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COUPLES OCHO RIOS
      #777 - 08/18/00 05:02 PM (205.144.226.247)

This trip report is in two parts. We took the DOUBLETAKE OFFER, splitting our time between Couples Ocho for four nites and then flying over to Couples Negril for three additional nites. Part 1 will be a trip report concerning our return visit to COUPLES OCHO RIOS.

We flew into Montego Bay from New Orleans around 1:30 pm, went directly to the Couples desk. When we told them our names, they said that they had been expecting us. As returning guest, we were entitled to a free flight on Jamaica Airlink to the resort, a 35 min. flight vs a 2 hour shuttle trip. They hurried us to a shuttle that took us to the other end of the airstrip, within in minutes the pilot got us and we flew over to Boschel airstrip. A car was waiting for us, and within minutes we were at the resort. We had reserved a ocean view room, we got room 302 in the main building, last year we were in the west wing ocean view. Both rooms were similar, with the exception this room had a huge walk in closet. Briefly, the room had a king size four poster bed (on the bed, there were two towels shaped into either a heart or swans) , carpeted floors, TV, a radio/cd player, bathroom was large with a combined shower/tub, included is a hair dryer, patio doors opened onto the balcony. The water pressure in the rooms has a little to be desired,this applies to both visits; you either have cold or hot, no mix. The next day, the staff had placed a beautiful floral arrangement, with a card stating thanks for being a returning guest, along with a bag that had two couples t-shirts in it. On Wednesday, Couples took us and another returning couple to an off the property lunch, free of charge. Kaycee, an activities staff member was our host, we went to the Almond Tree Restaurant. We were told to get anything we wanted. It was a wonderful lunch. Well enough concerning the extras for returning guest.

Now back to the resort, it was just as beautiful as it was in Dec98. There were more guest in Aug vs Dec. The pool was large, it has a shallow end, and a diving end with a diving board. Plenty of lounge chairs around the pool for sunbathing. The outdoor bar is next to the pool, along with the Patio Restaurant. The two hot tubs adjacent to the pool, the temp was perfect. The beach area also had plenty of lounge chairs for the guest. There are a total of five hot tubs, two that would hold 8 people near the pool, one that would hold 20 people in front of the east wing near the wedding gazebo and there are two- two person heart shaped hot tubs in the avery/jungle area for private moments. Around the main pool , the activities staff would play games with the guest for bottles of Tia Maria, Rum or t-shirts. These games included name that tune, hoop the liquor, olympic pool games, etc. plus they had water volley ball,and beach volley ball. The activities staff really did their best to get all involved and have fun. The beach has fine light brown sand, no rocks on the beach nor in the water, there is a little wave action, but not like the waves in the Atlantic.

ACTIVITIES:
1. WATER SPORTS: Skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boat rides and catamaran cruises.
2. HORSEBACK RIDING: Stables located across the street from the resort, walking distance. Saddles are English, must
sign up a day in advance. The guide works for couples, will take the group up on a mountain trail, tell you all about the scenery.
Bring your camera, he will take your picture for you. Ride last approx. 45 min., no tipping the guide.
3. BICYCLE TRIP
4. WEIGHT AND EXERCISE ROOM- treadmills, stair masters, weights and a sauna room

OFF PROPERTY EXCURSIONS INCLUDED IN PACKAGE
1. DUNNS RIVER FALLS: ( be sure to either rent water shoes or wear old tennis shoes, the rocks are slippery) after the climb, the staff from Couples has a beach party on the beach at the falls, they furnish red stripe beer or rum punch for the guest, plus they play games for prizes of TiaMaria or Rum. This time we went vendor shopping, while everyone else climbed the falls. We had already climbed the falls on our prior trip.
2. A SHOPPING TRIP TO OCHO RIOS one afternoon, shopping in the vendors market..
3. PROSPECT PLANTATION TRIP , to see how they grow food and live on a Jamaican Plantation.
4. VENDORS: They are set up across the street behind the tennis courts. You can barter with the locals to get good prices.

RESTAURANTS & DRESS CODES: (total of 6 different ones)
1. PATIO RESTAURANT: this is an open aired outdoor/covered area, serves buffet breakfast and lunch. Very good food. Be sure to watch out for the black birds/crows, they will get your food if both of you get up & go to the buffet at the same time.
Dress code: very casual, guys can wear swimsuits with shirts or shorts with shirts, the ladies can wear swimsuits with cover ups , bikini tops are ok, or wear shorts with a top. At nighttime the same place serves as the entertainment area and disco after 10pm.
Adjacent to this area, you will find the pool and main outdoor bar.
2. CARRIBEAN CUISINE RESTAURANT: This was new to us this time. Seating for 50 couples. Located in one corner of the Patio restaurant. Serving menu style carribean food. Dress code: casual, shorts/shirt/tops/sun dresses/ sandals/shoes.
3. BAYSIDE RESTAURANT: located hanging out over the water/ openaired. Very romantic. We tired it again this time, the food was great. Had lobster tails, fantastic. All courses are pasta style. Dress code: Casual, shorts/tops/shirts/sun dresses/ sandals/shoes .
4. VERANDA RESTAURANT: it is inside air conditioned, order from menu, excellent food, candlelight, wine strolling minstrel.
Dress code: casual, shorts/tops/ shirts/ sun dresses/ sandals/shoes. Very good food and atmosphere. No swim wear allowed.
5. La GOURMET RESTAURANT: (FRENCH RESTAURANT) Elegant dining, required reservations, seven course meal.
Dress code: men must wear dress pants, open collared shirts/socks and shoes, the women may wear sun dresses, cocktail dresses, or pants suits.
6. BEACH GRILL: located below main bar at beach level. Serves hamburgers, hot dogs, and jerk chicken as well as sodas.
Open till 5 am for snacks. Dress code: swim wear

