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Review: Why the JW Marriott resort in Venice continues to frustrate me, and why we return (Part 2)

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This is the second part of my review of the JW Marriott hotel in Venice.  

Part 1, which covers the location, rooms, kids club and pool, can be found here.

JW Marriott Venice review

Up on the roof

The JW Marriott Venice roof terrace in the main building is the most successful part of the hotel.   But, yet again, they score an own goal.

On the roof is a pool with great views towards Venice.  You can see how deep it is here:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice rooftop pool

After May, at which point the hotel believes that the main pool is warm enough for kids, children are banned from this pool.  Yes, kids are banned from a pool that is about 2 feet deep and are forced into the ‘family’ pool which is about 5 feet deep.

There used to a restaurant and bar on the roof.  The wasp invasion has basically forced them to abandon this now.  A new bar has been built inside the restaurant and everyone now eats inside.

I have to say that the meal we had here was the most accomplished I had in over two weeks in Italy.  But … come on …. the hotels adds an €8 per person ‘cover charge’ to your bill and doesn’t even provide any bread.

And, when your bill comes, you are asked to tick a box for an extra tip (service is included) with the options running to 18% …..

Everything else …..

There is a lot to see on the island and, to be fair, we didn’t experience it all because of the children.

Here is the lobby bar.  Again, I was very impressed by the design:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice lobby

Dispensa is the hotel cafe.  Here is one improvement over previous years.  Dispensa used to open very late to effectively force you to pay for the €35 hotel restaurant breakfast.  It now opens at 6.30am so if you can survive on a coffee and a pastry then you can make a decent saving here.

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice Dispensa cafe

Breakfast in the restaurant is OK although it is certainly not outstanding.  It is what you’d expect from a four star hotel.

Yet again, they manage to annoy you.  Once you have sat down, a member of staff comes along and places a card and pencil on your table.  The card says “Room number: [filled in for you]” and underneath “Tip: [left blank for you to fill in]”.  I mean ….

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice breakfast

I popped into the JW Marriott Venice spa briefly.  It is classy but expensive and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the best option in the city.  It has a small indoor and outdoor plunge pool which looks good.  Entrance is €35.

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice spa

This is the garden of one of the suites in the cottages in the grounds:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice

There is a fine dining restaurant in the grounds which has a Michelin star, although we have never managed to eat there:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice fine dining

The JW Marriott Venice hotel shuttle boat runs every 30 minutes without a break until after midnight.  I had a look at the timetables for the Kempinski and the Excelsior hotels and they run a worse schedule.  The boats have a capacity of around 35 but were never full.  We went to the opera one evening and were grateful for the late finishing time.

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice shuttle boat

Conclusion

Venice is a great place to come in August.  You don’t need to spend much time in the centre with the cruise ship crowds.  You can happily pass your days at the JW Marriott or take a taxi across to the Lido where the beach is impressive, and then pop into the city for a couple of hours in the early evening when it quietens down.

There are a lot of things about the JW Marriott Venice I like.  The design and furnishings are very well done – this is probably the thing that swings it for me.  The grounds are large and well tendered.  The rooftop bar and restaurant is cool.  The spa looks great and there is a fine dining option.  The Junior Suites work really well, either for a couple or for a family with two children.  The shuttle service to St Marks was always punctual.  Breakfast isn’t bad.

It just falls down around the edges.  Spurious extra charges.  Demands for ludicrous tips.  €11 for a can of coke by the pool.  The wasp infestation.  The lack of upgrades for status members.  €118 to rent a bike for 10 minutes.  €8 restaurant cover charges which don’t even get you any bread.

For 40,000 Marriott Rewards points (now 50,000 points, and to be 60,000 points on peak nights from 2019) plus €200 per night for a €500+ junior suite, the JW Marriott in Venice was a very good deal.  I doubt I would come back and pay full price – I would like to try the Cipriani or Kempinski, and the Excelsior on the Lido should be good when refurbished – but it is a good points option.

The hotel website is here if you want to find out more.

PS. We had lunch on the Grand Canal-side terrace at Marriott’s Gritti Palace one day.  I do recommend this.  It gives you an excuse to have a poke around the astonishing interior of the Gritti and, on a sunny day with the hotel’s Riva speedboat parked up next to your table, it is a lovely place to eat.  It clearly isn’t cheap but the food is not too fancy and you are a world away from the crowds.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Review: Why the JW Marriott resort in Venice continues to frustrate me, and why we return (Part 1)
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Comments

  1. No offence and a good, honest review but after reading both parts, you seem somewhat of a glutton for punishment going back where you have had previous bad experiences / poor service! I must admit, if I stayed anywhere and had similar experience with a stay, I’d never consider going back, life’s just too short to waste the effort. Each to their own I guess.

    • Agreed – I simply can’t understand how they can’t find the wasp nests on the island either… Unless they’re flying in from somewhere else?

    • I concur. I don’t mind expense but I hate being nickel ‘n’ dimed at every turn.

