Submitted on 20-07-2016
Ok so a little about ourselves‚?¶ my wife and I are very down to Earth and easy going people. We have been fortunate enough to travel to many countries and experience some of the finest luxuries the world has to offer, but through it all we never fail to appreciate the little things and we certainly don‚??t need to be spoiled to have a good time. We have backpacked, camped, done hostels, resorts, and penthouse suites, and we‚??ve traveled by trains, busses, planes, river boats, and cruise ship...
Ok so a little about ourselves‚?¶ my wife and I are very down to Earth and easy going people. We have been fortunate enough to travel to many countries and experience some of the finest luxuries the world has to offer, but through it all we never fail to appreciate the little things and we certainly don‚??t need to be spoiled to have a good time. We have backpacked, camped, done hostels, resorts, and penthouse suites, and we‚??ve traveled by trains, busses, planes, river boats, and cruise ships‚?¶ honestly we always find a way to enjoy all of it.
That said, we‚??re fairly easy graders, but we also have an eye for things that maybe you would expect at certain price points. That said, we felt like this hotel deserved a 4/5 rating; we had an absolute blast while we were there and as an experience, we loved it and certainly plan to return (if not to Couples Negril, at least a Couples Resort elsewhere in Jamaica). If you‚??re one of those super foo-foo types though you‚??ll probably notice some issues that might make you say ‚??omg worst hotel ever don‚??t go‚??‚?¶ I‚??m convinced most of these negative comments here are those kinds of people. What might you complain about if you go here? Well first off the photos are a little nicer than the actual view, the buildings have certainly been through a lot of tropical weather so you may see some areas that need paint, and you‚??ll see missing shingles on the roof (or repaired ones that are a different color), and there may be some mildew in the spots that don‚??t get a lot of sunshine/air. If anything has metal in it, you will probably see some rust around the edges if you look close, sometimes you may see some paint hastily thrown on top of it to hide it. The floorplan is basically completely open to the air and with it, the harmful ocean salt that makes it extremely difficult to keep a place looking as pristine as the day it was built. That open air floorplan also invites the inevitable presence of bugs, which is further compounded by the fact this is a tropical beach surrounded by rainforests. Newsflash, there are bugs in the rainforest‚?¶ this hotel is basically in a rainforest. They do the best they can short of fogging the entire facility every day, so do expect to see some flies around the outdoor dining areas or some ants in your hallway or maybe a spider on your balcony. So for the people that gave it one star for these things‚?¶ as far as we were concerned the place looked gorgeous considering its age and geographic location. We had no issue overlooking the little flaws and taking in the natural beauty of the place... just gotta keep it in perspective and enjoy the location!
Getting there‚?¶ the couples lounge at the airport was well furnished and themed, but walking by the Sandals lounge you may feel a slight bit of envy for the party going on in there‚?¶ the couples lounge is very quiet and serves you a Red Stripe as soon as you walk in (loved that). We flew TimAir from Montego Bay to Negril‚?¶ we basically got suckered into thinking it would be faster when it actually took just as long as the bus would. When we arrived they told us the bus would be there in 10 minutes, then this TimAir guy came and told us he could have us at the resort in 30 minutes for $120pp‚?¶ we bit the bait and ended up getting to the resort as the bus did. We had to wait about 20 minutes for them to find another couple to fly, then it was a 15 minute walk to their counter for check-in, then another 15 minutes for check-in/security, we sat on the tarmac for about 10 minutes waiting for the pilot, the flight was around 15 minutes, then another 10 minutes to get to the resort. It was however, AMAZING views the whole way‚?¶ worth it for that alone. We rode the bus back to the airport at the end of the trip and it was uneventful, really enjoyed getting to speak with other couples about their own experiences and watching the coastline go by.
The food at the resort was really good, but nothing spectacular. Honestly we would have enjoyed a little more authentic local food and were slightly disappointed to see an Asian, Mediterranean, and Pan-European restaurant on property when there‚??s an entire nation of different ethnic food to see just outside the building. The pool grill and the evening buffet usually had something with jerk seasoning in it, but we were a little sad that‚??s all we got to sample. The food itself is tasty and well presented, but I‚??d put it on par with what you‚??d get on a Cruise ship‚?¶ if you‚??re looking for Michelin Star food you won‚??t get it here so keep that in perspective. One suggestion I would make is to grab a jerk burger and lobster pizza from the grill at lunch‚?¶ wife and I loved those! We did not eat at the high-end restaurant but the menu there looked really good‚?¶ on par with a signature steakhouse back in the US. Lychee and Heliconia were nice, but the menus were more or less simple and served the basics you‚??d expect for a Med/Asian restaurant‚?¶ we tended to enjoy the Cassava Terrace (Buffet) more.
