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“We Wouldn't Return Here”
Review of Couples Sans Souci

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Couples Sans Souci
Ranked #4 of 35 Hotels in Ocho Rios
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 31, 2006

We had been expecting a luxury resort and found it came up short.

I'm tempted to write a full essay but I think a stream of consciousness list of our issues will be most useful to others so here goes:

Our disappointment was unexpected but immediate: We arrived after sunset and we quickly discovered that this resort is very energy conscious- all the light bulbs in the room are very low wattage compact fluorescents giving the room a poorly lit, eerie glow. It wasn't possible to read a book with this lighting and was hardly romantic. The television cable was broken and disconnected. They repaired the cable, but the reception quality was very poor. The rooms were run down and the lighting and draperies didn't help. The furniture and chest of draws wouldn't open without a struggle.

Our room was in "A Block" ..we discovered that the hot water was also a rare commodity. (I would suggest they relabel the the faucets "cold" and "not so cold") Most of the showers we took were barely warm enough. We paid extra for a jacuzzi in the room, but we couldn't use it because of the lack of hot water.

The small terrace of the room had an ocean view but no comfortable chairs-- the chairs were very small, inexpensive upright composite chairs that buckled under a normal weight. As a result, we never sat on our balcony.

We went to our first dinner at the "French " restuarant The food was good and the service was excellent. Subsequent dining at the Italian restaurant was also good. This was better than average food, but not 5 star food.

Believe it or not, they didn't change the menus over the 7 days we were there, so by the end of our stay, we were ordering our less-than-first choice on the menu or repeating the same item.

The all-inclusive drinks were weak at best. Despite asking the bartender to put extra rum in our drinks, we often felt there was almost no alcohol in them at all .

The beach was small but attractive. The beach lounge chairs were tired, many had missing straps and most were badly covered with mildew. The chair pads, usable as water floats, were often old and ripped.

The grounds were quite nice and the garden vegetation was spectacular. The resort is on a hill, so be ready to climb many steps to get around. The older section of the resort, (on the hill) is almost a separate experience and its pools and bars often seemed deserted.

The management seemed extremely interested in pleasing and attempted to correct any issue we brought to them. They followed up on everything we brought to their attention. The hot water issue was never solved and the TV reception remained very poor.

Because of our disappointment, on the second day, they promised us a bottle of champagne would be delivered to our room...(we're still waiting for it to be delivered).

We had an 8 day package. On the last day, our plane departed at 2:45PM, but they required us to leave our bags out at 8:30 and depart the resort by 9:30PM. To be fair, the ride to the airport is 2 hours and check in took us a very long time. But the first day and last day weren't vacations.

We enjoyed our time and were successful in preventing our disappointment with the resort not to affect the pleasure of being away in the tropics.

We've recommended other resorts to friends and relatives. San Souci is inconsistent with its quality. We can't recommend Sans Souci to our friends and we wouldn't return.

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
28  Thank TropicalPhillyGuy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,658 - 3,664 of 3,901 reviews

Reviewed December 27, 2006

I have to admit, I was a tad skeptical that the resort could be as good as people had said in their reviews. We used trip advisor to find a honeymoon destination - after deciding on Jamaica, we selected San Souci because of all the great reviews - and I was expecting something great, but nowhere near as unbelievable as it was in reality.

We stayed there November 10-18 and had the greatest vacation of our lives. I was a bit dubious having never stayed at an all-inclusive resort - I'd heard mixed things, but after going to Puerto Vallarta last year and experiencing the huge price hikes in every meal, we wanted to go all-inclusive. I was worried that they might go cheap on some things - I was waaaay off. I've never been showered in so much luxury before.

Firstly, the description of the rough bus ride to the hotel I found in previous posts has since been mostly corrected. For the first 45 minutes of the trip, there are some gravel patches and washouts where they are building the new highway. The remaining hour and 15 minutes is smooth as a US highway, although the driving is much more chaotic. Still - it was a very easy ride to Ocho Rios. We took a tour later in the week to the Blue Mountains and THAT was a rough ride. Don't take that tour - we spent 7.5 hours on a bus that day - all to ride down a mountain on a crumby old bike with a pedal brake for about 90 minutes - really bad tour. Anyway - the road east of Ocho Rios is an absolute nightmare, but from the airport to Ocho Rios is just fine.

