How has this resort rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Couples Negril
My wife and I stayed for 7 nights, and it was no where near enough. Whoever said you can't get enough of a good thing, was thinking about Couples Negril. The staff, the food, the entertainment, it's all there. We are already looking forward to next year there.
Couples Negril --Worth a Winter Sojourn
My husband and I chose Couples Negril based on many positive reviews from TripAdvisor and Epinions. This was his maiden journey to Jamaica, and this was my second, having stayed at Sandals Ochos Rios 4 1/2 years ago with a friend. Thus, my review will attempt to compare the two and add to the threads I read. We visited the week of January 12-19, 2003.
Check-in at Montego Bay went fairly smoothly. I agree with some of the travelers to get through Immigration quicker is to go to the booths on the far left. I also suggest carrying a pair of shorts on board to change in the airport, which we did as the airport does not have very much a/c, and it can be hot, especially if you fly from a very cold climate. The Couples Booth got us on a van that took us to the resort, and the driver was entertaining. The road trip was fine as it looked as though it was fairly new. So for those who recommend the flight vs the road, the road is fine and is provided by the hotel. The only thing is to be sure to look for all of your belongings when you are dropped off at the hotel. We lost a windshirt in the van and weren't able to trace it later when we discovered we didn't have it, although the front desk did its best to assist us.
Check-in was fine; I had expected a little confusion and champagne. Unlike Sandals, whereby the lobby is air conditioned, Couples is not. But they brought cold towels to refresh you, just as they do at Sandals. It took awhile to get to the room--about 35 minutes, but once we were given the basic room rules, the luggage followed fairly quickly.
The room is what you see on the Internet. Our room was situated on the 3rd floor of Building 4. We were pleased because we had a pretty garden view, and a glimpse of the ocean. When you step outside, you can hear the traffic during the day, but at night, the place settles and it's fairly quiet. What we learned though is the bathroom window faces outside (it's not internal like at Sandals), thus, it's a good idea to close your bathroom door at night to ensure a little extra privacy. As some other travellers have reported, there were a few ants. But they appeared only when something sugary was in the room, such as in our case, some chewing gum. The water pressure is not good in the evening as many people take their showers then before heading off the dinner, but that could happen in someone's home too. We appreciated having tv in the room, especially to know what was happening in the world since another threat of war was lingering. The housekeeping staff was gracious about bringing extra towels in the evening for the next day.
The mix of guests was terrific. We were concerned about being a handful of older people (we are in our early to mid 40's). There were only a few in the 20's, many in their 30's, and quite a few of us from 40+. We also expected the guests to be very sports oriented. We learned later that Couples Swept Away had more of those clientele. We were glad that mature figures were donned, and yet there were plenty of activities for one to participate in. My husband had a great appreciation for the tennis pro, Larry, as he had not played in a long time, and he managed to get into a few games with a racket. Other guests reported the same.
The pool area is very nice. Plenty of chairs, water in good shape, pool bar looked good but we didn't spend time there. We got our drinks from the Beach Grill. They have a mix of bartenders, but the ones I really liked were Sheldon and a new person, Kevin. We also liked the self-service area whereby you could help yourself to soft drinks, tea, and fresh, cold water, and ice. There are more pools at Sandals, and I liked the pool bars a little more.
Grounds were fairly well-kept at Couples, but they contrast greatly to the beauty of grounds at Sandals Ochos Rios. Sandlas has twice or three times the varieties of plants and flowers, and are proud of their landscaping, as evidence by the morning walks lead by different employees, including tours of their orchid gardens. They should be. I liked the outdoor chess and shuffleboard at Sandals, plus I thought their wedding areas were a little more elaborate.
Couples puts more effort in their beach area. There are more trees and sand, plus you are allowed to walk during the day along the beach on other properties, which you could not at Sandals. Lots of chairs, but they needed to be cleaned a little more often. Liked the hammocks especially when I wanted to just read and not be in the sun all of the time, but near the water for a breeze. Water was very warm, as was the weather. It was 85-88 F air temps nearly every day, and for the exception of January 13, whereby a passing shower lasted 10 minutes, it was sunny and beautiful. At Sandals OR in July it was in the 90's, and had passing showers most days, but not enough to keep one from being on the beach. But compared to where my friend and I were living at the time, it was cooler!
