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  Couples Swept Away   Marnie and Dave ~ Orangeville, Ontario, Canada

February 2009

We just spent any unforgettable 2 weeks at Couples Swept Away.
We arrived at Montego Bay Airport and found the Couples Lounge. Oddly enough, the first impression wasn't great. This was our second trip to Jamaica together and last year we stayed at the other big adults only chain and were wowed. We were both trying hard not to compare every little thing to last years resort but, it's not easy. The lounge for the other resort was much nicer. I'll get back to this later lol.

We only had to wait about 10 minutes for the bus to depart for CSA. Our driver was informative and entertaining. We didn't stop for a break and were there in about an hour and 20 minutes.

Check in was easy and our room was ready early! It was only about 1pm and they had remembered our request for a 3rd floor suite. Lots of smiles too. Impressive!

We had a Garden Verandah Suite that was very nice. Huge verandah, full bar, big TV and huge bathroom. Everything was clean and neat. One wish would be for more drawer space! There was some noise from the road but not a big issue. The air conditioning was really quick to cool the room. Housekeeping was wonderful, never missed a clean or turn down the entire 2 weeks. Some nights we even had fresh flowers on the bed.

The food was amazing! The quality, service and choice was equal at all 4 restaurants. We had an awful time deciding which was our favourite and had to change the reservation for our last dinner 3 times, Lemongrass won! Interestingly, this was the one meal that we had really poor service. No wine offered, slow service, wrong dishes etc. The waiter we had had on our previous visit seemed to sense something was wrong and came over to see us. All we said to him was we can't seem to get any wine. He explained that the young lady was new and apologized profusely. He then took over our service for the rest of the meal. His name was Jermaine and we can't thank him enough! This is typical of the kind of treatment you receive at Couples.

We never missed a course the entire 2 weeks and gained a pile of weight. Everything was just so good. Be sure to always have soup. Whoever is in charge of soups at CSA is a genius.

The breakfast buffet was excellent, especially the pastry table. We used the room service for golf days so we didn't have to rush. It was always on time (once it was a little behind and they called to let us know) and it was lovely to eat on the verandah. Patois had wonderful banana stuffed French toast and the best pancakes I've ever had.

We don't eat much lunch (too much at breakfast) but the chips and dip at Seagrapes were great. I just wish the Artichoke Parmesan dip was available every day. They always seemed to have the spicy ones which I didn't really like.

The entertainment at night was excellent. After dinner we would to to the Palms, dance and then head to The Aura Nightclub to see Ultimate Chocolate and yak with all of our friends. It was always 12:30 or 1 before we got back to the room no matter what we had promised ourselves. We didn't get a lot of sleep as we were up for golf most mornings. Ultimate was amazing, so much fun and what a pianist!

All of the bartenders were good, especially Delroy at the Aura. There was a drink that we loved at the other resort last year and within 2 days, every bar knew how to make it!

The service at CSA was, as Ultimate Chocolate would say off the chain!! The concierge team went above and beyond for us. One day, we needed an ATM and it was down. They called for a repair and by the next day no one had come. They called over to Couples Negril which is about a 5 minute drive away and made sure theirs was working. Next thing I know, I'm on a shuttle to Couples Negril. The driver waited for me to use the ATM and brought me right back to CSA. Total time 20 minutes!

On our last full day at the resort, the new bikini I had bought while on the day pass to Couples Negril had a clasp break. Melissa at CSA and Melissa at CN were awesome! They arranged for my bikini to be driven back to CN, fixed and returned to me. All done in about 2 hours. Unbelievable!

We met so many great people, both on the message board before the trip and while there. Couples Resorts really does attract a special group of people and we are lucky to have become part of this big happy family.

So many people ask the question which is better, Couples or Sandals?” For us Couples won hands down. One of the other guests put it so perfectly. He said Sandals is new money, Couples is old money. Flash vs refinement.” How true.

That brings me back to the first sentence of this review. The Couples lounge didn't have the flash of the other. Now we know why!

We are already looking forward to next year!
marniesavic@hotmail.com


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  Couples Swept Away    Anonymous ~ USA

January 2009

Arrival: November 08
Flight was delayed and our luggage was lost.

Rooms:
average. Rooms in the front of the resort near highway was noisy, made us feel as if we were at a lower class hotel. Cleaning maid did a wonderful job.

Restaurants and Bars:
We enjoyed the Psalms. The grill always had cold fries and the wait time was unusually long.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
beach was perfect, pools as we expected. grounds are all green and lovely.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Yes we did all tours. We enjoyed catamarran. We did in town shopping. It was our first time, we wanted to get a little more site seeing done of the island and the culture.

Other Comments:
We wanted to tip all the nice people their but we were told that tipping was not allowed. We did not get the reservations we expected for the restaurants. We saw other people with couples shirts and was told, we had to be repeated guest and was directed to the internet to sign up for next year. Entertainment was not at all as we expected. We met a very nice american lady at the concierge desk, her name is Lakesha. She really made us feel as if we were at home. There should be more americans working at the hotels.


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  Couples Swept Away   Lanny and Marge ~ Rothschild, WI

February 2008

We recently returned from a 7 night stay (Feb.2nd-9th,2008) at Couples Swept Away in Negril, Jamaica. This is our second vacation at Swept Away, with the previous stay in Feb. of 2007. In 2005 we stayed at an all-inclusive in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Couples Resorts operates four all-inclusives in Jamaica - two in Negril and two in Ocho Rios. We consider Jamaica, and especially Couples, our "home away from home".

The Sun Country flight from Minneapolis to Montego Bay was on time and comfortable. Jamaican Customs went smoothly and after a very short walk we were at the Couples Lounge, where we had a cold Red Stripe and waited about 15 minutes for the Couples shuttle to Negril. It is about a 90 minute ride along the north coast of Jamaica, where we saw beautiful scenery, along with much local culture. Upon arrival, we were greeted with champagne and cold towels, and check-in went smoothly.

Couples Swept Away is made up of many 4 to 12 unit buildings, plus a few rooms in a hotel-style "Great House". There is the "original" section with the 4 unit buildings, consisting of Garden Suites in the rear, Atrium Suites in the center, and Beachfront Suites facing the beach. These are two story units with very large porches. We choose the Atrium Suite, because of the hammock on the porch, and the open feeling. These rooms do not have any glass in the windows-only screens and wooden shutters that can be closed for privacy. It is great to hear the night sounds (tree frogs, etc) as you are lying in the comfortable king size beds. With the shutters closed, the air conditioner is very capable of keeping the room very cool. These rooms do not have a TV, but that is not a problem for us. The "new" section consists of 3 story, 12 unit buildings, with Gardenview Verendah Suites, Oceanview Verendah Suites, and Beachfront Verendah Suites. The Verendah Suites have TV's and mini-bars, and glass in the windows. There are also Great House Verendah and Jacuzzi Suites.

