In March 2010, we took a delayed anniversary celebration trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It was our second time to the Caribbean, having visited the Dominican Republic in April 2008 for my friend Heather's wedding. It was also our second time doing an All Inclusive resort vacation, which I had previously sworn off due to our experience in the DR (read: terrible alcohol and food + lots of sickness). I'm happy to report, however, that our time in Jamaica at Couples Sans Souci was a success and that experience alone has made me rethink what an AI resort can be.
Couples Resorts’ founder Abe Issa opened Jamaica’s first year-round resort–Tower Isle Hotel–in 1949 and never looked back. In 1978, he pioneered the all-inclusive concept for couples to the island—blending luxury, romance and value under one roof. Named Couples Ocho Rios, it served as the corner stone for building the Couples Resorts brand.
Nestled on the cliffs of Jamaica’s emerald coast above a dazzling stretch of Caribbean, Couples Sans Souci beckons you to surrender mind, body and soul.
The resort's 'no worries' mantra comes to life as every day unfolds. Lose yourself exploring secluded stone pathways. Melt away stress in the healing natural mineral springs. Feel a rush of exhilaration scaling Dunn's River waterfalls. Or simply drift asleep in a hammock by the sea.
Located in vibrant Ocho Rios, the resort's design pays tribute to an understated colonial elegance—intricate latticework, white woven furnishings and feathered palms set a refined stage for your island escape. Dining options abound—from authentic Jamaican fare to five-star international cuisine. Private cabanas at cliff's edge provide the ideal setting for our signature spa treatments, while the choice of resort activities knows no limits. Learn the art of living well while living in the moment at Couples Sans Souci.
I think for me the thing that was so great about CSS is the fact that it was an adults only resort. As a child free couple we often spend our beach vacations trying our darnedest to get away from large families with screaming kids. While there were some boisterous guests who spent time in the pool area, our five days there was pretty much focused on quiet rest and relaxation. I could fall asleep on the beach and not worry about being woken up by shrieking or a kid running past me and kicking sand everywhere. I didn't hear a harried parent telling its child, "no, I said no! Do not touch that!" every twenty minutes. All in all, it was just divine.
Here are a few quick facts about Couples Sans Souci:
- 150 Suites
- 3 Restaurants
- 6 Bars
- 3 Jacuzzis
- 3 Swimming Pools
- 1 Natural Mineral Spring Pool
Despite the fact that the resort has 150 suites, you never feel like there are a lot of people around. During our time there, we were told they were at about 80% capacity, but the only time we ever saw more than a handful of people was at the twice-weekly celebration dinners. I don't know where everyone else spent their time, but it wasn't near us. Another thing that we really enjoyed was how private our room was. We were in the D-block of rooms, part of the verandah suites. As you approach them from the reception area you would be fooled into thinking that you're getting a pretty horrible room. Once you step into the corridor however, you see something entirely different. Our room and bathroom was large and basically furnished, but that was okay with the us. We don't need fancy rooms. What really sealed the deal for us was our giant verandah overlooking the jungle below and the private beach. Getting up and down the cliff side everyday was quite the experience - thank goodness we discovered the elevator by the mineral springs pool about halfway through our stay. The view was spectacular! It was awesome after a long hot day to go back to our room and have some shade while still being able to experience the splendor of Jamaica. Some of the other rooms in our price category were closer to the beach, but the patios/balconies were much smaller and didn't have the level of privacy that ours afforded. There was simply no way that anyone was going to look at us while we were out on the balcony. Sunset was an especially wonderful time to be out on the verandah - as the sky turned pink the herons would make their way from all over the property back to one of four trees that were directly in front of our room. For about 45 minutes a night we watched the birds return home for the evening, the sky filled with white on pink.
Included in your rate is pretty much all the food & drink you could want, plus the following excursions:
- Dunn’s River Falls
- Glass Bottom Boat
- Scuba Diving
- Trip to Margaritaville
- Shopping Shuttle
We did the trip to Dunn's River Falls, but didn't have a great time. I have really bad knees and the way the trip up the falls is set up was really bad for me. We ended up jumping out about halfway through because I was being tugged up the rocks at a pace that didn't work for me, while also being pulled down the rocks by the person behind me. Other people loved it though, so take my feedback with a grain of salt. We did another excursion - a rafting trip down a river - that wasn't included in the price, but was really fun. Halfway through that trip we stopped off at a river side shack and had some jerk chicken from a legit rasta man. It was the best chicken we had the entire trip.
And that brings me to my commentary on food. As I mentioned above, the food we had at the AI in the DR was atrocious. We were naturally leery then of what we would encounter at CSS. All told, the food was really good. We at the majority of our meals at Palazzina (breakfast & lunch buffet, plated dinner) and the Beach Grill / Bella Vista, with another meal at Casanova. We didn't really hit up any of the bars outside of the Beach Bar, but it sounded like people really enjoyed the piano bar.
All in all, we had a fantastic time in Jamaica, and if it wasn't so darn hard to get to from the west coast, I'd love to go back and experience the other Couples properties in Negril.