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Couples vs. Sandals

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Hi everyone! My fiance and I are getting married in Negril. Jamaica in Feb 2010. I was just wondering the differences between Sandals Negril and Couples Swept Away. We are having a hard time deciding between the two. What made you chose one over the other? Thank you and I apologize if this topic was covered already!

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Let's see-

 

I'll start with the similarities first, both have amazing beaches and sunsets, adult only, both are all inclusive and include the same water sport options.

 

Couples Swept Away - Seven room categories, rooms overall tend to be larger as are the balconies/patios, the rooms are decorated in a minimalistic fashion with the main color scheme being white. The bathrooms are very simple but functional, many need to be rennovated on the older side of the property (also no televisions on that side). This property is very quiet, most are in bed by 10pm. There is a piano bar and disco but they don't start up till 11pm, between dinner and disco there is no place to congragate and have a drink. The grounds on the property are beautiful- very lush! Entertainment tends to be geared toward romance-you'll have someone singing love songs for the most part. The beach party was even on the quieter side! Drinks are watered down. The spa area -massage area was uncomfortable(one big room divided by 5 foot screens about 4 people getting massages at one time! The salon for mani/pedis ect was fine This is a great resort for those who want an intimate experience, are active -nice gym, tennis courts and training circuit- and are early risers/ early to bed.

 

Sandals Negril- Many rooms categories and types of buildings here. Quality of the rooms various -definately use a TA that knows the property! Good rule of thumb is the mid -higher room categories are really nice and a good size, comfortable, swim up suites and the new plantation suites are drop dead gorgeous! Overall atmosphere is more upbeat than at CSA- lots of reggae playing and organized activities but still many quiet nooks and crannies for those who prefer some quiet time. Drinks definately not watered down and I personally liked the food better at Sandals Negril over CSA (but I also didn't starve at CSA by any means!). Lots of areas to hang out at during the day and in the evening. They have a game area with pool table ( if I remember there was also darts?) and a bar right there. There are also tennis courts, basketbal ect for those who want to be active. The grounds are very pretty with palms and flowering shrubs. On the beach there are really neat wood carvings made out of the stumps of palm trees that had died. This property is good for a mixture of people- something to please almost everyone from the early birds to hose who want entertainment and activities at night.

 

Hope that helped some! It just depends on what you & your guests prefer.

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My husband and I made pro-con lists for all of the resorts we were looking at. Here is the template: http://bestdestinationwedding.com/forum/t34495

 

We chose CSA over SN for the following reasons:

 

*I didn't like that Sandals is SO branded. It seened like everywhere you truned you saw a Sandals sign.

 

*We had more options for personalizing our wedding at CSA than SN. I felt like we were being nickled and dimed to add personal touches. They also would not allow us to bring our own photographer.

 

*We wanted (and loved) the large rooms and patios

 

*CSA will put double beds into the rooms and I was told that Sandals was King beds only.

 

*I was told that we could not have same sex couple guests at Sandals. This is a policy that I have personal objections to so it was a big con.

 

*Some of our guests had stayed at Sandals properties and we wanted to try something new.

 

*The people at Couples were very quick to respond to my questions and they have a state-side planner.

 

*I felt the rooms & decor at CSA were more unique to Jamaica. They had a very clean and plantaiton kind of feel. In looking at Sandals material, the resort in Negril was the same as the one in St. Lucia

 

*The Catamaran Cruise and Glass-bottom boat tours as well as golfing are included at CSA. I wanted my guests to have as much to do as possible.

 

*My group really wanted a relaxing vacation. Our goal was to be able to hang out and do our own thing, not have noisy activites going on or to feel like we had to participate in group activites.

 

*CSA has 6 restaurants and 8 bars. I heard that the food there was wonderful and was not disappointed.

 

I definitely didn't think the drinks were watered down! I don't think I could have handled them being any stronger.

 

My experience at the spa at CSA was wonderful. I had 2 massages and each time was in a private room.

 

We had a group of 30 and there was always something for us to do. I never experienced a closed bar or down time.

 

There was a lot of work/remodeling being done while we were there in June, so I don't know what has changed.

 

As Jennifer mentioned, they are both very nice properties. It is just a matter of personal preference.

