My husband and I stayed at Couples Negril 13-24Dec2012. This was our 14th trip in 8 years. I occasionally write reviews for the Couples message board, but haven’t been disciplined in posting separate reviews for TripAdvisor. We obviously love Couples Negril, so I have written this review to reflect just a few changes from our previous trips. I will not address our issues with lost luggage since the airline did rectify that situation after our return.
Couples Lounge/Transfer: We were the only couple in the lounge that evening, but we were asked to wait for another couple. No problem -- the cold Red Stripe was very refreshing, and helped ease the stress of lost luggage and dive gear. After about 30 minutes wait the couple never materialized, so we were whisked to the van. A quick trip to Negril was greatly appreciated after the travel challenges we had that day (cancelled flight + delayed second flight + aforementioned lost luggage). Our check in was quick because we were so late in arriving and only had our backpacks with us. After hearing our tale of travel woe, the night manager gave us repeater t-shirts which allowed us to get out of our sweaters in which we had been traveling all day. By this time it was 10:30pm and we were able to have a quick snack at the grill before bed.
Room: We had a second floor garden room in Block 4 with a view of the spa and the beautiful gardens. We prefer Blocks 1-5 as these locations are close to the dive shop. Everything in the room worked with no issues. We noticed that Couples has replaced all of their old heavy yellow comforters with white ones. They’re quite nice, but I have to wonder how long they will stay sparkling white.
The garden room bathroom is functional with a nice touch of glass mosaic tiles. The square, shallow sink has been an attractive annoyance for a couple of years. We are looking forward to seeing the upcoming bathroom remodel and hope it entails removing the bathtub. We had no issues with lack of hot water or water pressure. We like the refillable bath gel and shampoo. Note to new guests: If you open your jalousie windows in the bath too far, other guests and staff can inadvertently obtain a view of your shower activity when they walk by the room.
Housekeeping was great, as it has been for all of our previous trips. The room was sparkling clean every day. The only day we had some delay in our room being made was due to a huge turnover of guests on a Saturday. Not the staff’s fault at all. The ladies are very friendly and work very hard to get every speck of sand out of your room. Turndown service occurred each evening of our stay. Hint for new guests: be sure to rinse out your used drink glasses to avoid attracting any tiny sugar ants.
The new mini-bar process wasn’t as much of an issue as we had read on the Couples message board. Our pre check-in choices were not provided, but we assume that was caused by our delayed flight. When we did need something, a staff member arrived within 10 minutes or so. Very friendly service.
The only issues we had with our room location was loud yelling and party noise from the hidden (aka dive shop) hot tub late at night. We tried to sleep with the air conditioning off and balcony door open one night (to hear the ocean and the tree frogs). It just wasn’t possible because of the noise. I am a very light sleeper and am used to the “normal” night noises of CN, but this loud drunken conversation was just irritating.
Staff: As in past trips, the long time staff remembered us, and we are always happy to see them. They are wonderful. The majority of trainees we met did a very good job, but we did observe some who just weren’t quite there yet. Not a huge issue. We were very happy to see the return of Mr. Nigel Bissett and always a pleasure to talk with Mr. Konrad Malcolm. (Konrad holds a special place in hearts as he helped Mike plan the top secret Otaheite marriage proposal a few years ago.) We did not meet the new GM while we there - perhaps next trip.
Bars: Bar service in Heliconia and Otaheite was efficient as always. Lyndon, Elkie and everyone took care of us very well. We did not make it to the swim-up bar, but we did visit with Franklyn when we saw him. Now to the subject of changes in alcohol. As discussed in other reviews, some of the variety of top shelf liquors have been eliminated, reduced, or are only available in the Piano Bar (depending on the brand). This may be due to changes in the Jamaican tax laws recently. We were able to find Baileys and Guinness in the Piano Bar, but Baileys was not always available in Heliconia for after dinner. Our friends experienced similar with their requests for gin & tonic. We don’t drink very much, but we do enjoy particular brands. We understand how the changes in liquors may upset some guests, especially when premium brands are still advertised. Still much better than some of the other all-inclusives we’ve visited.
Breakfast Buffet: Generally very good breakfast buffet. I am always happy to see the salt fish & ackee. The omelet station was good, but can get backed up. We do enjoy the fruit selections and the smoothie station was also very good. Waffle station had some execution challenges one day, but my husband always enjoys the huge waffles. New guests: Try the Jamaican dishes. Try the variety of fresh fruits and juices like soursop. Grab a coconut and have some fresh coconut water.
The one thing that drives us crazy at breakfast is the toaster. Every year, we comment on our checkout cards that Couples needs to replace this cantankerous contraption. It only toasts one side no matter how you adjust it, or it burns it. Please get a new toaster!
Coffee and tea service was for the most part - quick and friendly. Settle in and enjoy the beautiful view of the pool and the sea while you have your breakfast. The greedy egret is still there, begging for scraps.
Lunch: The beach grill menu seems to have expanded a bit from last year. The grill is great for a quick snack or if you prefer to eat earlier than the main lunch buffet which begins at 12:30. Cassava lunch had a good variety and daily themes. We don’t drink until the end of our diving day, but on the days we were landlocked we found the drink service from the bar to be a tad inconsistent. Please note that you must wear a cover-up and shoes when in Cassava for lunch, but it is not required at the beach grill.
