My husband and I just returned from 10 days at Couples San Souci, and we were not disappointed! This was our very first time in Jamaica and to a Couples resort. Both of us like to work out and try to adhere as much as we can to our healthy diet, so some of my review will be from that perspective.
First, when we arrived at the airport, it took less than 45 minutes to get through customs and get our luggage (we arrived on a Tuesday). We went straight to the Couples Lounge, checked in and waited for about 30 minutes before the shuttle took off. While you wait, you can enjoy a Red Stripe or Red Stripe Light from the complimentary bar.
The drive was an easy hour and 45 minutes. At the resort, we left the drivers to unload the luggage and went straight to the front desk to check in. Our room was ready (it was about 2:30 p.m.) and it was exactly what we’d requested: a one-bedroom beachfront suite on the third floor. They put us in A-block, which was perfect. We had a beautiful view of the main pool and beach. Behind A-block is a little jogging trail around a pond that is one-third of a mile and also leads to the au natural beach.
The suite was beautiful. When you enter, there is a small foyer with a mini bar (ice bucket, a few glasses) and the fridge stocked with a few basics (water, beer, soda), and you can fill out a form to request specifics. There is also a big golf umbrella in the corner, which came in handy because there were two days where it poured for 4 hours and we needed it! It’s nice that the resort provides it.
From the foyer, a hallway leads to your bedroom and the living room. The bedroom is hexagonal, with a spacious closet and a three-drawer dresser (big drawers). The closet has a safe and an ironing board/iron. The bathroom is also accessed through the bedroom. There is a dual sink vanity, plenty of counter space, a huge jetted tub, a separate vanity where I did my hair and makeup, and a huge shower with plenty of shelf space.
The living room had a small but comfy sofa and chair, coffee table, end tables, and a big-screen TV. The door to the balcony is here as well, and the balcony had a table and two chairs. Some of the other reviews said that the rooms are dated, but we didn’t think so. I mean, if you look closely at the dark wood furniture, it’s a bit old, but I thought the room was charming.
The resort grounds are just as everyone has described them: Very lush, beautifully kept, lots of flowers and palm trees, lots of walkways and steps, hidden Jacuzzis and hammocks, parrots in cages, a few pools, etc. It was very romantic!
We spent the first few days hanging out at the mineral pool, which is a 5-minute walk from the main beach up some stairs and next to the Fitness Pavilion. If there is a wedding going on in the wedding gazebo, you have to take a slightly longer detour around to get there. We enjoyed this pool because it was elevated above the ocean, and you had a beautiful view. It’s quiet, so it’s a great place to read. There is also a juice bar that serves smoothies, salads, sandwiches, etc. There is a hidden Jacuzzi nearby as well as the spa and a hidden natural mineral pool with little fish in it. I do wish that the resort would make this particular pool a “no-smoking” zone.
After 4 days of the mineral pool, we were looking for more entertainment, so we started hanging out at the main pool instead. This was nice because there is a swim-up bar where they play lots of games from trivia to volleyball, and it’s close to the Bella Vista café and Pallizini for lunch. It’s also close to the beach and all of its activities. One note: if you want your choice of seating and an umbrella, you should go put your beach towels on a chair by 8 a.m. On our first day, we didn’t go looking for chairs until 10 a.m., and the palapas on the beach were all taken by then. After that, we just grabbed our chairs when we were on our way to the gym around 7:30 a.m., and we always got what we wanted and no one disturbed our stuff.
All of the chairs – beach or pool – include a float on them for comfortable seating or to put in the pool or ocean if you’re hot. This was such a great idea! I used mine in the water every single day. As others have mentioned, be sure to use sunscreen. We wore 50 SPF every day and only spent maybe 30 minutes every other day laying in direct sun, and we both got great tans. I saw plenty of sunburned people; don’t be one of them – it’s no fun!
The beach is a man-made beach, but you’d probably never know it. We enjoyed walking on it even though it’s pretty short. For those patrons hanging out on the beach, they hand out little blue flags that you can raise if you want someone to come take a drink order for you. The au natural beach is also pretty, although we did not go there during the day. We went over at 5 p.m. to watch the sunset and listen to the saxophonist, which is such a nice touch!
