Today (October 21, 2015): Review of the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa (Italy).
The JW Marriott brand’s first hotel in Italy is a world-class addition to its global portfolio of luxury properties. Opened in March 2015, the resort is located on a private island, Sola Delle Rose, in the Venetian lagoon, just a 20-minute ride to central St. Mark’s Square by complimentary shuttle service. The resort features 266 contemporary-styled rooms and suites designed by the architect Matteo Thun, in addition to four restaurants, the largest spa in Venice, a romantic church (for events and private ceremonies), a rooftop lounge area with pool (offering spectacular views), and magnificent gardens.
In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- One of the strongest selling points of the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa is the location on its own picturesque, private island, Isola delle Rose, in the Venetian lagoon. As such, it is a peaceful and serene refuge from the bustling and sometimes overcrowded streets of Venice, and the perfect place to indulge in luxury after a day of sightseeing in the city.
- There is a complimentary, direct shuttle service to Venice’s central St. Mark’s Square, where the resort’s private pier is located in a strategic position, right in front of the Giardinetti Reali. The trip across the lagoon takes no longer than 20 minutes and the motorboats run every 20-30 minutes from morning until after midnight (the schedule is subject to seasonal change though and can be found here).
- The resort’s past is riddled with stories of intrigue, romance, and mystery. The main building used to be a sanatorium and clinic for respiratory diseases during 20th century. In 1936, Isola delle Rose was visited by the King of Italy, Victor Emanuel III, an event to which the royal coat of arms at the entrance still bears witness. In 1980 the clinic closed down for good, and after years of neglect, it has now been beautifully restored into a very chic and unique hotel.
- The exclusive island, which calls the resort its home, is quite large (16 hectares, or 40 acres). Its position, halfway between Venice city and the marine currents of the Adriatic Sea, has resulted in a special microclimate with an always present Mediterranean breeze. As a result, rare tropical plants can be observed in the magnificent, scented gardens that surround the hotel buildings and line the shores. You can also relax in a beautiful olive grove with around a hundred trees, as well a dedicated rose garden.
- Accommodations are spread over five beautiful buildings, located in secluded corners of the island: the main hotel building, La Maisonette, Uliveto, La Residenza and Villa Rose. Each of these 5 buildings has its own charm and will please even the most discerning travelers. While the main clinic-turned-into-hotel building is quite a massive structure but close to all the hotel’s main facilities, the other residences offer a more intimate experience, with an idyllic blend of silence and luxury. For example, the Uliveto rooms face the resort’s hundred-year-old olive grove, while the eleven elegant rooms of La Residenza are just step away from the lagoon (some of them coming with their own private pool).
- I celebrated my 40th birthday at the resort with my closest family. I had booked 3 rooms, and upon arrival, all rooms were upgraded because of the special occasion: one to a Junior Suite, and the two others to a La Residenza room. I addition, I received a bottle of wine, a cake at dinner, and a fruit bowl. This was a highly appreciated gesture.
- All 266 rooms and suites were designed by architectural star Matteo Thun, and feature a contemporary, airy style with relaxing colours that are inspired by the lagoon and its seasons (with shades of green, blue, grey and dove grey). Glass walls or wide windows offer inspiring views of the skyline of Venice, the Lagoon, or the century-old park. Some of the suites (e.g. La Residenza) offer a private pool or private garden which is ideal to enjoy relaxing moments al fresco.
- The hotel’s most exclusive accommodation is the splendid, two-storey Villa Rose. Built in the Romanesque Revival style in 1913, the villa features two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a marvellous garden and private pool.
- The heated infinity rooftop pool on the 4th storey of the main hotel building offers a breathtaking view of the Venetian lagoon and the resort grounds. The resort also has a second, larger family pool, that is located in the magnificent gardens. This is one of only a handful hotels in Venice that offers a pool & resort alike experience.
- The resort has fourrestaurants, all serving delicious food. The Dopolavoro Dining Room is the resort’s signature restaurant, with 2-star Michelin Chef Giancarlo Perbellini overseeing the kitchen. The Sagra Rooftop Restaurant combines a creative Italian cuisine with breathtaking vistas of the park and the lagoon. Open during summer season only, the Giardino Grill offers a family friendly experience. And finally, Cucina Restaurant is the place where each morning, a delicious breakfast is served.
- There’s a well-equipped gym, and the resort hold yoga and meditation sessions in quiet corners of the landscaped gardens.
