|Jamaica this is, just not the one you're thinking of. This is a view of Jamaica, NY from our hotel next to the JFK airport. Our flight was leaving JFK early on Tuesday morning, and there is no end to the ways you can get delayed while driving on Long Island. We came down from Saratoga Springs the night before and stayed by the airport. It was that, or fly down on a commuter plane - and Martha doesn't do commuters.|
|The flight down was pretty smooth. The torrential rains we had in New York the day before had moved on by that morning, and the departure from JFK was right on time. After a couple of hours we were down in the Caribbean. We flew over the Turks, and could see the beautiful waters and lagoons. Keeping company with us was an Air Jamaica flight that left JFK about when we did. This photo was taken over Cuba, and if you look close you can see the Air Jamaica plane in the center right part of the photo|
|After a nice smooth 3 1/2 hour flight we arrived at Jamaica. We flew into Montego Bay, which is about 80 km (50 miles) from Negril. 80 km of roads that, to be kind, are under construction. This shot was taken during the approach to the airport at Montego Bay. See the road that looks much like a track in the sand? That's the MAIN road from Montego Bay to Negril. 80 km, 1 1/2 hours - you do the math!|
|Arriving at Montego Bay was easy. The airport is small, and it took only minutes to get through customs and immigration. While we were waiting there was a band singing welcome to Jamaica - but the video camera was buried at this point. Once we cleared customs we went to the Couples booth at the airport. Couples is the one WITHOUT a sign. If you're going, it's the last one on the right. From the outside it looks like a small reception office for something at the airport, but we were directed right to it. They told us it would be about a 30 minute wait for transportation - it was closer to 5 minutes. They very nicely put us in a car with a driver, instead of in a bus, since there was just the two of us. The ride to Negril was about 90 minutes long. Our driver gave us a very nice narrated tour the entire way there. He told us about the towns, pointed out where he grew up, and made comments about the fine roads. You can see a photo of one part of the road at the left. Click on it to load a short Quick Time movie to get a better idea of how nice the road really wasn't. Not all of the road was this bad - well over half of it has been paved and is pretty good. At the rate they are going, however, I'd bet it will be a few years yet before they are done. Note - this was taken on the bus on the way back from Negril, but the road hadn't changed much in a week!|
|Main lobby at Couples, Negril. A couple of notes about many of the photos to follow - they were mostly taken early in the morning, or in the late afternoon, when not too many people were out and about. Why? Well, first of all, I had better things to do during the day, like sailing, diving, or just plain sunning on the beach. Second, by taking the photos when most people weren't around nobody could complain about the camera. Couples isn't Hedonism, but enough women went topless on the beach (but NOT at the pool area) that I wouldn't want to intrude with my camera. The photos are also not shown here in the order they were taken, but rather in an order that fits with the descriptions.
This is the main lobby. When we arrived we were greeted promptly, given cold champagne and asked to fill out some forms. The normal hotel stuff, including credit card information for anything we wanted to charge to the room. Although Couples is all inclusive, there is always the gift shops and other services. They will charge anything to the room without a problem. You just give them your room number, when you are leaving and your name. We were shown to our room within a few minutes of arriving without a problem.
