By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
Club Med may have invented the all-inclusive vacation, but Jamaican hotelier Abe Issa introduced the model to the Caribbean when he rebranded his 1949-built Tower Isle Hotel as Couples Ocho Rios back in 1978 and put the island on the path to becoming the modern all-inclusive mecca it is today. In the decades since, the classic brand has expanded to four resorts, including a pair in the resort town of Negril and one in nearby Ocho Rios. So which of these adults-only beachfront enclaves to choose? Truth is you can’t go wrong with any of them. But read on to find the Couples resort that may be a perfect match for you.
#1: Couples Negril About 90 minutes’ drive from Montego Bay you’ll find this 234-room retreat occupying pride of place on Bloody Bay. The vibe is playful and appropriately laidback at this playground in the “capital of casual,” with a trendy poolside scene, five restaurants to sate the appetite, and a raft of included activities (think basketball, golf, tennis and fitness classes) to help you work one up. Perks such as couples’ spa treatments and private dinners on the sand raise the romance bar and make this resort a great choice for beach-craving, fun-loving couples who want to vacation among like-minded souls. All around, it’s our favorite.
#2: Couples Swept Away Why chose this resort over Couples Negril, just a bit further west? Because you’re not content to simply sit and soak up the sun on vacation; you want to pack in all the adventure you can. And this 312-roomer on Negril’s celebrated strip delivers, with an impressive sports complex facilitating more activities than you can possibly fit into a week’s vacay. The lineup: 10 tennis courts, a fitness studio, a pair of squash courts, and an outdoor track, plus a lap pool and equipment for every imaginable water sport, from diving to wakeboarding to paddle boats.
#3 Couples Sans Souci We love this Ocho Rios gem for its compact footprint, romantic atmosphere and stunning location, spread over a lush hillside that descends to a quiet white-sand cove. Comprising only 150 suites, the resort is low-key but high-end, with curving foliage-bordered paths that lead up and down the cliffside, past waterfalls and grottoes secreted within the greenery. Its layout and the plethora of amenities (two beaches, four pools, five restaurants and seven bars) mean that nowhere is ever crowded and it’s easy to feel as if you have the secluded-but-centrally-located resort all to yourselves. And isn’t the most romantic feeling of all?
#4 Couples Tower Isle They say you can’t beat a classic and this resort proves the point, delivering an all-inclusive vacation that’s among the island’s most refined, with an old-school sophistication lacking at many of its competitors. What was once the Tower Isle Hotel (a magnet for Hollywood stars and royalty in its 1950’s heyday) and then Couples Ocho Rios in 2009 became the 226-room Couples Tower Isle, melding modern niceties with Rat Pack-era aesthetics into a retro-modern yet timeless resort. Amenities include six restaurants, five bars, complimentary excursions, and spa suites that feature unlimited treatments included. But our favorite Couples resort is most famous for its namesake offshore island, where nudity isn’t just permitted, its required. If you’re searching for a classic Caribbean all-inclusive vacation, minus the kids and with plenty of 21-st century perks, this could be your Paradise found.