This resort was breathtaking. It looked like something out of Pirates of the Carribbean. The staircases that cut into the hillside of the 40-acre property have to date back a hundred years or so. The beach is beautiful - but our favorite spot was the mineral pool. It hangs out over the Carribbean sea on the edge of the bay. Brian Adams (the singer) actually lives next door, and is the only glimpse you have that the rest of the island is even inhabited. The resort is completley cut-off from the sprawl of Ocho Rios' crusie-ship heavy tourist mess. I'm posting a few photos - we took 400 of them!

The food was unbelievable. The two really nice restaurants provided such a huge amount of amazing selections. What really blew me away was the presentation. Honestly, to have dinner in the states (we live in Portland, OR) to that level of food and service, you would have to spend more than $300. And that's just dinner ... The moment that truly defined the dining experience there was one of my favorites of the trip. We were having dinner with a couple we met while there, and we only ordered 4 of the 6 available courses because it was so much food. I couldn't quite get through my beef tenderloin, so I asked our waiter for a box for the leftover. He looked at me puzzled and replied, "No sir, I'll have the chef prepare a fresh one for you to take to your suite." I had to beg him to just wrap the one I couldn't finish. I was completely blown away.

We ordered room service the first night after the long travel day - and it was fantastic. We also ordered breakfast before an early morning tour and it was HUGE and delicious. They'll even bring you a bottle of wine to the room. I actually took the ice bucket out of the room and asked a housekeeping lady where the ice machine was. She looked at me strangely and asked what suite I was in, then told me she would take care of it. Ten minutes later a guy in a tuxedo shows up to our door with a pitcher of ice. No kidding.

The staff were ALL like this. Dave, the bartender at the beach bar was our favorite staffer. By the 2nd day he knew exactly what we were drinking and made sure our glasses were never empty. He even sent my wife up to the room one night with a bottle of wine when we closed the bar down (we were still on west coast time). He gave us all kinds of great insight into Jamaica. Really nice guy.

We were constantly surpirsed by how amazing everything was. The balloon bar is at the top of the property, so we didn't venture up there until half-way through our stay for the evening entertainment. After seeing one, we made sure to be there every night. Fantastic musicians and dancers - better than anything you might see in a vegas lounge.

The room was beautiful. They clean your bathroom twice a day, and leave fresh flowers picked from the flowerbeds in front of the hotel.

The only thing I would change if I could would be to make their au natural beach have a daytime period where it would be ok to wear clothes. Even if it was only one day of the week. The beach is beautiful, but you have to be nude to be there in the daytime. After 5 it opens to all guests, but it's a really beautiful beach, and it would have been nice to see it during the day. We were told that the reason it's forced all-nude is because the property had a nudist following prior to couples purchasing it, and it is to accommodate those repeat guests - so I understand.

We ventured out 3 times - to do the shopping trip, the Blue Mountain 'mountain bike' tour (again - don't even think about doing that - it was a huge waste), and the Dunn's river falls trip. Each time it made us really appreciate the resort. I don't know what sort of training program their employees go through, but whoever is in charge - very well done. Coming back to the resort from these trips was like walking into heaven - nothing but smiles, 'no problem, mon' and anything we could possibly want.

I completely and wholeheartedly recommend this unbelievable resort. Our honeymoon was without question the greatest vacation of both our lives. We happened to book it during a special period where we got the beachfront jacuzzi suite for $341 per night ... but I would be happy to pay twice that (although I couldn't stay as long). Two weeks later, I'm already daydreaming about going back.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
38  Thank PatrickSheehan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 24, 2006

We stayed for 12 days at Sans Souci during December 2006. This is our second visit. Last time we were absolutely THRILLED with our stay. This time we had a lovely time, but found that Sans Souci just isn't up to the same high standards they were a few years ago before Couples bought them.

Last time the staff was absolutely wonderful. If you were lost, staff just didn't point out where you to go, they took you there. When you came into a restaurant, someone was instantly there to serve you. 2 years ago the staff bent over backwards to please you. I felt like royalty last time. This time...it just wasnt like that in the least bit.. Staff was polite and friendly, but they just didn't go out of their way like before. Everything was more lax. They did their jobs but they did the minimum. We spent a lot more time waiting for stuff this time. We received less smiles, were greeted less. During our last stay, it just seemed like the staff had stricter rules and were expected to behave more courteously and answer our every beck and call. Personally, they behave like they aren't getting paid as well as they used to.

