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Reviewed 4 January 2004

My husband and I just returned from Couples Ocho Rios (December 25, 2003 - January 1, 2004) and we are terribly disappointed with our holiday vacation.

I must point out that there were some positives with our trip. The Couples Ocho Rios staff were wonderful - very friendly and attentive.
Callymore (aka Checka) in Watersports is an all-round nice guy and one of the hardest workers I have ever seen. Without the friendly staff, we would have left after the 1st night. We also had a good time golfing at Sandal's Upton Golf Course (ask for Vincent aka Piggy as your caddy - he's great) and the Cool Jazz Catamaran staff were friendly and a lot of fun. Norman over at the tennis center was also very friendly.
Overall, I can not say enough nice things about the staff; however that is where the positives stop.

The facilities themselves are terrible. I just pulled out my Couples brochure and looked at their pictures becuase I could not believe they could make the property look so good when in reality it is really poorly maintained. You can do wonderful things with photography!

Our room (deluxe oceanview) was awful. Everything feels damp and wet, all of the wood is warped, the couch had mold on it and everything is very old (at least 15 years) and very pooly maintained. The CD player is a $20 type you can purchase at Wal-Mart. The TV is small (19") and the satellite reception did not work at least 50% of the time. The air conditioner was so loud we did not use it our entire trip. The mattress was old, lumpy and STAINED. The linens were terrible and we would not use any of them and slept each night without any sheets, etc. The bathroom was also outdated with terrible flourescent lights and mold everywhere. When I went to use the hairdryer is literally pulled from the wall.

The restaurants were also terrible. ALL breakfast and lunches must be eaten buffet-style. My husband and I are not buffet-style people so this was very disappointing. All of our buffet meals were poor at best.
Our Bayside meals were OK (3 out of 5), the Verandah (3.5 out of 5).
While there, we were forced to eat 2 other buffet DINNERS. One was the Saturday night gala and other was on New Years Eve. We actually had a 6:30 reservation on New Years at La Gourmet (we have it in writing from the guest services team); however when we arrived we found La Gourmet empty. After talking with the staff, we learned someone had made an "error" and La Gourmet was not open and our ONLY option was the New Year's Buffet dinner. That meal was a disaster...as soon as we sat on out plastic patio chairs is started to rain. We immediately took cover.
After the rain stopped, we were expected to sit in the wet chairs at the wet tables. We refused and found a table indoors in the patio area and the staff we kind enough to provide us with place settings. There is NO room service, only a continental breakfast will be served to your room. The beach grill is made out to be more than it is. It is not a restaurant, it is a grill which makes hamburgers (taste VERY bad - like a sausage burger), chicken sandwiches, hotdogs and nachos. There are no wait staff, chairs, etc. it is a walk-up grill. For 2 days the grill had no diet soda available and you had to walk to one of the bars to obtain. Of the 21 meals we ate, 18 of them were buffet-style. This was not by choice and it certainly is not clearly indicated in their literature.

The beach is VERY small, think 150 chairs, tables, etc. crammed in about 8000 sq ft. It was also not usable on several days due to storms.
Only on the 3rd day did they bring in bulldozers to clear the beach.
The water was still to "dirty" to swim in with branches, logs, seaweed, etc. all over.

There a 3 hobie boats; however only the 2 smaller ones can be taken out. You must 1st take a lesson which is only given once each day prior to being authorized to take it out. There is 1 windsailing board. We borrowed one of the kayaks and after about 10 minutes, my paddle fell apart and I was stuck with only 1 side of paddle, the other half fell off and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. You are not allowed to snorkle in the bay, so you can not obtain these from the resort for this purpose. There are NO motorized watercraft available (even for rent).
There are also no buggie boards, rafts, etc. available either. Be prepared to only have 1 towel in which you must exchange each day at the watersports shed each day. There were several days when there where no clean towesl available and we had to use our old wet towels.

The game room is not really a game room. There are 2 pool tables, 1 is so off-balance that we could not even use it. The other is better balanced; however one of the pockets was covered in felt but there was no support underneath the felt so when you shot toward that pockets the balls would go in all kinds of crazy directions. The pool cues are another problem. Of the 4 available, only 1 was semi-usable as they were very warped. The video games were 2 early 1980's style machines with 1980's graphics (space invaders and a kung-fu game).

On a rainy day, we tried to borrow a board game; however 2 of the games were missing pieces and could not be used.

The spa was not what most people conjure up when you think of a spa. I walked in and walked out immediately.

The work-out facility was probably the most updated area within the facility. Newer treadmills, ellipical, etc. No complaints.

Overall, the property was very old and rundown. It is in general need of basic maintanence. There is rust everywhere, all of the wood is swollen and rotting, etc. There is a general musty smell everywhere.

The pool was maintained well; however there is only 1 pool an it is used for scuba classes and snorkeling classes. It can only be used from 9 AM to 5 PM - no other time is permitted. It is not heated and was VERY cold and took some courage to jump in.

The hottubs are terrible. There are (2) 2-person hottubs in secluded settings. Unfortunately, both had only cool water and no jets (think soaking in tepid bath water). The 13 person hottub near our room was really not much better.

It was very windy during the last 5 days of our trip; therefore all watersports were cancelled, including the glass bottom boat, snorkeling, scuba, hobie, kayaking, windsurfing, etc. On 3 days the au naturel island was also closed due to the winds. There were no alternative activities available.

