from Eaton, OH USA
Submitted on 05-06-2016
We visited Couples Negril last year and decided to try Couples Swept Away this year. Pros and cons to each, but here is my view on Swept Away.
We did not use the MoBay express to get through customs as we hire SNL Jamaician Tours as our ride to the hotel and excursions. So after making it through customs we rode approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to the hotel. We were greeted with a cold towel and glass of champagne. Surprisingly, our room was ready when we arrived. We booked the Atrium Suites...
We visited Couples Negril last year and decided to try Couples Swept Away this year. Pros and cons to each, but here is my view on Swept Away.
We did not use the MoBay express to get through customs as we hire SNL Jamaician Tours as our ride to the hotel and excursions. So after making it through customs we rode approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to the hotel. We were greeted with a cold towel and glass of champagne. Surprisingly, our room was ready when we arrived. We booked the Atrium Suites so my husband could have a hammock on the veranda (had a ground floor room). I did have to make the sacrifice of not having a TV so he could have the hammock though. So that is something to take into consideration when booking an Atrium Suite. But I prepared for that and brought my portable DVD player so I could watch something while it rained and to fall asleep to. Yes, there is free WiFi so you can get online on your smart phone, computer or tablet, but it is a hit or miss connection. Most of the time I had no issue with it though. I would suggest to Couples that when they remodel (whenever that is) to put more electrical outlets in, as people have more electronic devices now than when it was built. They have lamps on the bedside tables, but don't plan on moving them, as the wiring comes up through a hole in the built in table, so not a lot of wiggle room. The bathroom does have a hair dryer and the power to it is not controlled by a wall switch, which is different from Couples Negril. My husband and I have been married for enough years that we don't shut the bathroom door in resorts like this, so when I went looking for a full length mirror it took me a minute to find it behind the bathroom door. Our suite was tucked away among the winding pathways of the resort and it is pretty difficult to find your way around, as this is a much larger resort than Couples Negril. On that note, we would choose Negril over Swept Away. We stayed for a week, and still got lost at night trying to find our way around. But the lush foliage and secludedness of the rooms made up for that. Just keep wandering around, you'll find your room. The rooms are VERY dark. At times I had to break out the trusty flashlight to find things. The windows are just screens on the exterior and louvered slats on the interior. Takes a bit to get some of the slats to move to close at night or during the rain because of the swelling of the wood. Speaking of rain, Couples does supply a large umbrella for you, which is quite nice! The veranda does have roman type blinds to lower for privacy or rain. Most of ours worked but one did not. We tried to lower them as we were on the veranda and a wedding was being performed in the courtyard gazebo. I didn't think they wanted to see us in the background of any of their pictures. The room service is quite nice and refrigerator is stocked almost every day based on the card you fill out and hang on your door. Also make sure if you leave your room by the "back" door or veranda door you do not have the inside locked turned on the front door or maid service, bar service or yourself will not be able to get in. We made that mistake and my husband had to go to the front desk and get an outside key to the veranda door, which apparently you have to ask for when you check in. We didn't know that, as it was our first trip there. Our bar service man was quite upset that he had to make numerous trips to our room to see if we had returned and unlocked the door! I apologized profusely to him, but he was still pissed and let me know it! The maid on the other hand was very understanding. The room service for breakfast was fantastic. Having a pot of coffee waiting for you when you wake up is the best! There is a coffee pot in the room, but ours was possessed. Sometimes we could get it to work, and other times not, then other times it would just start on it's own. We mentioned it to the night turn down maid and she said she would get us a new one, but never did. So I hope they never stop the room service! We had numerous critters around our room, including, resort kitties, dogs, tree frogs, (which can be quite loud) and a lizard to two. The final things about the room, you are allowed to smoke on the veranda, but not the room, so that made it very nice for us.