The food is wonderful. There are two Ala Carte dinner restaurants requiring reservations-Feathers is "Carribean" flavor and Lemongrass is 'Thai" food. There are two other Ala Carte restaurants that don't require reservations- Patois Patio and the Palms. The Palms also has an International buffet on Mondays, and hosts the beach buffet on Friday evenings. Lunch choices are the great buffet at the Palms, the Cabana Grill by the swim-up pool, or Seagrapes (Veggie) on the beach. For breakfast, you can have a continental breakfast delivered to your room, an Ala Carte breakfast at Patois Patio (the banana stuffed French Toast is delicious), or a huge buffet with omelets at the Palms. The food really is among the best we have ever had-you can visit the Couples resorts website, click on Couples Swept Away, and view sample menus from the restaurants.

There are 7 bars at the resort. Two beach bars, with "green flag" waiter service on the beach; the swim-up pool bar; the main bar by the main pool/Palms restaurant; the martini bar; the evening bar at Patois Patio; and the piano bar/Aura night club. The bartenders can make nearly any drink, and they offer "top shelf" liquor.The beer is Red Stripe, Red Stripe Light, or Miller Lite.

The resort is located in "laid back" Negril, on over 1400 ft of wonderful Seven Mile Beach. The sunsets are phenominal. Couples includes many activities, such as snorkeling, scuba, catamaran cruise to the cliffs where you can watch (or participate) in the cliff diving, glass bottom boat tour, beach activities, golf, workouts at one of the best sports facilities in Jamaica, or just laying on the beach or swimming in the clear, warm Caribbean Sea. Spa services are available for an extra charge. For the adventurous, there are many optional tours available to go off property and see the rest of Jamaica.

Couples Resorts caters to couples, so it does not have a reputation as a "party resort". They have a great Entertainment Staff that does their best to make sure that all of their guests have a great vacation. You can participate as much (or as little), as you desire in the activities that are scheduled all day.There is musical entertainment in the Palms nearly every evening, from about 9 PM to 11 PM. On the other end of the resort, in the Great House, they have a great sing-along piano bar, with the wonderful "Ultimate Chocolate" at the piano. "Ultimate" plays until about 11 PM, when the adjoining nightclub opens up, and goes until the last guest leaves. There is also a casino there, and an internet cafe where you can check on what is happening back home.

During the day, you can walk the beach for several miles in either direction and see many of the restaurant, bars, and other hotels/resorts in Negril. The resort has great security, and we felt very safe there. One of the greatest thing about Jamaica is the people, and you will soon see for yourself how friendly they are. You will understand when you hear "No Problem, Mon". Our experience with Couples Swept Away is very memorable, because of the wonderful service that we receive.


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Couples Swept Away Gary & Norine ~ Winnipeg, MB, Canada

January 2007

Who we are and where have we been
We just returned from spending 8 nights (December 2 -December 10, 2006) in Negril, Jamaica at Couples Swept Away Resort. This was our thirteenth trip to Jamaica and our fifth time to the Negril area of Jamaica. Our previous stays in Negril were at Grand Lido, Sandals Negril, Beaches Sandy Bay when it was Poinciana and last year, 2005 at Couples Swept Away. The other 8 times that we have stayed in Jamaica covered most other major resorts such as Couples Ocho Rios (2), Grand Lido Braco (2), Sans Souci, Sandals Grande Ocho Rios, etc. We are “experienced” sun travelers as we have been going to the Caribbean, Mexico and South America for the past 25 years, most years at least twice. We appreciate “good/fine” dinning, so when we travel, food and service are our top priorities and to a lesser extent the rooms of the resort as we like to spend our time enjoying the beach and what the resort/island has to offer. We believe that our vacations begin at home which means we research the location and the resorts before we leave and have a very good idea of what to expect when we arrive.

Conclusion/Summary
We thoroughly enjoyed our second visit at Couples Swept Away and would highly recommend it. Having been to most of the “top” all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica and the Caribbean and Mexico over the years, this is one of the few that we have returned to more than once. That says a lot for us as we normally like to try different resorts every time we travel. The large resorts in Negril can be expensive compared to other destinations in Jamaica but the beach makes up for the additional expense. We booked about 9 months in advance which allowed us to take advantage of Couples supposed EBB 50% OFF sale. The rate was great but I don’t know who would pay the “rack” rates at any time of the year and that pertains to all the major resort chains in Jamaica.
As a note, having been to Swept Away for the past 2 years, we will not be returning in the immediate future as the world is just too big and we want to try other resorts and different countries for future vacations.

Flight
We booked this vacation before the “winter” flights begin out of Winnipeg which meant flying out of Toronto to Montego Bay. We did not have to over night in Toronto as the flight out of Winnipeg left at 5:00AM and arrived in Toronto at about 8:30AM and the flight to Montego Bay was not scheduled to leave until 11:30AM. Air Canada in it’s infinite wisdom, decided to change “equipment” 12 hours before the flight was scheduled to leave. This left a lot of people with unassigned seats and lots of anxiety that was not called for. We did “Internet” check-in 24 hours before the flight but because of our connecting flight out of Winnipeg, decided to try and get better seats and that is when we discovered that the “equipment” had changed. We got great seats but only because of the very early check-in that we did.

Arrival
We arrived at the Montego Bay Airport at about 3:30PM and it took about 15 minutes to clear customs and start the wait for our luggage to arrive from the plane. Prior to this flight, we have always done carry-on luggage only, so we would have no wait time for our luggage. Well, our one piece of luggage was the last to come off the plane, so we then picked it up and headed for the last customs clearing. We then went to the Couples Resorts lounge area and checked in with them. We got a cold beer and water from the receptionist. On our last visit to Swept Away, we took a Taxi and beat the shuttle by at least an hour. This year, we just waited for a few more couples (3 of them) and then we were off to the resort.

Check-In
We arrived at the resort at about 6:30PM and were greeted by the staff who told us to leave our luggage and go have a seat in the check in area of the lobby. We went and sat down and were asked for our documents after about 10 minutes. We did not receive any champagne or hot towels like we normally receive at most resorts in Jamaica. This was the “weak” point of the check-in and we were NOT identified as repeaters, even though we had e-mailed (and out TA had identified this on the TA form) the Executive Assistant Manager 5 days prior to our arrival. It took us numerous phone calls for them to recognize us as repeaters. We were given our suite assignment, 3216; Ocean view verandah, second floor end unit and the bell person carried our luggage to our room.

Rooms (actually Suites)
All of the rooms at the resort are what could be called a suite. We had booked an Ocean view “verandah” suite because last year we booked a Garden verandah suite and the noise from the main road in Negril was a little too much for us.. The suite was very attractive and very Caribbean. There is a fully stocked mini-bar with sodas, water, white and red wines, juices, beer (I had to have the Real Rock beer replaced with Red Stripe) and four (4) bottles of liquor (2-Scotch-Dewars, Vodka-Smirnoff, and Gin-Gordons). You will notice that there was no rum in the bar. The bar was re-stocked daily except for the Scotch which kept it’s 2 bottle monopoly for the 8 nights.

