for this party!!! A platform was set up in the pool by the beach. It served as a stage for a grand piano and a pianist who entertained us during happy hour. A couple vintage, mint condition classic cars were brought onto lawns as props, and outdoor seating areas and appetizer and drink stations were spread out across the lawn. The fantastic staff also strolled through the crowd with appetizers as well. They set up all the tables under three very large tents to shield the guests if it rained. The buffet was set up on the patio and inside the main restaurant. Lobster and steak, lamb chops, giant crab claws, stuffed crab and shrimp were some of the key items for those that eat meat and seafood. We personally loved the variety of fruit and vegetable options at the buffet and our plates overflowed with tasty items. Pumpkin and greens were served a variety of ways and we really enjoyed these new dishes. They had a whole dining room dedicated to desserts. It was a beautiful display and the staff was very proud of the very creative sculptures made out of chocolate. Some guests were disappointed with the way the food was laid out, but I didn't mind the buffet configuration and had no difficulty finding things to eat.
They had a variety of entertainment throughout the evening. Unfortunately, this was the low point of the whole week for us. The interpretive dancers, although a nice local touch, performed a very long set. The slow pace and length of the performance caused much of the audience to disperse early. The female singer of one of the groups also seemed to be having problems with her microphone as her voice was very loud and muffled. We could not understand what she was singing. We adjourned to our room early. The music was very loud through the midnight count down so I don't think anyone in units A or B went to sleep until the band stopped playing. We knew what we were getting into when we made the reservation so we sat on our patio and enjoyed the party from a distance.
Repeaters dinner: although we were first timers, the hostess invited us to attend. We think it was because we arrived late on Sunday evening and we had difficulty finding any available dining times at the two more formal restaurants. The meal again included lobster and steak. Our server remembered we were vegan and he said no worries, "I will take care of everything." He brought us two of the veggie spring rolls from one of the restaurants and brought us a veggie pasta dish and a side dish platter that included the mixed vegetables, potatoes and greens that were being server that night. He also made sure our soups did not have sour cream. This server's treatment of us was a highlight of the trip and it was much appreciated.
Friday Gala: A great night!!! Vegetarians/vegans should not worry about coming to a Couples resort. There are always plenty of options to choose from. The event coordinators, put on a short fashion show and they had a fantastic steel drum band. (We wished they had this band for the NYE party). They closed out the evening with an after party disco at Sunset Beach. A lively group showed up for the disco and we danced for a couple hours. it was a great way to end our trip.
Activities: both my wife and I were battling head colds and had sinus issues all week so we couldn't/didn't partake in any of the water sports. I commend the scuba staff for putting safety first and recognizing we could have experienced issues with equalizing pressure had we tried scuba or snorkeling.
Spa: we had a 80 min. Couples massage on Sunset Beach the first morning of our stay. Kenneth gave my wife her massage and Simone was my therapist. Both of us were very pleased with their skills. Simone found a knot in my back and did a great job working it out.
This was our first visit to an au natural beach and I must say the massage in the pavillion on the beach was the best way to introduce us to the nude area. We had many massages in the states previously, but this was also the first time that we had a massage undraped. Kenneth and Simone were so friendly and professional. My wife and I were immediately at ease and were very comfortable with the whole experience. We would definitely request Kenneth and Simone and also have a massage on SSB again when the opportunity arises.
Sunset beach: we enjoyed our first morning there so much we spent every day at this pool and ate every lunch there as well. A great group of repeat visitors made this trip extra special. It's true, you meet the friendliest people at a nude beach. Young, old, thin, heavy, healthy, wealthy, poor or ailing/recovering from illnesses or surgeries, all are welcome, and all are treated the same.
The large group met years ago at another resort and they became life long friends. They welcomed us "newbies" into their group, included us in their card games and volleyball games and it was always nice to see their familiar faces throughout the resort all week. We hope our paths will cross again.
We selected CSS partially because of their nude beach set up. We determined that if we were going to take a trip to an adults only resort and try a nude beach, we didnt think we would be comfortable sharing a beach with others that were not nude or accessible/viewable by kids that may be visiting other resorts e.g. negril and we didn't want to risk taking a trip somewhere but being unable to try it due to a red flag day, e.g. Tower Isle.
