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Review: the JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Venice (my fifth visit, even though ….)

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This is my review of the JW Marriott hotel and resort in Venice. 

Long term readers of HfP may be having a wry smile. This is my 3rd review of this resort, and my fifth visit. We were last here in 2018.

Since this was our fifth trip, you would assume that we love the hotel.  That is not fully true.

Every time it turns out to be a slightly frustrating experience, although this is a very accomplished hotel in many ways.  JW Marriott always lets something slip through, but this was the best stay yet.

You can learn more on the hotel website here.

JW Marriott Resort Venice review

Let me explain why we return.  With kids, the mainland hotels (when I write ‘mainland’ I mean the main island) are not ideal – rooms are generally small and you won’t find a pool or outside space, let alone a kids club.  Hotels on their own islands (Cipriani, Kempinski and JW Marriott, plus the Excelsior on the Lido) have a lot more to offer.  The weather is also so hot in Summer that a private island is more attractive than the city centre.

Marriott Bonvoy has a feature which I rate highly – the ability to ‘buy up’ a reward night to a better room for a nominal sum at the time of booking.  Not all Marriott hotels offer this, but JW Marriott Venice does.

We paid €170 on top of 74,250 Marriott points per night for a Junior Suite which was selling for €850.  (Actually, we took two Junior Suites because there were four of us.)

This was a five night stay, so we triggered the ‘buy four, get one free’ redemption rule with Marriott Bonvoy. This means we paid an average of 59,400 Marriott Bonvoy points plus €170 per night for a Junior Suite selling for €850. This worked out at almost exactly 1p per Bonvoy point.

(Note that if you have two smaller children, you can get two rollaway beds into one Junior Suite and still have plenty of space for the sofa etc. We did this in 2018.)

My Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status also got us two breakfasts per day for free. In reality, the hotel comped all four breakfasts although you should not expect this. Points rooms do not receive free breakfast by default even though all direct cash bookings do.

I’m getting ahead of myself, however.

Molly Burgess

The JW Marriott in Venice opened nine years ago.  It is on a private island and requires you to take a free shuttle boat to and from St Marks Square.

It is a bit further into the lagoon than the Cipriani and next door to the island hosting the Kempinski, previously the St Regis. The fact that St Regis threw in the towel after just one year tells you how hard it is to make money here – the crossing from the mainland makes it an unappealing place to stay during winter storms.

From the airport you are looking at a fixed rate of €160 each way for a water taxi. The cheaper option is to take the public boat bus to St Marks Square and then get the free hotel shuttle across but this takes at least an hour longer.  If you are arriving by train you can also take a water taxi from the station which is fixed at €95.

My kids and I think that Venice water taxis – especially when speeding across the lagoon at full throttle – are the coolest thing in the world and we consider it €160 well spent.  The water taxi photo above is from an earlier trip.

Arrival

You can’t fail to be impressed by your arrival at the JW Marriott as you pull into the private dock:

JW Marriott Venice dock

Check-in was a lot slicker than in previous years. The staff have been given classy new outfits and there was no hard sell to pay for an upgrade. Note that you are very unlikely to be upgraded here as a Marriott Bonvoy elite member in peak season – it has never happened to me in five visits as Platinum or Titanium or its pre-Bonvoy equivalents – so you should book the room type you want.

Interestingly, the hotel offered to make all four room keys for our two rooms open both sets of doors. I have never had this before and it was hugely useful.

Our room

There are rooms scattered across the island.  The rooms in the outbuildings are more expensive and have private gardens or a plunge pool.  You are never more than two minutes walk from the hotel so don’t worry about being isolated if you book one of those.  We stick to the main building.

Your best choice with children is, in my view, one of the square Junior Suites at the back.  Even if there are only two of you travelling I would recommend taking one of these because they are well shaped compared to some of the other slightly confusing room layouts.

JW Marriott Venice junior suite

At one end of the suite is the bed.  The TV console is in the middle and, behind that, you have a sofa and table.  You can fit two rollaway beds in these – historically (I didn’t check this time) there was no charge if the children are under 12.

The TV set spins around so you can watch it from the sofa or bed.

JW Marriott Venice junior suite

The bathroom was very large, clean and modern with Aromatherapy Associates toiletries in large wall-mounted bottles:

JW Marriott Venice bathroom

and (note the doors to the bedroom can be closed):

JW Marriott Venice bathroom

The room had a large balcony overlooking the grounds as well.

JW Marriott Venice junior suite balcony

I can’t knock it.  This was a very impressive room.  There is also an Illy coffee machine, not pictured, which is a step up from Nespresso albeit there are only two types of capsules – standard and decaf.

Historically this hotel has had a big problem with wasps. Whilst they are still around, it seemed to be less of an issue this year. That said, it’s unwise to keep your patio doors open and there are warnings to that effect in your room.

Kids club

The JW Marriott Venice has a kids club .  It costs €30 per day and accepts children aged from 4 to 12.

There is a VOLUNTARY resort package – I wasn’t offered it because our children are above kids club age – which bundles kids club access with some other bits and pieces such as bike rental.

It may be worthwhile if you have two or more children because the cost per room (it was €39 in 2018, not sure what it is now – the price is hidden from the website and the in-hotel app) is cheaper than paying for multiple children to go to the club.

JW Marriott Venice kids club

The pool

Ah, the pool ….

The kids pool , which is in the hotel grounds, is in two parts. It is a bit weird – you have a WHOLE ISLAND to play with and you build a pool which is ludicrously narrow.