We had a return flight at 1:00 PM and the hotel staff wanted us to take a 7:00 AM shuttle back to the airport. We understand the drive it 2 hours long; however there is no need to be at the airport 4 hours prior to departure (note: it is a small airport and from drop-off on curb to getting to the gate took only about 20 minutes). We refused to leave on such an early shuttle, the hotel made us fill out paperwork and even taking a later shuttle we were still at the gate almost 3 hours early!

This was our 1st visit to Jamaica and we expected much more. It is not the money (we spent $3800 included airfare from Chicago for 7 days), it the value. We certainly did not get any value for our dollar, I fell I paid top-dollar for a Holiday Inn level property. As we are avid leisure and business travelers, I expected MUCH more from this propery.
I read the positive reviews posted on this site and I am shocked that we are all describing the same property. My husband and I are urban dwellers in our early 30's and typically stay at 4 or 5 star level properties. We like nice/fine things, but we are not first class level travellers or spenders.

I would not recommend this propery. We talked to several other couples during our stay who felt the same way we did. They indicated they would recommend Grand Lido or Grand Lido Braco. I also heard that Half Moon is very nice.

I hope this helps you made an informed decision. I am generally a positive person and we did have fun. But the fun was my husband and I being together and away from our lives back home. The other positive was that we were forced to laugh a lot due to our circumstances.

Happy Travels.

  • Stayed: December 2003
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
20  Thank Seaside1451
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 December 2003

This was our second trip to Couples and we still love it. We changed rooms three times though because we didn't like the area we were placed. The first room was very warm and had an obstructed veiw. The second room we stayed in for one night (Rm 336) and it would have been okay but Ava showed us another room the next morning that was perfect (Rm 306). We like staying in the main part of the building, The view and the location to everything is better. If you stay in the higher numbered rooms, it can be quite a hike to get a drink or if you forget something in your room. The rooms are older but almost all have been remodeled. It is an old hotel and it has been decorated to fit the era that it was built. I happen to think it is charming and comfortable. Our friends stayed in Rm 322 and loved it. Another couple we traveled with had Rm 556 and they liked it. One bad thing that happened was our friends phone never worked the whole time they were there and we would have to knock on their door to tell them about meeting for meals and make plans. The water was off for about three hours one day as well due to a broken pipe. These things happen, but they don't have to ruin a trip. The food is good, some better than others. We ate at all the restaurants. Only one dissapointing meal. Don't get the veal at the Veranda, it was very bland. Sadly the weather turned very rainy and cool on the second night and lasted for the rest of the trip. We only got to do one activity, the Rum cruise on the catamaran. The weather just was terrible. Last year we had perfect weather but we were hot the whole time. This time we were a little cold. Go figure! I think going with friends was a good idea for us because we were able to talk and hang out when it was raining. I think honeymooners would also enjoy Couples. It is very relaxing and friendly. The staff is very accomodating. We had massages in the spa and they were done well by capable people. I think two times is enough for me. I would like to go to Couples Negril next time to see what it is like. I like the idea of a "Couples" resort. There are no children allowed and it seems more relaxed than if families and singles partying would be there. We go because it is fun and beautiful and a real vacation for us. Don't shy away from choosing Couples because of the age of the resort. It is a great bargain and worth every penny. It has all the water activities that the newer more expensive places offer. It would have been a better trip if the weather would have cooperated but rain happens! Enjoy it! No problem mon!

  • Stayed: December 2003
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank Pioneer15238
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 December 2003

I simply cannot believe some of the negative reviews for this resort.
Perhaps some people simply are unhappy whiners?

Our honeymoon in April 2002 was perfect. Wonderful service, good food, great activities, friendly staff, clean room, great view (we got upgraded to Ocean View for free, without asking!), peace and quiet, never felt crowded...

I simply cannot imagine having a bad time at this place. It was well worth every single penny. We would go back in a heartbeat.

1  Thank Kelly P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 December 2003

My wife and I had the most stress free wedding anyone can hope for! We arrived on a friday from Atlanta and on arrival to the resort we felt a little out of place because everyone was so laid back. After about two days we were in the zone! If you have been there you understand, if you are going you will see what i am talking about. When this resort is advertized as all incluesive they really mean all incluesive. As long as you are on the resort leave your money in the provided safe unless you are going to the gift shop. At first we were a little concerned about the wedding because of everyones laid back approach to everything, and what seemed a lack of concern. Maxine was in control of every ting mon! When someone says no problem, that means no problem.
The one day it rained was the day we got married, we wanted to get married on the beach, no problem! We got married in the lobby with Tower Isle in the back ground! The service could not have been more perfect! The pictures and video were the envy of our married friends.
We met lots of friendly folks that did crowd control in the lobby so the video was perfect. When Rev. Rose (great guy) announced us husband and wife we had about 50 perfect strangers burst into applause. That evening was perfect. I have read complaints about nightlife, and I will agree the entertainment may be a little lame. I would recomend being a bit self motivated and you will turn lame entertainment into great time with lots of new friends. We ended up hanging out with 4 other couples and having a great time! We are going again soon!

5  Thank Passenger28892
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 November 2003

We switched hotels after the first night on our honeymoon. The hotel is very old. It does not have a lot of room and the spa is a joke. We had a suite so the room was very pretty and clean. The nude island is not fun. It was very small and crowded even though the hotel was no where near capacity. They had no food or snacks on the island and a tiny pool. The staff seemed less friendly than the other three hotels we stayed at. The food was ok- not something you can say about most resorts in Jamaica. I would not recommend staying here if you are looking for a resort. We liked Grand Lido Braco better.

17  Thank Meander540
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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