This time on Monday around 6 pm they set several tables with Jamaican Horsdoeuvre's next to the pool, cocktail party.
On Wed. night all restaurants are closed and they have a beach party buffet on beach. A live steel band plays, tables & chairs are set up on the beach for the guest, three longggg tables hold the salads, deserts, and food. After the meal, the activity staff plays games with the guest, guest participation is encouraged, one can join in or sit back and watch.

ROOM SERVICE: Be sure to place the door tag on the outside of your room prior to 1 am for morning delivery. Your choices is a pot of coffee, juices, pastries, and fruit. Very romantic to sit on the balcony and enjoy the very and drink coffee. You can still go to the breakfast buffet and get whatever you want to eat. The beach grill is open till 5 am for snacks, room service not available for this.

WEDDING GAZEBOS: Two are located on the property, one is beach side and the other is in front of the west wing rooms in the foliage jungle.

ENTERTAINMENT AT NIGHT: The Patio restaurant area has shows each nite, local singing groups, reggae shows. At 11 pm this area turns into the disco area. If this is not your cup of tea, go to the Piano Bar (located next to the French Restaurant)drink and sing karaokee with the staff.

SWIMSUIT ATTIRE: If you have never been to Jamaica before, you will see most anything for woman wearing swimsuits that are one piece, to bikinis to thongs......the men wore regular swim trunks, speedos, bikinis and thongs. I would suggest to pack several swimsuits, that will be main attire besides shorts. It is requested that topless sunbathing be done on a pier that looks toward the nude island, but when we were there this time, quite a few woman were topless around the pool, and on the beach, did not seem to bother anyone. Be sure to bring suntan lotion and especially strong spf, the sun down there is stronger compare to the U.S.

A LA NATURAL ISLAND: If you read my prior trip report on COUPLES OCHO, I stated that we did not go out to the nude island, not enough nerve........well this time we went and went several times. It is a totally different experience, we both loved it. A small boat takes you from the pier to the island. When you get off the boat, you go and find you a lounge chair & take off all clothes. At first,
it felt unusual, but in less than five minutes we were at ease, hell everyone around us was naked too, it was better this way vs a clothing optional section where there is an option to remove or not remove swimsuits. We met some of the nicest, friendliest and talkative people on the nude island, compared to the regular beach. There were quite a few that said it was their first time trying it, and liked it. There were others that are old timers to being nude. We met some new friends there, infact Russ got the name of "Island Social Director" and there was Scoobi (the Island Bartender), we all had a great time. The range of ages were from early twenties to fifties, from all walks of life.. I will say that on the island you did not feel uncomfortable, embaressed, there was no qawking, staring nor any sexual advances to anyone. A brief description of the island: when you get off the boat, you will walk about 20 feet, bushes on both sides of you. If you go to the left, you will find several lounge chairs around a swim up bar, further to the left are two opened aired huts with lounge chairs. If you go back past the swim up bar, you will find an open aired hut with a swinging hammock under it, the next thing you will find is the tower or castle. In it is the restroom and a stair case that leads to the top of the tower. You can take beautiful pictures of the resort from here. On the other side of the tower, you will find two more open aired huts with lounge chairs. Be sure to try it.

ITEMS TO BE SURE TO TAKE ON THE TRIP: At least three cameras (throwaway type and a underwater type), band aids, suntan lotion, peptobismol, aspirins,....items such as these you may take for granted and cost is to too much in the states, but in Jamaica
they will cost you three or four times as much (import taxes). This goes for snacks, too.

HOW MUCH AND WHAT KIND OF MONEY TO BRING ON THE TRIP: U.S. currency, plenty of $1's for tipping ( this is for drivers,& baggage handlers, these people do not work for the resort), numerous $5's, $10's and $20's for dealing with the vendors for souvenirs. If you exchange travelers checks or get advances on your Visa, you will get Jamaican Money in return, not understanding the exchange rate, it will be hard to deal with. REMEMBER to keep back $54.00 U.S. money for your departure taxes at the airport.

We toughly enjoyed our return visit to Couples Ocho Rios. We still highly recommend this resort for getting married at, for honeymooners, and just a romantic resort for married couples. Only couples are allowed, no singles or children are allowed.

With the DOUBLE TAKE OFFER, Couples flew us from Coupes Ocho Rios to Couples Negril free. It was a very nice flight, took
approx. 45 min. to get there. The entire trip, including air fare from New Orleans, the double take offer, (4 nites at one resort and
3 nites at the other, both booked with ocean view rooms or deluxe ocean view rooms, cost $3000.00.
Be sure to read Part II, for information concerning the COUPLES NEGRIL.

BILL & DEBORAH bsmith@msdh.state.ms.us



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