Dinner: Service was efficient in Heliconia and Otaheite, and seeing Omar, Marlon, Jerardo and other familiar faces makes our dinners special. We are always happy with the menus here. We only had one ala carte meal at Cassava this trip. Our waiter for dinner at Cassava was a nice young man, but he had been tasked with too many tables and was a bit swamped. Cassava’s menu was good, but we tend not to eat here due to the loud music. We did not get a chance to dine in Lychee this trip, but we are sure that Adrian is doing an excellent job managing it. The Saturday night buffet was very good both nights, with large selections.
Activities: It appears that some of the evening trivia games have been eliminated (music, honeymooner’s game, etc). We did go to the dance party for a bit one night. We did not participate in any of the auctions or other games. We do love seeing the Silver Birds. They are wonderfully talented.
Gym/Fitness: Yoga class with Rosa is one of my favorite activities. It would be great to have a class on the beach every once in a while. I didn’t spend much time in the gym this trip, but it appeared to still be in good shape with plenty of equipment.
Spa: Our complimentary repeat guest massage was good but was over too soon! I did have a second Swedish massage later in the week with Margaret and it was very good - so relaxing.
Watersports: I kayaked but once I tried stand up paddle boarding, I found a new addiction. I am looking forward to doing it again. The watersports staff is great and always helpful. We love our watersports and dive shop family.
SCUBA: December is a crowded time for repeaters at Couples, and very crowded with divers. We need a boat that is the same size as the one at Swept Away! Throughout our time there, the dive shop team continued to work very hard to accommodate the crowd of divers. Did I mention we love our watersports and dive shop family?
The viz was a bit off, probably from a previous cold front. Lots of lionfish, but hopefully they will institute a similar lionfish eradication program as at Swept Away. We saw a very large free-swimming nurse shark on one of our dives. There were other things to see, but sometimes the group of divers was too large and we would elect to hang back out of the way. The highlight of our trip was a pod of dolphins swimming around the boat on one of our returns back to the resort. It took quite a bit of restraint not to jump in with them! We did get blown out by a cold front and missed a few days of diving.
Beach: The beach was in great shape, with no erosion issues. I ran a couple of days when we weren’t diving. Other days we walked the beach every morning. An early morning on the beach when the sun is rising is always the best way to start a day. Could not help but notice the loud music coming from the Office of Nature at sunset, but this can’t be controlled by Couples. We were able to relax and enjoy the beach – even with the huge front that kept us out from diving. My favorite beach musician was Kevin Sterling. I missed an opportunity to buy his CD, but I hope to find him next trip.
Trading Places/ Couples Swept Away: We took advantage of the repeat guest perk to spend part of the day at the nearby Couples Swept Away. It was beautiful, but too crowded for me. We did partake of the sweet potato chips and fish tacos. After a dip in the sea, we elected to leave. CSA was just not our cup of tea.
Checkout/Transfer to Airport: Checkout was quick and relatively painless. Getting on that bus is always hard. Thankfully, our flight was uneventful and as an added bonus - our luggage made it home with us on the same aircraft.
General Experience: There are pros and cons to visiting the same resort over and over again. We love the feeling that comes over us when we take our first steps into the open air lobby – that feeling of being at home. We love seeing our old friends (staff and guests) and sitting on that beautiful beach. It is also comforting to know the routine and not worry about whether you chose the right hotel. The con of going too frequently is that you expect each visit to surpass the last one. Yes, that is unrealistic -- but past years at Couples has set the bar very high.
We saw some facilities improvements from 2011, but also noticed a bit more cost-cutting in other areas. As for ambience --we understand others enjoy their vacations differently than we do, but we also expect a certain vibe when we invest a significant portion of our vacation funds in a Couples resort. We hope that Couples upper management takes note - we felt that the large groups and loud drunks at dinner and late at night made it less romantic. We hope to see that aspect improve for the better on our 15th trip.
What hasn’t changed is the staff. The Couples family, the core of what keeps so many returning -- is still as friendly, wonderful and hardworking as ever. The beach and grounds are still as beautiful. The ocean is still that amazing combination of blues, greens and turquoise that I can see when I close my eyes. The dolphins still call my name. December 2013 soon come.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Couples Negril. A brilliant balance of elegant and eclectic. At Couples Negril, style surrounds and infuses everything in sight. From the laid-back charm of the swim-up bar to the intoxicating allure on an in-suite Jacuzzi, there’s just something about Couples Negril that says chic. Defined by imaginative, artistic features and possessing a beautiful balance of elegant and eclectic, Couples Negril is 18 acres of all-inclusive luxury, personality and pleasure. All expertly carved into the captivating landscape of Negril, Jamaica. And while our unique appointments set us apart from any other resort, our unwavering attention to your every desire has earned us recognition as the premier all-inclusive resort not only in Jamaica, but the entire Caribbean ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Couples Negril Hotel Negril
- Couples Hotel Negril
- Negril Couples Hotel
- Couples Negril Jamaica