I won't comment on the things that people enjoyed such as the Booze cruise, other to say that we agree that it was a fun time, and we didn't see anyone get "looped." While we didn't partake of many late night activities, most people reported that they enjoyed them. Sandals differs in that it includes Dunn's River Falls in their package. Water sports more inclusive at Couples though. In addition to what Sandals offers (snokeling, diving, and will take you out on their hobie cats), Couples will take you water skiing, show you a little on how to use their hobie cats for sailing, and offer diving lessons that qualify towards certification if you want them.
We took one of the excursions to Mayfield Falls. Compared to Dunn's River Falls, I thought this was more intimate and interesting. It was very challenging to walk through the river, and the falls, which have mineral water were refreshing. Important to have a good guide to help though as there are many nooks and crannies you can fall into. Our guide was Zuki. He was strong and interesting. We like the footpath back as he explained the different plants and trees that people in Jamaica consume for nourishment or for medicinal reasons. While we recommend him, he's not the best picture taker. Most of our photos were completely off-center. The lunch served was delicious and one of the best lunches we had on the vacation. We suggest inquiring with the tour rep about what to tip the driver, especially if you are the only ones taken to the place. Our driver looked surprised when we didn't tip him generously. We think he still got a decent cut of the profits, and moreover, he didn't know much about the area past Negril, so while he did his job adequately, the ride wasn't special either to warrant a big tip.
Regarding the shopping and the hussle of the natives: Jamaica is still a developing place. The number one product is tourism. The shopping trip that is provided for free (which Sandals does not) by Couples was pretty good. They take you to 2 duty free areas, and one open area. I had good success in the open area of finding what I wanted, and didn't feel quite as pressured as I did at the ones in Ochos Rios. There is another open area about .2 mile from the resort that is easy for walking and shopping. We were pressured to buy there, but because of my previous experience in Ochos Rios, I knew how to handle the sellers and negotiated some pretty good deals (ie Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee - 2 lbs for $15 US). My advice to those who are seeking good deals is to trade in Jamaican currency (which I obtained in the states--much better rates), have the seller make the first offer, then counter their offer, and keep in mind what you wish to spend, and be prepared to walk out if you believe their price is not what you think the product is worth. I also make certain I didn't have too much cash to offer in order to get my last deals. Don't offer credit cards for open areas; save those for the duty free malls for rum and other various items.
The one aspect that I noticed the most between Sandals OR and Couples Negril: the food. Sandals was fabulous. It was like going on a good cruise ship, and every meal was good. I gained some weight on my first trip; this one I did not. At Couples, I filled out my guest survey and I expressed our concerns about the handling and storage of food as I got a little sick twice (nothing major, just went through my system pretty quickly). The director of dining did call once to apologize when I mentioned it to the Guest Relations person. In my view, they keep food that can spoil faster in containers that needed to conduct cold from the ice, and they didn't. They needed more cold food at lunch time, and the dinners were just so-so in the main dining area. Also, the music was too loud in general. But the wait staff were very good. I particularly enjoyed seeing Philip in the main dining area, and Rudolph in the specialty restaurant. Rudolph ensured that my husband's birthday dinner went well, and the music is sweeter since they contract out to a flutist and a violinist. We ate in the specialty restaurant 3 times since we weren't satisfied with the main dining room. But other travellers were pleased with the food in general. We ate in the Beach Grill once, and were satisfied with the meal there. And I suspect the resort will do what they can to make it better since they are very service oriented and responsive to customer comments.
So to recap:
Bigger Beach--Couples Negril
Sunsets--Couples gets a slight edge
More activities included in the package--Couples Negril
Service orientation about equal with Sandals
People mix--Couples Negril, if you go in the winter
Sunset Cruise--great. It lasts 3 hours and it is fun
Ride to and from airport--Couples is good and they get you there on time.
Food--Sandals OR, plus you can eat at the other Sandals at Dunn's
Wait people with more sense of humor--Sandals OR
More pools, more outdoor activities (chess, shuffleboard)--Sandals OR
Golf--Sandals gets the edge
Room views--Sandals gets a slight edge, but appreciated the quiet at Sandals more
More variations of trips offered through Sandals, such as a trip through Blue Mountains and Kingston, horseback riding at St Ann's Bay (but they are not included in the package)
You get Dunn's River Falls included
Sandals also offers flower arrangements delivered to the room for a fee and are done beautifully (my friend gave it to me as a surprise, they last all week and I took mine home)
If you want to just relax and have a good time, either is recommended. Jamaica is a wonderful place--but you should stay on the resorts in order to keep relaxed since the management at the resorts understand US service expectations.
