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Reviewed 10 December 2015

My husband and I honeymooned at CSS in October of 2013 and we had a phenomenal time! So, when the stars aligned and we were able to take a vacation this year, we didn't hesitate to book a second visit to CSS.

Sadly, our second trip didn't quite meet our expectations.

We were there from Nov. 11-18 and, for the most part, it was everything we remembered. The staff was friendly and helpful, the food was good, lots of fun activities, the drinks were great, and the pools and beach were exactly what we remembered (clean, relaxing, and awesome!). We LOVE the fact that it's a smaller resort and in a gorgeous setting; we never waited in line, nothing felt crowded, and it's got a very relaxed vibe. It's the perfect setting if you're looking for some R&R in the sunshine!

However, we arrived on the tail-end of a big renovation CSS completed. We were promised a few weeks before we arrived that "renovations would be complete," but I don't believe they were. As a result, we faced some pretty big inconveniences.

When we arrived, the room we booked in "B Block" (on the beach) wasn't ready, so we were given a room in "E Block" (on the bluff) the first night. It was a perfectly lovely room with a spectacular view, but it was a pain not to be able to unpack after a long travel day.

When we were assigned to our "B Block" room on day #2, we were given a ground-floor room ... when we specifically requested a top-floor room when we booked the trip 6 months earlier. I appreciate that room requests aren't guaranteed, but it was still very disappointing (especially since we weren't told why we weren't given our requested room.)

Over the next few days, we dealt with some pretty inconvenient maintenance issues. The bathroom in our room flooded one day while we were poolside; another morning we woke up to NO water at all (no faucet, no toilet flush, no shower). Thankfully, the staff was quick about responding and getting things fixed and cleaned. But, still...it wasn't something we wanted to deal with while on vacation.

We also booked a couples massage at the spa (which was awesome). But, a few hours after our session, we got a call from the spa because they apparently a mistake on their rates and needed to charge us the correct (read: higher!!) price. I'm not sure why we paid for their mistake?

Finally, it seemed the food selections weren't what they were during our first trip. It had us wondering if they were still finishing up renovations in the kitchens, which limited their cooking capacity?

Did any of these things ruin our trip? No - we still had fun, and we thoroughly enjoyed the sun, the people, the beach, and the outdoor activities. We're pretty laid-back travelers in general, and because we already know what it’s *normally* like at CSS (thanks to our first visit in 2013), it didn’t phase us too much.

However, a trip to CSS was a big deal for us -- we saved for a long time to go, and we chose CSS again because we LOVED the Couples "experience." But, we were disappointed that we had to deal with these inconveniences.

  • Stayed: November 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
6  Thank Rachel R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Abraham I, Owner at Couples Sans Souci, responded to this reviewResponded 14 December 2015

Dear Rachel R,

Thank you for returning to Couples Sans Souci. It was great to see you again.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience where accommodation was concerned. Once our renovation was completed, unforeseen issues occurred. Management handled them as best as possible.

Kind Regards,
Abraham Issa

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 December 2015

So this was our 2nd visit to CSS, but 3rd to Couples overall. Similar to our last visit, the staff was great, the food was too, and we had a great and relaxing time. This time we brought another couple along and they loved it as well.

I will say though, that there were a few changes since our last visit that were both good and bad. The good part is that they renovated most of their rooms so everything is our room was just about brand new, more modern, and very clean. The downside to that was that they removed all of the jet tubs in the rooms so I was extremely disappointed since this was the only reason I chose a different type of room this time around. On our honeymoon last year we stayed in a One Bedroom Suite in the G block but spoke to a couple that was staying on the B block and bragged about the jet tubs. When we first arrived this time we were taken to the B block only to find out that the jet tub was removed.... so sad! They also had us in a 1st floor room which I request to change since the patio was open to a walk way and not very private at all. We had to wait until something opened up the next day but we were at least pleased to be moved to the A block (just next door) to a 2nd floor corner room which has the same layout but was more private and had better views of the pool and ocean. The stones on the shower floor was a bad design move considering they are uneven and some of them are too big and uncomfortable to stand on. They need to be less bulky and more flat.

Besides the room changes, they also changed the dinner set-up to buffet at the Palazzina restaurant so their website is not up to date. This was disappointing since having table service made it feel more romantic. If I wanted a buffet dinner, I would stay at a family resort and not a Couples. None the less, Cassanova was still my favorite! Romantic table service and food was great, although, they were running low on lobster night (Wednesday) so I could not have seconds or anything extra. I suggest going to dinner early... like by or before 7pm. We visited the Beach Grill/ Bella Vista for both lunch and dinner throughout our trip as well and it was awesome as usual. They ran out of beef and chicken patties a couple of times but there are so many great options on the menu that we made the most of it.

