> Destinations > Jamaica > Trip Reports > Trip Report
I had won the December photo contest for the Couples Resort. It gave us a free, 3 night
stay. Joe and I really needed to get away, so we decided to book a trip for February. We
added 4 nights, so we'd have a seven night stay in paradise.
Last year, we had done the Couples Double-Take and visited both Ocho Rios and Negril.
Our preference was Ocho Rios, so this year, we went only to that resort, and had the time
of our lives.
We left Syracuse NY on Friday, February 8th. Our flight landed, more or less on time, at
Montego Bay. After being there last year, during Spring-Break time, we had learned that
the line all the way to the far left, at immigration, seems to move fastest. We headed
straight there, and got through in only about 10 minutes. We then headed downstairs to
baggage claim, retrieved our luggage and went through customs.
Once out of customs, we headed for the Couples desk. It had moved, since last year, and
was now located straight ahead, on the right, near the rest rooms. Being returning guests,
we were entitled to a free shuttle flight to Ocho Rios. The staff went to get the rep from
Burl Air to let them know we had arrived.
The gentleman from Burl Air came over, and said it would be an hour wait before the
plane returned, to take us to Ocho Rios. It turned out, that another flight had come in late,
and the charter plane had just left with those passengers. We talked to the people at the
Couples desk and decided to take the shuttle bus instead, and get our free flight on the
way back. So off to the shuttle bus we went.
We were escorted to a large van, where there was already one couple waiting. We were
told we had to wait for a short while, as they were expecting other couples, soon. The
wait was about 15 minutes and then we were on our way.
The ride to Ocho Rios takes about 2 hours. You travel along the coast and have some
great views of the scenery, passing through several towns along the way. Some of the
shuttle drives point out different places of interest. About half way to the resort they stop
at one of the many roadside stands. Here you can grab a drink and use the bathrooms.
I know a lot of people complain about this ride. They say they drive too fast, and pass
other vehicles at bad points along the road. Besides they drive on the wrong side.
Frankly, we didn't find it that bad. If you have never traveled outside the US or Canada, I
suppose it can be a bit scary. The road is narrow, and does have a lot of twists and turns.
Just remember, these people drive for a living. You are on vacation, so relax and enjoy
the scenery that is Jamaica.
We arrived at the resort about 5:30p.m. and were met with big smiles. They asked our
group to go and sit down across from the main desk in the lobby. Once seated, they
brought everyone a glass of champagne and a cool, damp towel. If you hadn't already
filled out the forms they gave you, back at the Couples desk at the airport, you could
complete them now. Once everyone was done with the forms, they collected them, along
with your tourist cards. You were then assigned a room, and you went up to the desk, so
they can get an imprint of your credit card. They gave each couple 2 room keys on elastic
wristbands and also, the lock and key for your in-room safe. You then pointed out which
bags were yours and the bellman told you how to get to your room. Your bags were
brought to the room shortly thereafter. Prior to our trip, I had corresponded with the
resort, via email. I was asked to wait a moment because my contact would be right down.
We had never met each other in person. It was great to finally see Norval and have a face
to go with the name. He came over and we chatted briefly, agreeing to catch up with each
other, later, during our stay. We then headed up to our room.
This year, we stayed in room 356. It was exactly two floors down from the room we had
last year. The room is an ocean view, deluxe room. In the room, we had a large closest
with sliding doors. In the closet is the safe, an ironing board and iron. We had a 4 poster
king size bed, a night stand; a hutch with drawers and a television in it; a love seat; a desk
and chair; coffee maker and a CD/Tape player/radio. The room also had a balcony with
two chairs and a table. There is a towel rack on the balcony, as well. The bathroom is
reasonably sized. It had a tub/shower, toilet, sink with a long counter, a full wall mirror,
a pull-out shaving mirror and a blow dryer.
Our bags arrived at the room, a few minutes later. I travel with my digital camera, so I
checked the television, to see if I could connect it to view my pictures. This television
didn't have the correct connections, so I called downstairs to Norval, who said he would
take care of it for me. About 5 minutes later, the phone rang. The person on the other end
said the new TV would be delivered in 15 minutes. I told them we were planning to head
out of the room, to which they responded, "No Problem, Mon". So off we went.
