As I write this, Couples Sans Souci Resort in Jamaica is closed for renovation. However renovation will not correct the problems that my wife and I encountered on our trip there from June 30 u2013 July 7, 2015. We have been to many exclusive resorts in the past, many less expensive than San Souci and many equivalents, but all of them put Couples San Souci to shame. We booked a week at Sans Souci at the recommendation of some friends. Total cost was about $4,000. Their website noted that the resort would be closed for renovations from July 9 to mid-October but that there would be no decrease in activities offered or the level of service until closing, and also no decrease in the rates. I researched the resort and found that it had a lot of good reviews and repeat guests, but made mention of some stairs. I am partially handicapped, but our friend recommended we request a room in Buildings A or B, which are on the flat area where the restaurants and beaches are located, and on that basis we booked it with a request for a room on the first floor in Buildings A or B. After arriving in MBJ, we were whisked to the resort on a crowded bus for a 2 hour ride and a half-hour stop at a bar mid-way. We arrived at the resort at 4:00. My wife and I were in the back of the bus and six or seven other couples got off before us. We were more than ready, after that long bus ride, to get settled in our room. However, that was not to be. Upon entering the resortu2019s lobby, we see only one admissions clerk. (We found later that the other clerks were being laid off slowly as the closure date approached and the Admissions area was one of the first to go.) The six couples are queued in a line before us. By the time it was our turn to check in, it was 4:45. The clerk could not find our reservations, but when she finally dis, our papers were processed and in 20 minutes the porter took us to our room, G12-B, which was on the third floor with over 30 steps. We told the porter the room wouldnu2019t work because of the stairs, and he returned us to the Admissions clerk, Shawna, who was waiting to go home. Shawna was visibly irritated and told us there were no other rooms available. She said requests for special rooms are not guaranteed. By this time it was 5:15; five hours since our arrival in Jamaica, and we were tired, stressed and beat. I told Shawna the room wasnu2019t acceptable and asked for a refund so we could stay at another hotel with flatter grounds. At no time were we given to option to go to a different Couples resort, without all of the steps at Sans Souci. I asked Shawna her supervisoru2019s name, which she said was u201cMiss Clarissa Jones. u201c I asked Shawna to call her and minutes later a woman dressed in casual clothes with no name tag (whom we assumed to be Miss Jones but management later denied it) appeared, heard our story, sucked her teeth, and said she would have to look for something else in our current Building (Building G was, we later discovered, high up on the cliffs with MANY steps to anywhere). u201cMiss Jonesu201d disappeared, as did Shawna. My wife and I sat in the hot, un-air conditioned lobby, in near 100 degree heat, with no drinks, no food, and no other people in sight. I walked outside at 5:45 and again at 6:15 and asked the bellman what was going on. In each case he went to find out but did not return. Finally, at 6:30, the bellman and Shawna came to take us to our new room, which was on the first floor of Building G. However, because Bldg. G is on a cliff, we had to walk DOWN 15 stairs to get to the room, and so it stands to reason that we would have to walk UP those same stairs multiple times every day. I pointed that out to Shawna, and she said it was better than the third floor, and advised us to call for a shuttle to go to a beach or restaurant, as they were long walks. We were unhappy, and Let Shawna know it. However her attitude, as we found to be common among the staff, was one of complete indifference. This was our room and that was the best she could do. I felt sorry for the bellman, dragging our bags up and down all those steps, so I slipped him a tip, which he promptly turned and gave to Shawna. I asked why he gave his tip away and he said u201cwe have to shareu201d. Lesson learned u2013 donu2019t tip, or tip very surreptitiously. We learned to do the latter and found that to get good service you have to tip u201cunder the tableu201d. We brought lots of singles and fives, and tipped very heavily. While unpacking we checked the mini-bar fridge and it was empty. Couples has a u201cpersonalize your own mini-baru201d service, and left a checklist of items we could order, however the mini-bar was supposed to be fully stocked upon arrival and we were extremely thirsty! I called the operator and informed her we had an empty fridge, and she asked what we wanted and said someone was on their way up to stock it. By then it was dinnertime and we went to the lobby to ask for a ride to the restaurant, but there was nobody there! The bellman out front told us the shuttle was not on site and the only place to eat was at the beach party u2013 all of the restaurants were closed on Tuesday (our arrival day, as well asFridays . So we trekked down and up and down over hills and cliffs. The property is absolutely beautiful! But by the time we found the beach party down many twisting paths and stairs, we were pretty exhausted and feeling disappointed at this $400 ight vacation. However, we decided to make the best of it. We were pre-paid and had no other option. We nibbled at dinner, mostly jerk chicken and ribs from the grill, because everything else was literally covered with winged termites, which were attracted by the spotlights on the beach and at the outdoor buffet stations – a little too much protein for me. We walked back to the room u2013 another 30-minute trek in 90% humidity, and found that our in-room mini-bar was sill empty. I placed another call to the operator, and at 9:30 PM the night manager, Coral, and an attendant came with some items for the mini-bar. Of the six items (from their list) that we had requested, they were able to provide only three: diet coke, sprite, and water. Ice was not provided. Coral later sent up a fruit plate and a bottle of champagne; however, mini-bar service was spotty all week; we never knew what we would find or not find. We spent most of our week on the beach. It is a beautiful beach in a very pretty setting at the mouth of the White River yet segregated from the rest of the resort by a peninsula containing an inholding u2013 property not owned by the resort, and there was heavy construction noise coming from there daily. We never had any problem finding chairs or shade. The service at the beach was, for lack of a better word, indifferent. There was no drink service; we had to walk to the beach bar for drinks. No little flags in the sand!! There were no activities offered at the beach. I donu2019t know whether this was because the resort closed two days after we left, or if it is just the way it is when you have a no tipping policy. Lunch, buffet style, was very limited. We saw many left over items from prior nightu2019s dinners. It was impossible to get a sandwich or anything not on the steam tables. All week, the beach bar constantly ran out of basic items such as sprite, water, ice, straws, diet coke and glasses, among other essentials. Getting from the beach to the room on the cliffs was a challenge, as the drivers did not always show up as promised and we even felt mocked by some staff members who promised to call a shuttle but did not, laughing about it instead. We had dinner at the beach bar and grill, which was the only option available as all other restaurants require a reservation one day in advance (which we did not do as we arrived late due to service issues described.) We were told by a staff member that the staff that could not be placed at the other Couples Resorts (almost all of the blue-collar types) were being laid off for 3 months with no guarantee of a job when the resort re-opens, so morale was poor. As the week went on and the number of guests dwindled, so did the number of staff, the level of service and the variety and quality of the food. So, in summary, Couples San Souci is a nice, quiet hotel on the cliffs with nice beaches and an indifferent staff (especially the lobby and admin folks; not so much the drivers/bellmen or housekeepers). Service is better if you tip, so forget the no tipping policy. It is probably a good spot for a romantic get-away, but for us every day was a hassle just getting from point A to point B, and dealing with the indifferent and often rude staff. We felt like we were ripped off, took the complaint to management, but they brushed us off and denied these events even happened! I feel like the resort should have reduced the rates for this week prior to closing, because the service was not good. When I complained, the owner said u201cMiss Clarissa Jonesu201d did not work at the hotel, so my complaints must be fictitious. Oh, we wish they were! Of course, after renovation they can say all these problems were fixed. But their renovation will not touch the indifferent and lackadaisical service. This is a hotel to which we will not return. Meanwhile, I feel that we should be reimbursed for misrepresentation by the resort for lack of services and availability of a handicapped room.
PO BOX 103 Ocho Rios, Jamaica