It is also far too deep.  No child under 12 can stand in it (my son is 5’8′ and was just about OK).  There is no shallow end.

The hotel addressed this a few years ago by building a good-sized paddling pool next to the main pool.  This is still not ideal because if your kids are beyond paddling age but shorter than 5’8′ or so they are stuck.

JW Marriott Venice family pool

Back in 2018, additional sun loungers had been added on a new decking area near the pool. This relieved some pressure on the pool loungers by the pool for those who didn’t need to watch their children. These have now gone, weirdly, to be replaced by unshaded bean bags (used mainly for outdoor film screenings twice per week) which unsurpringly weren’t touched given the 32 degree heat:

There is also a parkour climbing course and some other outdoor toys for kids:

JW Marriott Venice Parkour

There is a fully shaded bar and restaurant by the pool with the usual burgers and salads you’d expect, as well as an ice cream cart. We had lunch here one day and it worked well.

That’s the end of Part 1.  To read the 2nd part of my JW Marriott Venice review, click here

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


How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (June 2024)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

HUGE 60,000 POINTS BONUS UNTIL 2nd JULY and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

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

Comments (22)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • lumma says:

    If Venice is generally sub par, why keep returning?

    • Rob says:

      Nothing sub par about Venice, I would happily spend a few days there every year. I enjoyed the bienniale last year and suspect I will return (without kids) in 2024 for that again.

  • The Lord says:

    Always enjoy this one. Is this the hotel that charged €8 for a coke by the pool? How much is it now with inflation? We stayed at the Garden Inn off the main island and took the peasant wagon in. Worked well, free breakfast, pool, car parking etc

    • Rob says:

      Was €11 in 2018! May have changed as the main courses we had by the pool were €20ish.

      • Gordon says:

        How disproportionate is that pricing! It’s on par with Dubai. The food sounds like a bargain compared…..

        • Rob says:

          Drinks price may have come down, didn’t check. Cocktails on rooftop bar are standard London prices.

    • Mark says:

      Strangely Cokes we’re €5 at the family pool and €6 elsewhere

      • Rob says:

        Can beat that. When we went to the posh restaurant they had a fixed price aperitif list – mix of wine, cocktails, pressecco all for the same price.

        Instead of ordering a bottle of wine we reordered the wine and prosecco we had as an aperitif. This was priced off the wine list, not the fixed price aperitif menu, and one was €10 cheaper for the 2nd glass and one €5 cheaper!

  • Charlie says:

    The Kempinski is in a renovated mental hospital, and many people are superstitious about sleeping there. Could be why St Regis never made it work.

    I was in Venice with my Italian OH who categorically refused to stay there (even though the rates were excellent!)

    • jj says:

      The Kempinski was an independent Italian-owned hotel for years before St Regis bought it. Despite claiming to have undertaken a full renovation, St Regis did little more than apply some branding – even now, under its third set of owners, all aspects of the hotel’s physical appearance are identical to 2007 when I first stayed there.

      Despite its age, it’s a stunningly beautiful place with a real Venetian vibe, and the maintenance is so good that you would never guess its age. High quality, original artworks are everywhere and the gardens are a wonderful oasis. The only downside is the slightly patchy service, but it’s my go-to place in Venice.

      I haven’t been to the Marriot, but Rob’s reviews suggest it’s aimed a little less at the artsy crowd and a little more at families and those who enjoy the international-hotel-chain-chic vibe.

    • Tom says:

      I would have gone for “not crazy about sleeping there”…

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    “Interestingly, the hotel offered to make all four room keys for our two rooms open both sets of doors. I have never had this before and it was hugely useful.”

    I’ve never had this either. Now you mention it, I always kind of subconsciously assumed that the cards given to hotel guests could only work one room. Does anyone know if this is latest tech or if it is possible with any reasonably modern door card, as it would indeed be hugely useful for families?

    • Dubious says:

      It has always been possible. Just consider how the staff keys operate.

    • Gordon says:

      Room keys can be programmed to open specific doors in defined time periods.
      They are blank and then programmed at reception, so it’s would only need a couple of lines of code to enable two rooms to be opened with multiple cards.

      Example – A master key that cleaners and maintenance use can be programmed to open any door. I am no expert, but a property with the latest RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) card door technology should have no problem making multiple programmes for key cards.

    • R says:

      There is a one click option to create a key whilst checking in which populates the correct dates, room number etc.

      To do this, you’d need to open the key cutting application and do it there instead and enter the details. In my experiences staff do have access to this as a backup for when the connection breaks.

      Any system from the last 15 years should be able to do this. I’m surprised I’ve never been offered this, it seems like just a training thing.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        I’m going to ask in future now. I’m already imagining a reception roulette of staff who can do it in 15 seconds without batting an eyelid vs those who claim it’s impossible because they don’t want to admit they don’t know how vs those who click randomly for 15 minutes then go get a manager 😀

  • Davey11 says:

    A wasp problem eh – have they tried making a giant jam sandwich?

  • AinsworthLord says:

    Do I understand that right, breakfast not included with a points purchase, but is for a cash purchase? Hardly inspires or encourages loyalty?

    • Rob says:

      Correct. Website has a note to that effect on the booking page.

      • meta says:

        But then also normally 5 for 4 does not normally apply to cash&points redemptions whereas I think at this hotel (and some others) they do.

    • anuj says:

      Which is one reason why Hilton is often better value if you have only gold status.

    • Harry T says:

      But if you were loyal, you would be at least Platinum and would therefore get free breakfast anyway?

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