I wish they would do something about the Bees too since I was stung on this trip as well. This time while simply floating in the pool. So was my cousin who was with us. NOT FUN!

All in all, we had a good time but we're ready for change. We are thinking about visiting Couples Swept Away next year so we'll see.

  • Stayed: November 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank anitam79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 December 2015

Our first (and second) Jamaica experience was at Couples (what is now Tower Isle) back in 1985 and '87, and we have wanted to come to Sans Souci ever since, primarily because it is a larger property and gets slightly higher reviews. Since 1987 we have become seasoned travelers, particularly in the Caribbean, having stayed at properties of Sandals, Excellence, Palladium, Riu, Ciboney, Vidanta and Enchanted Gardens. The reason it took us so long to return to Couples is because in 1997 we bought a timeshare at Ciboney, which was so nice we bought a second week. However, Ciboney was later acquired by Sandals, the experience became less, so we were always curious to see if Couples was still as awesome as we had remembered.

This year we booked a week at Sandals, followed by a week at CSS, thinking we were saving the best for last. We had spent the previous 8 months dieting, so we had been looking forward to two weeks of exceptional cuisine as our reward.

Suffice it to say Sandals was the high point of the trip, and CSS gave us a renewed appreciation for what we have with our timeshare. We were so disappointed that we rebooked our return flight and left for home after just 3 days.

I am not saying CSS is a horrible place by any means, it simply did not even come close to meeting our expectations based on what we experienced back in the late '80's. Granted, things change, and it is not even the same ownership today, but prior to our arrival we had received an e-mail from TripAdvisor listing the top 25 all-inclusives in the entire Caribbean, and imagine our thrill seeing CSS had made the list (at #15), and our Sandals did not, furthering our expectation that CSS would indeed be the high point of our trip!

I have to say check-in was very pleasant, but things quickly deteriorated from there. We had been literally cherishing the photo of the room class we had booked, which showed a large bedroom opening into a comfortable sitting area which then opened out to a nice balcony with an ocean view. We were escorted to our room (in F block), which was nothing like the photo. Yes, it had the same rooms, but the bedroom was on the front of the building, separated from the living room by a rather tiny bathroom, so instead of having the open feel of the photo (being able to see the view from the bedroom), it instead had a clunky, chopped-up feel to it. The living room was also very sparsely furnished for its size, and there were stains on the sofa cushions -not at all what you would expect from such a highly rated property.

We returned to the lobby to let them know we were less than impressed. We were taken to another room a little further away (G block), but it had the exact same floor plan. They then took us to another room in D block, and that room looked like the photo we had been drooling over, but it did not have an ocean view (and it was a LOT of walking from any of the public areas in either direction). At this point we were considering just going home (or someplace else), but they then suggested a room in the newly-renovated A & B blocks for an additional $40/nt. (because these were considered beachfront rooms). We were taken to one of these rooms, and while still not quite like the picture, we figured this would be acceptable, especially since it was a short walk to 2 of the 3 restaurants as well as the main pool and other activities.

We knew when booking there were just three restaurants for dinner (not counting the beach grill on the AN side), but what we DIDN'T know was that a month ago someone made the boneheaded decision to make one of the three a buffet restaurant for dinner! I first have to say that at Sandals (and most other resorts we have stayed at) you can go all day without having to eat buffet style if you so desire, and Sandals does not even have a buffet option for dinner. At CSS however, you have buffet for breakfast (or room service), buffet or beach grill for lunch, and dinner is either fine dining at Casanova, Caribbean at Bella Vista, or buffet. What's worse, two nights are special theme nights where you dine buffet style, and on one of these nights Casanova and Bella Vista are closed, so if you don't like buffet dining, your only alternative is room service (in which the dinner menu has just 3 entrees). We were told the conversion to buffet was due to requests, but I'm sorry, I'm not buying that! If that were true, all resorts (including Sandals) would have a buffet option. Personally I think this was done to save $$ for the resort, because looking around, this place needs a lot of TLC in many areas.

Aside from the food, we were also highly disappointed in the alcohol selection. We are gin drinkers, we drink Bombay Sapphire at home, but at CSS the only bar that had this was the balloon bar, which was a long hike from A&B blocks. Otherwise the best you could hope for was Tanqueray, still a good gin, but we were astonished to find the only gins at the swim-up bar were "Old Tom" (house gin) and Gilbey's (one of the cheapest name-brands in the states). The pool bar looked pathetic in comparison to other resorts, and as my photo shows, at 1:30 in the afternoon there was nobody there (just one bored bartender).