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I stayed at Couples Swept Away last year and absolutely LOVED it (I have never been to Sandles, so I cannot comment on that resort). Our room was spacious and like TA Jennifer stated, designed in a minimalist fashion with very comfy beds. The grounds were very well kept and the beach was perfect. The food was fantastic and they even provided a free catamaran that took groups on a sunset trip to a popular cliff diving area known as Rick's Cafe (very fun).

 

But what was most notable about Couples Swept Away was the warmth of the hotel staff. We were greeted as the taxi pulled up to the hotel with cold lemon-soaked washcloths and champagne. Check-in was hastle free and we only had to identify ourselves once, after that, everyone knew us by name. We were overwhelmed with the hospitality of all the hotel personnel and were surprised when the hotel manager and asst. manager knew us by name and invited us to a special cocktail hour/dinner with them pool-side. We were also excited to find out that the hotel is locally owned (by Jamaicans) and that they support local economies, which is something very important for us, as are policies about same-sex couples.

 

I highly recommend this hotel and am def planning on returning!!

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Great list Erin! It truly is a matter of personal preference between the two as they have different ambiances- we book quite a bit of both for DW's and also honeymoons.

 

I just wanted to comment on a couple of things to clarify ! I'll do it in bold.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErinB View Post
My husband and I made pro-con lists for all of the resorts we were looking at. Here is the template: http://bestdestinationwedding.com/forum/t34495

 

We chose CSA over SN for the following reasons:

 

*I didn't like that Sandals is SO branded. It seened like everywhere you truned you saw a Sandals sign. It is very branded!

 

*We had more options for personalizing our wedding at CSA than SN. I felt like we were being nickled and dimed to add personal touches. They also would not allow us to bring our own photographer. True- you can not bring outside photographers to Sandals, although Couples is going back & forth on this policy of allowing outside photogs.

 

*We wanted (and loved) the large rooms and patios Couples rooms are really large and the balcony's /patios they are great!

 

 

*CSA will put double beds into the rooms and I was told that Sandals was King beds only. True- king beds only!

 

*I was told that we could not have same sex couple guests at Sandals. This is a policy that I have personal objections to so it was a big con. - You can have same sex couples at Sandals, I have booked quite a few same sex couples with no problem at all

 

 

*Some of our guests had stayed at Sandals properties and we wanted to try something new.

 

*The people at Couples were very quick to respond to my questions and they have a state-side planner. Sandals also has stateside wedding planners-they have been quick to respond to my questions, don'y know if booking direct makes a difference

 

*I felt the rooms & decor at CSA were more unique to Jamaica. They had a very clean and plantaiton kind of feel. In looking at Sandals material, the resort in Negril was the same as the one in St. Lucia -Actually there are three resorts in St. Lucia and each are a bit different in the decor- however the newly refurbished Butler level categories are very similiar at all of the Sandals properties and have a modern plantation feel to them ( mahogany furniture, beiges and muted color scheme, flat screen tvs) With Couples - the Negril & CSA are very similiar in furnishings also. I'm curious as to how they are going to furnish Couples Tower Isle ( the old Couples Ocho Rios) :) !

 

*The Catamaran Cruise and Glass-bottom boat tours as well as golfing are included at CSA. I wanted my guests to have as much to do as possible. -With Sandals Negril, golf you have to pay your own transfer and the catamaran cruise is extra as well, the glass bottom boat is included.

 

*My group really wanted a relaxing vacation. Our goal was to be able to hang out and do our own thing, not have noisy activites going on or to feel like we had to participate in group activites.- Definately a quieter atmosphere at CSA, although Sandals Negril is by no means party central or spring breakish!

 

*CSA has 6 restaurants and 8 bars. I heard that the food there was wonderful and was not disappointed. -Very similar, 6 restaurants & 5 bars at Sandals Negril, main difference was you could get a drink pretty much at any time at Sandals Negril between 10 am and 1am, at CSA there was no place to get a drink after 6pm till you sat for dinner and then again after dinner unless you had a bar in your room. ( boy I sound like a lush!!) I just like to have a cocktail while watching the sun go down and then go get ready for dinner or have a cocktail while waiting for my table at dinner ( I tend to eat pretty late though!)

 

I definitely didn't think the drinks were watered down! I don't think I could have handled them being any stronger.- I respectfully disagree! At CSA I could have Tanqueray and tonics all day and just get full, we tried several differents drinks and basically came away with a sugar buzz. When I went over to Sandals Negril for a site visit that same week I had half a Tanqueray and tonic and had a buzz and didn't finish my drink( I am a light weight :) !). I watched the pours at both resorts and both put in the same amount of gin.