Resort and New Construction
The resort is very spread out along the beach in Negril. The beach at Swept Away is probably the best of the beach in Negril! The water was very warm and the sand was very clean with minimal seaweed or debris. There is lots of shade from the palm trees but if you wanted a palapa to sit under, you would have to get up at about 4AM and throw away someone’s old book or shoe that they placed there before they went to their room that evening. There were plenty of lounging chairs with “floaters” no matter what time you went to the beach. I had read else where about there not being any beach towels but we never had a problem as they always delivered fresh towels to the water sports hut or just in front of the new Great House at about 9AM and then again at about Noon.
The resort has 2 very different areas that most people describe as the original section and the new section.
The original section is composed of about 130 suites that are very “open” to the climate. There are no windows over the shutters or the louvers in the doors. This creates a very tropical feeling as long as you don’t mind the constant sound of the tree frogs and passing guests on the walk ways. The foliage is spectacular and very dense. These suites are housed in 2 story buildings with 4 per unit for the Atrium and Beachfront suites and about 8 per unit for the garden view units. The garden view units are very close to the road but we did notice that they have put plexi-glass on the bathroom windows and louvered doors of those units to try and shut out some of the road noise. I am not sure how successful this is but this is something that they have just recently done.
As we had said, we opted to stay in the new section which was completed in mid-2006, which added another 200 suites (total of about 330 suites) to the resort. There is less vegetation around the new suites but it is growing in very quickly. Our suite, 3216, had a decent view of the ocean but the palm trees were already blocking most of the view. The new section buildings contain 4 suites per floor and have 3 floors. They are similar to the original section, but have a little smaller patio/balcony. They are all identical no matter what category you select: Garden, Ocean view or Beachfront. Swept Away has also opened up their new category of Great House Ocean view verandah suites and true Jacuzzi suites. These suites are in the Great House and are like normal “hotel” suites in the sense that you must walk up stairs and then through corridors to access the suites. They are a little too hotel like for us but I am sure they are as nice as the rest of the suites.
For all you pool lovers out there, the new section now has a smallish pool and swim up bar. The original pool near the beach is about the same size as the average back yard pool in Canada or the US. The new area pool is slightly larger with a swim up bar which was not that crowded during our stay, even though we never put our feet in the pool.

Room Service
Room service is included for all suites for continental breakfast ONLY. We did not order this as part of our routine was to get out of the room and enjoy the fantastic weather and beach that Swept Away/Negril has to offer. We have never quite figured out why some people would go all the way to the Caribbean and spend time in their rooms for things other than sleeping, showering and making love.

Spa Services/Sports Complex
As returnees to Couples, we were finally given 2 complimentary 30 minute massage certificates to use at the spa. We both did the massages and we both agreed that it was GREAT! Both of masseuses were very professional and we would ask for them next time if they are still at Swept Away. The Sports Complex is huge and if you are a tennis player, this is the place to go. They have ten courts and no one using them including ourselves. Normally we would use the exercise room when on vacation but with us walking the length of Negril beach every morning or running the beach, we thought that we had enough exercise for each day. We actually used the large “lap” pool for the first time and found it very useful for swimming laps after breakfast.

Restaurants
As we had mentioned in our introduction, we like good food when on vacation as well as the option to dine a la carte for all evening meals. Swept Away gave us this option and we took advantage of the a la carte dining for all our evening meals except for Friday which was the Beach BBQ and we went off-site for dinner that night (see below). Generally we thought the food was even better than it was last year.

The Palms
This is the main restaurant in the resort and it is buffet for breakfast and lunch. We ate all of our breakfasts here except for 2 and the selection was very good. They had the usual persons making fresh eggs of your choice, great breads and sweet breads, cereals and a decent selection of fresh fruits. The service here was not up to normal Swept Away standards. There were more than the usual numbers of servers with the “Trainee” name tags. For lunch, there was the usual selection of pre made salads and usual they were making a specialty salad as well everyday. There was fresh fish being cooked everyday and they were usually carving some kind of meat (turkey, pork loin, baron of beef, etc). Lots of other meats and condiments were available in the usual heating trays. For lunches as well, the service was not up to standards. One day I had to ask four servers for a beer before I got one and it always took at least 2 persons to get the drinks.
We ate our first evening meal here on the Saturday (Lobster night) that we arrived and it was very good. Service is from a menu everyday except Mondays (International Buffet) and Fridays (Beach BB-Q). Saturday is lobster day and we both had it and it was prepared as well as we have tasted anywhere. You can choose from a number of appetizers on the menu or you can go up and serve yourself to salad fixings and a pasta station with different pastas and sauces. The desserts were all served off the menu. The menu here only changes weekly. The service in the evenings was much better than during the day..

Feathers
This is Swept Away’s “fine” dinning restaurant. The food was very good with the best service of all the restaurants at the resort. We ate here on Tuesday and Wednesday and we had the beef tenderloin, seafood medley (twice) and a vegetarian strudel. The meals were excellent and we and another couple purchased an Italian Chianti ($32) and a Chilean Cabernet ($35) which were both decent.
On Monday night, the returnees’ dinner was held outside in the Patois Patio. The meal was excellent (surf and turf) as well and we got the opportunity to sit with the General Manger and meet some of the other managers. At this meal, we were served 2 upgraded wines: Concannon Merlot 1999 and a Feltzer Echo Ridge Viognier 2001. The only minor issue that we had during the repeaters dinner was that all of us couples (5) had not received any of the recognized repeaters perks as of the evening. The GM took all of our room numbers and took care of the miss-communication.

Lemon Grass
This is the Thai/Asian restaurant of the resort. We ate here on Thursday and the meal was again very good. Last year, we never made it here for dinner but the menu is unique and it should not be missed. There are a number of very spicy items on the menu, so please ask the wait staff to explain which ones are spicy before ordering.

Patois Patio.
This is the new restaurant in the Great House that required reservations for dinner but on our last night there, we were informed that effective Sunday, December 10th, reservations were not required.
We ate here twice, Sunday and Saturday (our last night) and we found the food to be as good as Feathers! The choice on the menu did not change while we were there and the menu is the same that is posted on the Couples web site. The lamb chops (actually rack of lamb cut as chops) were to “die for”. Also, we had excellent service.
Patois Patio is also open for a la carte breakfast which we did twice. The banana French toast was great as well as the omelets, pancakes and everything else. They have a breakfast bar for cereals and pastries and the wait staff put a fruit plate on everyone’s table.

Seascapes
This is the “beach” grill restaurant which is open for lunch.. We ate lunch here a couple of days and they have excellent snapper sandwiches, chips and dip and a lot of other very healthy fare.
The menu here was much better last year but things change and the food was still very good.