We visited all of the restaurants. Everyone’s taste is different, so you’ll just have to try them all to see which you like the best. From our standpoint, we loved the egg-white omelettes that Edgar made for breakfast at Palazzini. There is also lots of fruit available at the buffet, and you can have smoothies made at this restaurant as well. We brought individual packets of Jay Robb whey protein (strawberry flavor) with us, and we would just give those to the smoothie barista along with a plate of pineapple and banana, and this made a delicious protein drink. We favored Palazzini for lunch as well because of the salad bar and the buffet you could pick and choose from. We didn’t think Bella Vista was that good, but if you go there and get any type of burger, be sure to ask them to cook it well if you don’t like rare. Otherwise, it WILL be very red inside. My favorite restaurant for dinner was Casanova. I loved the location and dressing up and the food was delicious.
We also did the private dinner one evening in the wedding gazebo. Our advice: Don’t do it. It wasn’t worth it. Although our waiter was wonderful and the location was beautiful, the food was a selection from the various restaurants onsite, so we could have eaten it for free at one of those restaurants. Also, despite wearing bug spray, I incurred at least 30 mosquito bites all over my right leg from the knee down, and my husband got several on just his right arm. It was the only place we ever got bitten during our whole trip!
We did room service on the second Tuesday night we were there since we’d already experienced the Beach Party on the Tuesday before. We really liked the marlin quesadillas and the club sandwiches. The nachos were okay. I got a snapper that was not good. My husband got the beef and liked it. I think this is like the restaurants – you’ll like some of it, and not like some of it, and your tastes may be different from ours, so you’ll just have to try it. One thing I thought was funny: I ordered a glass of wine, and the staff member taking my order asked if I wanted two glasses, probably realizing from my ordering 2 entrees that this order was for 2 people. I explained that my husband doesn’t drink wine, but he could send up 2 glasses of wine, why not? I’ll drink both. They sent me a Jug o’ Chardonnay. I’m not kidding! An actual glass pitcher filled. It was like 5 glasses worth of wine. I drank 2 and put the pitcher in the fridge for another day if I wanted a glass while getting ready for dinner.
All the bars were great. They all serve from the same drink menu. Our favorites weren’t on the menu, though: Bushwhackers (a frozen chocolatey drink), a banana colada with extra rum on top, and club soda & vodka to which we added Crystal Light flavored powders (originally intended for water).
The fitness center at CSS was, hands down, the best one we’ve ever been to at a resort in the Caribbean. It’s open 24 hours. They have 4 treadmills, 3 bikes, 1 ARC trainer, 1 step machine, a full range of Icarian weight machines, a Smith machine, a full range of dumbbells going up to 100 lbs., towels, water dispensers. The one weird thing was that all of the cardio machines face the back wall with the mirror instead of facing out toward the ocean, which you can see from the fitness center. Above the fitness center is the fitness pavilion, an open-air room where the yoga and aerobics classes are taught. After I worked out, I would go up there every day to stretch and cool off. It was so beautiful and relaxing!
As for activities, there’s so much to choose from. We took a kayak out one day, but you can also go sailing, snorkeling, hydrobiking, on a glass-bottom boat, or windboarding. We only went on one excursion, to the Taj Mahal shops. The shops are mostly souvenier shops or jewelry stores, but that’s all we were looking for so it was perfect. Definitely bargain with the jewelers because you can really get the prices down. It seemed like they all used the same line: “Okay, since we had such a great day because of the cruise ships today, I can knock another X% off.” There is a gift shop and jewelry store on the resort grounds as well, and I thought that the prices seemed comparable to what you found in town. There are also a few vendors allowed to sell their wares on the grounds, and their prices were better than at the Taj Mahal (for example, the cute little ragdolls were $25 at Taj Mahal, but the beach vendor asked for $20, then dropped it to $10 and threw in a free necklace). The beach vendors will give you the hard sell when you approach their table, but they will not bother you if you are not specifically at their table looking at their merchandise.
We enjoyed a couples massage at the resort spa in the hideaway. My husband got a deep tissue massage while I did a hot stone massage. It was fantastic! I also got a facial one day as well, and this was very nice as well. We highly recommend the spa!
We took advantage of the professional photography session as well, since we were there celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary. We spent about 30 minutes with Chevel, who took us to some beautiful locations. He told us how to pose, but I know that I end up looking stiff when I’m told how to put my hands or arms, so sometimes I would ask if he could also take a photo in a pose I wanted to do, and he obliged us. We ended up buying 15 photos on CD from that session, and at least 4 of them are photos that I love! I’ll definitely use one of those on our Christmas card this year. If you don’t want to do an actual session, don’t worry. There are photographers at all of the events like the Manager’s Cocktail Party and the Starlight Gala, and they take photos of all the couples. They also roam around the resort and get couples as they kayak or do other activities. If you know they’ve taken a photo of you, just head up to the photographer’s office and ask them to pull up photos from that particular day and you can look for yours.