      Like most things concerned with Venice, the whole set up is aimed at ripping everyone off. Elsewhere, this usually stops at the gates of the 5* hotels and you get sensible, if expensive, options inside. However, €11 for a £0.35 can of coke is beyond taking the Mickey

      €200 for an upgrade but then ….
      €120 for each kid
      €120 for a water tax
      €11 for a coke
      €39 for a kids club

      and staff begging tips when service is already included !!!

      Sorry, I’d simply go somewhere else.

      • Chris Palmer says:

        Unfortunately, it’s not just places like the JW Marriott which are like that in Venice. Try being a Chinese tourist without a good grasp of English or Italian. Many have been totally ripped off on restaurant bills and overinflated prices. Not especially pleasant.

    • Agree seems like you want a better place to go next time

  2. Can I just point out that there are excellent properties on the main island – the Aman situated on the Grand Canal is beautiful and has large spacious rooms. Being an Aman it has excellent service.
    I’m afraid I don’t like it when chains attempt to do luxury. A JW Marriott is, when you strip all the slick branding away just a Marriott in the same way that lurking behind every St Regis is a Sheraton. The chains just don’t know how to do luxury properly – even Park Hyatt disappoints through their impersonal service and outsourced housekeeping. There are much better non-chain alternatives out there. Furthermore, I wouldn’t return to a hotel that irked me as much as you seem to be by this one Rob. You must have a much higher tolerance threshold than me!

  3. I agree with all of the above – I only went to Venice once (last year) and was also badly bitten by mosquitos right while we were waiting at the airport water taxi stand for our water taxi to the MGallery Murano hotel.

    As to Venice itself, a huge tourist trap indeed. The experience might change, of course, if you hang out with locals that know where to go / speak Italian / how to escape the mass tourist places (which are most of them) but that was unfortunately not our case.

  4. This place looks ludicrously bad. I cannot believe you returned.

  5. People keep telling me to go to Venice. And I keep saying thanks, but no thanks.

  6. Looks nice on the whole. I’m afraid I’m all for an adults only pool. That said, makes sense to offer something more suitable for families.

  7. Why do you keep going back? There must be so many places you can go with your enormous points haul – why do you keep returning to the same place where you know you’re not going to have a very nice time?

    • Because there is a lot to like about it. You don’t quit a job because the coffee machine isn’t free, do you?

  8. Sussex Bantam says:

    Why do you keep going if it annoys you so much ?!?

    • Because you can avoid the negatives and it is a very pleasant place, physically.

    • That’s like saying why not divorced because your wife’s snoring annoys you. It is, physically, a beautiful hotel and very cheap. Options with 2 kids are limited.

      • I you can choose the wife (hotel choice) then maybe you’d choose one that doesn’t snore some nights ha

  9. Fully agree with the comment on Part 1 about not going to Venice etc in August. I never understand people go away from the UK for the brief period when the weather is actually nice (this year excepted).

    Obviously with school-aged children things change, and I have no idea what we are going to do with holidays when we have kids

    • Venice is a beach resort, remember – and remarkably quiet since few know this.

    • You won’t have holidays. You’ll have time away from the office managing small people’s lives. Your holidays will be weekends away while grandparents or similar gluttons for punishment do the childcare.

      Or go to Club Med.

      • Sounds about right 🙂

        I tell Anika that the fundamental difference between us is that I am happy to get back into the office on a Monday whilst she is happier getting out of it on a Friday!

    • Rob, I have 3 kids just a shade older than yours. Options are prolific. Sorry to sound unkind but you – of all people – should know where to look.

      • We are in Venice for a reason though – we always go to Cavillino for a week and there are few ways out of the Dolomites. Taking the train to Venice from Bolzano to fly back from there is actually relatively sensible and we just tack on a few days stay at the same time. We don’t go to Venice from the UK and then fly back.

        Anyway, the Kempinski (ex St Regis) next door emailed this morning to offer us all a free stay, but I doubt we can do it as they want it in the Spring.

  10. I can see why you like the physical hotel it’s right up our street…however…I don’t mind paying top prices in hotels if I feel I’m getting value out of it…but apart from the room you failed to convince me let alone others why bother.

    There’s plenty of 5 star hotels grateful for your money that are worth trying. As for tips, service charges, resort charges it’s not Vegas and usually a sign of they can’t make enough money on charging 11 Euros for a can of Coke so just cream the rip off summer mass tourism influx. Bad show but glad you like it that’s the main thing.

    As for me I’m out no way would I part with my money in what is just a rip cover covering as a hotel

  11. i will be sure never to stay here, the endless extra charges would be sure to annoy me.
    As for what is good about the hotel mentioned at the end of the article >>The rooftop bar and restaurant is cool.<>There used to a restaurant and bar on the roof. The wasp invasion has basically forced them to abandon this now<<
    If so then I suppose it will only be "cool" once they re-open it after the wasps have buzzed off somewhere else?

  12. £10 for a coke???? , reminds me of the old harry Enfield character, I saw you coming.