Cabana Grill
This is the new “grill” on the side of the Great House that serves some of the more unhealthy stuff like burgers, fries, onion rings and some other more healthy items as well. This place is open late at night for the snackers at mid-night. The menu changes 3 times during the day, so it was a little confusing until we asked to see the times when each of the menus were being offered. Decent JUNK food!

Beverages
Okay, first I am a “wine snob” and have come to admit it over the past couple of years. Anything that is served in copious amounts to the masses is commonly called “house” wine or what I would call grape juice with some alcohol put into it.. Their house red and white was the same ones from Chile that most other resorts offer in Jamaica. It is called Carta Vieja and the red was a Cabernet this year and the white was a Chardonnay. Better than last year’s blend from the same producer but not that much better.
The “top shelf” selection at the Martini/piano bar had some of the best that we have seen at any all-inclusive in the Caribbean. Actually they had a couple of single malt scotches and some decent vodka. Their beer selection was Red Stripe regular and Red Stripe Lite on draft. Heineken was available in bottles in the Martini bar and Miller Lite in cans at most bars

Service
We found the service to be overall good to excellent. As I had mentioned above, the Palms was not up to standard but it was minimal inconvenience. A little bit of editorial comment concerning service in Jamaica or in any country. Show some respect and it goes a long way with the Jamaican people.

Dress Code for Dinner
Normally I would not bring this topic up but this time, the dress code was not enforced for dinners except in Feathers. There were many individuals wearing blue jeans and tee-shirts in all restaurants. If you say you have a dress code, then enforce it or get rid of it.

Entertainment
The entertainment was very similar to most Jamaican resorts. Swept Away had a very good house band and there was usually a guest singer with the band. The entertainment started at 9:15 PM and usually finished about 10:30-11PM. We never made it to the new disco in the Great House but we spent one evening with Chocolate in the Piano Bar and he is Mr. Swept Away!
For persons who want to listen to Chocolate and also the evening entertainment, they start at the same time! This should be corrected to having Chocolate playing/entertaining earlier to accommodate guests.

Outside Restaurant Review
We have found out over the past few years that if you have attended one Beach BB-Q in the Caribbean, you have attended them all! Hence, we try to go “off site” at least once per week for an evening meal. We choose to go to Norma’s at the SeaSplash Resort on Friday night which was the Beach BB-Q party at Swept Away. We went here last year as well The SeaSplash resort is about a 5 minute walk from Swept Away and you have to walk on the road in the evening or wade through waist deep water as the beach is pretty eroded just past Swept Away.
Our meal here was Excellent! We had the coconut shrimp and mixed salad as appetizers and then we had the coconut chicken as well as the Lamb chops as entrees. For dessert we had their Rum/Raisin cheese cake. Service was very good and I got to order a couple of very decent glasses of wine.. All the menu items were reasonably priced. The bill came to $75US which included a 10% service charge and another 10% that we added for exceptional service.


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Couples Swept Away Gary & Norine ~ Winnipeg, MB, Canada

December 2005

Who we are and where have we been
Gary and Norine have been regular contributors to our websites for many years - to which we owe them a big thank you

We just returned from spending a week (December 10-December 17, 2005) in Negril, Jamaica at Couples Swept Away Resort. This was our twelfth trip to Jamaica and our fourth time to the Negril area of Jamaica. Our previous stays in Negril were at Grand Lido, Sandals Negril and at Beaches Sandy Bay when it was Poinciana. The other 8 times that we have stayed in Jamaica covered most other major resorts such as Couples Ocho Rios (2), Grand Lido Braco (2), Sans Souci, Sandals Grande Ocho Rios, etc. We are “experienced” sun travelers as we have been going to the Caribbean, Mexico and South America for the past 25 years, most years at least twice. We appreciate “good/fine” dinning, so when we travel, food and service are our top priorities and to a lesser extent the rooms of the resort as we like to spend our time enjoying the beach and what the resort/island has to offer. We believe that our vacations begin at home which means we research the location and the resorts before we leave and have a very good idea of what to expect when we arrive.

Conclusion/Summary
We thoroughly enjoyed our week at Couples Swept Away and would highly recommend it. Having been to most of the “top” all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica and the Caribbean and Mexico over the years, this is one of the few that we would like to go back to as early as next year. That says a lot for us as we normally like to try different resorts every time we travel. The large resorts in Negril can be expensive compared to other destinations in Jamaica but the beach makes up for the additional expense. We booked about 6 months in advance which allowed us to take advantage of Couples supposed 50% OFF sale. The rate was great but I don’t know who would pay the “rack” rates at any time of the year and that pertains to all the major resort chains in Jamaica.
You can view our photos of Couples Swept Away at the following link:

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/nvbailey/my_photos

Flight
We booked this vacation before the “winter” flights begin out of Winnipeg which meant flying out of Toronto to Montego Bay. We did not have to over night in Toronto as the flight out of Winnipeg left at 5:45AM and arrived in Toronto at about 9:30AM and the flight to Montego Bay was not scheduled to leave until 11:00AM. Air Canada “code” shares with Air Jamaica out of Toronto, so our flight was over booked because of the holiday season which meant that there were a lot of ex-Jamaicans returning home for the holidays to visit family and friends. The flight was supposed to leave at 11:00AM but did NOT leave until about 12:45PM due to the LARGE amount of luggage that people were carrying back to Jamaica for the holidays. This was the first time ever that we have been on a plane that left the gate, pulled out a few feet and then the pilot spoke to us that we had to return to the gate to load MORE luggage that they had just found! Anyway, we finally took off!

Arrival
We arrived at the Montego Bay Airport at about 5:00PM and it took about 15 minutes to clear customs and get to the waiting area for the taxis and buses to the resorts. We did carry-on luggage, which allowed us to clear customs very quickly. We went to the Couples Resorts lounge area and checked in with them. We got a cold beer and water from the receptionist. We didn’t know how long it would take for the rest of the passengers to clear customs and all get into the bus, so we took a taxi from the airport directly to Couples Swept Away. The cab fare was $60US plus tip and it sure beat waiting for the bus to fill up. There was a group of about 30 people who were also going to Swept Away for a wedding on our flight, which was the deciding factor in us taking a taxi as opposed to the regular bus.

Check-In
We arrived at the resort at about 7:00PM and were greeted by the staff who told us to leave our luggage and go have a seat in the check in area of the lobby. We went and sat down and were asked for our documents after about 10 minutes. We did not receive any champagne or hot towels like we normally receive at most resorts in Jamaica. I think this may have occurred due to us taking a taxi as opposed to the bus. We were given our suite assignment, 3204, garden view verandah, second floor and the bell person carried our luggage to our room.