Prior to our trip, I had been on the different message boards. I had been in touch with a
gentleman from Louisiana, and we had arranged to meet at the main bar, at 7pm. Shortly
after we arrived at the bar, D. and his lovely wife D., showed up. We chatted for awhile,
and also saw two of the couples we had met on the shuttle ride to the resort. We were
discussing the dining options for dinner. To my surprise, the Calabash wasn't open that
night. D. & D. said it was only open for breakfast and dinner since they had been there. I
found out later, that this was due to low occupancy that particular week. D. & D. left, and
we continued to chat with B. and P., of Halifax (from the shuttle). We decided to have
dinner with them at the Bayside.
The Bayside is my favorite restaurant for dinner. I really love sitting out over the water.
That night, we had peppered steak and fettuccini Alfredo. At the Bayside, they have a
dessert table, where you go up and take whichever desserts you want. They have a very
nice selection and everything we tried, was very good.
After dinner, the four of us stopped by at the patio to watch the show. The house band,
Stars, Inc., was playing when we arrived. It also turned out to be amateur night, where
staff and guest get to participate and perform. We were surprised at how well everyone
did. The guests that performed, where each given a prize.
We then parted ways with P. and B. Joe and I went down to walk on the beach. I just had
to take off my shoes and get my feet wet in the ocean. Then we headed back to the room
for the night. If you want breakfast in your room the next morning, you fill out the tag
that's hanging on your door with your choices of what you want and the time you want it
delivered. You then put it outside your room before 1 am. That is what we did.
After waking Saturday morning, we had coffee on the balcony, along with the continental
breakfast we had ordered. We moved slowly that day, after the long day of travel. About
11a.m. we headed down to the beach and picked out two lounges under the trees, where
we ran into B. and P. Today was for relaxation.
Joe and I decided to have the buffet lunch, at the patio restaurant. While we were eating,
we saw D. & D. and asked them to join us. I really loved the corned beef that was served
Following lunch, we decided to walk around the grounds. We got to watch one of the
many weddings that take place at the resort. We then stopped and checked our email back
home. Then, a quick stop at guest services to make reservations at Le Gourmet, for the
following night. We went over to the duty free shop and looked around. They had some
really beautiful rings, and I discussed the prices with one of the sales people. I told him
I'd have to think about it before buying anything. After all, it was our first full day at the
resort, and, I had plenty of time to decide if I wanted to buy anything. While there, we did
sample some of the rum cream; they now have different flavors.
After leaving the store, we headed over to the jungle area. We found one of the 2 person
Jacuzzis was available, so we decided to take a dip. I will admit, the jets weren't working
too well, and just barely moved the water. But the water was warm, and it was such a
pretty setting, we didn't care. It was peaceful; it was like being in our own little world for
We then headed back to our room. When we got there, we found a note under the door
and a bag hanging on the outside of the door. The bag contained two returning guests t-
shirts and two coupons for a free, half-hour massage. The note was confirming our return
trip to the airport.
We showered and changed clothes, and then went down to the front desk. The
confirmation had listed that we were taking the bus back to Montego Bay. I explained to
them what had happened on the trip down, and they told me to go and see the sales
department around the corner. There, we talked with Nadine, who said she would handle
it. By the time we got back to our room that night, a new confirmation was there, and
After taking care of business, we headed over to the bar. Being Saturday night, it was
almost time for the Grand Pool Buffet. At the bar, we bumped into B & P. We all
grabbed a drink, and then went to choose a table near one of the Jacuzzis. They were still
putting the final touches on the buffet. Shortly thereafter, a line started forming, so we
went and joined it. Two musicians started playing on the edge of the patio restaurant.
The food at this buffet seemed to go on forever. We started with the appetizer table,
where we found huge shrimp, sushi, salads, cold cuts, fruit and more awaiting us; as well
as, things that tasted great, but we have no idea what they were. I, personally, was full,
after just the appetizers. The main dishes were numerous, too. There was a fish dish, a
lamb dish, a Chinese stir-fry, and a whole lot more. Of course, there were side dishes, as
well. Everyone was so full from dinner, that none of us wanted dessert. They did have a
long table with delicious looking choices.