Beyond Our Greatest Expectations!
My husband and I just returned from a beautiful 2 week honeymoon to Couples Negril. It was more than what we had expected. In fact, I would rate this resort a 6 star as compared to the other resorts we had seen during our stay in Negril. It is located between Riu Tropical and Grand Lido resorts. We had the best beach.
Couples Negril is everything you could want in a trip; beautiful weather, excellent beaches, beautiful views and lounging facilities, variety of events and theme parties to keep you entertained, top notch food and service, and nice bonuses for honeymooners. Our room was upgraded to an oceanview room at no extra charge, and the complimentary massages were the best we have experienced ever.
The food was the best we have had as compared to all other destinations we have been to. Dining at the Otaheite Restaurant was divine, except for one thing, the restaurant is find dining and the portions served are quite small. We ordered 2 servings of each course because, you can!
The staff and family and couples made us feel as though we were treated as royalty. We especially miss Nepaul (Shaggy), Sheldon, and all the bar staff at the Beach Bar. Try the famous Sheldon special and, those Bob Marley shots. Oh, what a feeling. Our drinks were the "Dirty Banana", and the "Hummingbird". The "Citraid" was a terrific non-alcholic beverage for those hot afternoons. The pool was perfect, especially with the falls by the swim up bar ( a perfect spot for you tanning junkies). Oh, my tan - awesome!
We are thinking of our next trip to Couples Negril for December 2003 and we can't wait.
The only piece of advice I can give is to watch out for the hammocks on the beach. They have sandmites and i ended up with almost 50 bites on my back and the back of my legs. Stay covered up on the hammocks and don't lie on them for a long time cause you'll end up itching for awhile. Thankfully, that didn't put too much of a damper on our trip because you can't help but love the place your in at Couples Negril. No matter what, it is a dream for two!
We spent 4 nights in November of 2002 at Couples Negril. Very nice facility. Restaurants/qualiity of food / bar service all very good. Went on the sunset catamaran cruise to the Pickled Parrot. Catamaran had a simple bar which was fine and some entertainment. Really great to go in the late afternoon as the seas were smooth and their was a beautiful sunset.
Nice beach area, kept clean and the water is wonderful in November.
Used the au naturel beach which could use improvement. Very small area with self service bar ( A cooler with beer and a few mixers) but still nice to have a small section for yourself.
Most guests between the ages of 25-35. NIce facilities for exercise along with tennis courts and water sports.
Topless is common on the beach. A few at the pool but the atmosphere is very relaxed. No one cares.
Lots of good restaurants nearby..short cab ride but worth the trip if you want to get out and explore one day.
Overall- A first class facility...
I feel obligated to write this as this web site was critical in my choosing Couples Negril as a vacation destination. SOOOOOO glad we chose this resort. It was fabulous. First and foremost was the staff. They were truly wonderful and they completely made the trip. Second was the food. Absolutely delicious with a wide range of choices and magnificent presentation. The grounds of the resort were beautiful and well maintained. It made waking up every morning exciting since you couldn't wait to get outside. The rooms were nice, just as they're pictured on the website, the only downside was the bathroom, as it was a bit small. But really, who cares about the bathroom in the grand sceme of things! Our room was in the building next to the pool and Cassava Terrace which was very convenient, however, at night a bit noisy as they had entertainment after dinner usually until 10 or 10:30 at night. Not unbearable however, since to our surprise we were often in the room before 10 every night. That Jamaican sun will take it out of you! Take the catamaran cruise. There's one to Rick's cafe that we never made since most recommended the complimentary one that provided free drinks and entertainment on board. Cliff jumping was great and made for good pictures! As for the bus ride in, don't sweat it. Considering we never left the resort the entire week, this was really the only time we saw the country. Coming and going it never took longer than an hour and 15 minutes. Very interesting/eye opening as it's a very poor country. Also, prepare yourself to be propositioned for "party stuff." This was a little unsettling at first considering you may be out on your raft in the Carribean Sea and have someone in a boat riding the property line trying to sell you pot, but they were never annoying and with one "No thanks" that was all they needed to move on. By mid-week they seemed to find new territory anyway. The water is beautiful as is the beach with the sea grapes and palms. The weat
d roll in around 1pm and stay maybe 20-30 minutes. We had only one afternoon that was completely rained out. Overall, the trip was WONDERFUL and we hope to do it again next year. We'd definitely go back around the same time (mid-November), as we found out the resort was at 40% capacity, which is a little more laid back than the spring when they're closer to full capacity. If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer what I can. Happy vacationing!