Rooms (actually Suites)
All of the rooms at the resort are what could be called a suite. We had booked a “verandah” suite because of the comments that we heard about noise from the main road in Negril and the verandah suites all had glass over the louvered shutters in the room as well as a solid wood door. The suite was very attractive and very Caribbean. If you look at the photos you will know what I mean. There was a fully stocked mini-bar with sodas, water, champagne, white and red wines, juices, beer (I had to have the Real Rock beer replaced with Red Stripe) and four (4) small bottles of liquor (Scotch-Dewars, Vodka-Smirnoff, Rum-Appleton and Gin-Gordons). The bar was re-stocked daily except for the champagne.

Resort and New Construction
The resort is very spread out along the beach in Negril. The beach at Swept Away is probably the best of the beach in Negril! The water was very warm and the sand was very clean with minimal seaweed or debris. There is lots of shade from the palm trees but if you wanted a palapa to sit under, you would have to get up at about 4AM and throw away someone’s old book or shoe that they placed there before they went to their room that evening. There were plenty of lounging chairs with “floaters” no matter what time you went to the beach. I had read else where about there not being any beach towels but we never had a problem as they always delivered fresh towels to the water sports hut at about 9AM and then again at about Noon. The resort has 2 very different areas that most people describe as the original section and the new section.
The original section is composed of about 130 suites that are very “open” to the climate. There are no windows over the shutters or the louvers in the doors. This creates a very tropical feeling as long as you don’t mind the constant sound of the tree frogs and passing guests on the walk ways. The foliage is spectacular and very dense. These suites are housed in 2 story buildings with 4 per unit for the Atrium and Beachfront suites and about 8 per unit for the garden view units. The garden view units are very close to the road but we did notice that they have put plexi-glass on the bathroom windows and louvered doors of those units to try and shut out some of the road noise. I am not sure how successful this is but this is something that they have just recently done.
As we had said, we opted to stay in the new section which when completed some time in 2006, will add another 200 suites (total of about 330 suites) to the resort. There is less vegetation around the new suites but it is growing in very quickly. Our suite, 3204, actually had a view of the ocean but the palm trees were already blocking most of the view. The new section buildings contain 4 suites per floor and have 3 floors. They are similar to the original section, but have a little smaller patio/balcony. They are all identical no matter what category you select: Garden, Ocean view or Beachfront. For all you pool lovers out there, you have to go somewhere else. The main pool near the beach is about the same size as the average back yard pool in Canada or the US. The new area that they are building will have a larger pool with a swim up bar which should help keep the beach from becoming too crowded with the additional rooms being built.

Room Service
Room service is included for all suites for continental breakfast ONLY. We did not order this as part of our routine was to get out of the room and enjoy the fantastic weather and beach that Swept Away/Negril has to offer. We have never quite figured out why some people would go all the way to the Caribbean and spend time in their rooms for things other than sleeping, showering and making love.

Spa Services/Sports Complex
As returnees to Couples, we were given 2 complimentary 30 minute massage certificates to use at the spa. Also, on our booking slip, we were also to receive a $100US credit at the Spa.
We combined the two (2) credits and received an hour massage each at the Spa. Both of us thought that it was okay and definitely not worth the $100US each that we would have to pay without the credits.
The Sports Complex is huge and if you are a tennis player, this is the place to go. They have ten courts and no one using them including ourselves. Normally we would use the exercise room when on vacation but with us walking the length of Negril beach every morning, we thought that we had enough exercise for each day. The large “lap” pool is here as well and was used minimally every time we went over to the sports complex.

Restaurants
As we had mentioned in our introduction, we like good food when on vacation as well as the option to dine a la carte for all evening meals. Swept Away gave us this option and we took advantage of the a la carte dining for all but one of our evening meals. Generally we thought the food was from good to excellent at the restaurants.

The Palms
This is the main restaurant in the resort and it is buffet for breakfast and lunch. We ate all of our breakfasts here and the selection was very good. They had the usual persons making fresh eggs of your choice, great breads and sweet breads, cereals and a decent selection of fresh fruits. The service here was excellent in the section that we chose to sit for all of our breakfasts.
For lunch, there was the usual selection of pre made salads and usual they were making a specialty salad as well everyday. There was fresh fish being cooked everyday and they were usually carving some kind of meat (turkey, pork loin, etc). Lots of other meats and condiments were available in the usual heating trays.
We ate our first evening meal here on the Saturday that we arrived and it was very good. Service is from a menu everyday except Mondays (International Buffet) and Fridays (Beach BB-Q). Saturday is lobster day and we both had it and it was prepared as well as we have tasted anywhere. I had the server do a combo of strip loin with my lobster that added a little variety. You can choose from a number of appetizers on the menu or you can go up and serve yourself to salad fixings and a pasta station with different pastas and sauces. The desserts were all served off the menu and I kept ordering their chocolate sundae everyday no matter where we ate. The menu here only changes weekly. We also ate here on Tuesday which gave us another menu and we had the snapper and lamb chops (I had to send the lamb chops back due to the toughness) and then I ordered the chicken picatta which was excellent.

Feathers
This is Swept Away’s “fine” dinning restaurant. The food was very good with the best service of all the restaurants at the resort. We ate here on Sunday and we had the rack of lamb and the beef tenderloin. The meal was excellent and we purchased a bottle of 1999 Bolla Chianti Reserva which was $35US (I’ll comment on the “house” wines later in the review.)
On Monday night, the returnees’ dinner was held here. The meal was excellent (surf and turf) as well and we got the opportunity to sit with the General Manger, Ricardo Bowleg and meet some of the other managers. We had the opportunity also to meet a very interesting couple from Missouri. He was an editor from a very small on-line newspaper and she was in hospital care and an expatriate from Canada. It’s refreshing when someone has an opinion and is not concerned about expressing it in a professional manner.

Lemon Grass
This is the Thai/Asian restaurant of the resort. We had reservations for this restaurant on Tuesday but cancelled them as friends that we had just met had eaten there the previous night and one of them had a case of “reggaes” revenge and the other one was not feeling that great as well. I want to emphasize that we heard of no one else getting sick from eating any thing at Swept Away. We just decided that we never go out for Asian food at home, so let’s not take a chance.

Seascapes
This is the “beach” grill restaurant which is open for lunch, dinner and all night if you are hungry. We ate lunch here a couple of days and they have excellent jerk chicken and their Irie Burger was very tasty as well.
We ate dinner here on one night and they call it the Italian Buffet at night. They have a salad/anti pasta bar as well as the grill and a pasta station. They are usually grilling at least three types of meat/seafood and their pasta bar had multiple choices of pastas and sauces as well. Their dessert bar was okay, nothing spectacular. Hence our going to the Palms after eating here and ordering dessert off the menu.

