Written By: Geoff Millar, Ultimate All Inclusive Vacations
The next resort chain we are going to look at is the Couples Resorts. There are 4 of them and they are all located in Jamaica. Couples resorts have been around for many years and at one time were, along with Sandals, one of the top resort chains in Jamaica. They are still a very good quality chain but, as a number of the original resorts located in Jamaica, are being pushed by the competition that is moving into Jamaica.
The couples Resorts are owned by the Isa family, the same family that owned SuperClubs Resorts. They are managed by the son s of the Isa family.
One of their unique features, compared to many the newer resorts moving into Jamaica, is that while they continue to upgrade their resorts they still keep a uniquely Jamaican feel about them. They are one of the few chains in Jamaica that when you wake up in the morning, you know you are in Jamaica.
Each of the Couples Resorts provides clients a different vacation experience. Some are more active some are quieter, all have a different feel. When selling Couples Resorts it is critical to understand what type of experience your client is expecting. All Couple Resorts provide free scuba diving, free golf greens fees, and each resort provides a number of free off-site tours.
All Couples resorts are couples only. The way they control this is by only having king beds in all the rooms.
Two of the Couples Resorts are in the Negril area and 2 of them are in the Ocho Rios area. The 2 in Negril are the Couples Negril and the Couples Swept Away. The Couples Swept Away sits on 7 mile beach while the Couples Negril sits on Bloody Bay, around the point from 7 mile beach.
The 2 in Ocho Rios sit just outside of the town of Ocho Rios. They are the Couples Sans Souci and the Couples Tower Island. Couples Sans Souci sits a little closer to town.
In looking at the resorts let’s start with the Couples Tower Island. This is Couples oldest resort and was built to serve the Hollywood crowd back in the 40s. It has gone through many renovations and is still a favorite of returning guests. It is more of a high-rise resort than the other Couples Resorts which are spread out more low-rise resorts. It sits on a very nice but smaller beach. Beaches in Ocho Rios tend to be smaller half-moon shaped beaches. The resort is called Tower Island because there is an island just offshore with a small tower. The island is the location of the resorts Au Natural beach. It has its own restaurant and its own pool. The island can be used for weddings without being Au Natural. The rooms at the resort range from everything to standard garden view and ocean view rooms to Jr. Suites and the resort also has a few villas located on the property. There are a number of dining options from the standard buffets to specialty restaurants. In all there are 6 dining options. This resort is popular with the younger more active crowd. It also is the lowest priced Couples Resort so is a good choice for the budget minded traveler. I would rate the resort at 3.5 – 4 stars.
Moving down the coast we come to the Couples Sans Souci Resort. This resort sits a little closer to the town of Ocho Rios but is so lush and hidden that is appears to be in the middle of nowhere. This resort started out, years ago, as a private English Club. It still retains the private club feel with some of the lushest grounds I have ever seen. The resort is build both on a bluff overlooking the Ocean and in the cove overlooking the beach. This resort, like the Couples Tower Island sits on a very nice half-moon beach in a large cove. I will take the time now to you know that if your clients have mobility issues, this is probably not the resort for them as there is a lot of up and down hill walking. It is the smallest more romantic of the Couples Resorts, part of why it retains that private club feel. You have to have a drink in the Balloon Piano Bar where each bartender has their own signature drink. The resort has 5 dining options, all with either a beach feel or a more romantic feel. Rooms include everything from regular rooms and Jr suites to 1 bedroom beachfront suites. The resort also contains a separate Au Natural beach in a secluded part of the resort This beach has its own pool and restaurant. At 5:00 PM the Au Natural beach changes to a regular beach. They do this because the location of the beach offers guest the best sunset view on the resort. This resort is perfect for the client that wants a slower pace with a more romantic feel or the client that wants a smaller club like feel. I would give this resort a solid 4-star rating. The grounds are absolutely stunning.
Moving around the island we are next going to visit Negril with the best beach in Jamaica, 7 mile beach. While Negril has grown it started, from a tourism aspect, as the top location for the hippy crowd and as a “happening place”. It is still a “happening place” but in a different way. It has an active feel and a laidback feel all at the same time. The largest draw is the beach. A little known fact is that 7 mile beach is not 7 miles long, it is 5.5 miles long, to get the 7 miles they include the beach on Bloody Bay.
The next resort we will look at is the Couples Negril. Couples Negril actually sits on Bloody Bay beach. This is a very eclectic resort and a very green resort from the paint they use to other aspects of the resort. It has a low-rise hotel feel with a main area and wings off the public spaces. It sits on a beach that I think is every bit as nice as 7 mile beach. This resort does not have an Au Natural Beach but has a section of their beach cornered off for the Au Natural client. As I said this resort has a very eclectic feel and the rooms show that which gives the resort a kind of fun feel. It is an active resort with a great staff and a lot of fun things to do both day and night. It has a nightclub on the property and even a small casino with some slot machines. Rooms range from standard garden view and ocean view to beachfront Jr. Suites. As far as dining the resort has a choice of 5 dining options. This resort, like Negril itself, is both active and lowkey at the same time allowing guests to be as active as they want or as lowkey as they want without pressure to be either way. This resort is great for active beach clients as well as honeymooners and those that like the eclectic vibe. I would rate this resort a solid 4 stars.
The last Couples resort we are going to look at is Couples most popular resort, the Couples Swept Away. This resort sits on one of the best stretches of 7 mile beach. Here the beach is both long and deep. It is a great resort for the beach purist. This resort does not have an Au Natural Beach area. This resort was also designed for the active client, not necessarily the active party client, although there is a lot to do at night with its own night club and small casino. The type of activities this resort excels in is for the sports enthusiast. The resort has its own sports club with lap pool, racquet ball courts, basketball, track, tennis, and sport bar. I would call this resort Rustic Elegance. You certainly know you are in Jamaica. One of the signature things about this resort are the patios and balconies on the rooms. They are so large they could be called additional rooms. Some come with hammocks and some come with loungers. Whichever way, your clients will not lack for room. They also have something I have not seen a lot of, and that is a juice bar by the beach. This resort is large and spread out. Last time I was there it took a while to find my room coming back from dinner and of course the few cocktails I had did not help. The rooms range from standard garden view to beachfront. One word of caution the beachfront rooms have a walkway that runs in front of them so you can’t just step off your patio onto the beach. The dining options are many and varied. There are 6 dining choices on the resort and this is the first resort I have been to where we had a classic music piano player at breakfast. This resort is good for the beach lover, the outdoor person, and the active sport or outdoor activity client, and the client that wants the authentic but upscale Jamaican resort. I would rate this resort 4 stars.
This is our tour of the Couples Resorts and as you can see each resort has its unique features that cater to a slightly different clientele. This is a prime example that just because resorts are part of the same chain they don’t have to be all the same.
Next month we will take our unbiased look at the Sandals Resorts.