I’ve been giving it some thought since we’ve been back from Jamaica about the entire experience and I have to say that the resort, Couples Sans Souci, was completely beyond expectations. Overall we enjoyed every aspect of the resort that was offered, from the room service, daily stocked mini bar, cuisine, Dunn’s river, water sports, weather, everything. The non-alcoholic smoothie station they have next to the mineral pool and workout room is out of this world. The mango and strawberry-banana shake are so tongue tantalizing I sometimes forgot about the rest of the resort and even made special trips from my room just for the shakes.
We had spent the first day getting a feel for the resort and planning our stay and roughly came up with a game plan of what we’d like to do the rest of the stay. We were trying to get out as much of the Jamaican vibe as we could, trying to experience what Jamaica had to offer. One particular day we were going to learn the soca dance and when we had shown up nobody was to be found, we waited a few minutes, then left. We were next to the beach so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Other days there were activities that we had also wanted to participate in but had a conflict with other activities, then one thing led to another and we missed out on those. So we didn’t get to do as much activities as we’d hoped. So I guess in a nutshell for first time travelers traveling anywhere for the first time, it may be difficult to take in everything in that a place has to offer and the sooner you realize you can’t do everything, the more fun you’ll have doing whatever you’ve done. You just have to plan to make another trip.
One critique, if you can call it that, was an activity we did sign-up for giving them our room number. We signed up three days in advance to go scuba diving. Scuba was at 11 am but you had to go through a small course before at 845ish am. We had fun the night before dancing and stayed up late. We needed breakfast and time for it to digest so we order breakfast in bed early at 6 am. December is one of the rainy months in Jamaica and sometimes makes for rougher seas. So we go down to the water activities station only to find that the water activities for the day have been canceled. Now the thing is, is that when it comes to scuba diving, is that you can predict the under water conditions from the weather the night before and the morning of. And with their experience and expertise (resort scuba instructors)they knew before hand the scuba was going to be out of the question. So making my point, with them having this knowledge and this being an activity that guests actually sign up for with a room number it would’ve been nice to been given a heads up instead of going through all the effort of waking up early, getting ready, and marching down there to find out its canceled. They could’ve called and notified us since they had our information on hand. That was a little irritating personally, maybe its just me. So another activity we missed out on. I know above I wrote we enjoyed the water sports and then you read this, but the following day the weather was perfect and we took full advantage, going sailing, snorkeling, and glass bottom boat ride. So in the end the water activities were very eventful and worth it. Surprisingly I didn’t expect the water to be as salty as it was.
There really is just so much that I could jot down about our experience but It’d just be easier for me to tell you verbally so if you have any questions at all I’d be happy to share more of our experience with you or other people thinking of couples or couples sans souci in particular. Again, I’d definitely recommend Couples. We spoke with a number of other guests from all over the country staying there and they say that the extra amenities that Couples offers, you’d have to pay extra at other resorts, yet the price for couples was comparable if not better. And comparing Sans Souci to the other Couples, many said that the geographical location of Sans Souci compared to the others was the best and there favorite.
It was pretty easy to have the airlines change Ann’s name on the reservations. I wonder if we could’ve booked the flight and all reservations with her married name even though the flight was booked before the wedding and we didn’t fly till after the wedding, to avoid any future delays.
It would’ve been best if we’d reconfirmed the swim with the dolphins before we left for Jamaica because there was a little difficulty in finding the reservations on their part and also once we arrived at Dolphin Cove at the front desk they could’nt find our rsvp for about 15 minutes. Even though we had the confirmation papers from GoGo with the Swim with the Dolphins information. That by the way was an awesome and forever memorable experience which we are completely happy with. Also how often are you going to get the chance to partake in an event like that so we had to purchase the CD and DVD combo to share our experience. That by the way was $110, fyi. It was an unexpected purchase and took most of our souvenir money.