Food was less appealing this time around. The Casonova used to be very formal, white glove service. It was nothing like before. The food was so-so. Last time I raved over it. The jerk chicken was lousy this time. We LOVED the old recipe. There was absolutely NO SEAFOOD besides what you found in a few soups and pasta dishes. Not a lobster tail in sight. Crab legs? Fuggit about it! Lunch served imitation crab...bad imitation crab at that. Ugh the beef. I've read people raving about the Fillet Mignon. It was dreadful and overcooked. I generally order my meat done medium, but at Sans Souci I was ordering medium rare and rare because the meat was SO extremely overdone and tough. Filet mignon and "tenderloin" was tough and the sauce was very unremarkable as were most of the beef dishes. I also had the lamb one night but it tasted like it had the same sauce on it as the tough beef did a few days before. The food got old fast with our longer stay. It seemed like both of the restaurants all served pretty much the same food, arranged on the plate differently and called something else. We did eat a few very yummy appetizers and desserts. I loved the seafood pasta at the Casanova.

Our penthouse room was very large and had a marvelous view, but I found a few problems with it. Namely, the bathroom. Hot water went out completely on 2 occasions. Water pressure was VERY low. It was extremely difficult to get a hot shower. The worse part was flushing the toilets. Forgive me for being graphic but both of us became sick and tired of holding the toilet handle down for 3 minutes and slowly watching our doodies circle around the bowl for and eternity and generally float back to the surface. Each time you used the restroom you would have to flush twice and you HAD to hold the handle down for a long time or it simply would NOT go down. The bathroom was kind of cramped and small with a tiny bathtub and shower. Last time we stayed in the D section and got 2 bathrooms, one of which was very roomy with a big tub and shower and was much more elegant. I've stayed in EconoLodges with much better bathrooms than this room had. Oh we will also be avoiding the top floors of the G building. The ceilings are vaulted and HOLY COW it's SO loud when it rains. This was not a problem when we stayed in the D section top floor. Seriously , it was hard to sleep when it rained because could hear ever single raindrop pounding on the ceiling. Every time it rained at night we were abruptly woken up. We open the bathroom window to unfog the mirror and it almost fell off. One hinge was totally torn off. Closet doors were very squeaky and hard to open. This could have been an awesome room if it was maintained a bit better and the bathroom updated. Our room cards stopped working twice and we had to go to the receptionist and have them reprogrammed. Maid did a nice job cleaning up but she never put flowers out besides the first of 12 days. :( Last time it was always a fun surprise to find new flower arrangements in the room. I also like to wear them in my hair for the evening but I never was left any flowers this time. Bummer.

The food at the Gala was pretty good. Again, lots of the meat dishes were over-cooked but we found some dishes we liked and some really great desserts. The food at the Beachparty was icky. The goat curry and oxtail was just bones with sauce on them. We really disliked all the foods at the beach party.

I was disappointed that Sunset Beach was now nude ONLY. I preferred when it was clothing optional. I don't go nude but my husband does. I was really disappointed to find out that I couldn't go on that side anymore without baring it all. Our first visit we spent the majority of our time at that beach. I did notice that it looked a bit more ratty and unkept this time. Oh I almost forgot. Construction. I understand construction is necessary, but they did SO much SUPER LOUD construction through the bulk of our visit. The first week they were constantly drilling and hammering and using LOUD power tools on the Pallazina which is very close to the main beach. They worked almost nonstop on it during the day hours starting in the morning and working until 4 of 5. It was constant, unrentless noise. There was no sleeping in at Sans Souci during this visit. Every morning we were woken to the untranquil sounds of construction.

I know I am complaining a lot, but I do like Sans Souci, but I liked it MUCH more before Couples bought it. The entire atmosphere has changed a lot and it's less sophisticated. Not quite as top notch.

The grounds are gorgeous. There is so much vegetation and pretty little nooks and crannies to explore. I like how it's a small resort and you aren't treated like cattle. You also aren't bugged by hair braiders and vendors and activity coordinators. I also like that you can usually find a place on the beach and have a bit of space of your own. You don't have to be elbow to elbow with other couples constantly.

The beach was dirtier than it was last time. I did find that there were plenty of sunchairs and floaties and could usually find someplace in the shade without much problem. The beaches arent so hot, but we knew that from our first time. They are really tiny. Seems like this year there was a LOT of icky seaweed on the bottom of the main beach . It made you feel kind of dirty like you were playing in a pond. The water is really really shallow. We had to sneak out under the ropes to get out above the waist. I could probably have walked all the way to the second rope thing. The water was really shallow for quite a ways out.

Please get rid of the sickly cats! Be careful if you try using that hammock on the main lawn. The cats use the sand under it as a huge kitty litter box. I found out the hard way while having a romantic swing with my husband one evening.