 

 

My experience at the spa at CSA was wonderful. I had 2 massages and each time was in a private room.- Hmmmm, maybe it was just me then. My massage was in that stupid room. I did see where they had the couples massage in a separate area but when I asked for that room they told me it was for couples only! So I didn't book another massage as I found it wasn't relaxing- waaayy to uncomfortable for me!

 

We had a group of 30 and there was always something for us to do. I never experienced a closed bar or down time.- again a totally different experience on the bar thing, strange!Where did you find an open bar between when the beach bar closed around 5:30pm and when the disco opened ? I am just curious so I can let my clients know- maybe I missed it! Regarding activities- there is ALOT to do and I have to give kudos to the dive staff also- they were great and very very patient with a first timer! The staff at Couples is fantastic and many have been there for a long time! Both propertoies do graet you with a cold cloth (Sandals signature scent is the lemon grass, and with a glass of champagne

 

 

There was a lot of work/remodeling being done while we were there in June, so I don't know what has changed.

 

As Jennifer mentioned, they are both very nice properties. It is just a matter of personal preference.

Definately!

 

Sandals is also a Jamaican owned and family run company. Both companies -Couples and Sandals are pretty quiet about what they do within Jamaica to support the community but both are very active. I did provide a post about a Christmas program that was initiated by Adam Stewart this last year- the CEO (and son of the owner) of Sandals. Sandals Negril is also Green Globe Certified and was chosen by the Caribbean Hotel Association as one of the Green Hotels of the Year.

 

 

 

This is a great thread for comparing experiences and the differences between the two properties- I think it'll help future brides and honeymooners tremendously as this is a question I am asked all the time!

 

As a bride you just need to figure out which experience you want to have for your wedding!smile03.gif

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Thank you so much everyone! I know it's up to your own personal preference but I like to hear about other experiences before I decide since I really do love both resorts!

 

As far as Sandals goes, if I have a private reception dinner, is there a $500 charge per table plus the $75 pp?

 

At CSA can you have a private reception?

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I've booked with Couples Sans Souci for my wedding in October. I've been told by my TA that Couples is an amazing experience regardless of the room catagory you book and that at Sandals they treat you better depending upon the room. That was enough to make my decision. Now I'm just wondering if there if we're going to be disappointed as it sounds like there is no way to get a drink after dinner...maybe someone could let us know if there is any way to drink after the beach bar closes and if you've already had dinner...just wondering. Good luck with your planning!

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I have only stayed at CSA. The beach bars did close at some point but the restaurants are open air and the bars are open, so you can still sit there even after your meal. At CSA, the Martini Bar upstairs was open until the disco opened, I think. The billiards room next to the Martini bar is beautiful and so freakin' cold! I've never seen or felt air conditioning like that!

 

CSA also has full size bottles in the mini bar that is re-stocked daily. We were never at a loss for liquor, LOL!

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I have only stayed at CSA. The beach bars did close at some point but the restaurants are open air and the bars are open, so you can still sit there even after your meal. At CSA, the Martini Bar upstairs was open until the disco opened, I think. The billiards room next to the Martini bar is beautiful and so freakin' cold! I've never seen or felt air conditioning like that!

 

CSA also has full size bottles in the mini bar that is re-stocked daily. We were never at a loss for liquor, LOL!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pugmomjenn View Post
I've booked with Couples Sans Souci for my wedding in October. I've been told by my TA that Couples is an amazing experience regardless of the room catagory you book and that at Sandals they treat you better depending upon the room. That was enough to make my decision. Now I'm just wondering if there if we're going to be disappointed as it sounds like there is no way to get a drink after dinner...maybe someone could let us know if there is any way to drink after the beach bar closes and if you've already had dinner...just wondering. Good luck with your planning!
I just got back from CSS and will be posting a detailed review soon (and soon as I have several hours to write it!). The balloon bar & terrace (which is where they have the evening show at 9:30pm and also the piano sing along at 11pm) is open all day. That is where most people seem to hang out after dinner while waiting for the show to start. There is also the beach bar (which is attached to the beach dinner restaurant) open until 1am and there are always people hanging out there, including before and after dinner. So what Jennifer mentions about CSA definitely isn't an issue at CSS.

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