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Couple Resorts Trip Report Short Version March 23 Ė 31 2001
When we arrived at the resort in Ocho Rios and got out of the van and were greeted with big smiles. They asked us to go sit down in the big open-air lobby and that they would bring us more papers to fill out. We were each given a cool damp towel and a glass of champagne. One thing I hadnít read on the boards was that they hold your tourist card at the desk during your stay.
It didnít take very long to finish the paperwork and then we were off to our room. They said our bags would be brought up shortly. We had booked an ocean view deluxe room. Our room 556 was at the far end of the building on the 5th floor. They do have elevators, which made it nice.
As soon as we opened the door to the room I knew I was in paradise. We had a view of the Caribbean looking out over Tower Island, the dock and beyond. The room was just like all the pictures I had seen on the net with the 2 swan towels on the bed. The bags arrived a few moments later. Since it was about 6pm we decided to take a quick walk around the resort before it got dark.
We decided to toast being in Jamaica when we got to the bar. The bartenders were fabulous. We had our drink and then before our glasses were empty Wayne came over to see what he could do for us. The service is the best Iíve ever seen. We met several people at the bar and ended up having dinner with them. They had already been at the resort for a day so they helped fill us in on what there was to do and where things were.
The next day we arranged for our romantic dinner at Le Gourmet for the following evening. We spent most of the day relaxing on the beach and wandering the grounds. On the grounds we saw the basket swings for 2, the 2 Jacuzzis for 2, the basket swing in the jungle, the nearby aviary as well as the gift shop. We had dinner that night at the International Buffet held at the Calabash Restaurant (a.k.a. the patio restaurant).
I get up very early ever day so I watched the sunrise from our balcony. They have a coffeepot in the room with packets of coffee and tea. I was able to enjoy my coffee as the sun came up into view. Around 8 we headed to the patio for the breakfast buffet. The choices are many. The fruit is beautiful and they will make you any kind of omelet you want. Plus they have all the usual breakfast choice as well as some local dishes.
At 1 PM we went on our snorkel trip. The reef is about 2 minutes from the resort. If you look at my photo of the resort from the air the reef is to the left of Tower Island. We had a wonderful time. We even got to see a lobster that was hiding as well as a small squid. Plus of course lots of tropical fish.
Dinner at Le Gourmet was very tasty. Iím not really into French food but we both enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere. The piano player was very good as well. Then we went over to the bar and listened to the band that was playing that night. Afterwards we decided to take a romantic stroll on the beach.
The next day was horseback riding in the morning. They have both western and English saddles at the stables. We didnít get to choose which type we got. I was given an English saddle and Joe got a western one.
I guess I must have been the most experienced rider in the group as they had me take the lead. The ride took us past peopleís homes and through the woods. We traveled up into the mountains to a spot with a great view of the ocean. Along the way they pointed out different plants and talked about the area. We had a fun time.
After lunch it was time for parasailing. Neither of us had done this before. It was not the best day to parasail. It was very cloudy and the sky looked threatening. They took us out to the edge of the bay. Joe went up first; he really enjoyed his ride. By the time he came back down it was starting to rain. Since I had already paid for my ride I decide to go up anyway. I was a bit worried about my camera, but I took it with me anyway. What a thrill! It was raining quite hard and I had to cover the camera most of the time. You can see in one of the photo that the camera did get a bit wet. My ride wasnít very long, as shortly after I went up it started to thunder. Although I was enjoying my time up in the air, I didnít really want to be a lighting rod.
That evening we had a lovely dinner at the Bayside restaurant with people I had met on the Internet before our trip.
