As I arrived at JW Marriott Venice by private boat charter (the only way to travel if you ask me), I thought to myself 'This is the life.' Sadly, my daily commute normally consists of being squashed on the London Underground with a stranger's armpit in my face, but for a few glorious days, I was able to pretend that daily boat travel - and a seriously luxurious suite- was my norm.
The 266-room JW Marriott Venice resort sits on its own private island (only a 15-minute boat ride across the Venice lagoon from San Marco square), making it ideal for those looking for a truly exclusive holiday away from the crowds of Venice.
Here tranquillity and relaxation are found in spades, making it a gorgeous oasis for those seeking a bit of R&R. Be warned, though - staying here will give you serious delusions of grandeur!
One of the unique features of the hotel is that guests are actually guided into the hotel entrance by boat, which I believe is the only hotel in Venice where this is possible. Upon arrival, the staff help you off the boat and quickly whisk away your bags to leave you more time to enjoy a cocktail at the bar after check in.
The staff are authentically friendly and are always on hand to ensure that your needs are exceeded throughout your stay. It was apparent that all employees seemed to thoroughly enjoy their job, which let's face it, is a pretty good gig given the stunning location!
Once a respiratory clinic designed to provide a healing haven for its patients, JW Marriott Venice has since undergone a serious refurbishment to become a luxury resort designed with discerning guests in mind.
Acclaimed Italian architect Matteo Thun was brought on board to help design a striking, contemporary look throughout the hotel and its rooms. Due to much of the hospital's architecture being protected, many of the suites feature a unique 'box-in-the-box' construction, which has preserved the original facade of the building while allowing new structures to be built within it.
Unlike many Venetian hotels which feature over-the-top ornate decor, the JW Marriot Venice is all clean lines and minimalist chic decor, making it more akin to the type of hotel you'd expect to see in New York or Milan rather than Venice.
To ensure that guests have everything they need during their stay, and don't have to leave the island if they want to be truly lazy, the resort has four restaurants (including Michelin-starred restaurant Dopolavaro), the luxurious GOCO Spa(the largest one in Venice), a state-of-the-art fitness centre, and the Sapori Cookery Academy, for those who want to learn how to create stunning Italian dishes.
There is also an adults-only rooftop pool boasting sensational views of the Venice lagoon and a children's pool overlooking the olive groves to ensure that both couples and families alike are catered for.
Other unique features of the hotel include a beautiful chapel (which is ideal for intimate wedding ceremonies) and a peaceful olive grove, perfect for relaxing evening strolls on warm evenings.
During one's stay, the GOCO Spa isn't to be missed. This little slice of Heaven has a sauna, a Hamman and a seriously sleek pool with bubbling jets to ease your stresses and strains away. If it's all too much, simply recline on the loungers and watch the boats go by.
For those who wish to indulge in a spot of pampering, there are eight treatment rooms where you can enjoy a wealth of treatments from massages to facials to manicures and pedicures. There is also a luxurious Spa Suite for two people (€499), which includes a lounge area, grooming stations, private thermal experiences, double treatment beds and a waterside deck with outdoor showers overlooking the Venetian lagoon and St. Mark’s Square. It is recommended that the suite is booked for three hours, which is inclusive of two spa rituals of your choice.
One of the key benefits of staying at JW Marriott Venice is that you can fully unwind - one of life's biggest indulgences. Time seems a bit slower here, which to me is the mark of a great holiday.
Accommodation options at JW Marriott Venice include standard rooms or for those wanting to splurge, 32 suites or a massive private villa.
During my visit, I had the pleasure of staying in an ultra-luxurious split-level Maisonette Loft Suite, which is the size of most London one-bedroom apartments. The maisonette boasted its own fully furnished private garden, a large living room (complete with a sofa and chaise lounge), two bathrooms (one with an enormous bath) and a walk-in closet, which made me wish I'd packed more just to utilise it.
In fact, it was so perfect I was ready to tell my husband to send my things so I could move in! A pretty great feat as it even had me wondering whether I could abandon my love for clutter in pursuit of a more minimal (e.g. idyllic) life - highly unlikely, but one can dream!
I'm a firm believer that it's the little touches that make a hotel truly luxurious and the JW Marriott Venice didn't disappoint. From the ultra-fluffy towels and robes to the complimentary slippers and Bulgari toiletries, to the colourful macaroons laid out on the bedside table, to a chocolate on your pillow, everything had been well thought out.
Being a real foodie, I was keen to get my teeth sunk into the culinary offering, which was divine. We dined at all of the restaurants on offer and highlights included lunch at the Rose Bar Lounge (where I had the best club sandwich ever) and Michelin-starred Dopolovaro, where I indulged in a wealth of surprising (and magnificent) dishes that were creatively prepared with flair.
Each morning we tucked into an American style breakfast buffet at La Cucina, which had an abundance of delicious options on offer including everything from scrambled eggs to a salad bar - a real treat as Italy isn't renowned for its breakfast offerings.
In hopes to be able to learn how to prepare authentic Italian dishes (my favourite cuisine), we popped by the Sapori Cooking Academy for a four-hour course where we learned to prepare four dishes. Executive Chef Mauro Taufer was very friendly (and patient with amateurs), which was refreshing and made for a great learning environment.
During the course we learned to prepare a salad of fennel, raspberry, green apple and feta; avocado cream with buffalo mozzarella, strawberry and basil; paccheri field of ricotta cheese with skin of orange and candied tomatoes; and beetroot sauce.
Mauro was also hand to offer lots of practical tips throughout the class, such as keeping the stones in avocados to keep them fresh, how to properly cut basil, and how to pipe ricotta into pasta tubes.
I loved the convivial atmosphere and left with a real sense of accomplishment (and a cute certificate of completion).
Of course, no trip to Venice is complete without seeing Venice proper and the surrounding islands of Murano (famous for its glass making) and Burano (a fishing village famous for its brightly coloured houses). All were easily within reach from the hotel (about a 30-minute journey) and made our stay all the more memorable.
Overall, we had an amazing holiday and left with memories that will last a lifetime. For a breath-taking, envy-inducing break that will make your friends weep with jealousy, there really isn't any other place to stay in Venice.
Prices from (€334) (based on two sharing) for a Double De Luxe room.
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