The setting is unlike anywhere else in the world, with water roadways and boats around every corner, it’s no wonder Venice always finds a way onto every travelers bucket list. Located in northeastern Italy, it makes a great destination to pair with Milan or any of the beautiful lake towns located in northern Italy. Despite all this, when we mentioned our plans for 6 days in Venice our family thought we were over extending our stay. That’s not to say Venice is an undesirable place by any means, but most people generally give it a day or two and check it off before heading out to see other parts of Italy.
I’ll admit, Venice can feel rather overwhelming at times due to its popularity and tight canal lined pathways, but we are here to tell you there is another way, a way that allows you to both enjoy the intoxicating atmosphere and relax at the same time. Cue, the JW Marriott Venice. This resort hotel is located on its own private island in the Venetian lagoon and feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of St. Marks Square while still only being 20 minutes away by complimentary shuttle boat.
Disclaimer: This trip was taken before 2020 but I did not get around to fully writing up the review and posting it until later.
Upon arriving in Venice by train, we took a water taxi from directly outside Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia straight to the JW Marriott. We simply couldn’t pass up the allure of arriving at the hotel in this fashion, rather than lugging our bags through Venice to reach the complimentary hotel shuttle pickup at St. Marks Square. As it turns out, this was a great decision and we highly recommend it to anyone visiting this hotel.
The water taxi has a special drop off point that allows boats to go straight into the hotel and pull up to the designated area shown in the above photo. After spending the previous 3 nights at the beautiful Lake Garda, ironically, in the town of Garda, we were relaxed and ready for the full JW Marriott Venice experience.
Upon exiting the water taxi a hotel attendant directed us through a set of double doors and up a stairway into the main hotel lobby, where we were further guided towards the check-in area. The lobby had multiple check-in desks, all with guest chairs, which made for a very personalized check-in process complete with a map overview of the resort. The island, now renamed Isola delle Rose, spans 40 acres with every possible amenity you could ask for during a “city” retreat. We couldn’t wait to explore and the hotel staff couldn’t have made us feel more welcome!
Junior Suite Upgrade
First up was dropping off our bags and checking out our room for the next 5 days. While walking to the room we could hardly contain our excitement after finding out we were upgraded to a Junior Suite for the entirety of our stay thanks to my Titanium status with Marriott. No matter the location, I always recommend booking the room you’ll be happy with and never counting on an upgrade, but that doesn’t stop me from always hoping for an upgrade every time I check into a new hotel. We originally booked the standard King Room and I’ve included a link here for anyone curious to see what it looks like. Now onto a picture tour of our Junior Suite:
And finally, the bathroom felt like another whole room in itself. It may have been larger than some hotels rooms I have visited in the past and came equipped with both a walk in shower, bathtub, and separate area complete with a privacy door for the toilet and bidet. While it did feel slightly less updated than the rest of the room it offered us everything we needed. And as I’m sure lots of people are curious, the shower water pressure was great!
Rooftop Pool Area
If we were to define our favorite spot at the resort by the area we spent the most time, then the rooftop pool would have to take the trophy. We made it a priority to visit the pool every day and we never grew tired of the views. We found it to be an incredible way to relax in the afternoon upon returning from a morning of exploring the city and left us feeling recharged to head back into Venice to enjoy dinner and nightlife without the cruise ship crowds.
It may be hard to tell from the photos we took but the area inside the pool next to the stairs had built in loungers containing jets that you could push a button for on the side of the pool deck. It was similar to what one would expect in a jacuzzi, except this water was refreshingly cool, making it perfect for a warm summer afternoon.
Given that we were in Italy, Peroni was the beer of choice, and for some reason it just tastes better when being enjoyed by an infiniti pool looking out over Venice. I highly recommend ordering yourself one.. or two.. or maybe even three if you find yourself at the JW Marriott Venice anytime in the future. The Sagra Pool Bar also had servers making rounds for anyone who prefers to have their ice cold drinks delivered to them rather than sitting at the bar.
