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.
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.
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.
You can’t fail to be impressed by your arrival at the JW Marriott as you pull into the private 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.
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.
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.
The bathroom was very large, clean and modern with Aromatherapy Associates toiletries in large wall-mounted bottles:
and (note the doors to the bedroom can be closed):
The room had a large balcony overlooking the grounds as well.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (December 2023)
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.
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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(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.)