Beverages
Okay, first I am a “wine snob” and have come to admit it over the past couple of years. Anything that is served in copious amounts to the masses is commonly called “house” wine or what I would call grape juice with some alcohol put into it. Swept Away was no exception to this rule. Their house red and white was the same ones from Chile that most other resorts offer in Jamaica. I believe it was called Carta Vieja and the red was a Cabernet/Merlot blend and the white was a Chardonnay/Semillon blend. Both were not drinkable from a “wine snob” perspective. The champagne was actually from France and was dry and drinkable when very cold.
The “top shelf” selection at the Martini/piano bar had some of the best that we have seen at any all-inclusive in the Caribbean. Actually they had a couple of single malt scotches, Knob Creek Bourbon and some decent vodkas. Their beer selection was Red Stripe regular and Red Stripe Lite on draft or in bottles from the piano bar in the evenings. They also had Real Rock beer on tap in Seascapes and in the mini-bars in the room. The piano bar also had Heineken in bottles the first night but ran out and they never replaced it after the first night.

Service
We found the service to be overall very good to excellent. On our first day, the maid didn’t get around to clean the room until about 3PM which for us is too late. I went and spoke to her late in the day of our first day and asked that if possible could she clean the room first thing in the morning. Every day after that, she was in the room at about a little past 9AM cleaning our room first. Great Service! A little bit of editorial comment concerning service in Jamaica or in any country. Show some respect and it goes a long way with the Jamaican people.

Entertainment
The entertainment was very similar to most Jamaican resorts. Swept Away had a very good house band and there was usually a guest singer with the band. The entertainment started at 9:15 PM and usually finished about 10-10:30PM. Supposedly they ran a disco across the street at the sports complex a couple of nights a week which started at 11PM but we never made it across as we were usually back in the room and sleeping by that time. This resort is NOT a party place and that’s alright with us.

Outside Restaurant Review
We have found out over the past few years that if you have attended one Beach BB-Q in the Caribbean, you have attended them all! Hence, we try to go “off site” at least once per week for an evening meal. We choose to go to Norma’s at the SeaSplash Resort on Friday night which was the Beach BB-Q party at Swept Away. The SeaSplash resort is about a 5-10 minute walk from Swept Away and you have to walk on the road in the evening or wade through waist deep water as the beach is pretty eroded just past Swept Away.
Our meal here was Excellent! We had the coconut shrimp as an appetizer and then we had the coconut chicken as well as the calaloo and cheese stuffed chicken as entrees. For dessert we had their Tiramisu. Service was very good and I got to order a couple of very decent glasses of wine, an Argentinean Mertitage and an Italian Pinot Gris. All the menu items were reasonably priced. The bill came to $56US which included a 10% service charge but we tipped extra.


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Couples Swept Away Robin

May 2005

We just returned from a stay at Couples Swept Away 4/29/05 - 5/7/05. The resort is very beautiful and the beach is one of the best I have seen in Negril. There had been some hurricane damage from last year so the foliage isn't what it used to be but new foliage has been added. Other than that, no hurricane damage is noted. The staff is very friendly and accomodating. With the new rooms added, we did not seem to feel crowded or notice any significant wait time at meals.

We stayed in a beachfront suite which was fabulous! The old rooms are very spacious and private (only 4 rooms to a villa compared to the new rooms that are 12 to a unit and are smaller. The verannah is huge and wonderful to watch the ocean and sunset. The room was also very bright with windows/screens all around covered with wood shutters. The room also had a stocked mini-bar which they would stock however you wanted. The bathroom was nice size with only a shower (no tub.)

The spa is across the street along with the lap pool and fitness center. There are crossing guards to get you across the street safely. The massages are excellent!

The food was good with variety daily. The continental breakfast delivered to your room was great! Feathers restuarant requires that men wear long pants (we did not eat there because my husband refuses to wear long pants on vacation!) The veggie bar is great with lots of fruits and vegetables to choose from...they make fruit smoothies to order and also have snacks available. The bars offer top shelf liquor and the drinks are good.

Activities during the day were on-going. We did the catamaran cruise (included) which was a lot of fun. We also took the SCUBA diving beginners course and did a shallow dive 30ft (included)...the instructor was great. Snorkeling, sailboats, paddleboats, windsurfing, etc is available also and equipment was always ready to go, never had to wait. The pool is small but it appeared they are building a new one close to the new rooms. There are lots of activities during the day like basket weaving, tshirt making, nature walk, etc. The fitness center also has a daily calendar with pilates, aqua aerobics, couples massage classes, etc.

The only negative thing I have to say about Swept Away is the nightly entertainment is somewhat lacking. We are 33-34 years old and enjoy alittle more lively entertainment. It seemed much of the nightly entertainment was geared toward a little older crowd. (They do offer a free shuttle to The Jungle, a local nightclub one night and a shuttle to Margaritaville on day.) So if you are looking for lots of nightly activity, this resort is not for you.

Overall, I would rate this resort a 9. I would definitely return. Swept Away provided us with a relaxing vacation in a beautiful environment.


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Couples Swept Away USA

January 2005

We stayed at Couples Swept Away January 11-18th. This was our third visit. We won't be returning.

We booked this trip 8 months in advance, with the request of a second floor atrium. We also told them we were return guests and that we were married there and were celebrating our anniversary. We also mentioned this upon checking in. I also mentioned again that we wanted a SECOND floor atrium room upon checking in. We were told the room wasn't ready, and were instructed to go get a bite to eat and return later. We did this, but upon our return we were given the keys to an atrium room on the GROUND level. When I informed her that we had requested a second floor when we booked the room 8 months earlier, and again when we arrived, she said they did not have one. I was so upset about this that I forgot at that time to ask about our vouchers for the free 30 minute massage for repeat guests. Eventually though, after talking with her at length, she did produce a second floor room for us. (I went back to the front desk the following day and reminded them we were repeat guests and didn't they have anything they offered repeat guests. She said they offered the 30 minute massage, and gave us the vouchers for this at that time).

The day we dined at Feathers, my husband went over there in person a few hours before our reservation and asked them if they had any kind of anniversary cake (we had been there before on our anniversary and they had a small cake to go with our dinner). They said they would check on this, but it shouldn't be a problem. Three hours later when we arrived at Feathers, my husband mentioned to the hostess that it was our anniversary and that we had been married at Swept Away. He reminded the hostess of the small anniversary cake that was to be brought to our table after our dinner, as a surprise for me. The host indicated that this should not be a problem. However, no cake was ever brought, nor any acknowledgment of our anniversary. Keep in mind we were married at Swept Away! ( I didn't know about all of this until the next day when my husband told me how disappointed he was in Feathers not bringing the cake).

We met another couple who were also repeat guests. If not for them, we would not have known about the repeat guest dinner. We never received an invitation. (This was our third visit to Swept Away). We called the front desk and asked about the invitation to the repeaters dinner. They said they would send one. They never did. We also asked at that time about the other “perks” offered to repeat guests (a bag with coffee, jerk seasoning, t-shirts, etc). We knew about the perks because the other couple we had met that were also repeat guests had told us that they had received these items. The day before we were leaving, (and after another call to the front desk) they did send us the t-shirts and a bag with the coffee and seasoning.