    • How much do you think a coke at the IC Park Lane is?

      • What was amusing about the coke is that the staff were desperate to make it worth the money. They would prefer to come over to your lounger, return with a drinks menu after you’ve requested one, take your order, bring it back on a nice tray in a smart glass with ice and lemon. I just walked up the bar and said ‘give me a can of coke please’ and they were all ‘let us give you a glass’ (no), ‘let us give you ice and lemon’ (no), ‘let me carry the can over to your sun lounger for you’ (nah, I can manage!). They do feel guilty charging you €11 just for pulling a can out of the fridge and handing it over.

      • A coke is £4.50 in the Arch bar at the IC Park Lane…. you also get a glass with some ice in it as well!

  13. For all the negative comments, just remember – the holiday you’re making for yourself. The hotel gives you the space to do it in.

    If you have children in particular the most import aspects are that the hotel’s set out to accomodate them and that you can relax.

    Rob’s points are all utterly valid above, they’d annoy the hell out of me, but there are hotels in the UK I still consider a second home despite their shortcomings. (How many nights have I spent in the Jekyll&Hyde Hilton in Brighton over the years?) and the day that the feeling of being able to relax in the hotel and feel comfortable diminishes will be the moment I expect Rob would stop forgiving this place its shortcomings.

    I wouldn’t be able to forgive the nick&diming – which rules out Venice outright, not just this property – but then I know there are people who hate the rooms in the Brighton Metropole which I’m entirely happy to tolerate for the positives I get out of the hotel and I wouldn’t even consider staying elsewhere.

  14. Michael Jennings says:

    >There is a fine dining restaurant in the grounds which has a Michelin star, although
    >we have never managed to eat there:

    Is this because you can’t get a reservation? If so, that’s another demerit for the hotel. One thing I do expect is for hotel guests to be able to get a table at the hotel restaurants, no matter how many Michelin stars it has or however up himself the chef is.

    • Rob has mentioned it and I could be wrong but being a father of young kids…I imagine they are one of the main reasons not to head to the Michelin star restaurant. Fine dining and kids tend to be very unhappy bed fellows….

  15. Please don’t be put off Venice itself – as to my mind it is a city for enjoying out of peak season (even at 2/3/4* level) – especially walking the same bridges and squares the Venetians did in the 16thC. Do a few tourist things and expect to be ripped off (but less than at a 5* hotel?), but also enjoy the out of the way places, small cafes, quiet churches and small islands that make it magical.

  16. I’d like to visit Venice but would probably do it in the winter months. I see they are moving to the American model of tipping – I noticed this summer that they’ve now started calculating it for you on your bill! I don’t mind tipping in America because the food is plentiful and reasonably priced; when we move onto GCM however, eating out is very expensive, a 15% service charge is automatically included and they still have a space for you to add a tip! Also, they sneakily charge in Cayman dollars which are worth more than the US $ (if you’re British, you just have to remember that a Cayman dollar is worth 95p – £1 depending on the exchange rate).

  17. Sounds like the hotel is the biggest wasp of the lot.

  18. I think the last vestige of anything nice about Venice disappeared sometime in the 90s. I’m just so glad I did it all back then?

    You went to the opera? I thought La Fenice went on holiday in the summer. Maybe it was a guest show.

    • No, it reopens in the last week of August. We missed it last year because we were a week earlier and they were shut.

      There is a lot to like about Venice if you avoid the core central area. The lido is basically the emptiest Italian beach resort I know, you can go the opera, you can stay and visit some exquisite hotels, you have the Peggy Guggenheim museum, Murano / Burano, Ca’Rezzonico (which I didn’t know about until this year) ….

  19. John Sharples says:

    Got to say that like Rob I always enjoyed Venice with family when the kids were younger. Stayed on the Lido at Des Baines (Death in Venice and now an apartment development project) and the Excelsior. Both used to be Starwood (SPG) properties. Also stayed at The Hilton Giudecca when it first opened. The 12 Euro coke was a common feature to them all, but you could also pop (excuse the pun) outside and pick up vital supplies at nearby convenience stores around the corner from all of them. The lido was a beach holiday from the Nineteen Twenties (sans prices!) and it was great to spend a day in a cabana and then as the temperatures cooled down, take the free boat shuttles to St Marks square. August was a great time in Venice. I would recommend the Lido and there are still some (only mildly eye watering) deals to be found at the Excelsior which include the excellent breakfast with prosecco. A good swimming pool and a long sandy beach with gently sloping shores.

    • I stayed at the Gritti about 15 years ago when Westin ran the Excelsior. They had a private speedboat (still branded Ciga I remember) which shuttled guests, for free, between the Gritti, Danieli and Excelsior. Now that was fun, shuttling around the lagoon in that boat.

  20. Appreciate no kids club but when I was last in Venice (during a conference, so hotel rates even more extortionate than usual!) I had a fabulous Airbnb apartment – 5 min walk from St Mark’s and supermarket only a 10 min walk away.

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