Watersports were fun. Last time I visited it seems they were never open although the weather was fab. They were always available and the guys were very helpful getting us set up. Cohen taught us to sail and we had a ball with that. He was a very nice guy.

Oh come on with the towel thing. What an annoyance. This is suppose to be a 5star resort. Don't make me drag a soggy towel around all the time. I can't believe I had to go to check-out with my soggy towel and check it out! When we handed it to the receptionist he instructed us to get up and carry it to the Bellhop box. That kinda stuff just wouldn't have happened under the last management.

I enjoyed having a gym to work out equipped with televisions. Towels and juices were also provided here. We used the gym almost every day.

I was happy to see that they added an extra computer to the game room. They also got wireless in the lobby which was great. Much better than the dial up they offered on just one computer.

Balloon Bar bathrooms stink like urine.
Really.I am so sorry for sounding so negative, but we loved this place so much a few years ago. I planned on coming back here again and again, but it seems to be slipping.

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
19  Thank lotzacurls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 17, 2006

One word: Perfect

The grounds were gorgeous
The service was phenominal
The drinks were strong
The view was bedazzling
The food was awesome
The staff turned into a second family of sorts

San Souci = a slice of HEAVEN

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
11  Thank wellheel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 14, 2006

My wife and I recently returned from Couples Sans Souci resort. This was our second trip to SS, we’d been there on our honeymoon 11 years ago when it was owned by Super Clubs. We returned to SS because of the great memories we had of how fantastic the resort was. While it’s still a nice place, I would offer one bit of advice: if you’ve had a terrific experience on your honeymoon don’t go back to the same resort. I say this because when we were married my wife and I had very little experience in going to resorts, enjoying fine dining and staying in five star hotels. Since our honeymoon we have had those experiences, and it colored our view and expectations when we returned to SS. For those of you who don’t want to read the review and the tips/hints, I think any review can be summed up by the answer to the question “Would you go there again?” My response would be a conditional “yes”, only if I found a really, really, REALLY good bargain price.

SS is classed as a “5 star” resort. This means “5 star” in Jamaica. On the 2-2 ½ hour bus ride from the airport you’ll see three levels of dwellings. First and fewer are the big homes of a few wealthy foreigners (our bus driver liked to point them out and never mentioned one actually owned by a native). Second, and spotted a little more often, are the brightly painted cinderblock / concrete homes of the Jamaican upper/middle class – all with decorative wrought iron bars on every window and door, some hidden behind walls or fences. Last, and by far the majority, are the smaller houses or shacks of the rest of the population – with no obvious need for windows, doors or any type of security system. So in the context of the dwellings you see from the main highway, I would give SS their five stars. Keep that airport transfer in mind if you are recalling your suite at the Ritz-Carlton.

SS has changed ownership in the past several years. Prior to Couples it was owned by the big tobacco/cigarette firm on the island. In speaking with the staff, it seems the transition to Couples did not benefit either staff or customers. Many amenities for the guests were taken away, and the staff compensation was cut. It was apparent that certain cost “efficiencies” have been implemented. For example, the wine served in the top restaurant on the resort, Casanova, was some of the cheapest I’ve seen in a restaurant. You can order other wines from the wine list, but I would not recommend it. They are mostly pedestrian wines which are waaaay overpriced (you do pay extra for them, they are not included). Also, there is a deposit on beach towels, so make sure on your last day you don’t leave the towels on the beach and make sure you get a receipt from the Water Sports desk to show you returned them when you check out. As your beach towels get dirty you have to take them over to the Water Sports building to get fresh towels – a minor inconvenience that is escalated to “pain in the [---]” status because there is often a lack of fresh towels. Now, I am aware of “Jamaican time” and the easy, relaxed nature of the island and its people, but being told “Towels will be here in 20 minutes”, then “Not here yet, maybe in 20 minutes”, then half an hour later “Towels came, but now we’re all out” is not what you want to experience when holding wet, sandy beach towels. Really, would it be too much trouble to buy some more cheap cotton towels?