- The resort boasts a conference center and 14 meeting rooms, all natural day-lighted. There is even a private, deconsecrated church, constructed in the Romanesque Revival style in the climate of nostalgia that held sway at the beginning of the 20th century, that is available for special events, receptions and gala dinner.
- Free bottled water is available throughout the hotel as are candies for the kids (and adults) – this is a nice touch!
- Housed in a simple and elegant building dating from the early 20th century, the GOCO Spa is the largest spa facility in Venice. It opens like a shell onto the water and has eight cabins with a view of the lagoon and a marvellous suite. The structure is completed by a sauna, the Turkish bath with a wall of salt, a gym and a magnificent heated indoor swimming pool that extends outdoors in a splendid sequence of sliding glass walls.
- The professional and friendly Italian staff provides impeccable service.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
I highly recommend the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa if you want to stay at a serene luxury hotel and enjoy a peaceful resort ambience during your visit to busy and crowded Venice. However, you do need to know the following issues when considering a stay here:
- While the hotel’s setting on a private island in the Venetian lagoon will be a blessing for most, the location outside the historic city center may be frustrating for some, as you will always need to take the boat shuttle to/from the hotel. But don’t be put off by this since the shuttle runs very frequently and it only take 20 minutes to cross the lagoon.
- As described above, this new JW Marriott flagship hotel features a modern, contemporary style, which somewhat contrasts with the opulence, beauty and art that Venice and its hotels are known for. The wings of this property feel more like an elegant seaside resort than a classic Venetian hotel. If you are looking for an authentic, historic Venetian hotel, then this is not the place for you and you may better opt for a stay at the Gritti Palace or the Aman Canal Grande.
- While the resorts grounds are spectacular and the decor of the rooms exquisite, I found the lobby style (with its mirror columns and plenty of curtains) somewhat underwhelming, although this is just a matter of personal preference of course.
- Hotel guest’s entrance to the GOCO Spa (and its swimming pools) is not free: the spa fee is 25 EUR per person for a 3-hour access in the “humid” area (use of vitality pool, sauna, biosauna, hammam) and 35 EUR per person for external guests.
- The breakfast area is a little too small for a resort of this size, especially the room were the buffet is displayed. It was very crowded, and on a couple of occasions, I had to queue to get to the buffet. In addition, while the buffet was extensive with plenty of cold breakfast items to choose from and with cook-staff on hand to prepare hot dishes, I felt that the quality of the displayed breakfast items itself was good but not excellent.
- The hotel website states that the rooftop pools offers a spectacular 360° view of Venice. Well, the view of the lagoon is impressive indeed, but the city of Venice itself is actually a fair distance away and can hardly be seen from the rooftop.
- Location: 9/10 (private island setting!)
- Design: 8/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Service: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8,2/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: Marriott Bonvoy elite members are well treated here, with – among other benefits – free WiFi, a room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out (when available), and complementary breakfast (for top tier members). Read here my review of Marriott Bonvoy.
- Save money: book your hotel via a Marriott direct booking channel (website, by phone) to receive complimentary standard in-room Wi-Fi.
- Save money: make use of Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee to receive an extra 25% discount!
- Room tip: if you want a more intimate experience, then book a room outside the main hotel building. IMHO, the best rooms are to be found in La Residenza, especially those that front the lagoon and come with a private pool.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Late spring and early summer are the best times to visit Venice as far as weather is concerned. But the city during these beautiful warm days is packed with tourists, meaning that there can be long waits to enter museums and sights. Also during this peak time, finding accommodations – budget or otherwise – can be a challenge. In summer, the city can be oppressively hot, the canals ripe with odor, and the inevitable mosquitoes are bothersome. Venice’s location, in northern Italy on the Adriatic Sea, means that the city has colder, longer winters. While winter can be a great time of year to visit, especially in terms of getting a bargain and avoiding crowds, it can be harsh (the winds that whip off the Adriatic and down the alleyways are bone-chilling).
HOW TO GET THERE
Venice is served by two airports and this Tripadvisor explains you how to get from the airport to the city center.
- Venice Marco Polo Airport is located 8 km north of the city and it served by most European full-service carriers as well as by some non-European airlines. Check the Wikipedia page of Venice Marco Polo Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Venice.
- Treviso Airport is located 20 km from the Venice city center and is served by some European low-cost carriers. Check the Wikipedia page of Treviso Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Treviso.