My boyfriend and I (27 and 25 years old, respectively) just got back from Couples Ocho Rios a few days ago, and had an absolutely wonderful time. We both agreed that after having experienced an all-inclusive resort, it will be very hard to switch to a "normal" vacation next time around. COR definitely spoiled us for the five days that we were there.
The trip from the airport to the resort (a 2-hour drive) is very sobering. You really begin to understand that Jamaica is a third-world country, despite the beauty that you will find at COR.
As for the resort, well, this place is amazing. The cool towels/champagne upon arrival is delightful. It's definitely that "Old Hollywood" style, especially the piano bar, which usually doesn't get too crowded until 11pm or so. The staff are friendly and courteous, and the housekeeping is second to none... they even turn down your bed at night and left us a beautiful orchid on our pillow one day. Every time we came back to our room, it was spotless.
The beach is smaller than many expect, but it is raked hourly and we never had trouble finding a spot either on the beach or at the pool. We didn't check out the nude island Tower Isle, but wish that they opened it up to the "clothed" crowd at night... would make an excellent party spot or just a nice place to get away to for awhile.
You really don't need to bring that much money with you to COR - enough to tip the driver to/from the resort, plus the guides of any non-COR activities (horseback riding, Dunn's River Falls, etc) - and of course, money to pick up souvenirs. There's a "bank" on premises that allows you to take out $50USD per day, if necessary. Pack CAREFULLY because necessities at the gift shop are outrageously expensive - $5 for chapstick, $20 for contact lens solution, etc. So make a list in advance before you pack and try not to forget anything!
There's a duty-free jewelry store attached to the gift shop, but we priced the Movado watches there and it wasn't a very good deal. Nice stuff, though... must say that I was intrigued with the "Couples Ring" - ladies, you'll see what I mean when you get there. Very interesting design.
The food is great - yes, sometimes you'll see some bugs flying around the buffet area, but it's not like COR can put Mother Nature on hold, and we didn't feel that the hygiene was compromised - everything is covered up with Saran wrap, anyway. We loved the French restaurant Le Gourmet, definitely stop by there if you can - the pate wrapped in pastry dough was delicious, and the atmosphere is sooo romantic.
Beach party was very festive (the head chef stood at the top of the stairs and appeared genuinely concerned that the guests were having a good time) and the beach grill is great when you're hungry, but you don't want to put on anything more than your bathing suit! We skipped the Jamaican restaurant and the pasta one. There was plenty of variety at the buffet, and breakfast there is yummy.
If you play tennis, this is the place for you. Five immaculate courts, two of which are open 24 HOURS A DAY. Decent rackets and located about twenty feet from the entrance of the resort. There is a mini-craft market outside of the tennis courts where you can get a pretty good deal on stuff - I got a scrapbook for $20 which the gift shop was selling for $25. Probably better deals to be found if you haggle, but I really wasn't in the mood to do so based on my paragraph regarding the van ride to the resort. $20 to these people means a lot more than it does to me, I'm sure.
The basketball courts (yes, we tried a little one-on-one, despite the heat that day) are kind of rundown, but who goes to Jamaica to play basketball? They're functional...
There's a ton of random stuff to do, if you get bored sitting on a loungechair by the beach/pool. Shuffleboard, chess, backgammon, pingpong, billiards, casino area, gym, spa, etc... water sports, too. We skipped the catamaran cruise (looked like a glorified booze cruise, and since the drinks are free anyway, we skipped it) and we also missed the glass bottom boat ride. If we ever head back, we'll definitely take advantage of the scuba diving certification.
Dunn's River was nice (great way to meet other people at the resort, as you are forced to hold hands with people as you climb up the waterfalls), but the craft market is a very pushy place... be careful. Some guy carved my name into a wooden doll and seemed a bit irate when I wouldn't give him more than $10 for it. Also, flipflops won't work on this trip, so make sure you pack either a pair of sneakers (that you don't mind getting wet) OR some sort of Teva-like shoe that you can climb in. Take the advice of past reviews and go on SUNDAY when the cruise ships aren't docked.
Horseback riding is great, we lucked out because it wasn't too hot that day. Some of the horses look elderly and tired, I had a bit of a problem with that... but I'm also an animal lover and might be too sympathetic. I was concerned the Jamaican sun (in July) might be too much for the animals, but I suppose they've lived on the island their whole lives. Anyway, if you go - skip the video (those things are so cheesy, anyway) and purchase the 8x10 photos if they come out good. We did and I LOVE them.
We couldn't really figure out the aviary. Looked like there were walking paths built in, but the doors appeared to be locked each time we tried. Either way, they seemed to have quite the array of lovebirds and god knows what else.
The bartenders are friendly and fast, although be forewarned that the drinks are served in pretty small cups. Lots of trips to the bar and back, however, aren't necessarily all bad... good opportunity to burn some calories and figure out how tipsy you really are. My boyfriend liked the Big Bamboo (for those of you who can handle some serious booze) while I preferred the Hummingbird (tastes like a strawberry milkshake, but supposedly has some alcohol in it.)
I think the average guest age here is 35. Most people are married... we were referred to as "husband and wife" a few times and I noticed that most of the women at the resort were wearing rings! However, we are in our twenties and had a fabulous time despite the older crowd, and met quite a few other couples in our age range - especially on their honeymoons. If you're looking for wild and crazy partying with lots of 21 year olds, head to Hedonism. Otherwise, if you're looking for a place to relax, grab a drink, take a nap in a hammock or cuddle in a private (albeit slightly overchlorinated) jacuzzi, COR is the place to go.
If you've read some bad reviews of this place, heed them no mind. In order to have a bad time at this resort, you definitely need to arrive with a major chip on your shoulder. Otherwise, be assured you're going to have a FABULOUS time - there is a reason that this place has the reputation which it does.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Playground to Hollywood celebrities in the 1950s, glamorous Couples Tower Isle exudes a chic sophistication perfectly balanced by a relaxed Caribbean sensuality. Perched on the lush terrain of Ocho Rios, Jamaica—the resort seduces with breathtaking sea views, a wide sandy beach and century-old palm trees. Discover the joys of snorkeling among the reefs, windsurfing on the waves, or sailing into the sunset on a catamaran, rum punch in hand. Intricate blue tile work and jade chaise lounges offset the striking white retro architecture. Luxurious rooms boast private ocean-breeze balconies. Whether being pampered in the Zen-inspired spa—recognized as "Best in the Caribbean" by Travel+Leisure—sipping cocktails at the piano bar or indulging in an exquisite meal alfresco, Couples Tower Isle creates countless intimate moments that inspire you to return again and again. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Couples Tower Isle Hotel Ocho Rios
- Couples Hotel Ocho Rios
- Couples Ocho Rios
- Couples Hotel Isle
- Couples Ochos Rios
- Ochos Rios
- Couples Tower Isle Jamaica/Ocho Rios