OK, since I’ve already started down that road, here were some of our complaints:
- No hot water. Actually, we had “Jamaican” hot water. Sometimes it came on, sometimes it just ran cold. We called maintenance, and after tracking muddy shoes into the bathroom the engineer’s solution was “let it run 20-30 minutes, maybe it will get hot.” I made him stand in the bathroom, the shower and both sinks running, to show him that solution had been tried and failed. After 15 minutes he put his hand under the tap and said “it’s getting hot”. True, it was no longer cold, but forty minutes of running water just to get to lukewarm seemed ridiculous. Our solution: we let the hot water run continuously when we were in our room, checking it every 20 minutes. If it was hot, we’d take a shower; if it was cold I’d take another trip to the bar.
- The one reason we came to SS was because it is all inclusive, no tipping. Our first time 11 years ago I didn’t really understand the concept and offered to tip our bellman. He said “No, no, mon, I can’t. You enjoy your stay.” This time was a little different. The bellman was lingering, showing us where bathroom was, commenting on how heavy our bags were, pointing out the spot on his leg where the bag had hit him. As he stood by the door, not leaving, my wife looked at me with a question, and I decided to see if it was possible. I offered the bellman $5 and he took it. I was shocked. When we paid for this trip we knew we’d be tipping people every time we turned around on the island – Jamaicans are not shy about letting you know you should tip them, even if all they did was to remind you that you should tip – but when we got to the resort I thought that nonsense was over. I complained to the Front Desk manager, but did not give her the bellman’s name to spare him from getting dismissed. Nonetheless, having this happen on the first day really set a bad tone for the whole vacation, and pointed out one thing I and other repeat visitors have noticed about SS: the quality of service has slipped.
- On our first visit to SS we laid on the beach and had attentive staff always come by to ask if we needed a drink or a snack. This visit, I counted only 2 times total that someone came to us when we were on the beach to offer to get us a drink.
- Lack of good fruit. This is a tropical island, why would we be subjected to anemic honeydew, pineapple and cantaloupe? There was some papaya, mangos were not in season when we were there, but where was the breadfruit and other island fruits? The fruits were much better on our first visit. Also, I’ll share one anecdote about vegetables. When at the upscale Italian restaurant, Casanova, one night for dinner I ordered a spinach salad that was on the menu. I was brought a salad with iceberg lettuce. Thinking it was just a mistake, I asked the waitress to take it back. She said “That is spinach.” I pulled a leaf out and said “No, spinach is dark green. These leaves are pale green and white, and some are hard. This is not spinach.” She took the salad, came back and said, “We’re out of spinach tonight.” Two subsequent nights dining at Casanova I asked “Do you have the spinach salad?” I was told yes, and both times I was brought iceberg lettuce. On this basis alone I would say that the term “fine dining” should be amended to “Jamaican fine dining”.
- Also, one night we dined indoors at Casanova. My wife was dressed up and looked very elegant – we both like the idea of getting dressed up for dinner now and then. I was told when I made the reservation that jackets were required inside the restaurant, and the resort would loan me one if needed. Commendable, but I’d already brought a jacket to wear to dinner, and I expected others would as well. I was disappointed to see that the dress code was not enforced, and that most of the men dined without a jacket, some of them in short sleeves and sandals. My wife and I agreed it would be nice if SS had one restaurant where they had an elegant atmosphere that they enforced, even if they don’t know what spinach is.
- SS was undergoing a beach renovation on our visit. The sand on the beach is normally fine, which I really like, but SS was trucking in some rough gravelly sand and spreading it out all over. Because it wasn’t naturally placed there, was obviously not sea/beach sand and hadn’t been compacted, the sand had a tendency to feel like gravelly mud. It was dirty and hard, worse than many beaches you’d find on the U.S. east coast.
- The beach chairs were few, most were dirty, and several were broken and left laying on the beach. There were only a few cheap plastic tables/stands, and these were snatched up by those who got up at 6:00am to get a chair under an umbrella. The tractor driver who combs the beach in the morning (and that should be done at 6:00am, not when guests are going out to the beach) always ignored the trash on the beach. I found myself picking up other people’s litter just so it wouldn’t spoil my view of the ocean. There was also trash in the flower beds near our building. It seems like the staff have lost their sense of pride about the resort.

