Traveling to Jamaica During Covid-19? An Eyewitness Review of Couples Resorts

Couples Resorts
Couples

Jamaica, which has four Couples Resorts, was one of the first islands to give the green light for tourism and now estimates 1700 passengers arriving per day.

In a nutshell: This is an account from two American tourists traveling to Couples Swept Away in Negril, Jamaica in July.

Arrival in Montego Bay
Despite the confusion with the split stay (two different Couples Resorts), arrival was quick and easy. We had Club MoBay and probably didn’t need it as there was hardly anyone there when we landed at 11:30 AM.

When there’s confusion at the airport and the Ministry of Tourism says you can only go to one Couples Resorts and to pick one, but you already paid for two – what do you do?

You experience chaos in the rules!  And contact your travel professional to assist!

Tourists are in fact allowed to split their stay between two resorts. According to the Jamaica Tourist Board, the possibility exists that persons can stay at different hotels within the corridor.  If visitors wish to do this, they would need to declare this intent at the airport upon arrival.

Couples Resorts Swept Away

We’re officially back home from our amazing vacation. I just wanted to give you a summary in case others have questions.

First of all – let me just say the whole trip was amazing as always! Couples Resorts upgraded our room to a beachfront room and it was phenomenal. It was a special treat to get to enjoy the proximity to the beach. We were definitely spoiled.

Food and Drinks
The food was delicious as always. We didn’t notice any difference from last year. Menus were still full of variety and quality options.

The only main difference is that the restaurants all closed by 8:30 PM, probably to ensure staff can get home before the island curfew. The alcohol selection appeared to be the same as last year, though most bars are closing earlier than normal. The only bar you could go to after 9:30 PM was the Aura Lounge bar.

Entertainment
Entertainment seemed mostly the same as last year. The shows in The Palms ended earlier, usually around 8:30 PM. Again, probably because of curfew. Ultimate Chocolate and the beautiful lady in the piano bar ended by 9:30 PM. They still had staff members starting parties in the Aura Lounge after hours, though.

They did not try to get the dance floor going like usual.

Activities
Many of the same activities were still running. They were offering classes, sports activities, tie-dye, etc. All water sports were running, too, including the catamaran. We had to wear a mask upon boarding the catamaran and they checked our temperatures, but we were allowed to take off the masks once on the catamaran and they encouraged social distancing.

We still got to go to Rick’s Cafe, though there weren’t many divers, and swim through a cave. They were not currently running the included excursions that we could see and were not doing the “trading places” day trips to Couples Negril. This will likely change, though, as it appears the Prime Minister made an update yesterday that would allow for more travel within the Resilient Corridor.

Beach
Pristine, as always. It was a little stormier than normal. Lots of wind and the ocean was rougher than normal for a couple of days and brought in some seaweed, but the staff at Couples Resorts did a great job of keeping everything clean. There is hardly anyone at the resort so good seats and palapas were easy to find. Sand fleas were horrible though, much worse than last year. Down the beach, many of the local places and restaurants are closed. Margaritaville is open, but a lot of the smaller places are closed. It’s pretty sad to see. Hopefully, they’ll be able to reopen when all of this is over with.

COVID-19 Protocols
Everywhere you go they have hand sanitizer and they want you to use it – at the entrance of every restaurant and in the gift shops. Masks are required for guests only when social distancing is not possible. We only wore them in the lobby when interacting with staff and in the gift shops and were never asked to put them on. They sanitize every table and chair as soon as people leave, but I don’t think they were sanitizing the beach chairs. Our room was thoroughly cleaned and mopped every day and we saw the housekeeping staff in there one time and they were dressed head-to-toe in PPE.

Any alcohol room requests are delivered by bartenders who cannot enter the room, so you have to be in there when they come to fill your request.

Room service continental breakfast was still available, which is nice because now that breakfast is a la carte it takes a lot longer than usual. Staff on the resort all have masks and all but a select few wear them, though most don’t have them cover their noses, which is completely understandable. I can only imagine how miserable it would be to wear a mask all day in that climate! They took our temperatures every morning at breakfast, but if you didn’t eat breakfast at the restaurant, it wasn’t taken.

We packed our own thermometer and took our temps twice a day anyway, just to be safe. There is currently no self-serve food or drink. The soda fountains are shut down, the ice cream at Seagrapes is served up by staff members (who thoroughly wash their hands, wear gloves, and grab the cone with a napkin so that there is no contact), and water stations are staff-served as well.

Restaurants were at half-capacity. As resort capacity increases, dinner might be harder to reserve/access quickly. The biggest change that was disappointing was the earlier closing times for the restaurants/bars. They greatly reduced the capacity of the catamaran cruise, too, so we weren’t able to reserve it right away like last time.

They still did the Couples Resorts Returner’s dinner, but it was at Lemongrass and each couple was seated at their own table. Social distancing was expected and encouraged at all times and most (sober) guests respected the social distancing protocols. They even removed the seats around the bars to ensure that people didn’t crowd.

Overall, we felt extremely safe and I hope that the staff felt safe, as well.

We’re already dreaming about going back to Couples Resorts next year!  – Ariana

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About Donna Adinolfi - Editor-in-Chief 161 Articles
In addition to being our Editor-in-Chief, Donna Adinolfi is a wellness travel expert, a freelance writer, an award-winning photographer, and the founder/publisher of MindfulAdventures.com. Her 30+ year career includes serving as the Travel & Spa Editor of Balance Magazine as well as planning wellness travel & retreats. An avid fan of the freedom from carrying cash or credit cards, Donna loves to visit all-inclusive wellness resorts in the U.S, and traveling to some of Mexico's and the Caribbean's many all-inclusive resorts several times each year. She's also a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.

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