My husband did not bring any shoes but tennis shoes and sandals, so we did not get to partake in the dinner at Feathers, reservation only, restaurant :-( They apparently are VERY strict on their attire requirements, as we previously saw a sign that said NO TENNIS SHOES. Also men must wear a shirt with sleeves for dinner at the Palms. We also made that mistake as my husband tried to wear a tank top to dinner one night and was made to go back and change. This has been standard at the many all inclusive resorts we have stayed at, but we just forgot. We ate breakfast at the Palms and Patois and both were very good. Palms is buffet and Patois is order off the menu. The poolside/beach grill is very good for lunch as they have hamburgers, fries, onion rings, nachos and cheese, etc and best of all PATTIES! My husband's favorite was at Seagrapes and their fish tacos. Personally I am not a fish fan, so I will have to trust him on that one. We did buy the extra Couples Beach Dinner and even though it did rain that day, they still got it together for all of us with only a 15 minute delay. GO Couples wait staff!!! I did try something new with my dinner and that was smoked Marlin and smoked Salmon. As I said, not a fish fan, but it actually was pretty good. Not fishy or rubbery at all. So try it, you might like it. Most nights the buffet dinner had a good variety of meats, veggies and fruit. Only one night out of the 7 we were there did I end up with mostly salad. They also provide a pretty good variety of dessert at the dessert bar. Plus they have no problem making or getting you a drink from the bar. So it's not just coffee, water, or pop for dinners. Most of the wait staff are fantastic, but as in any place, they are people and some do have a bad day or have preferences in how they treat guests. One of our waitresses at the Palms felt that only my husband needed his water refilled every time he took a sip, and mine was just fine to be half gone before she felt I needed more. On a whole though, the wait staff is great. If you go to the Palms omelet bar for breakfast, have Kesha make you one. She is awesome, quite the cook and very friendly. Jovon did a nice job as well.
Dale in guest relations was great, as he helped us get our returning guest perks. I did not sign up for it originally because I thought it only referred to Couples Swept Away, but it actually means returning to any Couples resort makes you eligible. He also is the one that made our reservations for the Catamaran Cruise. Be sure to bring the slip of paper guest relations gives you, so you may board the boat.
Catamaran Cruise was very nice. I get sea sick, so if you are prone to that, take your Dramamine. I did fine, but husband got a little nauseous. I don't think it was so much the rocking of the boat as the smell of diesel engines. If you have to use the restroom the smell is really bad down below where they are. The ladies room had a bit of a problem of flushing too. The cruise takes you up to Rick's where you can watch people jump off the cliffs, then it travels back towards the resort and stops at the caves for 30 minutes. You can get off the boat and swim in the caves if you so desire. The local boys will jump from the cliff at that point and then swim over to the boat and ask for money. Obviously give if you'd like, as this is a very poor country, but it is not required.
The resort does have a nice workout complex but unless you are a Navy Seal or something similar, stay away from the teacher GRAHAM!!! I work out 5-6 days a week and am in pretty good shape muscle wise. I did his POWER UP class and he absolutely killed me! We did way more than I am used to and my thighs hurt for 3-4 days afterwards. Which in turn really diminished my stay at Couples Swept Away. I could hardly walk and stairs was a nightmare (which they do have a lot of). I have ran 5K's before and my thighs hurt more after his class than after any of the 5K's. I did not get to participate in many of the beach activities because of this. So I ended up just being able to lay in a beach chair and watch others having fun. I mentioned what had happened to a few of the workers and they all said, "OMG stay away from Graham, he will kill you!" or "Oh no, did no one warn you about Graham?!". In my opinion Graham is not a trainer on the biggest loser, so he needs to keep in mind, we are vacationers, just trying to keep with our exercise routines and not trying out for the Olympics are something. Scale it back some, will ya?
I needed to have a massage after that and we used our returning couples $100 resort credit for this. Wanda was my masseuse and she was wonderful! She could tell right away I was stressed (which is why we were on vacation) and knew from where my muscles were tight that I have a desk job. She worked the best she could in the deep tissue massage to get the knots out, so I highly recommend her if you get to use the $100 credit!
On that note, 2 days later I still needed another massage, still recuperating from Graham's torture. So we walked (I could at least walk by then) south (turn left out of the resort) on the beach and found Natasha's One Love massage hut. I was a little paranoid at the beginning by the looks of the hut they have, but have to say it was safe and my husband and I got two massages by these very professional masseuses for less than half the price the resort charges and were just as good, if not better, as they also rubbed us down with fresh aloe for the sunburn we had gotten our first day on the beach.