I started with only three complaints, but kept thinking of things as I wrote. To shift focus to the positives:
- The resort is one of the prettiest overall I’ve seen anywhere. I don’t mind the walking and all the steps, I like the paths and there are great views everywhere. Traveling through the E building is like walking down a Mediterranean alley, and we like the way the buildings are separated, not lumped in one huge complex. And the landscaping is very nice, lots of canna lilies, pentas, lantanas and other flowers, plus palms and cactus.
- We like the private beach, which has two headlands that keep vendors away and a reef in front that prevents them from landing amphibiously. While snorkeling in the main lagoon is not recommended (nothing to see and people learning to sail Cats), there is a smaller section in front of the spa that’s really fun. You have to be careful, because the reef gets shallow in places and coral will cut you. I went there and I was surrounded by a school of fish. I would recommend you save some bread from breakfast and see if you can get the fish to eat out of your hand.
- Jamaican people, who are relaxed and easy going. It pays to be patient, smile and say “Thank you” and “No problem, mon”. If you are aggressive and impatient you’ll get nowhere.
- The spa is very nice. A massage near the sea will provide you with a memory for a lifetime.
- The pastry chef is very good. Again, lucky there are so many steps to justify that extra dessert.
- The front desk staff was very polite and accommodated all of our requests. We received a room without a balcony, which looked like a mistake by our travel company, not the resort. The staff provided us with alternate accommodations (balcony plus a Jacuzzi) on our second day. While the rooms aren’t the Ritz, remember the homes you saw on the drive to the resort, and you’ll appreciate they are more than adequate. Housekeeping picks flowers every day and will arrange them on your bed. My wife really liked the few times they turned down the sheets and put petals all over the bed.
- I really liked the mineral pool. Swimming in a pool without having the chlorine smell on you and up your nose is for me a rare experience. The hot tub above the mineral pool will bleach your skin, I avoid it. It’s not fair to say the mineral pool is “salty”. It is not even close to seawater. There is a slight tang, but it is after all a mineral pool. Rare for most resorts, you should take a break from the beach to enjoy it.
- The resort is so unique we remembered many of the features from 11 years ago. We did like the feeling of familiarity.

Here are my tips:
- The bartenders will always serve you cheap booze if you don’t specify. You should always instead ask for top shelf brands, the drinks taste a LOT better. I asked for Appleton Special Reserve dark rum in all my beach drinks (mostly frozen rum creations like daiquiris and pina coladas) and Absolut or Tanqueray in my evening drinks. I don’t recommend the margaritas. Most surprisingly in this land of sugar cane and rum, not one bartender had heard of a mojito.
- Get to the beach before 8:30am and put out your towels on your chairs, otherwise you’ll be scrambling to find a seat on the beach. Then go back to your room and get ready for breakfast.
- Always remember to make dinner reservations in the morning the day before you want to dine. You may miss out your first night, but after that you should be eating at Casanova or the other restaurant, the Palazinna.
- Unless the weather looks overcast, always request an outside table. And make your reservation for 6:30pm, so you can grab one of the intimate deuces closest to the ocean.
- I’d recommend the beach grill for lunch, but only to order the jerk chicken or pork. Hamburgers and pizzas are foreign foods Jamaicans are still trying to master. The jerk seasoning is toned down from the five alarm sauce they serve in the local jerk centers, which I appreciated.
- I recommend you try the akeekee cod for breakfast (made with the akeekee fruit), or any other traditional Jamaican cuisine when you see it on the buffet. I also recommend the Oprah cake and coconut drops.
- ALWAYS get a room with a balcony, the bigger the better. Not just because it’s nice to sit there and relax, but because the rooms have that institutional cleanser and musty smell. Opening the doors to the balcony lets more fresh air in, and the room smells better. And always on the second floor or higher.
- If you sit outside for breakfast or lunch at the Palazinna, sit farther away from building B. There’s a grove of trees next to the patio, filled with thieving birds just waiting for you to look away from your plate and dropping aerial bombs near your food. If you do sit outside, don’t leave food unattended.
- Bring a small umbrella; the resort doesn’t have enough for everyone if it rains.
- Bring a small flashlight for when you walk around at night – some of the lights on the steps aren’t the best, you can easily stub your toes.
- Bring lots of small bills, you will be tipping from the moment you get off the plane until you get to the resort, any time you go off the resort, and on the trip back to the airport.
- Unless you enjoy scrambling up slippery rocks while cold water pours all over you, standing in a long line with other tourists that you may have to help/lift over tricky spots, and then run a gauntlet of aggressive vendors while your guide shills for tips, I would avoid the Dunn’s River Falls excursion. But then, I’m funny like that.
- Fine dining options outside the resort are few and far between. I would recommend staying on the resort for meals.
- There are three shopping excursion trips. One to the pier where the cruise ships dock, one to a place called the Taj Mahal, and one to a location known as Gem Palace. If you only take one, take the one that goes to Gem Palace. It puts you close to the center of Ocho Rios, you don’t have to compete with the cruise ship hordes that descend on the pier, and other resorts seem to go to the Taj Mahal area more than the Gem Palace location. It’s the best location for feeling like you are really in Jamaica. The kids pile out of the little minivans/buses from school in their uniforms, you can catch teenagers speaking their fast patois, and the vendors aren’t so aggressive. A few blocks south of Gem palace and you start finding the stores where the Jamaicans shop. No knick knacks, crafts or jewelry, mostly food stores and cheap dives serving Red Stripe beer. Fun to walk around in the day time and feel like you really are in Jamaica.
- Visit the gift shops on the resort only after your arms get tired of lighting matches to burn your cash.
- Get a couples massage at one of the gazebos near the ocean – and upgrade to one hour. My wife recommends the facial and the hot stone massage as well. These cost extra, but are worth it. ALWAYS remember to shower / bathe before your massage. You will be tipping your masseuse.
- Bring your own snorkel equipment. It will be better, and cleaner, than the resort’s equipment. If you want to save money, bring your own mask and snorkel, and borrow the resort’s fins. I also recommend wearing low cut white cotton socks, helps prevent blisters if you are using the resort’s fins or are not used to wearing fins.
- Don’t buy CDs from the groups that provide evening entertainment. The reggae groups were really talented, and I would have purchased a CD, but $10 for a two-song CD that looked like it was burned on a computer seems insulting.
- Vendors on the beach are new since our last visit. Their prices reflect the fact they have no competition and provide you with some convenience.
- If I do return I will specify either building B or building G. I would also specify second floor or higher. For building B, you also want to be on the west side, farther away from the Palazinna restaurant. Avoid the east/south side of building E since it’s closest to the bar and evening entertainment – unless you like music in the evening. Building A is in front of the pool, but is also near the construction entrance, I would avoid it.