We visited and used the hot tub at SSB a couple nights. We approached the guard and received permission each time. There is very little light pollution at SSB at night and the stars that were visible were amazing. If you live in a city or suburban area, I encourage you to visit SSB at night with or without your clothes just so you can see the stars.
Main beach and pools: we attempted to sit at the main beach one day, but all of the chairs were full when we arrived. I must say that there were a lot of beautiful people at this beach that were in much better shape than this late forties guy. After walking the beach, and exhaling, I was very relieved when my wife suggested we go back to ssb because I was actually more uncomfortable and self aware on the main beach than at the nude beach. After this one attempt, we never tried to spend time on the main beach for the remainder of our stay.
We visited the very private mineral hut tub that is embedded in the side of the hill just above the mineral pool late one night. This little tub was seldom used and it is one that you should seek out.
Grounds: we loved the elevation changes and all of the trails that led to all parts of the resort. We didn't mind the stairs at all. The grounds are gorgeous and we were very pleased because it lived up to our expectations and it was one of the main reasons we selected CSS. Although we liked the A block, I will definitely return to this resort and stay in one of the upper blocks as I would enjoy the views and like to spend more time at the Balloon Bar and try more spa treatments that are up on the hill.
Trading Places: we went to Tower Isle on Friday. Another couple we met at SSB happened to be on the shuttle so we grabbed a quick breakfast with them when we arrived at the other resort. My wife and I really liked the art deco/south beach feel of the resort and especially like the spa with the budda pool. I suggest skipping breakfast at your home resort and eating breakfast at your trading places resort as it will enable you to see and sample the different menu options.
The grounds at Tower Isle were nice, but I felt the area between the resort and beach was very narrow and somewhat confining. The resort, from the water, also looked much more like a traditional hotel. We took the boat over to the island. It was very windy and we were actually chilly while visiting it. The pool is very small and although seating areas were distributed throughout, I felt very confined and my wife and I opted to cut our visit very short and we paid for a cab to take us back to CSS. I must say that when we returned at to SSB at lunch time, it was just like coming home to our new family and friends.
Transportation to/from the airport: our plane arrived late so we ended up being the only couple in the shuttle to the resort. The return trip was packed. The drive each way was scenic, but it showed us how fortunate we are as the poverty that exists in Jamaica is so clearly visible.
Club Mobay: we used it for both the arrival and departure. Customs on arrival was so smooth. It was worth the cost. We experienced a slight challenge with our departure though. I didn't use my wife's full name when I made the plane reservations. The customs agent took exception to the "alias" and the mobay agent didn't seem to have a good working relationship with the customs agent and it appeared that the customs agent used our tickets as a power play. After a couple minutes of silence, and a lot of shoulder shrugging and hand gestures, we finally made it through the customs area.
Club Mobay's departure lounge was very nice and it was a very pleasant place to spend the hour before our departure. We would definitely purchase Club Mobay again.
Off site excursions: we didn't partake in any off site trips since we were battling colds. Those that shared their stories of horseback riding though seemed to really enjoy this specific activity.
Packing: we packed too many pairs of shoes and more clothes than we needed. A pair of tevas or sandals and a nicer pair of shoes for dinners is all that I should have brought.
Overall we had a wonderful trip. We created lasting memories and made many new friends that we hope to see again. We will definitely visit CSS again and we will not hesitate to spend our time on Sunset Beach.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled on the cliffs of Jamaica’s emerald coast above a dazzling stretch of Caribbean, Couples Sans Souci beckons you to surrender mind, body and soul. The resort's 'no worries' mantra comes to life as every day unfolds. Lose yourself exploring secluded stone pathways. Melt away stress in the healing natural mineral springs. Feel a rush of exhilaration scaling Dunn's River waterfalls. Or simply drift asleep in a hammock by the sea. Located in vibrant Ocho Rios, the resort's design pays tribute to an understated colonial elegance—intricate latticework, white woven furnishings and feathered palms set a refined stage for your island escape. Dining options abound—from authentic Jamaican fare to five-star international cuisine. Private cabanas at cliff's edge provide the ideal setting for our signature spa treatments, while the choice of resort activities knows no limits. Learn the art of living well while living in the moment at Couples Sans Souci. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Couples Sans Souci Hotel Ocho Rios
- Couples San Souci
- Couples Sans Souci Ocho Rios
- Couples Sans Souci Jamaica/Ocho Rios