Another great feature of the pool deck is the ability to take in the island from a higher vantage point. From up here we could see the deck for our room, the spa area entrance, and as pictured above, a birds eye view of the 2,367 sq. ft. Villa Rose complete with 2 master bedrooms and a small private pool area.
Italy is typically synonymous with delicious food and the JW Marriott Venice does not leave you lacking for options. While I can’t say the food at every restaurant at the island resort will blow you away, they all have very specific reasons that would make them worth visiting. We didn’t make it to every one, but our personal favorites were Dopolavoro, Sagra Rooftop Restaurant, and the Cucina Daily Restaurant for breakfast.
Sagra Rooftop Restaurant
Located on the 4th floor of the main building at the JW Venice Resort and Spa, the Sagra Rooftop Restaurant offers unparalleled views of Venice. We ended up eating two of our meals here and definitely enjoyed the food and views. While both meals were very good, I do think it’s important to note you’re definitely paying additional for the views and being at a resort.
Even though the best seats in the house are outside, Sagra also has plenty of indoor seating. During our stay we didn’t see anyone dining inside but if the weather is less than favorable you could certainly request a table indoors. Sagra also shares its bar with the rooftop pool so between our two meals there and the trips to the pool we become very familiar with everything the 4th floor deck has to offer. It’s certainly a great place to relax!
Fiola at Dopolavoro Venezia
Welcome to our favorite restaurant on the island. Dopolavoro is the Michelin star rated, fine dining experience everyone needs during a stay at the JW Marriott Venice. We saved this for our final night on the island and it was a truly memorable experience. Even if you are not a guest at the hotel this restaurant has a separate water taxi dock allowing anyone in Venice to dine here. Behind the building shown below the restaurant has its own garden for growing all of the vegetables used in the chefs creations. Then the island is also home to an abundance of olive trees that are used to make special olive oil. This locally sourced olive oil is both used at the restaurant and made available for purchase to take home.
Upon entering the front door we were immediately greeted and asked for our name to confirm the reservation. We were then directed towards the welcome bar for a glass of champagne and friendly conversation with the bartender. Before finishing our glasses of champagne we were asked out into the garden for a tour and amuse-bouche before being shown to our table. They explained how the chef uses all the vegetables from the garden for his menus and went over our options for dinner. The recommended option was choosing between one of three different tasting menu options. All of the tasting menus came with an optional wine pairing, but if none of this sounds appetizing the restaurant also has an al la carte menu. For those interested, the tasting menu is set by the chef with options including vegetarian, small course meat, and large course meat. Given that it was our last night in Italy, and we were celebrating our recent engagement, we with with the large course meat tasting menu complete with the wine pairing. We can safely say you get great value on the wine pairing. Each glass was a full pour and we were definitely having so much fun we forgot to take pictures of a few courses. We remembered to take pictures of four but we had nine in total.
We had an amazing time here and as you may be able to tell from the photos we were the last patrons to leave. The huge tasting menu definitely played a part in this but we have no complaints since the service, food, and ambience were all spectacular. We found ourselves trying to plan our next visit before we even left the restaurant. It is one of those places we both highly recommend visiting during your stay, but unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket I wouldn’t book multiple nights here and instead spend the other nights exploring the fine culinary options that can be found amongst the canals of Venice. Reservations are highly recommended.
Rose Bar Lounge
While we did not dine here during our stay we did visit one evening for a round of drinks before catching the shuttle to St. Marks Square. The lounge is attached to the main lobby of the hotel and a great spot for meeting any friends or family you may be traveling with. While I only ordered a beer during our quick visit, the bartender seemed like quite the mixologist so that is certainly something to keep in mind. It’s also the ideal place to stop in for a night cap after an evening on the town with daily hours from 10am – 1am.