After dinner, the four of us went to watch the band play at the patio for awhile. We
decided to make an early evening of it. B.& P. wanted to know where the piano bar was,
so on our way back to our room we made a quick stop there to show them the place. So
you know where it is, it's tucked in a corner to the right of the entrance to Le Gourmet
and the Veranda restaurants.
Back in our room, we watched a little TV. The list of channels they gave us wasn't up to
date. Also, some of the channels did come in quite fuzzy. But, who is in Jamaica to watch
Woke up Sunday morning to an overcast sky. It had rained overnight, so none of the
bathing suits we had left on the balcony dried. It was also a bit cool out. Again, we had
breakfast on the balcony.
Later, we headed out and went to play some Ping-Pong. We then stopped at the
photographer's shop and checked out the pictures taken the night before, at the pool
buffet. We decide to purchase the picture of us. The cost was $8.00 US.
By then, it was warming up, so we decided to get in some more beach and swim time.
One of the hammocks on the beach was available, so I used that for awhile. We also took
a quick dip in one of the big Jacuzzis by the pool. We had lunch again at the patio
restaurant. Later, we laid out on the dock, which is where you get the last sun of the day.
We had to dress for dinner that night. We were dining at Le Gourmet. For your
information, men must wear long pants (no jeans), collared shirts and closed shoes (no
sneakers). Women must dress up, also (no shorts or tank tops). Before dinner, we stopped
back at the dock to listen to the sax player that is there Sunday evening. Our reservations
were for 6:30. Dinner was a wonderful, multi-course meal. Everything was beautifully
served and tasted wonderful. They have a gentleman that plays the piano while you dine.
The house photographer also came around and took pictures. The piece de resistance to
the meal, was the flaming coffee with our desserts.
After dinner, we went to listen to the band playing. There, we found B. & P. out on the
dance floor. When the band was done, and before the DJ started, the four of us went to
the piano bar. There, they were doing Karaoke with the piano player. Some of the guests
were surprisingly good. We stayed there until 1a.m. before heading back to our room.
Back in our room, Joe decided to surprise me, by giving me my Valentine's Day present
early. It was a lovely sapphire and diamond ring. My Valentines Day present to him was
the trip itself.
We slept late on Monday morning. Once we were up, we headed for the breakfast buffet.
The buffet has tons of choices. They always have breads, pastries, fruit, eggs, bacon,
sausage, cereal, etc. They also have some Jamaican specialties, and, made to order
omelets. There are several choices of juices, milk, coffee, tea and if you want a Bloody
Mary or a Mimosa, the champagne and vodka are there, as well. It started raining while
we ate breakfast, but it didn't last very long.
We headed over to the game room and played billiards for awhile, and, also played some
darts. We then went and bought our picture from the night before. Then, we headed over
to the computer to check our email.
After a quick stop back at the room, we headed downstairs to watch one of the couples
from our shuttle bus, get married. They had chosen to get married near the ocean. The
ceremony lasted about 10-15 minutes.
After that, we started heading over to the snack bar/beach grill to grab a bite. On our way
there, we passed three ladies taking photos. I offered to take a picture of the three of them
together, and they were very happy about this. It turned out two of them were, in part,
owners of the resort. We chatted for awhile and I gave them information about my web
site. One of them had written a book about her father, Abe Issa, who had started the all-
inclusive resort craze in Jamaica. She said she would send a copy of the book to my
We then finished making our way to the snack bar. I wasn't that hungry after breakfast,
so I only got an order of fries, but Joe wanted Jerk Chicken.
Besides those items, you do have many other choices at the beach grill such as,
hamburgers, chicken breast sandwiches, Jamaican patties, nachos and cheese, etc. This is
also where you will find two soda dispensers. The grill is open from 11am until 5am.