|We had room 9104, which is a first floor room. This is a garden view room - for an idea of the gardens and the views, see the next set of photos. The bed was large and low, but not the most comfortable one we've ever slept in. This photo shows the room on the second day we were there. While we were at breakfast they came through the room and cleaned it up, leaving us the heart and roses you see here. Pretty much anytime you left the room they were in cleaning up, replacing towels, etc.|
|Our room looked out on the garden where the wedding gazebo was, along with garden ponds and walkways. You can see some of the garden paths here. This was taken from our patio area outside the room. We had a table, a couple of chairs and some places to hang things like towels, etc. It was a nice place to sit and look out over the gardens to relax. Bugs we didn't have a big problem with - but there were lizards a plenty. Lizards in the form of little geckos were pretty common, but they're harmless. Although we didn't have any problems with bugs, you could hear the (many, many loud) crickets or frogs (or whatever) at night. All night. They weren't a problem, and it was kind of neat once you got used to them.|
|Although our room was a garden view room, if you looked towards the left from the room you had this for a view. On the other side of the fence you see is the nude beach - from our room block you could walk right out onto the nude beach if you desired to. In the background you can see the boat they use for diving trips - I went on that later in the week. Based on what I saw, I'm not sure I'd bother to get anything other than the garden view rooms. Not all of them had ocean views, but it's not like you're going to spend that much time in the room anyway. The one disadvantage of the room block we were in is that it is on the other end of the resort from where the water sports and other things are. On the other hand, it isn't more than a 5 minute walk from one end to the other, so it's not like you're remote from everything.|
|Most mornings you could see this guy walking about the main area by the pool. We were told by some other people that you'd be happy to know you could HEAR him most mornings too if you were at the other end of the resort. If you've never heard a peacock, let me just let you know that the colors aren't the only thing that's loud on them. That being said, this guy knew his role in life. He'd proudly walk about, showing off for everybody in the morning.|
|OK, so nobody goes to the Caribbean to look at a peacock. This is probably more in the way of why you'd be here - the beach. This is the view of the beach looking back towards the Grand Lido resort. Couples is situated on Bloody Bay, in between two other resorts - the Grand Lido and the Riu Tropical Bay. You could walk on the beach past either resort during the day, but at night the Grand Lido wouldn't let you on. Of the three, I think that Couples did the best job on the beach. Grand Lido had cleared out most of the trees on the beach, whereas Couples had left many, many trees along the beach. The trees were really, really nice when the sun was beating down at the middle of the day.|
|The trees were great for another thing - holding up the hammocks! There were quite a few of them on the beach, even some in the nude beach area. The hammocks were all two person ones (as is only right for a place named Couples), and were actually nice to lay in. A suggestion - the cushions from the beach chairs fit right into the hammock, and makes them even nicer.|
|Many of the hammocks are right next to the beach, giving views like this one. There were also a few hammocks farther up the beach, nestled in the trees near the walkways. We liked the ones by the water.|
|At one end of the beach (the end opposite of the nude beach) is the boating area. This is where you sign up for the sunset cruise, where you sign up for snorkeling and SCUBA diving trips, and where you can take lessons on the various boats. It's also where you exchange your towels. Exchange? Yes - you get two towels in your room, and you have to turn in a receipt for them when you leave. When you want a new towel you take yours down to the water sports area, and they'll give you new ones. When you are getting ready to check out you take them down there and they'll give you a receipt to turn in at the checkout.
They have various sail boats here, along with some kayaks and a paddle boat. You can use any of them for as long as you want, and if you don't know how to sail them you can sign up for lessons twice a day. You can also go water skiing here. All of this is included, even SCUBA lessons if you want them. The only things that aren't included are Jet Skis and Parasailing - if you want to do them, you've got to work out your own deal with the people running them.