Last recommendation: keep in mind that the primary reason you’re at Sans Souci is to relax. In order to enjoy your trip, this may include relaxing some of your expectations. In reading other reviews, I note a trend where newlyweds and younger couples seem to enjoy SS tremendously, as my wife and I did 11 years ago. I think if you’ve never been to an all inclusive resort, and want to experience one that has a beautiful location without a lot of “cheerleaders” running around trying to get you to play drinking games on the beach, then this is the place for you. If you’re an older, more experienced traveler then you should acknowledge you’re not paying the price of a true five star resort and set your expectations accordingly. As for my wife and myself, we still have wonderful memories of our honeymoon and for the most part we enjoyed our last visit, but unless we see a real bargain for SS we’ll be looking to try different islands and resorts and keep SS as our benchmark for a moderate, 3-4 star resort. I hope this review helps.

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
33  Thank Mkzpa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 13, 2006

Just returned from Sans Souci Dec. 8 - 12. This was our first trip to Jamaica and Couples. Before reading this review, be aware that we had a terrible first night, but the remainder of the trip was excellent. We enjoyed our stay and would consider returning. This review is twofold in that I hope that couples will learn and improve from this review and our experieance as well as letting fellow travelers know that even the most demanding situations can be rectified and an expensive vacation salvaged.

The trip from Mobay was as described, long and much construction. The busses are very small and cramped which we had not expected. Upon arrival, our group was left to kind of mull about the reception area. We were offered drinks but no cool towels as we had heard. Eventually a receptionist came by to give us our room info. We initially were assigned our booked level room, beach view, jaccuzzi suite.

The Staff Party:
The room was OK, but could use some basic updating. This was in A block first floor. Since it was Friday night, we attended the Friday Night Gala. Food was good, entertainment OK. Since we were extreamly tired after traveling all day we decided to call it an early night. Once back in the room, we noticed a deep bass noise reveberating through the room. We knew there was some music being played down by the beach so decided to wait an hour or so before trying to get to sleep. Eventually the bass got louder and we realized this was not coming from the beach. It turned out there was a staff party being held at the au natural beach that night. I called the front desk to ask how long this would go on. At first was told this was an offsite event they had no control of. (management later confirmend that it was indeed an on-site staff party) After being put on hold over 10 times and never getting to the night manager, we walked (quite a way) to the lobby. This was about 12:30 and the noise was constant. The night manager offered to move us for one night. We were quite tired and I really didn't want to move twice. We asked to be moved anywhere away from the noise that didn't require us to move again. After some time and even driving back to our room to demonstrate the noise level a room was found. However, the AC was broken. The search continued and eventually we ended up in G block second story. This was a downgraded room, although quite a bit larger than the A block room. It was obviously older but clean and had a very large balcony with a partial view of the ocean. While it was no longer a bother, the party could still be heard on the balcony. It was now 2:30 am so we went straight to bed and hoped to salvage what we could of the next day.