Couples Negril 10th anniversary
Couples Negril was a great choice for us!! We decided to skip the road trip from Montego Bay to Negril and flew with Burl air took 15 minutes "great people". When we arrived at Negril airport, a van was waiting for us from Couples Resort, took about 2 min to get over to couples. We were greeted with all smiles, a glass of champagne, and a cold towel we just looked at each other and said "wow! we are in heaven". We were asked to fill out some papers and just relax, "everything is taken care of". This was only a few minutes and off to the room we went. We had gone for a Beachfront suite and the gentleman was taking us to a garden view suite so we told him this was not right.... only took a few minutes and they straightened everything out, they were very smooth about it... The room was very large, a very large bathroom with a jacuzzi tub which we used. We had a great time meeting people at the swim up bar and Pool Jacuzzi. We loved sitting and talking with Tennison who was our favorite bartender of all, after only one sitting, he new what we were drinking and everytime we returned he would say Hello and go mix a 7 and 7 and get a miller light without me even asking... I was very impressed. My wife snorkeled for the very first time and loved every sec of it, the water was very clear. The Catamaran cruise is a must, don't miss this one, we had a great time and they take you over to the picked parrot. Although it is closed there is a 40 ft cliff you can dive from, I did it and about half our cruise did too. The food was excellent, plenty of great beach to sunbathe on and the piano bar is a allnight party if you want it to be. We just got back 2 days ago (our stay was 4Oct-7Oct 2002) and we are already planning our next trip, we are thinking of the double take next time 5 or 6 days at each resort, Negril and Ochos Rios..
We just returned from a four day trip to Couples Negril and had a wonderful time. We had previously been to Ocho Rios in 1995 and 1997 and stayed at the resort that was then called Ciboney and is now Beaches Grand Sport. In comparison to our experiences at Ciboney, we found Couples Negril to be similar in meeting our expectations. We enjoyed the villas with stocked refrigerators and semi-private pools at Ciboney, as well as more choices for dinner. However, the beach at Couples was far better--much larger, with crystal clear water, only a little moss, and great wading complete with the occasional starfish sighting. We also enjoyed the closer proximity to everything at Couples. Going to the beach at Ciboney was a "trip" (via bus) whereas at Couples, one could head down to the beach for a quick dip, and be back in the room within minutes. The rooms at Couples were not luxurious but were above average for a tropical resort--sort of chic bohemian style decor. They were comfortable, had an in-room safe, and most had views of the ocean and gardens. The grounds were lovely, and flowers bloomed everywhere. The resort is 4 years old, and they seem to be maintaining it well. They were painting in some areas during our stay--hope the management keeps it up!
Here are some of the specifics on our trip to Couples--hope they help you in making your plans to visit Jamaica!
Getting there: We really recommend taking the air shuttle from Montego Bay to Negril. We cleared customs at 10:30 am in Montego Bay, headed for the domestic flights counter, and within an hour, we were checking in to our hotel. We heard that the others who took the van arrived at the hotel around 2:00 pm. We know missed out on some great sight-seeing from the ground, but we were ready to get there! It cost us $55 per person each way, and they gave us a $5 per way break for booking and paying for the round trip all at once. If we had taken the van on our return to the Montego Bay airport, we were to be in the lobby at 6:15 am, whereas with the air shuttle, we were asked to be there at 8:40. The extra sleep was appreciated! However, if you are not fond of small prop planes, you might want to stick to the van. We flew Jamaica Air Link, but there are several others to choose from. We didn't book this in advance, just found our way once we got there and were surprised at how easy it was. An aside to those in the North Texas area--we flew Champion Air direct to Montego Bay, which we booked through Fun Jet. While Champion isn't the best and most comfortable airline, we really prefer it to making connections and going through customs in Miami. Wish we had more direct flights to Jamaica from DFW!
