Couples Ocho Rios turns 25 with $2M refit

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NEW YORK -- Couples Ocho Rios, the forerunner of Jamaica's all-inclusive resorts reserved for couples, turns 25 years young this month, just as the paint dries on a new, $2 million renovation.

The refurbishment effort included renovation of 80 mountain- and oceanview guest rooms in the 212-room resort's main building and the conversion of 13 rooms on the fourth floor into six penthouse suites.

"By continually upgrading our existing product, we ensure our guests the absolute best in design and comfort," said Couples Resorts president and CEO Paul Pennicook.

Reworked interior room decoration at the 19-acre, beachfront property now reflects a yellow-and-green "Negril chic" look, with new bedding, upholstery and drapery; Mexican tilework; and fixtures such as wall sconces and, in suites, artwork by local artisans.

Attention has been paid to the smallest detail, according to resort management.

For example, new furnishings are dominated by deep, butter yellow and avocado green; headboards and duvets are covered in rich cotton with the Couples logo embroidered in gold stitching; and sconces are home to ginger plants.

Public areas of the resort also were upgraded, including the Piano Bar and restaurants Le Gourmet and Verandah.

An interesting addition to the renovated Piano Bar is a display of vintage photographs featuring founder Abe Issa with a host of celebrity guests, including Eugene Fodor, the late travel guidebook impressario.

Couples Ocho Rios, built in 1949 by Issa as the Tower Isle Hotel, reopened as a couples-only, all-inclusive resort in 1978.

The property, re-nowned as a celebrity hotspot for the jet set, quickly became the flagship resort of a new chain.

A private island with a tower just offshore at Couples Ocho Rios is named Today, a private island with a tower just offshore still is referred to as "Tower Isle" in tribute to the resort's history.

Couples is celebrating its silver anniversary with special events, including participation in a Jan. 18 golf charity event at the Upton Golf Club and a fireworks display and dance party on Jan. 20.

Vacations at Couples Ocho Rios include airport transfers to and from Montego Bay; air-conditioned accommodations with satellite TV and CD player; in-room champagne upon arrival; continental breakfast in bed; all meals and snacks; unlimited, premium-brand cocktails and drinks; free weddings and renewal of vows; catamaran cruises; and other perks.

In addition to on-site amenities and water sports, Couples Ocho Rios offers trips to Dunn's River Falls and horseback tours at no extra cost.

"Guests at Ocho Rios experience the best of all worlds -- an unparalleled host of amenities and off-site excursions along with luxurious accommodations in a spectacular natural setting, coupled with the reliability and familiarity of their longtime favorite resort," said Couples Resorts chairman Lee Issa.

Vacationers can sample the venerable resort at significant discounts next year under Couples' new "Early Booking Bonus" promotion.

The deal offers savings of up to 30% on bookings of three or more nights through Feb. 28 for travel until Dec. 26.

Travel through June 27 features discounts of $130 per couple, per night, off published rates; travel between June 28 and Dec. 26 has savings of $150 per couple, per night, or $1,050 for a seven-night stay.

Couples Resorts, based in Montego Bay, owns and operates Couples Negril and Swept Away in Negril in addition to Couples Ocho Rios.

The chain debuted a preferred-agent program in September that offers bonuses of $10 per room night in addition to the standard 10% commission.

Agents enrolled in the program also are entitled to earn one complimentary night for every seven nights booked; a free listing on the Couples Web site; customized business cards and stationery; monthly Web fliers to send to clients; advance notice of promotions and special events; and sales manager and resort access.

To become a Couples Preferred Agent, visit www.couples.com/agents.asp and fill out the registration form.

Benefits of the program are tracked automatically when agents complete the online VIP registration form for clients; agents must pre-register clients in order to earn bonuses.

For more information, call (800) COUPLES or visit www.couples.com.

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