At 2:15pm we were in the lobby, waiting for the shuttle busses to take us shopping. This
day, the trip was to the duty-free shopping center in Ocho Rios. The busses drop you off
in town and tell you where to meet them, to head back to the resort. At one of the stores, I
bought a lovely tanzanite and Australian opal ring. Be aware-- you should haggle over
the price, even in these shops. The prices start considerably higher than what they will
Back at the resort at 5p.m.,we made a brief stop at the "manager's welcome party". This
is held on the patio just outside the lobby. They set up an appetizer table and also have a
small bar set up. A local group of musicians played there, as well. Here, you can get to
meet a lot of the different staff members that help make your stay at Couples so
That evening, we decided to have dinner at the Veranda. It is slightly less upscale than Le
Gourmet is. The food is also served very elegantly. That night, they had a strolling
musician who went from table to table and asked for requests. He serenaded each couple.
His specialty was country music tunes. We had a lovely time. Our table was next to the
window, overlooking the ocean.
After dinner, we headed over to the patio. The house band was playing at that time. It
turns out, they had re-opened the Calabash
restaurant for dinner that night. The resort had a
lot more people staying there now. In talking to others there, we found out that tonight,
they had a special group coming in to perform--The Hatfield Cultural Group. They did
old Jamaican folk songs and were in costume. You got to learn about the true Jamaican
culture. We didn't stay for the entire show, but what we saw was great.
Tuesday morning was breakfast on the balcony again. After breakfast, we went and
signed up for that afternoon's catamaran cruise. Joe went to poolside to take his scuba
diving class. It starts at 9a.m. and it ended that day about noon. During that time, I
relaxed on the beach and socialized with several of the people we had befriended during
After lunch at the Patio, we went upstairs to get ready for the cruise that is scheduled to
leave at 3:30p.m. Today, the boat was a bit late. It was called the Cool Jazz. Once the
boat arrived, and everyone was on board, we headed out. The boat went past the right
side of Tower Island and then stopped briefly, so the crew could tell as about the trip.
I understand that there is a tradition on Tower Island, for the days when the Catamaran
cruise goes by, and today was no exception. As the boat passes the backside of the island,
all the people on the island line up, and moon the passengers. It is quite a sight to behold.
Once past the island, they headed out to sea for awhile. Then they headed back to the
coastline. On the boat, they served rum punch, regular punch and water. They also had
reggae music playing. We then stopped at a beautiful cove where, if you wanted, you
could dive in and swim for a bit; Joe did. While we were stopped at the cove, a fisherman
pulled up along side selling conch shells and sand dollars.
Once everyone was back on the boat, they headed back to the resort. The crew gave
everyone reggae dance lessons. As we pulled up at the resort, everyone was dancing and
cheering. We had a very nice trip.
As we got off the boat, I spotted two egrets fishing on the shoreline. It was nice to see
some of the natural wild life at the resort. Besides, I had never gotten that close to egrets
before, other than at a zoo.
That evening, we had dinner at the Calabash restaurant (it's the patio restaurant during
the day). I had the coconut shrimp and Joe had swordfish kabobs. Everything was
delicious. We ate dinner with B. & P. that night. We headed back to the room early again.
I needed to get the digital camera ready for Joe to take on his scuba dive the next day.
When we got to the room, there was an invitation waiting for us for the special returning
guests' dinner the following night.
Prior to our trip, I had bought a waterproof case for my Olympus C-3000 Zoom camera.
It allows the camera to be taken underwater, down to about 100 feet. Since this would be
its first use, I wanted to be sure everything was properly sealed. I had heard stories about
people flooding their cameras.
Wednesday morning, we had coffee on the balcony, and then headed down to the
breakfast buffet. Joe wanted to fill-up on carbohydrates before his dive at noon. Joe
enjoyed the dive. He got some nice pictures and even, accidentally, took two QuickTime
videos with the camera. While he was off on his dive, I talked with the resort owner for
After Joe returned, we ate lunch at the beach grill, and then relaxed on the beach the rest
of the afternoon. We stopped briefly at the gift shop and bought a few things, and then
checked email, before heading back to the room to get ready for that evenings festivities.
Wednesday night, besides the return guest cocktail and dinner party, is also the night they
have the beach party. Since we went to the special dinner, we didn't get to sample all the
food I heard was so great, at the beach party. However, we did get done with our meal in
time to see the beach party entertainment.