The beach is pretty big, with a decently large swimming area. Water is very clam and perfect for floating on the lounge cushion the resort provides. You do have to get up early to get a protective hut, but if you're ok with being either in the sun or under the trees, there are plenty of loungers. The sun is very bright and we used the spray on sunblock, the first day, which did not do well for us, that is why we got sunburned. Stick with the lotion with high SPF, reapply often and you'll do fine. (By the way, I was already tan before we went and I still got burned).
The resort will take pictures of you during a special shoot and at your beach dinner. They are for sale and are quite good. I bought two of the pictures just as I did last year, but the sales lady did not try and upsell me a frame for them, which I would have bought if she had asked. So since she didn't ask, I knew I could get a cheaper one at home.
Just a reminder for you to call your credit card company before you leave home to tell them you will be out of the country so they will not deny any charges. The resort automatically approves your card for $300 when you arrive for any charges you make. This is a NO CASH resort, so you can't pay cash even if you want to. Our massages used up $270 of it, so when we went to shop in the gift shop they had to approve it again for another $100. I was very lucky my credit card company let it go through, as I forgot to call them. You can use your resort credit when you check out and then pay cash for your balance.
By day 6 I was walking pretty much normally so got to participate in the jewelry making class as well as the hat making class, but couldn't attempt the beach volleyball. Really liked how Swept Away had the matching beads in little baggies as Couples Negril just dumped a bunch of beads on the table and you sorted through them yourself to find ones you wanted to use. I made an ankle bracelet and wrist bracelet which came out much better than the Couples Negril wrist one did. You string the beads as you want them, and then they attach the screw type clasp for you. The hat making class was really cool as I have never done anything like that. You make a hat by weaving palm leaves, I think they were palms. Wish I would have been able to bring it home. But we know from previous trips that coming back through customs it is a hit or miss if they will allow non dried out vegetation into the USA. If I had been able to walk (back to Graham's torture again) and done the class at the beginning of our stay it would have had time to dry out some so I could bring it home. Dennis is the instructor and he took great pride in his work and his teaching. Thanks Dennis!
A little extra perk Swept Away provides is a ride to the Push Cart restaurant. The trip is included, but you pay for your dinner yourself. We had been there before and knew it was worth the trip. Beautiful view from your table over looking the ocean and the waiters are more than happy to take your picture. It would have been a great sunset if it hadn't started to rain part way through dinner. So we picked our table up and moved it under roof. The shuttle only allows 1 hour for your dinner, so we couldn't stay around and see if the rain would stop and catch the sunset.
The resort does provide a shuttle to do some shopping, but again Graham's medieval torture prevented us for going on that trip, as it would have required walking.
The game room is a lot smaller than the pictures show. Only a few slot machines worked and they only work with cash. The ticket you take from one will not go in another. If you are lucky enough to be there when a worker is there, they will give you cash, if they are not there you have to come back with it later for your money.
Finally the Internet Cafe is open 24/7, but good luck getting your boarding passes printed. I chose the computer next to the printer, but it wouldn't get online. So moved to the next one, it got online, but was not hooked to the printer. I wanted to fix the connection myself, but admin password required and the worker had to call his boss to get it. He said the manager wouldn't come there as he was in a meeting (but I don't think he was). So I moved to the last working computer. In the meantime he got the one back online, but it wouldn't print both boarding passes for the 2 legs of our trip. I had to wait and go back after 10:15 that night to get it to print. It almost would have been better to have went to the kiosk in the airport.
Bottom line between the two resorts. We will probably return to Couples Negril, just for the smaller size and internet service. They don't have as many restaurants to chose from and no every night buffet as a choice, but the service is pretty much the same, rooms different (not tropical) but still good. Their WifI is awesome, you get it everywhere. The activities are the same and the beach is the same, water just not as deep. Then there's the plus that it's cheaper, and NO GRAHAM to have to worry about.
Hope this review helps you know some of the ins and outs of this resort when choosing your next Caribbean vacation spot.