The next day was our Dunnís River Falls trip. We had really been looking forward to it. Somehow the guides donít get wet. One guide in each group will carry your cameras for you. They take pictures along the way in set spots and do a nice job. Be sure and tip them well at the end of the climb. If you watch the person in front of you and where they put their feet and hands it really isnít that hard. We climbed the right-hand side of the falls itís the more difficult route. There is one spot where you literally go up blind. You feel for the hand holds on the wall and the sort of steps in the falls. The water is pouring over your head. It was a thrilling experience. Climbing the falls takes about an hour. After the climb Couples puts on a beach party. Then you head back up the steps and through the vendors to get back to your bus. Be sure and remember your bus number and the driverís name. There are so many busses in the parking lot it can be confusing.
After we got back we had lunch at the Patio buffet. After lunch I swallowed hard (not because of the food ha, ha), and said to Joe "letís go to the island". In case you donít know the island is "au natural" only. We went down to the dock for the boat to take us over. We got to the island and walked past the tower and found a basket swing for 2 where we undressed. We then went up the tower so I could take my pictures of the resort. We only stayed a brief time on the island since we had to get back to the mainland for our snorkel trip at 3. I had to drop off my digital camera and getting our snorkel gear. Couples does provide all the equipment, however we both have prescription snorkel masks since we both wear glasses.
Dinner that night was the pool buffet. Joe said he ate more things he didnít recognize his trip than ever before and he loved most of it. At a place like this if you donít like something, donít eat it. Go try something else.
We were doing the "double take" so the next morning we were headed for Negril. We put our bags outside our door at 8:20 for our trip over to Negril. I really didnít want to leave. We had such a great time at this resort. We went down to the patio for our breakfast buffet. Then on to the lobby to catch the shuttle to the airport at 9:15.
Before I go any further let me say we did love the Negril resort. It has a lot to offer. Iím am trying to give my honest opinion about what it was like. If we hadnít been to the resort at Ocho Rios, Iím sure I wouldnít have noticed the little things as much. The majority of the staff did a fine job, better than typical resort staff in most cases, just not to the same level as the other resort. Also the resort being right between 2 other resorts gives less privacy. The new Rui resort even allows children so you do see them sometimes walking on the beach.
Went to the front desk and were asked to take a seat to fill out the paper work. It was a wait before they brought us the forms to fill out. . I have to say I was a bit disappointed we didnít get the cool towel or the champagne. It wasnít until the bellhop came over to take us to our room that it was offered. He seemed surprised that it hadnít been offered.
I had brought a copy of a map of the resort layout with me. When I asked the lady would came over with our room key she really didnít know where the room was nor was she willing to find out. After having just come from the other resort where everyone was so friendly this was not what I would have expected. Here again the bellhop was more than helpful. He immediately pointed out where the room was and offered to stop at the bar so we could have some champagne if we wanted. Why the bell staff was nicer and more accommodating than the front desk staff is beyond me. They should improve how the front desk staff handles guests.
We went up to our room and it was very different from the one at Ocho Rios. I think the room number was 6305 but I canít remember for sure. The location of our room was on the third floor (no elevators here). We were in the first building just to the side of the Terrace Restaurant (a.k.a. Casaba Restaurant) and also faces the pool. This is definitely a more up to date resort in appearance. The room had bright colors and even a light over the bed that looked like a camera shining down on the tapestry. The one exception to being up to date was the television that didnít have a way for me to hook my camera to it. When I asked about it at the front desk later that day, I was basically given the brush off. ) As a side note I had emailed both resorts about this same thing. Ocho Rios responded, I never heard back from Negril).
After checking out the room and balcony we wanted lunch. We headed over to the beach grill. They had even more choices than the beach grill at Ocho Rios. Plus to Joeís delight they had self serve soft ice cream. After satisfying our hunger we wandered the resort. At water sports we signed up for the catamaran cruise for the next day as well as for a snorkel trip on Friday. They donít have snorkeling on Thursdays at Negril. We continued walking the grounds and saw the lovely gardens they have.