|This is the beach at Couples, looking the other direction towards the Riu Tropical Bay. There are no other hotels on Bloody Bay - just the Riu Tropical Bay, Couples and the Grand Lido. Around the corner from the Grand Lido is the rest of Negril, and the 7 mile beach. Many, many other resorts are on this beach, from Sandals to Couples Swept Away to Hedonism. When you walked off the Couples property towards the Riu Tropical Bay the guard nicely asked your name, and recorded it on his log. That way they know when you left if you don't come back - at least that's what the guard told me. Stories like that aside, we had absolutely no problems at all while we were there. Everybody was very friendly, and if they were selling something would leave you alone when you said no.|
|The other beach photo's look a bit gray - they were taken in the evening when the clouds had started to come in. This one gives you a little better idea of how nice it really is on the beach there. You can see some of the chairs, and the yacht that belongs to the Grand Lido behind the classic palm trees.|
|Here is another shot of the beach at Couples. This one is looking out from behind one of the sea grape trees. There are many of these trees along the beach, providing a nice shaded area if you wanted it. All you needed was the chair, a book and the red flag and you were all set. Red flag? Yep - you could get them at the water sports area. Put the red flag in the sand, and fairly soon somebody would come by to take your drink order. Frozen, fruity, alcoholic and often - what more could you want?|
|One more beach photo - the nude beach. The nude beach at 7:30 in the morning, that is. Although it looks a bit exposed, so to speak, in this photo, it's actually fairly well secluded from the rest of the beach. Well, secluded to the sides and the back - the front is open to the ocean. There was a nice large tree in the center (just to the right of this photo) so you could sit in the shade, which is a really, really, really good idea, if you follow my drift here. There was also a self service bar there with Red Stripe (beer), sodas and various alcohol so you could get drinks without having the leave the beach area.|
|Of course not everybody wants to sit on the beach. Couples also has a nice large pool to relax in. You can see the main pool here, with the swim up bar behind it. The swim up bar is divided from the main pool by a small waterfall. At each end of the main pool is a nice jacuzzi. This is early in the morning, so nobody is in the pool yet. Besides just floating and relaxing, they on occasion have activities in the pool like aerobics or volleyball. Couples is a very low pressure place - if you don't want to participate nobody will harass you about it. While doing the water aerobics, I can attest to one thing - time does move slower there!|
|Here is a better view of the swim up bar. You can see the small waterfall at the right that divides this from the main pool. The swim up bar has two sides - a walk up one from the beach, and the swim up one in the pool. What is a little hard to see in this photo are the underwater bar stools in the pool - if you'd like you can sit in the water at the bar. Not as nuts as it may sound!|
|Here is another view of the pool, this one showing one of the two jacuzzi's. The pool is open 24 hours, or so they told us. The pool bar closes at 6PM, and usually by 8PM the pool is empty. They do a great job at the resort of keeping everything clean - when I was walking around taking these photos at about 7AM there were people everywhere, raking up the beach, cleaning the pool and just generally making everything nice.|
|Couples has 3 restaurants to eat at. The Cassave Terrace restaurant is pictured to the right. They serve fantastic meals here, from huge breakfast buffets to great lunches and dinners. Sometimes the dinner is buffet style, and sometimes not. Whichever it is, the staff is attentive and polite. Your drink glass won't be empty for long - when it starts getting low they bring you another before you can ask for it. This is also the location that they have music most nights. Local bands play during the meals, and then afterwards for dancing and just relaxing. If you are here on a Saturday plan on eating at the Cassave Terrace for dinner - they have a HUGE Caribbean buffet that night.|
|This is the second of the restaurants - the beach grill. During the day, and at night, it's a grill kind of place you can get the usual fare at, along with things like Jerk Chicken. During the evening it converts to a Mediterranean restaurant, which means steak and pasta. The board behind Martha is the activity board - it's where they post the events scheduled for the day. They are also in your room, in a book with a wooden cover. A book I didn't discover until the day we were checking out. You might want to take a look for it, since it can clue you in on what you might want to do while you are there.|
|And the third restaurant - the Otaheite. This is the nicest of the bunch, and the only one you need reservations for. It's also the only one you need to dress up a bit for - long pants and dress shoes for men, dressy clothes for women, etc. We were there in mid-May, and the resort wasn't nearly full, so we had no problems getting reservations for here for whichever night we wanted. Your luck may vary if you are here during the peak season. They are set up with some tables in the center for large parties, and smaller two person tables around the outside for couples. The couples tables all have couches like this one, which is really nice.|
|A nice photo of a water glass that Martha took in the Otaheite restaurant. You can see the palm trees reflected in the glass - and if you look close, you can see the lipstick too!|
|Page 2 - things to do at Couples Negril. Sunset cruise, SCUBA diving, sailing, shopping, and even renew your vows!|