Facilities wise, the place was top notch. The beach was pristine, clean, and where we ended up spending most of our time. The pool was incredible and the swim-up bar was always buzzing with activity. We used plenty of floating mats, paddleboards, kayaks, and utilized the snorkeling trip‚?¶ in all cases the equipment was top notch. We did not do SCUBA but from what we saw they looked like they were professionals with decent gear. The resort had ample water pressure, hot water availability, and the tap water was not only safe to drink, it tasted great. I‚??m not sure if they have the whole resort on a filtering system but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the water (came in handy after binge tanning and drinking sessions lol).
The nude beach was probably not up to par as far as other AN beaches go (not sure, this was our first). Basically they fenced off a 200ft section of the beach on two sides, with a lot of vegetation to the rear (where the Jacuzzis are) and open to the beach to the front. Despite the efforts to convey some sense of privacy, you‚??re pretty much in plain sight of someone at all times whether it be the resort building behind you overlooking the whole thing, the guests on the main beach, or the construction workers on the other side. If this is a first time AN experience (like us) it may be a little stressful if you were hoping for some seclusion (it was)‚?¶ there were also only a dozen or so people using the beach, so not exactly hopping with lots of people to hide in a crowd. The walk out to the water was a little nerve wrecking since once you step out past the fence towards the water, there‚??s a good 100 plus people able to look at you (and a few gawkers that set up camp right by the fence). Despite the initial uneasiness both of us ended up enjoying it and would definitely do it again‚?¶ and we‚??d highly recommend it to any couple who hasn‚??t done it, it‚??s a fun relationship/trust builder and just changes a lot about how you think of your body‚?¶ very relaxing too when you‚??re toes up to the sun floating on the water! For us, I think next time we go it will be at a place more like San Souci where it‚??s a private beach.
Excursions‚?¶ the tour desk lady was really friendly and helpful, unfortunately we were not very crazy about the catamaran cruise or the horseback riding excursions we did. The catamaran was a 2.5 hour event where you drove along the coast for an hour until you get to Rick‚??s caf√©, then you‚??re either allowed to swim there or at one of the nearby coves for 30 minutes, and then it‚??s an hour back. The view was ok most of the way but got repetitive quickly, this trip is way too long and the boat is really slow. The boat is well stocked with a watered down Rum Punch and options are limited if you want something other than that. I think it would be better if it was strictly a sunset cruise where people dressed up a little more and had more of a party/drinking atmosphere going. The horseback riding excursion took place on an old plantation, most of which is deep in the jungle (wife got bit by mosquitos dozens of times in there). There‚??s a part at the end where you walk in the water with the horse (very cool photos!) but it was really hot, muggy, and loaded with bugs the rest of the time. At $90 a person we were expecting a little more than what we got, we actually ended up calling it 30 minutes early because we just wanted to go back to the beach.
The rooms were simple but very clean and well kept, our only complaint there was that the beds were too firm. The minibar was stocked on day two with whatever alcohol we wanted, but it was off-brand local stuff that we opted out of drinking. We did enjoy the Red Stripes though!
Weather was beautiful except for the daily rain/thunderstorm we got between 2:00pm and 5:00pm‚?¶ unless there was lightning people pretty much stayed right where they were at and just enjoyed the cool rain interrupting the hot sun. Each day it‚??d get up to the 90‚??s and it‚??d drop to low 80‚??s at night‚?¶ this was a little too hot for me so I got a little irritated in the evenings when dinner was all open air and I‚??d be sweating profusely.
Evening activities are limited but there is stuff to do if you want to watch live music, sing/watch karaoke, or dance at the little club they have. There‚??s a Rick‚??s Caf√© and a Margaritaville within 30 minutes, but they both die out at sunset (although they do remain open if you want to drink alone). I would not pick this place if nightlife is super important to you; we ended up just grabbing drinks and watching live music till that ended, then went to bed at that point (we were usually exhausted from the sun and booze marathon from the day anyways).
In summary, it‚??s a great resort if you‚??re really looking to connect with your loved one in a laid-back, quiet, and incredibly beautiful location. If you have visions of a party crowd, a vibrant AN scene, or staying up till 2:00am dancing on the beach‚?¶ you may want to look elsewhere. But if you‚??re wanting to float on a peaceful beach in the tropics and listen to some Bob Marley in the distance while sharing a drink with your spouse, this is the place. We had a blast and it was everything we needed to get some downtime and just relax, and there‚??s plenty to do to interrupt your relaxation time if you want to mix it up. Enthusiastically recommended!