Meals: The food was all good. There were a lot of choices including vegetarian. They made fresh fruit smoothies at breakfast, plus all the usual choices such as fruits, yogurts, cereals, bacon, sausage, omelets, etc. We only did the lunch buffet once because we ate such big late breakfasts. There were several salads, cheeses, fruits, and some meats. There was also a made-to-order sandwich bar. The desserts were also a highlight--it was hard not to overdo it at meals. A couple of the days we just shared an order of jerk chicken from the snack bar after snorkeling and saved room for dinner. Dinner choices were more varied. The Otaheite restaurant takes reservations, and was nearly completely booked. I suggest getting reservations right away after you arrive so you aren't disappointed. Go in person to the res. desk in the lobby. Other dinner choices included buffets, as well as a la carte menus. We checked out the menus and browsed the buffets before we decided, and just went where things looked good that night. Meals were about a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5, which is good for an all-inclusive.
Drinks: The bars were always busy, and service wasn't speedy. However, part of the reason we love Jamaica is the relaxed attitude. If laid-back service is the kind of thing that really annoys you, don't go to Jamaica. We go on vacation to relax, which is why we love the culture of Jamaica. That said, we found the service at Couples to be polite and friendly. The staff want you to enjoy their country and your vacation. In terms of alcohol, there were top-shelf choices among the frozen tropical choices that we mostly stuck with. We had champagne several nights, as well as some decent wines with dinner. There was a coffee maker in the room as well as a pitcher for ice-water. Bottled water could be purchased for $2 per liter in the sundries shop. We usually stopped by the bar on the way back to the room for a couple of drinks to go.
Weather: We were in Negril the first week in August. Two of the afternoons we were there, it literally poured rain for an hour or two. That's to be expected. It was romantic to wait it out in the room with the patio doors open, however, we got stuck at the beach bar both days and had to wait for a bit for it to let up. Wish I'd taken my umbrella with me to the beach--but it didn't look cloudy before we left--next time I'll plan ahead. It was also very hot. Living in Texas, we are used to hot summers, so it wasn't unbearable. We were grateful for excellent air-conditioning in the room (and at the Otaheite restaurant). However, plan to have most meals in open-air/outside locations. Also, we took along bug spray and ointment. Many of the bug bites showed up later. If you are like me, and bugs find you irresistible, keep using the spray even if you don't think they're getting you.
Beach/Water Activities: The beach is a highlight of the resort. I am big on wading in the ocean, and Bloody Bay was a great place for it. The beach here is not private, but security guards kept non-guests moving along and we weren't really bothered by them. The resort sits between the Grand Lido and a Riu resort in the bay. There are little waves and virtually no undertoe, so even non-swimmers could enjoy the ocean. Our favorite time to be at the ocean was at sunset. We didn't worry as much about getting burned and floated in the warm Carribean while watching the gorgeous Negril sunset. We went snorkeling twice (take some bread from breakfast to feed the fish!), and it was great. There were several beginners on both trips and it was a calm place to learn to snorkel with little current. We also went on the sunset catamaran cruise and had fun. They took us to an area where people could cliff dive and swim around in some caves. I recommend signing up for these trips right away at the water sports hut, as things were filling up quickly and we saw many people turned away. The pool and jacuzzi area was nice, with water volleyball, pool bar, and two jacuzzis, one on either end of the pool. The jacuzzis were always packed, and one was being serviced for part of our stay and was unavailable. If you are really into jacuzzis, you might be disappointed by this.
Spa/Salon: The spa offered a variety of treatments including body wraps, facials, reflexology, aromatherapy massage, as well as hair and nails. Spa treatments are not part of the all-inclusive price. We found the prices to be similar or higher than those in the US, with an hour massage costing $80. We each tried one (they have a couples massage and couples body wrap treatment, but we didn't try these), and enjoyed our treatments.
Other activities: We didn't play tennis or golf, although they were both included. There was a charge to rent clubs and a cart or caddy, but the green fees were included, I believe. I did take the shopping tour. We love Blue Mountain coffee and always bring a lot back. There was a Value Mart grocery store near the shopping area (ask your van driver to show you). They have great(non-tourist) prices on coffee, liquor, and jerk seasoning and sauces. I compared coffee prices at the airport and resort gift shop and they wanted $20/lb for Blue Mountain coffee. I found it for much less in town. I'd recommend the trip!
