I have hesitated for months to write this review. On one hand, I have so much to say about Couples Tower Isle (CTI). On the other hand, I worry whether all I have to say may be too much for one blog post as there's truly something different about this place. Sigh! Let me just type and see how it turns out.
CTI came highly recommended to my (almost then) husband and I when we were considering options for our honeymoon almost five years ago. It is one of four all-inclusive hotels in the Couples Resorts chain, the others being Couples Negril, Couples Swept Away and Couples San Souci.
Location: Tower Isle, St. Mary Date Visited: July 2022
Type: All-Inclusive Resort (Adults Only) Cost: USD ~$350 per night [Discounted]
Before You Go
It's quite interesting how many people think CTI is in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, when it's actually in St. Mary! For my Jamaicans reading this blog post, it would be in your best interest to call the hotel to make your booking and get the room rates for residents. CTI is a Jamaican-owned resort chain, so there are perks available for residents - one of which is room discounts!
For the sake of transparency, It's very important for me to mention that I've been to CTI a total of four times. Once before the pandemic (honeymoon in 2018), and three times since. As such, I believe this review should be one of my best yet, as I can give a most comprehensive report on CTI's track record over the years.
Style/Ambience - 7 out of 10
Right out the gate, if you're looking for a very modern luxurious aesthetic, CTI is not where you're going to find it. The overall resort feel is primarily beach chic, with pastel paint colours (blues and yellows) accented with wooden and wicker furniture and lots of potted plants for that extra tropical touch.
Notwithstanding, the decor is for the most part tastefully done, and doesn't give 'tacky'. The property itself is more long and narrow than it is wide, as such, the lobby area is small compared to other hotels I've been to. To combat a claustrophobic feel however, most areas on the property are al fresco or open concept, with floor to ceiling glass doors and windows. As such, you're embraced by crisp sea breeze at almost every angle on the property.
I did notice that since 2021, CTI has sought to spruce up its style a bit, especially in the lobby area. For example, they traded in long draped curtains and a few rocking chairs, for hanging macrame and more mid-centry modern style furniture pieces. What do you think? Is the new giving what it needs to give or was the old doing enough?
Room - 4.5 out of 10
SIGH. I'm just gonna rip the bandaid off this one. The rooms at CTI may be my least favourite of any hotel I've been to...and as you know, I've been to a few. We have stayed in both the Deluxe and Premier Ocean View Room categories. On a positive note, the rooms are a decent size and the beds are very comfortable. The biggest positive for me? The views. If you're fortunate to have a room with an unobstructed view, it is truly unmatched.
Pro Tip: The rooms in Towers 3 and 4, from the second floor upwards have the best views!
The decor in the rooms stays true to the beachy, tropical vybe of the resort. There are a few outdated elements like the yellow floor tiles and wooden bedside lamps. I'd never taken notice on previous trips, but for this visit, I couldn't shake how misplaced the expressionism portrait paintings above the bed felt (they're also lowkey creepy).
The minibar is fully stocked on arrival, with the option to customise restock options during the stay. There are also two travel water bottles provided in each room. Drinking water stations are located across the property, thus reducing use of bottled water - a nice eco-friendly touch.
On previous stays, both robes and slippers were provided. On this trip however, we were informed that slippers are now exclusively reserved for the Suite and Villa room categories (fun fact: these rooms have a standalone jetted tub).
The bathrooms. Oof. The bathrooms may be the biggest sore point of the rooms...for me anyways. In the Deluxe Ocean View Room, there's a single floating sink and a shower/tub combo. It's style and features are outdated (Exhibit A: shower curtain) but it does come stocked with shaving and sewing kits.
The Premier Ocean View Room bathrooms are a tad more modern, featuring a rainfall shower with glass enclosure, and double sinks. The problem there however is drainage, as the entire bathroom floor is levelled, meaning water will escape from the shower area to the rest of the bathroom. It may be a nuisance for others, but we understood that the design is to facilitate wheelchair access; so we overcame that obstacle by laying down multiple towels.
Food & Drinks - 9.5 out of 10
Let me tell you this. The food at CTI? Does. Not. Miss. The Patio is the al fresco buffet, with a wide variety of items on the menu which cater to many dietary needs e.g. gluten-free, vegan, lactose-intolerant etc. The Pool Grill is open 24/7 and offers quick bites during the day such as jerk chicken, burgers, nachos, popcorn and soft serve ice-cream (with cones!). The Veggie Bar is also a hidden gem, which serves a number of healthy options such as fruit/vegetable smoothies, salads and sandwiches.