While we didn’t eat here I did take a look at the menu and it generally consisted of lighter fare that would make for an easy lunch or light snack. The lounge also had a beautiful grand piano but unfortunately we weren’t there during a time anyone was playing. I have to imagine it would’ve been lovely listening while enjoying a drink from the bar.
Cucina Daily Restaurant
This is the spot to visit for breakfast every morning, especially if you have Platinum, Titanium, or Ambassador Elite status with Marriott. The restaurant is open from 7am – 11am every day and has both indoor and outdoor seating options. The full breakfast buffet is 35 euro per person or complimentary as a welcome amenity to Platinum members (+1) and higher. Even without status, the spread justifies a visit or two, but I would recommend checking out Dispensa for their cheaper offerings if looking for a lighter breakfast.
Another point to consider, if you are someone who enjoys a boozie brunch on vacation then the 35 euro price tag does provide good value given the vast assortment of food options, the self serve sparkling wine, and true convenience. The self serve sparkling wine was available every morning of our stay but if having mimosas with breakfast is the deciding factor for you then I would definitely recommend confirming the option is available that day before sitting down to enjoy your brunch.
If you’re looking for fast casual options or special items to take home then Dispensa has you covered. In english, this is translated to “food storage” and that is truly an accurate name. Step in the front door and you’ll find a full list of drinks, including an assortment of both coffee and juices, as well as quick food items and boxed lunches. Since we had breakfast at the Cucina Daily Restaurant each morning we didn’t try anything here but when we stopped in to peruse the shopping section they had an olive oil tasting out that we gladly took advantage of. For any olive oil connoisseurs out there, the olive oil made on the island was delicious and available for sale in the store. They also offered a variety of wine, pasta, and other speciality items that could be purchased to either take home or possibly enjoy in the room.
The store is definitely worth stopping in if you’re looking for your morning coffee, a quick bite to eat, or a speciality item to take home and relive the memories of a fantastic vacation at the JW Marriott Venice.
This is the one food option at the resort we did not step foot in, but it’s still worth a mention given its appeal to certain groups who may be planning a visit here. The restaurant is located right next to the family pool on the south side of the island and is open from 10am to 6pm. We walked by the restaurant while on an evening stroll and it looked to be in a relaxing shaded area. They had cocktails for the adults, mocktails for the kids, lunch items, gelato and other tasty treats. They also offered a really cool option to pack a picnic and eat it in one of the many shady green areas of the islands garden. I have some photos of the family area around Giardino down in the Other Resort Amenities section below. From our walk around the resort it appeared to be a great feature for families traveling with young children.
Other Resort Features
While not exhaustive, these are a few of the additional resort offerings that stood out to us during our stay. Some are complimentary while others require an additional fee. They consist of a complimentary shuttle to St. Marks Square, a spa, family pool area, and even cooking classes.
Given the resort is on an island in the Venetian Lagoon, I would argue the complimentary shuttle boat service is one of the most important amenities available. The shuttle runs on 30 minute intervals and departs the hotel dock around 8am every morning. I have noticed this timing does vary by time of year and season, so be sure to check the timetable upon arrival at the resort. However, from the schedules I have seen they are very consistent with the final shuttle departing St. Marks Square at midnight.
During our stay we took advantage of the later shuttle times to explore the old streets after dark, mingling at various bars, and listening to live music in the squares. It was great to be out exploring with less crowds in the evening but always made it our goal to be at the St. Marks Square docks for the 11:30pm shuttle, as we didn’t want to risk the last shuttle of the evening being too full to take us back to the resort.
We never ran into issues with the boat being too full but banking on the last shuttle to have space wasn’t a risk we were willing to take with the next shuttle not returning until the morning. The interior of the boat was very comfortable with all the windows providing plenty of cross winds to keep cool. We found it extremely enjoyable to start every morning with a relaxing boat ride into St. Marks Square. In addition to St. Marks Square, the resort also offers complimentary service in the morning to Stazione dei Treni Santa Lucia Partenze every hour.