One day when we were laying on the beach, my husband got up to go back up to the room. While passing near the guard station, the guard called him over. He asked my husband if he could go to the bar and get him a couple of drinks! It is a bit unnerving knowing that the guards that are suppose to provide some degree of security, are instead asking guests to bring them alcohol!

Early in the mornings (about 6:30-7am) there is a golf-cart type truck that delivers breakfast trays throughout the resort. Because of the winding walkways, the cart had to back up frequently. When it did this it would make a loud high pitched whistle. This was our morning alarm clock! We never did sleep any later than 6:30 or so because of that beeping noise each morning.

We are normally pretty positive people. I started off this review voicing the negatives, but there were a lot of positives as well. Overall, regarding the negatives, it was never anything big. Just a lot of little stuff that happened that all added up. We didn't let it ruin our vacation though. We still enjoyed ourselves. I think one of the reasons we felt there was not as much attention to the details is because the resort has grown. With the new rooms, there are many more guests. Everyone is just a number...the personal attention we saw on previous visits was sorely lacking this time.

ROOMS: We stayed in an Atrium suite. We loved the hammock on the porch! There was no water pressure at all, but we had experienced this on the previous visit to Swept Away, so accepted it as the way it is. The wooden shutters on the windows were really neat. We kept them open on most nights to allow the cool breeze to come in and to listen to the sounds of nature (tree frogs, etc). The pane glass windows on the french doors leading out to our patio had been varnished. The varnish had never been removed from where it had spilled onto the glass around the panes. The areas on the porch beams that they painted white, were slopped onto adjoining wood that was stained. It would only have taken a few minutes when they varnished the panes on the window to have used a razor blade and scraped the glass removing the varnish from the glass. Just one of the little things that showed that they don't seem to be paying as much attention to detail as they used to.

The resort just added 96 new rooms and I believe they are planning to add another 96. This was as crowded as we have ever seen it at Swept Away. Perhaps this is why the attention to detail just wasn't there. We waited in food lines a lot....we were crowded on the beach.....(the new rooms do not have much of a beach so all those people were down on the beach where the old rooms are).

MEALS: Feathers was excellent. From the fine service, the atmosphere and the food- all 5-star quality. The only complaint with Feathers would be that they lead my husband to believe that they would bring the anniversary cake to the table after the meal and never did this. The other restaurants seemed to serve the same foods over and over. We did only eat at the Thai restaurant one time and it was very good.

We ordered room service each morning for breakfast. You check the time on the card that you want your breakfast delivered. We ordered our breakfast this way 5 out of 7 mornings. It arrived between 10-30 minutes late each morning.

MAIN DINING AREA: There were no bananas, but this was not the fault of Swept Away- the hurricane had destroyed the bananas. The desserts looked and tasted like a Sarah Lee frozen dessert. The exception to this were the cookies and the ice cream. Two great foods we had were the turkey and the Asian beef on a stick....the other food was bland and mediocre in quality.

BEACH: Very crowded. As mentioned earlier, the 96 new rooms had very little beach in front of them, so those folks walked down to the beach in front of the old rooms, which lead to crowding on the beach. The water really is beautiful- greenish-blue and so clear! Even though the beach was crowded there were plenty of chairs to go around.

PIANO BAR: Ultimate (the piano player) was awesome! So talented....he was a very nice gentleman who's kindness and warm personality came from the heart.

We did take a quick tour of one of the new rooms while we were there. The room looked very nice! If we were ever to return, we would stay in one of these rooms.

I realize I did not cover everything in this review, so please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

It is still a very nice place, but with the lack of attention to detail, I wouldn't call it a 5-star resort anymore. The romance/ambiance is still there at Swept Away. That part hasn't changed. They have just grown to large, had a big turn-over in employees, and have lost that personal touch they used to have.

We go to the Caribbean every January, and this next January we are planning to take our three grown children and their spouses. We had planned to take them all to Swept Away. However, after our visit this year, we won't be taking them there. We will be finding another all-inclusive resort to go to from now on.


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Couples Swept Away Randy & Janet --- Halifax, Nova Scotia

October 2004

Greetings Fellow Sun Chasers,

My wife and I enjoyed 2 weeks at Couples Swept Away in Negril the first two weeks of April 2004. ( This was trip # 2 to Jamaica, and trip # 15 to the Caribbean, just to give you some perspective on our assessment of this resort. ) We are 47 years old.

Upon arrival, we were checked in promptly by a very attentive and courteous staff. We were given an atrium garden view room, which just happened to be right in front of the pool and main dining area, tucked in behind the fruit bar. ( ground level ). Regretfully, I do not recall the building number, however I warn you that it can be rather noisy late at night, and very early in the morning, ( loud card games until 2 a.m. ) and kitchen staff show up at around 5:30 a.m. to prepare breakfast, and start room service. ( Order breakfast off the card in your room, and then hang it on your doorknob the night before - it's really nice. )

Being well seasoned Caribbean travellers, we always pack ear plugs - problem solved. In hind sight, we probably should have requested a room a little bit farther away from the centre of activity, however it turned out to be close and convenient, ( we also got to sit on our front porch and " people watch " between trips to the bar ( which was only 50 feet from our deck ). Resort is reasonably well kept and clean, and they are in the process of adding several new 3 story multi-unit buildings at the South end of the resort. One of the things we look for in a resort is the number of rooms, as this will always be an issue when it comes to " wait times " for everything from bar service to room service. The bigger the resort, the longer the " wait times ". We try and always book a resort with under 300 rooms. Believe me, it makes a difference in the personal service you receive too ! Please remember to lock anything of value in your room, as I lost my running shoes, hat, shirt, and running shorts which I had put on our sun deck railing ( ground level ) over night, as I had washed them in the sink and put them out to dry ). Unfortunately, I was training for a marathon in Ottawa, Canada, and had to run most days I was there. I reported it to the staff, and they immediately dispatched their security people to our room, who took a written statement from us, however it was just a formality at that point. The gentleman who took my statement had a rather thick file of " incidents " at the resort, so take my advice, " lock it and pocket " your room key whenever you leave your room, and don't leave anything on your deck if you are staying on the ground level.

We have stayed at the Grand Lido resorts in Jamaica, and I rate Couples Swept Away 7.5 out of 10, as compaired to the Grand Lido Resorts which rate a consistant 9 out of 10. ( once you've stayed at Grand Lido Braco in Trelawny, Jamaica, you will realize there is no need to look elsewhere ). The difference in total cost between the Grand Lido Braco ( or Grand Lido Negril ) was around a $1200.00 for the 2 weeks. ( The Grand Lido was booked, so we decided to try C.S.A. instead ).

Don't get me wrong - the food, room service, housekeeping, and bar service is just a tad superior at the Lido resorts, but C.S.A. is still very good, and we would probably return to C.S.A., although with the addition of several buildings, we feel it is getting too large.

