Date of Trip: September 2005
This was a very different trip from our past vacations to Couples Ocho Rios. I will try not to get to long winded.
Let me start out by saying we booked a special trip to celebrate my birthday. Seven nights in our favorite romantic tropical paradise. How could things go wrong?
The trip started off normal enough. The flights were fine. Since we only had carryon luggage, immigration and customs were a breeze. We got to the Couples Lounge and checked in. We were told the wait would be 25 minutes for our shuttle bus to the resort. The wait for the bus was longer than 25 minutes and I had to request water and a Red Stripe. On other visits they had always been offered. No big deal, just different.
Anyway, as soon as there were enough of people to fill a bus, we were on our way. The ride was uneventful with the usual bathroom/beer break about midway. The road to Ocho Rios is still under construction. I was told it is due to be finished by June 2006. We stopped to drop off one couple at Sans Souci (the newest addition to the Couples Resorts group) and then it was just another two miles down the road to our resort.
Arriving at Couples Ocho Rios we were greeted with smiles and cool towels. We were then lead to a sitting area in the lobby and offered rum punch or Red Stripes. There was a small amount of paperwork to do and then rooms were assigned.
We were given room 217. I knew by the number that it was a gardenview room. I asked why we had a gardenview and was told they didn’t have any more oceanview rooms available. An oceanview room would be available the next day and they we could switch rooms.
After visiting our room briefly and having our luggage delivered we headed for the bar. As we approached Delroy greeted us. He was talking to another couple who were from the UK and leaving the next day. At 6pm we met the Wambratlings’, whom we knew from the Couples Clubhouse messageboard. This was their last night and they had dinner reservations. We chatted for a bit and then we went our separate ways.
We stayed at the bar awhile longer chatting with staff members and other guests we had come to know from prior trips. We dined the first night with another couple at The Veranda. Then we watched the show, which on Friday night is the staff and guest talent show. They had some very good singers and one of the dance acts/skits was very funny. I had left my camera in the room, so I don’t have any pictures of the show.
Saturday morning we had breakfast at The Patio. This was supposed to be our day to relax. Unfortunately Joe got a phone message that meant he had to cut the vacation short. He had to fly back to the US on Monday. At the same time we got the message that we could now switch to an oceanview room. Talk about good news, bad news! We switched to room 322, which is an oceanview deluxe room and worked on figuring out what to do. We decided Joe would fly home on Monday but I would stay as originally planned. We checked to make sure this would be okay with the resort before we changed Joe’s ticket. Poor Joe, what was supposed to be a seven-night vacation was now just a long weekend.
We spent most of the morning on the beach and decided to go on the afternoon snorkel trip. That was a lot of fun. We went to the left side of Tower Island this time to where there is a big drop-off. Unfortunately my camera batteries died very quickly so I really didn’t get many shots. After the snorkel trip Joe went to the dive shop to sign up for the next mornings dive. At least he’d get one dive in this trip. It got pretty cloudy as the afternoon went on and then it did rain a bit.
Due to the rain the Gala pool buffet was moved to the patio. The food was still great and, as always, so many choices. The desserts seemed to go on forever. At “ShowTime” they had the Caribbean Royals Steel Drum Band. They really put on a show!
Sunday we again had breakfast on the patio. Ulysses made us great omelets. I stayed on the beach when Joe went on the morning dive. On the same dive was a fellow named Bill from the UK. This was Bill’s fifth visit to Couples. He too had gotten to know one of the dive instructors, Collin very well. The guys got to see a barracuda on their deep dive.
That afternoon we did a tour of Sans Souci. It was arranged for us to be picked up and taken down the road for a quick tour. We were to meet Mr. Henry there but he was delayed. The man at the reception desk said to go and sit in the lobby. After waiting 15 minutes I went back over to him and asked if we could start the tour now. He directed us to the bellhop. We were driven around the grounds and the bellhop pointed out the different room blocks and restaurants. We stopped briefly near one of the pools and beaches. He then drove us back to the entrance and passed us over to the security guard who was to show us how to get to the spa level, which couldn’t be reached by car. He directed us to the elevator, which as it turned out wasn’t working. We did manage to find our way down via many sets of stairs. It would have been nice if someone had offered to show us some of the rooms and the restaurants. I will say that Sans Souci is a large resort spread out over well-landscaped grounds. It is very pretty. It’s larger than Couples Ocho Rios and built on a steep hill.
That evening Joe and I had dinner at the Bayside. I feel it’s the most romantic spot to have dinner and besides Chef Andrew prepares the food beautifully. It has become our tradition to have dinner at the Bayside on our last night at the resort. I know we watched some of the show after dinner that evening but I don’t recall what it was. I’m writing this on my flight home. I do remember we went up to the room early so Joe could pack to catch the 9:15am bus to Montego Bay airport.
Monday morning we brought Joe’s bags down to the bell desk and headed for breakfast. I stopped briefly to grab a lounger under the almond tree. While at breakfast I saw Mr. Henry (the operations manager and told him I needed a favor. He said he’d do what he could so I told him I needed “a date” for the returning guests’ dinner that evening. You should have seen the look of surprise on his face. I then explained the situation and he said he would be honored to be my escort.
After eating, Joe said his good-byes to his friends on the staff and waited for his bus. After he left I went back to my room to pull myself together. It sure was a downer for both Joe and me that he had to leave early.