Working with Management:
The next day, the general manager contacted me as I had requested. At first, he suggested that we didn't understand the Jamaican way and were the only unreasonable people to complain about the noise. After some discussion, he agreed that we were extreamly inconvienienced and would be compensated for the downgrade and would get back to me later. Sometime later a receptionist called to say they had credited our account for the difference in the lower grade room but was not advised anything regarding a refund for the first night (which I had requested from the GM). I made it clear that this was unacceptible and only a refund of the first night could compensate me for the loss of almost of full day (no sleep, difficulty in getting another room etc.) Finally, the GM left a message that they would be drafting a letter to my travel agent to refund the first night.

Making the best of the trip:
While this was going on we did begin to enjoy the resort. Food was good, grounds were beautiful. We had a good bit of rain so the large balcony with lounge chairs proved to be very nice. I think I would opt for a room in F or G if I ever were to return because of the balconies. Room service was quick and had some pretty good selections. Breakfast, though, could use a bit more options. We had dinner that night at Pallazina. Enjoyed the food and service was very good. On Sunday, nothing but rain so the balcony again proved useful. We had a couples massage in one of the huts over the ocean. Very nice and unique experience with the large waves pounding the cliffs. Dinner at Cassonova on Sunday. Good but service and food was better in our opinion at Pallazina. Monday, finally some sun. Spent day at pool. Pool bar didn't open until 11, normally not a problem but I really needed a bloody mary. No music at the pool bar, someone actually had brought a small boombox so that was playing and made a bit more festive atmosphere. Had a wonderful day and met many nice couples. Dinner that night at Pallazina (temp. moved to share space with Cassonova while building was remodeled). Again service and food was excellent. Sadly left next day and it was sunny again. This time the bus was overloaded and extremely uncomfortable for the 2.5 hour ride to airport.

Nightlife. Not much to speak of. Whatever is going on seems to wind down pretty early. They do need to offer alternatives when it rains since most bands and music are outside by the balloon bar.

Pallazina for Breakfast and lunch. Always good with lots of selections. Beach grill pretty good, never tried for dinner though.

Staff, pretty friendly and helpful. I never recieved good service at the beach bar but that could have simply been my timing. Balloon bar at night always had friendly and fast service. Rooms were cleaned promptly and turned down each night. Bar was stocked (and even loaded with what I requested).

Eliminating the first night, this was a wonderful vacation. We went to relax and be together. The resort is beautiful and in a very romantic setting. While the rooms are dated, ours were clean and in good shape. Our room in G was huge and really could be an extraodinary suite if some remodelling was done.

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7  Thank StillAtWork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 12, 2006

Well I hate to be the complainer but.... We hated San Souci. Let me start by saying we have stayed @ COR before and absolutely loved it.

We only lasted 12 hours before we asked to goto COR so first impressions obviously mean alot. We did not get the warm reception we expected, no cool towels, no drink while we waited for check in. We did get upgraded to a Penthouse which we thrilled about until we saw it. Not so nice. Very old and run down, and very dirty. There was hair all over both the toilet and the tub. The tub was stained very badly and the shower drizzled a tiny bit of water out.

We would have been fine with the room even in the condition it was in, it was the staff that made us regret booking there. When we arrived of course after 12 hours of travel were starving. It took us over a half hour to get to the restaurant. We asked three different people who kinda pointed but never offered to actually show us. The property is huge and our room was at the furthest point away from everything, and after managing to get up and down the many stairwells we finally found the right restaurant. Our service was terrible. We waited forever for our food, two couples who actually came after us were done with their food before ours arrived.

Exausted we went to bed hoping to have a better morning. After walking around the next morning getting lost several times since their are very few directional signs we finally decided this was not the resort for us we made our way to the front desk to ask if COR had anything available. The manager never even asked wy we wanted to leave. She called over and made it clear that COR ONLY had a garden veiw available. Without hesitation we said we would take it. She then informed us she would call a cab but we would have to pay for it. I found this strange but said fine.
When we arrived @ COR shortly after they greeted us with the cool towels, and drinks and welcomed us home. The lady who checked us in told us that CSS never even called her back to confirm we were coming so she would have to get a room ready for us. We completely understood and they offered to escort us to the patio where lunch was being served. In less that five minutes, knew we made the right decision to give up our "penthouse" for "only a garden veiw".

On a good note the property itself is beautiful. The beach is very small, but the rest of the property was very well kept and very scenic.

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
6  Thank chris427
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Couples Sans Souci

Address: Route A3, St-Mary | PO Box 103, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Ocho Rios
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#3 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
#4 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
#4 Luxury Hotel in Ocho Rios
#4 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Family Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range: $343 - $597 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Couples Sans Souci 4.5*
Number of rooms: 150
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

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