This Couples Tower Isle All Inclusive Resort Review is part of a Jamaica trip report including reviews of Jamaican all inclusive resorts, restaurant reviews, and things to do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Here are the prior posts:
Couples Tower Isle recently celebrated its 35th Anniversary, and is the original Couples Resort founded by Abe Issa in 1949, as the Tower Isle Hotel, with the all-inclusive concept launched in 1978 as Couples Ocho Rios. It's been renovated and expanded over the years, and its current decor has a breezy Miami South Beach feel to it.
My journey began with a 3.5 hour JetBlue nonstop flight from NYC to Montego Bay, Jamaica. I loved that the flight time was less a third that of going to Hawaii, and over an hour less than flying to the West Coast. Thanks to Club Mobay VIP service, I was met shortly after deplaning and passport and customs formalities were expedited, so that I shortly found myself at the Couples airport arrivals lounge, which is right next to the Club Mobay arrivals lounge. In just a few minutes, we were ready to depart the airport by bus.
I won't lie--Ocho Rios isn't right near Montego Bay, it's about a 2 hour drive. The bus ride was fine, although we did encounter a pretty awful accident that appeared to be a head-on collision of two cars and it set us back about 20 minutes. On the way, we got a glimpse of the sunset:
We were all thrilled to finally arrive at Couples Tower Isle, and were welcomed with cool towels and a refreshing tropical drink at reception, where we checked in:
The bell men are not only friendly, they have an uncanny ability to remember your face and your name after just your first meetng. Here's the lobby:
I was shown to my Superior Ocean Room in Block 5, which although it didn't face Tower Isle, I was very happy with--peaceful and no noise from the pool area or beach. In fact, the very first sound I noticed as the sound of the waves. I don't think I've gone to sleep hearing the ocean since I was child visiting my cousins' house in Diamond Head, Hawaii, which was also right on the beach.
Here's the entry to the Superior Ocean Room:
The King size bed was pretty firm, which I realize many people like, although it took some getting used to for me as I have a really comfortable memory foam pillowtop mattress at home. There was some romantic towel art forming a heart on the bed:
Opposite the bed was a dresser and flat screen Toshiba TV, with a chair off to the side:
The bathroom and everything else was immaculately clean, if rather basic. I'm personally not a huge fan of flat sinks, especially when you're trying to soak swimming suit and dive skin, since the sink was also rather shallow.
There wasn't a bath, just a walk in shower. Since this is an adults only resort and children aren't allowed, having a shower only isn't an issue, although I do think having a bath or soaking tub option is more romantic. If you splurge on the One Bedroom Ocean Suite, that can come with a jacuzzi bathtub.
Bath amenities were Gilchrist & Soames, in large dispensers, as part of Couples Resorts' mission to be more sustainable. I support having these larger dispensers rather than individual bottles, although Gilchrist & Soames isn't my preference and I was glad I'd brought my own L'Occitane shampoo with me.
The closet had plenty of space to hang clothes, and there were two waffle weave cotton bathrobes. There weren't slippers, so I was glad to have brought my own slippers.
There was a nice welcome amenity of cheeses, crackers and dried fruit. I made the mistake, however, of not tightly recovering it with the plastic wrap, and there were some ants when I came back from dinner. So make sure that whatever you don't finish, you either very tightly wrap up, or better, call housekeeping and ask them to pick it up. After all, not great to have a ton of ants right outside your door either, if you just leave the plate there.
Free mini bar is included as part of the all inclusive pricing, although I didn't make use of it:
I arrived at night, but come day time I was finally able to fully enjoy the view from the balcony, which had a small table, 2 chairs, and a handy rack for drying towels and swim suits.
Naturally the beach is a focal point at any Caribbean resort, and the sand was very soft and the water was clear. Tower Isle itself is clothing optional, or more accurately, a no clothes area since you aren't permitted to go to the island unless you're going to take your clothes off. I wasn't up to that, so you'll have to make do with a picture of the island from the beach :-)
The main pool is right by the airy buffet style Patio Restaurant, and always had plenty of loungers available even though the resort was full on most nights I was there. More popular was the other pool by the beach, which hosted the swimup bar and had a small adjacent deep pool used for scuba.
While all the days I was there were beautifully sunny and warm, there is a game room with billiards, ping pong and a variety of board games that would come in handy on cooler or rainy days:
Another good option if the weather is inclement is the Oasis Spa, which has been honored as "Best Caribbean Spa" in Travel + Leisure, where you can indulge in massages, hot stone therapy, reflexology, body scrubs, facials, manicures and pedicures. I can personally vouch for how therapeutic the massage was. Coral immediately noticed how tight I was in the neck and shoulder area (pretty common for anyone spending hours a day at a computer) and even worked on that area some extra time.
Here's the manicure/pedicure room:
There's a lovely central courtyard with pool:
And even if you don't have a massage, you can enjoy a nice soak in the jacuzzi.
Here's the front of the resort at dusk:
While I talked with a few other guests during my stay, my most memorable conversation was with a couple that has been coming to the resort even prior to it becoming Couples Ocho Rios--they've been coming since 1971, and often more than once a year! For them, it really has become a second home, and the "Welcome Home" expressed by the Couples Tower Isle staff couldn't hold truer for them. I don't know about you, but I can't think of another hotel or resort I've stayed at, where I've met regulars who have been going there for over 40 years.
Verdict: Couples Tower Isle in some ways was what I expected of a nicer Caribbean All Inclusive Resort: lovely beach, clear water, many watersport and activity options, very clean albeit basic rooms, and extensive buffets. But I was also pleasantly surprised by how friendly many of the staff, especially the bell men and others, after you got to know them, were. Thanks to such friendliness, I really did relax more, and even if there were some minor service lapses in the Patio Restaurant, such as asking if I wanted coffee and it never being brought, it didn't bother me the way it might have in a more formal, less friendly place. Food (which I'll cover in a separate review) was very good for an all inclusive, and the spa, while again more spartan in design than other luxury spas, provided a truly excellent massage, which is what I really cared about.
I didn't stay at Couples Sans Souci, but my sense is that it's a bit lovelier, at least in terms of public areas and meandering walks around the property, but also bigger and hence a bit less personal. Couples Tower Isle is somewhat more social, with a number of younger couples when I was there (although many were there for a wedding) and more about "coming home" with many regulars who have come year after year.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Couples Resorts, however the views expressed in this post are my own.
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