Overall, we really enjoyed Negril and Couples. We would definitely consider going back.
My husband and I were married at Couples Negril in January 2002. We always wanted to be married in Jamaica and we could not have picked a more perfect resort. It surpassed all of our expectations.
The resort is absolutely beautiful and the staff is wonderful. From the moment we walked into the open air lobby we knew we were in paradise.
Naomi, the wedding coordinator, took care of everything to make our wedding perfect. We chose my bouquet and what kind of cake we wanted, and we brought our favorite songs for the wedding video. We were married in front of the gazebo and had pictures taken on the beautiful grounds and the beach. It was absolutely no stress - just a wonderful experience all around.
We had read numerous reviews about Couples before deciding to go there, and some of them regarding the staff were less than glowing. I think a lot of people are used to their fast paced lives and once you get to Jamaica, you realize it is a lot more laid back - try it, you'll love it!! I have to say that every staff member we met had a smile on their face and made every effort to make us feel welcome and help in any way. We can't say enough about the excellent staff.
Can't wait to go back!!!
So this is how the other half live.
You have a choice, a week in the Spanish sun or a week at Couples. You choose Spain? You are the Weakest link..... Goodbye.
Couples Negril was our chosen place for our wedding.We flew for 9 hours and spent a week of absolute bliss. The staff are friendly without being patronising, the food on offer is sumptuous, the drink is available and welcome.
Our wedding was organised to the last detail and the witnesses Natalee & Dwight were brilliant. This is not a holiday for those wanting to drink the island dry, (a normal British thing) this is a holday to relax, slow down to the jamaican lifestyle, and live the high life. Accomodation is comfortable and the air conditioning is welcome, watch out for the bugs and the jellyfish,(ouch!). Must do's are the catamaran cruise, the trip to Rick's Cafe and the scuba diving.Enjoy Couples Negril, we did and we are spending our 1st wedding anniversary there. If you go in early October look out for the two milky white Brit's
Perfect Honeymoon Destination
My husband and I visited Couples Negril in July 2001 for our honeymoon. This is a perfect spot for honeymooners or just a romantic get away. The staff was awesome, great food and the watersports were a blast. We were treated like royalty and can't wait to visit this beautiful hotel again. A few must do's: Otaheite Restaurant, Waterskiing, Sunset Catamaran Cruise and Shuttle to Rick's.
TripAdvisor Reviews Couples Negril
Travel Blogs from Negril
... hot and cold water, shower and bath, Cable television, double, single and queen size beds and private balcony/patio. When you go and visit to Bar-B-Barn you are not just a guest, you are part of a family; home away from home, singles, couples and family alike. Being a family run hotel that has been in operation for over twenty years.It will be a great experience for every member of the family. ...
... pristine waters and earned his badge of honor. He crossed an item off his bucket list that wasn't on there to begin with. Needless to say, it was added then crossed off.
We dined at the beautiful Rockhouse Resort for lunch. Their jerk mayonnaise was addictive! When Kyle's fries were finished, he dipped my string beans and carrots into the mayonnaise. I think he just really wanted an excuse to ...
... to see the show tonight but skipped it because we were pretty tired. Tonight was formal night. We dressed up because I really wanted to try the fisherman’s plate I kept hearing about that is always offered on the second formal night. It was good. We each got one and then split the prime rib. I’m glad we split the second entrée because it was also good and the fisherman’s plate wasn’t that ...
... of the restaurant, but a third of the way into the meal, they started setting up these large tables for a French group who were really loud. So we ask if we could move to a table away from them and closer to the water (it had stopped raining and we had already asked if they could raise the curtains). We needed up at the same table where we had lunch. Our waiter was so apologetic for the noisy group even though it ...
... and tend to watch the clock, hoping to leave school early. (And of course life IS very stressful there.) They need skills and training to become confident and better at teaching."
Volunteer Laura DR's blog has lots of details and photos also: http://olpc-france.org/blog/2012/02/100 -kmh-down-hope-road/ The text is in French, her native language. The information she shares will likely be valuable to volunteers and locals working with XO projects in ...