This resort goes all out with its events. Tuesday night is the Beach Party, which was our least favorite only because it seemed a bit chaotic. No one seemed to know where any line began for the various buffets. This was also the day we flew in, so we were probably too tired to want to deal with it. Wednesday night is a returning guest dinner, which we didn’t attend but could see from our balcony, and it looked very nice by the main pool. Thursday night is the Manager’s Cocktail Party for first-time guests, which we did attend and was so nice. We got to meet some of the managers/supervisors, and they shared with the guests some of the awards that they just received from Trip Advisor and Travel+Leisure. Friday night is the StarLight Gala on the lawn in front of B-block, and that was really nice. It was beautifully decorated, and they provided live music (which probably appeals to middle-aged folks more than the younger ones).
All around the resort, you’ll see beautiful birds, little hermit crabs in teeny shells looking for ants to eat, a blind duck, some funny looking black birds with red masks and weirdly long toes that we called Jamaican chickens only because we don’t know what they are, and at least one parrot. “Crackers” lives behind A-block and is very funny. She likes a lot of attention, and she loves it if you imitate her coos and “hellos.” She interacts with you more if you do that. She also likes the nuts that fall out of a nearby tree. Don’t, however, let her stand on your shoulder unless you have on a shirt with sleeves. My husband allowed her to get on his shoulder, but he had on only a tank top, and he ended up with several scratches that he said stung a little like a cat scratch. We bought some hydrogen peroxide to put on them and they were fine the next morning. We were told by her caretaker that she doesn’t bite and she prefers men over women, although she seemed to really like me.
There are also a couple of skinny kitty cats that hang out at Pallazini. We fed them chicken or bacon, but they won’t bother you if you don’t want to feed them. The one-eyed cat is fairly docile. The two-eyed cat will announce its presence with a loud meow to see who will hold out food to it, but otherwise they won’t bother you if you’re not enamored with begging cats.
Some tips we took from other reviewers that we found came in handy: bring bendy straws, bring cozies for your drinks (they’ll last longer in the heat), wear SPF, wear bug spray at night.
The few negatives: smoking is allowed everywhere, but most people seemed pretty courteous about it. I noticed some would leave their chairs to smoke in an area where others were not, although I did see one old lady in a floppy hat standing in the middle of the pool with her cig hanging out of her mouth, ashes dropping everywhere (ugh). There were 2 days where we didn’t have hot water in the shower, but I think this was an isolated problem. And lastly, they gave us the wrong time for our return shuttle to the airport. They told us 10:30, and we showed up to check out at 9:30 a.m., and were told our shuttle wasn’t leaving til 11:30. However, when we complained and explained we needed to be at the airport by 12:30 for our international flight at 3:30, they relented and sent us on the 10:30 shuttle. But just double check the departure info they give you so that you don’t get up earlier than you have to!
Overall, we loved the resort. We’ve been to a lot of islands and resorts, and we both agreed that any future trips to the Caribbean will be to Jamaica and to CSS. With a direct flight from Baltimore, it couldn’t be more convenient, and Jamaica is beautiful, and CSS has everything you could want (including incredible staff). We might branch out and try one of the Couples resorts in Negril, but we’ll definitely be back – and we have NEVER said that about any other Caribbean resort!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled on the cliffs of Jamaica’s emerald coast above a dazzling stretch of Caribbean, Couples Sans Souci beckons you to surrender mind, body and soul. The resort's 'no worries' mantra comes to life as every day unfolds. Lose yourself exploring secluded stone pathways. Melt away stress in the healing natural mineral springs. Feel a rush of exhilaration scaling Dunn's River waterfalls. Or simply drift asleep in a hammock by the sea. Located in vibrant Ocho Rios, the resort's design pays tribute to an understated colonial elegance—intricate latticework, white woven furnishings and feathered palms set a refined stage for your island escape. Dining options abound—from authentic Jamaican fare to five-star international cuisine. Private cabanas at cliff's edge provide the ideal setting for our signature spa treatments, while the choice of resort activities knows no limits. Learn the art of living well while living in the moment at Couples Sans Souci. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Couples Sans Souci Hotel Ocho Rios
- Couples San Souci
- Couples Sans Souci Ocho Rios