They had a steel drum band playing when we first got there. We joined a group of friends
at their table, which was directly in front of the stage. They had quite the show that night.
There was a man that walked on nails, another man that did things with snakes, a fire-
eater and a contortionist. They also did the limbo. Then, they held a couples contest that
was, in part, a scavenger hunt. It was a lot of fun. They followed that with a dance lesson,
and when that ended, they still had a DJ playing at the patio.
Thursday morning, we had the usual breakfast on the balcony. This was our last full day
in Jamaica. It also happened to be Valentines Day. After breakfast, we headed down to
the water sports shack to sign up for snorkeling. We then hung out on the beach until it
was time to get on the boat.
This time, our snorkel trip was to the left side of Tower Island. Last year, both trips had
been to the right side of it. It was nice to snorkel in a different spot. We got to see a
somewhat different variety of fish. There was also a place where the reef seems to end,
and there was a major drop off in the ocean floor. The ride to the reef, in either case,
takes less than 5 minutes. You get to be in the water for about 45 minutes.
We ate lunch at the Patio, and then spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach. Joe, at one
point, decided to take out a sea kayak and had a blast. Just so you know, the resort
performed 14 marriages that day. It seems lots of people like getting married on
Since most people wanted to eat in the fancier restaurants, we opted instead, to eat at the
Bayside that night. It was such a beautiful, warm evening and we were lucky enough to
get a table right next to the water. The food was great, as always. I had steak and Joe had
lobster, and tonight, we even saved some room for dessert. After all, it was our last night
After dinner, we stopped at the bar on our way back to the room. We brought our drinks
with us and spent time sitting on the balcony, watching the stars, and listening to some of
the CDs we had brought with us. It was a lovely way to spend our last night at the resort.
Friday morning (so sad) our day to return home. Breakfast on the balcony, as usual. I was
scheduled for my massage at 9:30 and Joe had one at 10. After our massages, we went for
one last swim in the beautiful, blue Caribbean-- neither one of us wanted it to end.
We headed back to the room to shower and finish packing. We put our bags outside the
room at 12:15, and headed down to the beach grill for lunch. We then headed for the
front desk to check out, and wait for our shuttle to the Ocho Rios airport. We were told
our flight to Montego Bay was delayed, so we'd have to wait a bit. We again, ran into the
owner who said, we have to return in January to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of
Couples Ocho Rios.
The shuttle finally arrived and took us to the airport. There was one other couple on our
flight. They were heading over to Negril, and staying at Swept Away for a few days. R.
& his wife were from Seattle. We had shared a table with them at the returning guests'
dinner. The plane arrived a few minutes later. Our bags were loaded on and off we went.
The plane was a six-seater prop plane. Yes, it's quite small. But, you do get some
wonderful views from the plane. The flight took less than 30 minutes; much quicker than
the 2 hour shuttle bus ride. We got off the plane at Montego Bay. They unloaded our
bags, and told us to go inside the airport and wait for them to bring the bags. Once the
bags arrived, we followed the gentleman to a taxi, for the 2-minute ride to the
Once inside, we got in line at US Air. The first line you had to get in was for hand
checking all the luggage that was going to be checked onto the plane. Once that was
done, you get in the regular line, to get your boarding passes. Following that, you head
towards the gates and go through regular security. Poor Joe, set off the hand held
detector. It turns out, it was set so sensitively, that his package of Rolaids set it off. They
also confiscated his cigarette lighter. Since our flight to Montego Bay had been delayed,
there was no time to stop and look at the duty free shops at the airport. We headed
straight to our gate.
They called our flight a few minutes later. One last security check. Here, they asked if
you had any lighters, nail clippers or razors. They took Joe's disposable, Good News
razor from his carryon. Then, onto the plane for the flight home. Good-bye Jamaica, we
can't wait to come back. As they say at Couples, "Once you've stayed there, you are part
of the Couples family."
You can ask me questions or view my pictures at www.garion.tzo.com/lynn/couples2.htm
Thanks to Lynn for this trip report ...