I don’t know exactly how to put it, but these are some things that I’d recommend or would find useful in future traveling by plane and visits to Jamaica. I did my best to think about what we’d need along our travels but didn’t think of everything, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d suggest even if you don’t use it, to have on hand: ear plugs – lets be honest, the screaming kid on even a two hour flight would get on just about anybodies nerves, or better yet an iPod or mp3 player if you have one. It may not block out all the noise but it helps muffle at least. Also an eye face mask to block out any light especially if you have to sleep in the airport entrance to catch the morning flight or while on the plane, some times the lights can be bright. Snacks, snacks, snacks! Who in there right mind will willingly pay $8 for a sandwhich that you make at home for $2 tops. Wow, are those airport prices enormously expensive. There are so many snacks you can bring from home that will save you a bundle. Also we’ll definitely invest in that neck pillow, for some reason the plane ride can be pretty tiring and it would’ve been nice to have one. Games, we brought regular cards and uno cards that kept us pretty entertained both on the plane and waiting for the next flight so time went by a little quicker. Bring water shoes or aqua socks especially for Dunn’s River excursion. You can rent them but who knows who’s feet have been in them and you only get one use out of them so its a waste of money. Closed toes are the best, I had sandals, open toed, and continually had rocks in my sandal for the excursion. Swim goggles are small and easy to carry and would’ve been nice to look under water while swimming around at the beach to see whats underwater. Didn’t have any need for it but people recommended bug spray so we had some just in case. If you don’t have one purchase your underwater camera here locally, rite aid has it for $9. It cost $20 at the gift shop. When traveling abroad or just in general have a pen to fill out the custom forms, otherwise you’ll be waiting to borrow one since the flight attendants don’t carry any.
Cash, i’d say a few hundred worth or depends on what you plan on doing. I’d bring at least $20 in ones, $20 in fives, $40 in tens, and the rest in $20’s. I was a little caught off guard with the tipping ettique and I’m not a big tipper anyway. Though we didn’t have to worry about tipping at the resort, any excursions to and from, its customary to tip your driver or tour guide. Just remember you worked hard for that money so don’t feel bad if you don’t tip big.
There are so many vendors trying to sell you the same thing as the next vendor. Everything is negotiable it seemed, so don’t be afraid to barter the price with them, your biggest weapon is walking away because the next vendor down probably has the same stuff and they want your money. These Jamaican’s have been doing this a while and are good with working with your emotions and psychy making it hard to walk away sometimes, but you have to stand strong. You can find great deals by bartering and shopping around, not hastly buying the first one you see. Also with the smaller bills you have more le-way* when bartering. Unlike here, the sale of liquor isn’t regulated by the government. We purchased a few bottles marked at $28 each for $15 each. A side note on the liquour too is that you can bring back 2 liters per person, which is equivalent to 3 fiths, to the states but keep in mind that you’ll have to check it at the airport, depending on the airport will cost you an additional $25 that wasn’t on your mind at the time. Especially if you brought carry-ons to avoid those extra charges. Also, beware that some places charge tax between 8.5% to 18.5% so if you have cash you may avoid tax, depends on the place. Using a credit card may also cost you an additional percentage by the credit card company for foreign transaction fees and by the shop for them processing it. Cash is the best option in my opinion, don’t be flashy and use some common sense and have fun with it. Also cash gives you a budget on how much your going to spend and once you’ve reached that limit then you know it.
Alright, I hope you find some useful information in what I’ve written. If you have any other questions I’ll do my best to answer them. I brought back a few brochures about activities if you’d like them for your collection too. Well that’s enough for now so I hope you enjoyed the pictures and we’ll talk with you later.
Brent and Ann
P.S. The layover wasn’t that bad in North Carolina. Ann brought a blanket and kept warm. Used sweatshirts as pillows. For me the eye face mask would’ve been helpful though. They kicked us out of the terminal so we had to sleep inside at the entrance of the airport. It was cozy though. Would do it again to save money and add to the experience.
(Note from Anne: They elected to take a flight that gave them an overnight in North Carolina but did not get a hotel.)