The JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa — Italy’s first JW Marriott hotel — is set on a resortlike private island in Venice, just minutes from the tourist-thronged Piazza San Marco. It’s the only resident of the tiny Isola delle Rose, and with its olive groves, lush gardens and knockout pools, both parents and kids will be happy to stay in this escape for days on end.
Isola delle Rose has its own microclimate and served as a healthful retreat for those with pulmonary disease in the 1900s. The hotel’s architect did a phenomenal job embracing the historical significance of the structures on the island while blending in contemporary design.
We arrived after a quick water taxi ride on the hotel’s complimentary shuttle to the very impressive entrance, where we were escorted into the main building for check-in. From the exterior, it’s easy to imagine the former residents taking in fresh air on the numerous balconies, but inside the Italian designer has created a sleek white lobby with upholstered furnishings in beautiful Mediterranean colors.
The resort offers two accommodation experiences: the JW hotel for short stays and JW villas with private gardens, some with private plunge pools, for longer stays. All of the accommodations feature beautiful warm colors as well as great light and energy. Large glass walls at every turn maximize the spectacular views.
We stayed in a suite in the hotel and were impressed by how well laid out it was — from the walk-in closet to the very spacious bathroom, every detail was thoughtfully planned. One highlight was the soaking tub with sliding doors that allow guests to gaze out at the gorgeous surroundings. The huge balcony is the perfect spot for parents to enjoy a glass of wine and soak in the view of the sea and the gardens after the kids go to bed.
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Cucina, the breakfast restaurant, offers both a fantastic buffet and an a la carte menu. The Dispensa is a grab-and-go market selling Italian specialities. I enjoyed stopping here for a morning cappuccino and chat with Gabrielle before going out for a run around the island while the rest of my family slept in. Not only was Gabrielle the sweetest ever, she made an amazing coffee!
The views from the Sagra Rooftop Restaurant are jaw-dropping. Unlike so many other restaurants with incredible settings, the food did not disappoint.
Olive trees are unusual in northern Italy, but because of Isola delle Rose’s unique climate, they grow here. This is the only olive oil harvested in Venice, and it’s served only in Dopolovoro, the fine dining venue. At the helm is Giancarlo Perbellini, a rising young chef who earned a Michelin star after only six months. Parents with older children should definitely make a reservation; those with younger children can arrange babysitting with the concierge. This is a dining experience not to be missed! The restaurant’s “zero km” philosophy takes farm to table to a whole new level. Guests can also dine alfresco overlooking the organic garden
There are three pools on the property. The family pool is located next to the playground, with plenty of grass for kids to run. The indoor-outdoor pool at the spa is for guests 16 and older, and the rooftop pool is small but has a splendid view of Venice and the lagoon.
The kids’ club includes typical arts and crafts, games and sports that incorporate aspects of Italian culture so children get to know the history and traditions. Activities might include decorating Venetian masks, Italian language lessons and a pizza-making class.
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The GOCO Spa is in a separate building with a private relaxation area that offerse pristine views of the lagoon. Cooking classes in the beautiful Sapori Cooking Academy (sapori means flavors in Italian) are a guest favorite. There is a 6-hour class that includes a trip to the Rialto Market with Chef Mikki to pick the freshest ingredients, or a shorter pizza- or pasta-making class ideal for families.
The extremely helpful and friendly concierge team can arrange a variety of activities, from a complimentary water taxi to the island of Murano to visit a glass factory, to an olive oil tasting that also explains the history of the 100 olive trees on the island and how they grow.
The shuttle service to the city runs every half hour from 9a to midnight and takes about 20 minutes. The shuttles are well equipped and even have USB ports. We looked forward to the relaxing ride back to the island after spending the day among the crowds of Venice.
TIP: The resort is seasonal; annual closing is from November to March.
Editor’s Note: Sandy was offered a media rate to review the property for Ciao Bambino. As always, our thoughts and opinions are our own. Photos by Sandy Pappas.
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