We went to Casanova Sunday and Monday for dinner, and it was a very pretty place, but it was so empty that it left me wondering why we could not get a table on Saturday (leaving us to think company policy was to make you eat elsewhere on your first night). As other reviewers have noted, the steak (listed as tenderloin) was outstanding...on Sunday! Monday, however, we ordered the steak again, and it was like night and day. The steaks were smaller, tougher, and the flavor not nearly as good. I told my wife I suspected this was sirloin instead of tenderloin, and the chef came out to talk to us and confirmed my suspicion. Disappointed, we went to Bella Vista (where we had a very enjoyable dinner on Saturday), and dinner there was just as good as before (and Sunshine, the hostess, is not only a total delight, she has a memory like no other!).

In any case, we decided it was foolish to stay the rest of the week packing on more calories that simply were not worth it. Guest Services was very accommodating in helping us contact Delta to change our flight.

Again, this is not a horrible place, it simply was a huge disappointment to us compared to our other experiences. It is indeed a pretty property (though nowhere near the paradise that Sandals Ochi is), and if you are not opposed to buffet dining, then this is definitely the place for you.

Room Tip: Rooms in A, B & C blocks are closer to most activities & restaurants
  • Stayed: December 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Steve N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Abraham I, Owner at Couples Sans Souci, responded to this reviewResponded 14 December 2015

Dear Steve N,

Thank you for coming back to Couples Resorts.

Sorry to hear that this vacation fell below your expectations in comparison to your previous visits.

It was unfortunate to hear about your first room. We moved you as quickly as possible. Apologies that you did not like the second one either.

Our main restaurant serves breakfast and lunch buffet style making it a convenient option for guests. However, dinner is a la carte with a salad bar.

Kind Regards,
Abraham Issa

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 December 2015

After going to Couples Negril last year we decided to visit Sans Souci this year. We left last week in November, Toronto to Montego Bay with air Canada Rouge. The flight had minimal service; water and coffee were free while anything else was charged. We arrived on time and one hour later we were in the bus on our way to Ocho Rios. We did not use Mobay Services at the airport because there were not that many planes arriving at that hour. It was about two hours to the resort. Being the only couple arriving at CSS, the others in the bus were going to CTI, check-in was fast. To our pleasant surprise, we got the room we asked for in the email we sent prior to our arrival to the resort. We were told room G15A has the best view and it was true- the view is spectacular. Room is basic, bed is king size, AC works great, mini bar stocked to your requests daily. Balcony is huge. The closet is dark and needs a light installed.
We had a couple of rainy days but they never lasted all day long. They were usually during the evening, night or morning. One evening while we were out for dinner, due, water was coming through the bathroom window, due to the heavy rain, and effectively flooded the room. So don’t leave the bathroom window open.
For the first couple of days, there was no hot water but after calling reception it was fixed. It got better closer to the end of our stay.
The resort is beautifully laid out on a cliff overlooking the ocean. There are many paths you can take to go from one place to other. A lot of stairs but we didn’t t mind. Everything is green, gardens and landscape were well maintained and beautiful, lots of flowers in bloom, butterflies and hummingbirds.
The food was great. We tried almost everything: smoothies every morning and also in the afternoon at the Mineral Pool, soups are a must. We loved them, and dinner was always special, at Casanova, Palazzina, Bella Vista, Beach Party or the Gala on Friday. During the week there is something going on every night: Monday is Managers Cocktail Party, Tuesday is Beach Party, Wednesday is Repeater dinner, Thursday is wine tasting party and Friday is gala night. Every night there is a good show followed by piano sing along at the Baloon bar. There is a lot of fun at all bars. We felt that Martini bar it’s not used at the full of potential, it could add a little ambiance music to attract more customers since it has such a nice location.
Pools are all nice; the mineral pool is very special surrounded by palm trees and overlooking the ocean. The main beach was really small, in a way a disappointment for us and the only reason we are thinking too go back to Negril next time instead of coming back here. In fact both beaches are small and the water is not very inviting. We ended staying on the beach but going to swim in the pool. Anyway, SSB is a must; it’s the place where the laughs and fun are at home all day long.
We only took the trip to Doon River falls which is included. Bring enough money with you for the DVD if you want (US40) and to tip the guide also for additional shopping if willing. We planned to do the CTI exchange but because of the weather didn’t t go. Same with scuba or snorkeling, did not go because of the bad weather.
I will end by mentioning the people at Sans Souci are the best. Always smiling and ready to help you, they are there for you all the time. There is no better team of people, thank you all.

Room Tip: G15A has the best view but a lot of stairs to get there.
  • Stayed: November 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank calin p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 December 2015

Great! Staff was amazing and the best part. Wish there was options to dine in the restaurants every night and the house wine selections could be better but other then that I really enjoyed it. I would suggest a shuttle to certain places off the resort bc the cabs get insane expensive

Stayed: November 2015, travelled as a couple
Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Alissa C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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