Jamaica: Couples Tower Isle – What We Loved

So, please don’t cry for us…but we’ve just returned from the Couples Tower Isle, an all-inclusive resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Even back to our regularly scheduled lives, we’re now so relaxed that we have little choice but to be, well…utterly content.

We wriggled our toes in thick sand, and bobbed in the summer-choppy Caribbean Sea.  We gaped at schools of yellow fish with gray stripes and big blue eyes.  We lolled in the brand new spa, marvelled at the garden’s Poinciana trees in flame-red bloom, and found ourselves squarely and happily in the midst of mango season.

We met some lovely new people.  We stuffed our faces with healthy foods.  But perhaps most importantly for two borderline workaholics?

We each found the time and quiet to lounge side by side and read a whole book.  Apiece.

In the interest of full disclosure, Adam and I, along with several other writers and their spouses, were invited/comped by Couples (a group of four all-inclusive Jamaican boutique resorts) to experience the newly renovated Tower Isle…as couples.

Tower Isle, previously known as Couples Ocho Rios, officially re-opened in April of this year after $30 million worth of changes.  Since this was our first trip to both Jamaica and a purely all-inclusive resort, we were battling the pull to see as much as possible of the island and the property; with few exceptions, though, our itinerary at Tower Isle kept us in the neighborhood.

The image we’d brought with us of an all-inclusive resort was not a particularly good one:  Spring Break, sunburn, and booze cruises with corn syrup cocktails. Originators of the all-inclusive couples only resort concept in 1978, Couples has clearly worked hard to fight this image of loud, tacky, drunken revelry and replace it with a more tasteful, romantic focus.

With Tower Isle, they almost entirely succeed.

Here’s what we found wonderful:

Rides to and from the airport in an air-conditioned van with a friendly Jamaican tour guide. Tower Isle is about an hour-and-a-half from Montego Bay’s airport, so having Danny of the “No Problem Bus” give us a non-intrusive, occasional rundown of what we were seeing in-between was very welcome.  We learned more about the island from him than just about anyone else we met.  The ride’s included in your stay, but we’d recommend tipping $10 each way.

Our bed. Like a cozy cloud, with delectably light sheets and pillows.  On average, we slept nine hours a night upon this unassuming treasure…a phenomenon worth its weight in Jamaica’s historic pirate gold.

The view from our central, ocean-front room. The Caribbean Sea stretching pale teal to dark blue (a fair ways from shore, there’s a sharp drop to a canyon ‘neath the waves), a long dock that’s fairy-lit at night, and the eponymous Tower Isle, the resort’s  Disneyfied, naturalist-only island.  No, you can’t see the naked people from the resort side…and that was the way we liked it.

Reusable water bottles for every guest and potable fountains on every floor. If, like us, you dread the thought of the Earth buried in plastic water bottles, know that Tower Isle hears you.  In one fell swoop, they make it possible for you to stay hydrated, ease Jamaica’s trash load, and provide you with handy souvenirs.

The spa’s customer service, treatment rooms and products. The garden entrance and small interior pool (see photo below) are lovely, but the cheerful staff and Repêchage products are the star attractions here.  Our couples’ massage left us both noodly and tripping on the scent of vanilla for hours afterward.  When we returned two days later, we were ushered in for separate treatments with a smile, within a half-hour (to see what would happen, we didn’t tell them we were with the press trip).  Adam left with a distinctly un-knotted neck, and my Four Layer Facial left my then-tragic skin clean, smooth and calm.

The Veggie Bar. Our hands-down favorite food at the resort.  Fully shaded with a view of the Caribbean, you can perch here on cushy stools and order up a never-ending storm.  Hooray for yam chips, cut veggies and lemon hummus, vichysoisse in a calabash bowl, focaccia sandwiches, and creative, fresh juices like cucumber-red pepper-ginger.  Open for lunch and afternoon snacking.

The main swimming pool and hot tubs. The former diving board at the main pool is now a cascading fountain — a cooling sound as we lolled on floating rafts.  The hot tubs overlook the sea, the Bayside Restaurant (see first photo above) and its adjacent trees full of little white herons.  We recommend a soak if you’d enjoy a sunset hour immersed in bubbles, listening to the gentle roll of salty waves.

The quiet stretch of beach. The perfect place to chaise yourselves side by side in the late afternoon with a book…and just when you’re thirsty, a nice young man from the bar will stop by to take your drink order.

The two on-site shops. You can find some tasteful gifts for the folks back home who didn’t get to go to Jamaica, including work by local artisans and musicians.  But here’s why I’m really a fan:

  • Found a travel-sized talcum powder to help stave off the July humidity, as well as strong sunscreen.
  • Found a very cute swimsuit coverup to the small-time tune of $20.  It’s already held up beautifully in pool and salt water, as well as my washing machine.
  • Needed dark, comfy, reasonably-priced sunglasses when my trusty Target pair jumped into the cascade of nearby Dunn’s River Falls; found an attractive pair that fit the bill for all of $17.

The design of the new lobby and specialty restaurants. Tower Isle’s re-do has resulted in a glassy, modern resort, which at face value wouldn’t seem to work on a jungly tropical island.  But, we’ve never seen so many types of pale turquoise tile that make us happy.  Throw in some touches of red in the Jamaican-themed Verandah restaurant (pictured below), orchids at the desks, and comfy seats facing the sea, and the total effect is more breezy than chilly.

To find out what didn’t work so well for us at Tower Isle, please stay tuned.

See related posts:

Jamaica: Couples Tower Isle – What We’d Love to See
Traveling Couples: Lyn & Arthur Dobrin
Jamaica: Glory Be to Sans Souci
Jamaica: Dunn’s River Falls
Jamaica: Notes on an Island
TWT Travel Binder: Jamaica

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  3. […] we flew directly to Jamaica on a press trip for Couples Resorts, checking out the newly tricked-out Tower Isle and the eternally elegant Sans […]

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