After a little while I headed back down to the beach. There were two couples from the UK on the loungers next to me. They were great company. This was their first trip to Ocho Rios but they had been to Couples Negril in the past.
Later on I wandered over to the place they hold the arts and crafts classes near the squash courts. Today’s craft was tie-dye with Dawn. I found out they only hold tie-dying class on Mondays and Wednesdays now instead of four days a week as they had in the past.
Around 2 p.m., I went to the lobby to meet Ava. She was to be my lunch companion for today. We went to the patio and ate with Bill (Joe’s dive buddy) and his wife Trisha. We had some good laughs. They were leaving that evening to head back home.
I got some more beach time. Then went back and chatted more with Dawn. Her husband John was there. He’s one of the piano players for the resort. It turned out he would be working at the returning guests dinner that night. When Dawn finished packing up I headed back to my room to get ready for the evenings activities.
We had some rain in the late afternoon so the manager’s welcome party was done just outside the lobby instead of on the pier. The mento band “The Scotch Bonnets” were playing some wonderful music. There were plenty of cocktails and hor d’oeuvres being served. At the party I learned that most of the west wing was shut down for renovations. They were replacing the tile floors. Near the end of the cocktail hour they introduced the managers and some of the staff and also gave out two employee of the month awards. One award for front staff and the other for back staff. FYI the beach buffet and party were also moved to the patio due to rain.
Now it was time for the returning guests’ cocktails and dinner, so it was off to the piano bar. There weren’t that many repeat guests this week so cocktails didn’t go on very long and we all headed for Le Gourmet.
We all sat at one long table and Mr. Henry was at my side. Everyone was chatting and enjoying their salads when two more couples came in. The staff added an extra table at one end and Mr. Henry switched seats so the other couple, a bouncy blond and her husband, could sit together next to me. That’s when the entertainment began. No disrespect to John’s piano playing intended.
From the moment the blond bombshell sat down until the end of the meal she talked non-stop. She had indulged in a bit too much champagne and wasn’t slowing down. We learned that she and her husband lived in Florida but that she grew up in New Jersey, she still had the Jersey accent. We were told about how both her mother and her husband’s mother had been friends and that both had “amscraid their husbands”, how she and her husband were childhood friends, how long they had courted and were married. She also talked about how everyone wanted her to be a model but “No way!” That would mean she’d have to be touched. “First they touch your hair, then they put their hands all over you fussing with your clothes.” She had everyone laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our faces.
It was now time for dessert. Blondie had a cup of coffee. Then she noticed that the female half of the couple they came with had left. She asked the man where she had gone. He stated his wife wasn’t feeling well and went back to their room to sleep. Blondie went off on a tirade about how her friend can’t sleep now. She was going to go up to the room, climb on top of her and wake her up. Blondie’s husband rubbed her leg and Blondie said “I know what that tap means. It means you want me to shut up.” He said “No, I’m just rubbing your leg.” Blondie said “No you’re not! You’re tapping! You want me to shut up so I’ll shut up now.” In less than thirty seconds she was jabbering on again. This time it was about how the coffee was a magic elixir and gave a better buzz than the champagne. It was returning guests’ dinner none of us would soon forget!
Staying at Couples alone is a very different experience. Idon’t recommend it. I will sayall the staff went above and beyond to make sure I still had a good time. They made sure I had someone to have dinner with every evening so I wouldn’t have to sit alone. Everyone from the servers and bar staff from management to the entertainment crew made sure I didn’t get lonely and that I was having fun.
A couple I had met on the CouplesNet message board told me about a rumor they heard circulating out on Tower Island. The rumor was that there was a woman alone at the resort. She must be the “owner’s wife” they were told since, all the staff were constantly going up to her and taking care of her. Heck, some of the staff even joined her for meals. When they were told what the woman looked like they told the others “that’s Lynn, she’s a repeat guest and her other half had to leave early.” I got a good laugh from the rumor. It just goes to show when you stay at Couples you are really part of the “Couples Family”.
Since the rest of my stay was spent just relaxing and socializing I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say I spent time playing in the water, enjoying the entertainment and sampling the wide variety of food and drink. There were times when it rained heavily, but water sports didn’t shut down for very long. Besides it was hurricane season, so you had to expect it. Both the beach buffet and gala pool buffet were moved undercover along with their respective shows and the late night beach movie.
I wouldn’t be truthful if I said everything was perfect. There were a few minor inconveniences with my room. There were some flying insects and ants in the room. But then again Jamaica is a tropical island. Also when you entered the room the light switch didn’t work. I simply left one of the lights next to the bed on when I left for dinner, so No Problem Mon. I never had flowers on my bed this trip but none of these things made the trip less enjoyable.
I really liked the new paint job in the piano bar. It made it more cheerful. I thought the martini bar on Sunday night was a nice touch. The new boat beach bar (next to the gym) was very convenient when hanging out on the beach. The private dinner on the beach or pier (extra fee required) looked sooo romantic. All these new touches go a long way to show how the resort is continuing to come up with innovative ways to keep their guests pleased. I do wish they would get a new cat to replace Sylvester. We miss him.
I already miss Couples Ocho Rios and I’ve been home less than a week. There is something so special about the place I can’t explain it in simple words other than it’s our second home. We can hardly wait to go back again to our “Couples Family”.