Here is a quick summary for you, based on a scale of 1 to 10 ( 10 being the best ) :

FOOD : 7
not enough variance in dishes over the 2 weeks - a lot of repeats, but quite good - GREAT COFFEE !

ALCOHOL : 8.5
had Absolute Vodka, decent Canadian Club rye wisky, made a good martini upstairs at the piano bar, and of course, Red Stripe beer, which is now available in " lite " - very good.

HOUSE KEEPING : 6.5
came late in the day, room was a mess until 4 p.m. most days - probably because of where we were located at the front of the resort meant that we were one of the last rooms to be cleaned.

ENTERTAINMENT : 7
like all resorts, the staff try hard to come up with ideas - enjoyed the piano guy upstairs when he wasn't text messaging cell phone calls - very rude to do while your supposed to be entertaining guests. The house band was quite good, and they brought in a Bob Marley look-a-like one evening that was great.

BAR / BEACH STAFF : 9.5
what can we say, we LOVE the Jamaican people - they love to sing and brag about their island. they are wonderful people who don't seem to have any predjudices like North Americans do - They truly are a " breath of fresh air " for your soul.

LOCATION / FACILITIES : 8.5
excellent gym, track, tennis, lap pool, yoga, pilates, etc.are across the street behind the resort, I used the running track several times ( marathon training damn-it ). The gym is well maintained and has good quality equipment - 4 tread mills - nice. This is where Feathers Restaurant is located - must have reservation, as this is their upscale dining. They make quite a nice strip loin, and their house wine is " Gato Negro " merlot - very acceptable. You can order off a wine list if you wish for an extra charge to your room. Good wine cellar. A string trio play during dinner at Feathers - nice background music for dining - very romantic - good call guys.

BEACH : 9.5
unlike the Grand Lido resorts which are located on private beaches, the general public can walk along the beach in front of this resort, which probably explains the thefts after dark. The beach staff are great, however you will be approached the first day with an offer to purchase that special Jamaican tobacco ( if your into that stuff ). Great water skiing ( go early in the morning before the wind comes up ) and an absolutely gorgeous beach. No nude areas, but some women were topless - no big deal. ( Only other beach we have seen that was better was Baby Beach in St. Kitts & Nevis ). O.K. snorkeling located just off the beach slightly North of the resort - we have seen better in Barbados and Aruba though.

In closing, I would say this is worth a look - but for the money, I would spend the extra $1200. and go to a Lido Resort.
Happy Trails


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Couples Swept Away Lou of Toronto

June 2004

My wife and I spent a wonderful week in April 2004 at the Couples’ Swept Away Resort in Negril through Sunquest Vacations.

The highway from the Sangster Airport in Montego Bay to the resort has been newly rebuilt in 2002. This has reduced the transfer time to just over one hour. It is also a much smoother ride.

Check-in was not a problem for us. However, due to popularity, the resort was overbooked. As well some guests had requested late check-out which resulted in very late check-in for some guests and offers of alternative accommodation at the sister resort Couples Negril.

The best feature of this resort is the sports programs and facilities offered. Daily exercises include power walks along the beach, beach and reggae abs, yoga, aerobics pilates to name a few. There is a certified resort trainer as well as a new visiting yoga instructor every week.

The sports facility includes a gym with squash courts, massage rooms, a twenty-five metre lapping pool and 10 excellent tennis courts, 4 clay and 6 hard courts.

There are 3 certified resort tennis pros and a new visiting pro from the USA every week. Daily lessons and round robbin events are included. The pros are all excellent. Even the maintenance staff, Dalton and Clive are very competent players. Diane the sports complex manager is also an excellent doubles player. Be sure to bring your own racquets and some balls though.

The beach at this resort is spectacular with fine white sand and crystal clear warm water that is quite calm most of the time. The sandy part is not as wide as parts of the beaches at Varadero or Punta Cana but the water is clearer and calmer. We also prefer this beach over the ones at Cayo Coco, the Playa Esmeralda of Holguin and Guadalavaca in Cuba. We felt only the North Beach on Isla Mujeres off Cancun and the beach at the Barcelo Maya Beach resort were slightly better. As an aside we visited the bay area occupied by the Grand Lido, Couples Negril, Riu Tropical Bay and the new Riu Negril. The beaches here are beautiful but the sandy part does not extend as much into the water. However the water here is more protected and in fact our boat captain said many boats seek shelter here during stormy weather.

For those lucky enough to face the dilemma of picking between Couples Negril and Swept Away, the Couples Negril is cheaper and easier to book but it does not provide the same extent of fitness and tennis programs. We were told by a Swept Away staff that the food is comparable if not slightly better at Couples Negril.

Water sports at Swept Away are much better than your average upscale all-inclusive resort. There are 6 new hobie cats and 4 windsurf boards with 3.5 to 6.3 sails in very good condition along with harness for high winds. There are no time limits and no pre-booking is required. You can sail alone or accompanied. Kayaks and pedal boats are also available. The snorkeling is excellent with more fish than some SCUBA dives. Daytime SCUBA is included. The sites are nearby and quite good with very little current. Night dive is optional at $50 US and highly recommended as this is when the marine life venture out to feed. It is during the night dives that you are more likely to encounter sting rays, lobsters, turtles, sea slugs and puffer fish.

If there is a weakness to this resort it is in the accommodations and food, both of which are more typical of a 4 star Caribbean resort.

The rooms are comfortable featuring a large open air sitting area with a hammock or lounger. Avoid the rooms close to the main buffet as the loud live music ends at midnight only to be replaced by the sound of the staff setting up the tables at 5 am. It is also a good idea to protect your valuables as a pair of SCUBA gloves disappeared from our verandah while being dried.

The food selection at the buffet is modest but adequate. We found some foods a bit salty and the spicy food and spicy sauce only mildly spicy at best. The jerk pork and chicken were quite dry a lot of the time. Otherwise the food including salads, fruits, pasta was fine.

The best service is at the upstairs buffet and at the Feather’s restaurant. At Feather’s the seafood chowder and the shrimps with the unmistakable taste of Malaysian curry were delectable. The food presentation of appetizers at Feather’s is excellent-reminiscent of world renowned chef Susur Lee but alas, not unexpectedly the taste is not the same. The beach restaurant offers a veggie bar. It is quite good and offers a refreshing change from the buffet food. The sushi is so so but such criticism may be unfair coming from Toronto where it is almost impossible to find bad sushi.

The house wines from Chile are decent and above average. The same goes for the Jamaican Red Stripe beer. We found the Pina Colada a bit creamy though.

Overall this is a great resort for fitness and tennis buffs – certainly the best programs for these activities out of the two dozen resorts we’ve stayed at. The beach is gorgeous with very good SCUBA and excellent snorkeling. The accommodations and food though are more typical of a 4 star Caribbean resort. There are cheaper 5 stars in the Caribbean and Mexico but this place gave good value for the money despite some of its minor shortcomings.


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