Then we headed back to the room to relax. At 5PM we went to orientation. They gave a full walking tour of the grounds and talked about the activities and off site trips that are available. If you havenít been to this resort before do the orientation. Afterwards Joe headed back to the room and I went to the swim-up bar in the pool. I ran into a friend I had met in Ocho Rios we sat, drank and chatted. It had started to rain so we stayed under the cover of the barís thatch while sitting in the pool watching the sun go down. At 8 we went to meet a couple we had arranged to meet over the internet before the trip at the Casaba bar. They had gone to dinner there at 7 and still didnít have their meals. We checked with the person seating people and he said it would be no problem to join them for dinner. It was nice to be able to put a face to the people I had chatted with on line. Dinner took a very long time to come. The other couple was eating their desserts before we had even gotten our meals. By then the band had started. We were sitting right in front of them.
The next day we went on the Catamaran cruise also know as the booze cruise. They go down the coast past all the resorts on 7 Mile Beach and continue on by the cliffs until they get to the Pickled Parrot. The boat has no place to dock there. You need to get off the boat by jumping in or going down the stairs. You then swim to the cliffs climb up a ladder and then take the stairs the rest of the way up. I understand that sometimes this can be a long swim. The day we went it wasnít very far. At the Pickled Parrot they have a water slide, a rope swing as well as cliff diving. If you want anything to drink while on shore you will have to pay for it. When your time is up there they blow a whistle to let you know to come back to the boat. They swim back is much hard since now you are fighting the current. If you donít trust your swimming skills they do offer life vests to help keep you afloat. If you prefer you can stay on the boat. On the way back they did hold a limbo contest.
We had lunch at the buffet and then relaxed by the pool. Later we watched the sunset from our balcony before heading to dinner. We chose to eat at the beach restaurant. It was so beautiful eating under the stars. The food was great as well. After dinner we grabbed drinks and walked the beach.
We then headed back to the room to relax. By then the band had started playing. You could hear it loud and clear in the room. What made it worse was there also was a band that night over at the Grande Lido next door. We could hear them quite clearly also.
The next morning I was up early again. I could here people doing set-up at breakfast buffet, glasses clinking, carts being rolled around. It was no where near as quiet as in Ocho Rios. Again I headed down to the pool to read for awhile before Joe got up. This morning I had also decided to take my camera with me. I was very glad I did. The resorts peacock was courting the peahen. He kept walking around displaying his feathers.
This was our last full day in Jamaica. We went on the 9:30 snorkel trip. It was windy that morning so the water was choppy. I found it too much work to fight the waves so I just hung out near the boat. Once back at the resort we hung out by the pool. We chatted with several other couples. Later as the sun started going down I knew this was going to be the best of the sunsets. Joe went back to our room to grab my camera. It was beautiful!
That night we went back to the beach restaurant. We had enjoyed it so much the night before. Friday is lobster night (when itís not the wrong season). Joe enjoyed the lobster and I enjoyed a steak. They had musicians playing during dinner. It was very romantic. At the end of the meal we ordered 2 coffees and a shot of rum cream. We both really enjoyed adding the rum cream to our coffees.
In the morning we went to the breakfast buffet. They have so many choices. Both of us opted for the made to order omelets. Of course we also sampled many other things. I really loved some of the different mixed tropical juices. They also offer made to order smoothies. We put our bags outside the door at 11:30. We headed to the lobby about 12:15 and checked out.
There was a bus waiting. When asked where our bags were hey said they had already put them on the bus. Joe checked and found none of our bags. The front desk staff insisted they were there. (See my earlier comments about service.) I insisted they go and check to see if the bags had actually been picked up. It took another 5-10 minutes to get someone to do that. I felt sorry for the people already on the bus. Being seasoned travelers we weren't about to leave without our luggage. Finally they sent someone to our room. When they came back they had our bags in a cart. They told us to get on the bus and they would load them on. I said no, not until the bags are on it. Finally they took our bags off the cart and put them onto the bus and we were on our way.
If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them. I want to thank all of you that answered my question before our trip.
Edited by Administrator on 4/30/01 03:58 PM.