For Dinner, there are three additional specialty restaurants on property, Bayside (Asian), The Verandah (Caribbean) and Eight Rivers (Gourmet Continental). I highly recommend Eight Rivers, but call ahead of your stay to make a reservation, as it is guaranteed to be booked out for days at a time, and with good reason - their menu is incomparable! I'm not a big dessert girl but the pastry chefs at CTI are phenomenal, and it's a nice touch that their ice-cream is made in-house!
Room service is great too, and the menu and orders are made through the Couples Resorts app. The menu may seem limited to some, but the quality sure makes up for it. The snapper sandwich? *chef's kiss*!
I docked half a point in this section for the drinks. While they are more of a hit than a miss, they aren't as consistent as the meals. For the mojito lovers, mint leaves are a rarity at CTI, so it's best to know from now and avoid disappointment.
Customer Service - 9 out of 10
When it comes on to customer service in Jamaica, more often that not, locals are left wanting. I can truly say that a huge factor in my many return trips has been the wonderful customer service offered at CTI. Upon arrival, one is greeted by a bellman whose first words are "Welcome Home". The staff do go the extra mile to ensure that the experience is everything you want it to be. I'm always amazed too how they remember guest names, and don't hesitate to strike up a conversation. If it's a special occasion, a cheese platter and a bottle of wine will be sent to your room, with a card.
For our most recent stay, our room had a condensation issue, causing water to leak through the closet. Once it was reported, we were assigned a new room in little to no time. The manager on duty personally came to our room and offered same-day laundry service for the clothes that had gotten soiled. On the other hand, another couple who was on the trip with us had service delays regarding their room, which was an unpleasant hiccup but eventually resolved and not a major deterrent in the grand scheme of things.
Amenities & Entertainment - 8 out of 10
One thing I most enjoy about CTI is the balance between relaxation and things to do. There is a decent stretch of beach and loungers for those who just want to lie out and relax. There's also a games room (a personal favourite) which boasts a pool table, a table tennis table, a book shelf and life size connect four! They've since added an ATM in the games room, which is a convenience.
There are a host of outdoor activities, water sports and excursions available to guests too. A unique offering of CTI is the art-based activities such as sunset painting on the pier or jewellery making. There are also the traditional water sports (the hydrobike was a vybe) and the Catamaran Cruise (has to be booked a day in advance).
Also, for those who may be so adventurous, there's the infamous private au naturel island, just a few minutes boat ride away from the main resort. The nude island has its own bar and a tower guests can explore...or at least so I've read!
The Gym and Spa are also quite nice. The Gym is a modest size and is fully stocked with all the equipment one needs for a full body workout (but why one is exerising on vacation? I have no idea). The Gym has floor to ceiling windows with a scenic view of one of the main pools as well as the ocean.
The Spa may be one of my favourite spots on the entire property as it just oozes zen. I've gotten both massages and pedicures and both were great. Jamaican residents get 15% off all spa treatments, which is a great benefit! There's a lap pool in the waiting area that guests can enjoy after a service, or just to be away from the busyness of the main pools.
There are two pool areas at Couples Tower Isle. One is notoriously called the 'party pool' and is tucked away from the main hub of the lobby. The Pool closest to the Gym boasts a beautiful waterfall feature and many a guest enjoys lounging by it and looking out at the ocean.
As for nighttime entertainment, I've never gravitated towards the offerings but they do have a range of musical performances, including a Michael Jackson tribute. The Piano Bar has also been known to get super lit as the night progresses.
MADD Factor - The NEW Coffee Bar
To my pleasant surprise, prior to this visit, CTI announced the opening of a coffee bar on the property. I'm by no means an avid coffee lover, but the idea of a new spot at the resort to experience had me quite tickled. I was by no means disappointed. The coffee was REALLY good! The mural in the coffee bar is also a conversation piece. We had a good time discussing various interpretations with the barista on duty.
I'd also like to give an honorary mention here to the sunsets at Couples Tower Isle. The property boasts the most beautiful backdrop to capture a time lapse of the sun setting. Don't just take my word for it, the picture speaks for itself.
Overall Rating: 7.6 out of 10
Verdict: I'll always go back!
It would be very awkward at this point, having already been four times, to just come out of left field and say I'd never go back. As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Issa and the Couples Resorts team are doing something right. While they don't allow solo-stays, Couples Tower Isle is a budget-friendly and consistent option for couples and friends. It's my go-to recommendation for honeymoons and quick getaways!
I will go out on a limb and say that if CTI ever gets a very much needed face-lift/renovation (like they're currently doing at San Souci), it's over for these other hotel chains! (except for maybe Excellence Oyster Bay and Hyatt Zilara which are worthy opponents). I'd love to visit all the Couples Resorts one day! I'm toying with the idea of visiting San Souci after the renovations have been completed. Stay tuned to see if I make it!
Disclaimer: This review is not sponsored. All opinons are my own.