To be completely honest, we visited the gym once during our stay.. and it was just to take pictures. I would be curious to know if anyone else is like us. We always pack work out clothes with the intent of working out every morning but upon arriving we tell ourselves all our walking is enough of a workout and we instead we spent on our time on vacation looking for a relaxing spot on the water for an Aperol Spritz. It’s no doubt something we are trying to work on for future travels but I can safely say the gym was not lacking for amenities in any way.
We stopped in on our way to dinner one night just to check it out and to our surprise it was completely empty. This was around 6pm and if we had been there to workout we would’ve had the run of the place.
The whole area was extremely spacious and had multiple machines for both weight training and cardio. The windows let in plenty of natural light and there was even a section with a sauna and small sitting area.
Even though we only stopped in briefly, and on our last night at the resort nonetheless, we were both impressed with the setup and wished we had made a visit to actually workout earlier in our stay. Especially after the dinner we had at Dopolavoro that evening. We can safely say the gym amenities and features had absolutely nothing to do with our decision not to work out 🙂 as they were excellent and should allow most anyone to keep up with their workout routine while on vacation.
The spa area looked fantastic but ultimately we decided to do the tasting experience at Dopolavoro rather than a treatment at the spa. The spa is open from 10am – 8pm and has all kinda of treatments and experiences.
Rather than listing everything out, the website does a great job so just head on over to the JW Marriott Venice Spa website if you care to see the full experience on offer. Personally, I intend to look into the vitality pool if I am lucky enough to find myself at the resort again.
This feature really helps set the resort apart from other city vacation hotels. As mentioned before, the hotel has a rooftop pool for adults only, but also one for families with young kids. However, the family area doesn’t just stop at having 2 different pools.
The area also has a large deck with chairs and umbrellas, as well as a green space with various games for kids to enjoy. Not to mention all of this is just a short complimentary boat ride away from one of the most historic cities in the world. The offerings are a great compromise for having plenty of ways to entertain young kids while still getting in historic exploring, picturesque views, amazing wine, and dinner along the canals.
The resort also has a kids club and other activities to keep everyone entertained. Since I didn’t personally experience any of these activities during my stay, other than what I saw when walking around the area, I’m also including the website link providing additional information around the family options and kids club. Hope its helpful!
Sapori Cooking Academy
The cooking academy has many opportunities on offer and we thought long and hard about joining in on the “Authentic Venice” cooking class. The cooking class is 6 hours, from 8am – 2pm and the part that really had us excited was the morning where we would have taken a water taxi to the Rialto Market to pick out ingredients before returning to the island to cook lunch. We ultimately decided on an eating and walking historic food tour in Venice over this since we really enjoy learning about the history of a place while enjoying local foods, but felt this was still worth a mention since it made it on our final list of options for the trip. Even if the “Authentic Venice” cooking class doesn’t fit exactly into what you are looking to do the Sapori Cooking Academy has plenty of other options available, including cooking classes where children are welcome.
- Excellent status recognition
- Plenty of activities and food options
- Amazing rooftop pool
- Solid 25 minutes to get to St. Mark’s Square
- Food and drink on the island is extremely expensive
- Not as convenient if you prefer to be able to walk out in the heart of the action
We had a lovely 5 night stay at the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa and could see ourselves returning again and again in the future. For us, it was the perfect mix between a relaxing resort escape and a city adventure. Neither of us had any issues with needing to take a shuttle boat from the resort to St. Marks Square since it gave us a relaxing way to see Venice from the water every day and still allowed us to explore the city at night when it was less crowded. That being said, if you are one who prefers being able to step out of your hotel and be in the streets of Venice or tend to make multiple stops back at your hotel throughout the day of exploring then it may not be the best option. In the end, you’ll be hard pressed to regret having stayed at the JW Marriott Venice.