As a continuation of our Family vacation in Florida in mid December (the first part was in Tampa- see separate review of the Tampa Marriott Waterside), we traveled to Marco Island and stayed 5 nights at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort. This trip was only 15 months removed from one of the most destructive hurricanes to have ever made landfall on Marco, hurricane Irma in September 2017. According to islanders and various folks at the JW, this hurricane inflicted a lot of damage around the island. Fortunately for the JW there was no significant structural damage to their resort, although virtually all of their landscaping was destroyed and their beach side tiki huts were swept out to sea (probably making a nice reef for fish somewhere in the gulf coast waters). All of this had to be replaced and it was. Looking at the resort today you would never know they were hit by such a devastating storm. The tiki huts, palm trees and beautiful gardens have been meticulously restored to their original splendor. This resort also features two golf courses on the island which were hard hit as well. Thousands of shrubs, trees and plants have been replanted on the two courses making them better then ever.
This resort has it all. There is a huge white sand beach that stretches for miles and is probably a good 9 iron shot from the back of the beach to the water. The JW provides beach umbrellas and if you want there are approximately 20 large size tiki huts for daily rental that will comfortable accommodate 4 adults. In addition, the resort offers the following:
- 4 pools- 1 as part of the full service spa, 1 private adults only pool which is part of the "Sirene" rooms, and 2 large resort polls
- 2 beach facing bars
- countless restaurants of all types
- brand new conference and function facility that opened within the past few months
- adults only rooms (must be 21 or older) referred to as the "Sirene" section with its own private bar, roof top pool and balcony overlooking the ocean
- 2 golf courses
- an upscale arcade and sports bar known as 10K Alley
- several shops along the main corridor connecting the two main towers
- nightly fire dancer on the beach at sunset
Rooms & Check-in
The check-in process was seamless and the front desk associate couldn't have been any friendlier or more helpful. I noticed during our stay that when the front desk associates were not busy, rather than just hanging out on their cell phones as has been reported at other properties, these folks would come out from behind their podiums and stand in the lobby greeting and talking to guests as they passed by. This may be a small thing but it is very nice touch to have someone acknowledge you and either say good morning or ask how your day going and can I do anything for you.
During check-in we were asked if we wanted to forgo housekeeping (Green Choice) for 500 bonus points per day. If we want housekeeping we were asked if we wanted it in the AM or PM. If necessary, we could also select a specific time of day. As you would expect, this JW features nightly turndown service which I enjoy, particularly getting clean towels and new bath amenities.
Our three rooms had balconies with ocean and pool views. The rooms were all updated and nicely furnished and featured double vanity sinks with a walk in shower.
Dining at the JW
As previously mentioned there are dining options for everyone at this resort from casual to fine dining. My family ate and drank our way around this resort, so I will review the places we tried.
Ario- We saved this for our last evening. It is a fine dining restaurant specializing in steak and seafood. They dry age their own beef. Make sure you make advance reservations and if you can ask to have Enzo as your waiter. He is absolutely terrific. He can recite the entire menu to you and is humorous. I will vouch for the NY strip which was delicious!
Tesoro- Mediterranean inspired tapas restaurant located next to 10K alley. This is a perfect place for sharing. Our waiter, Ene, saw us struggling with the menu trying to figure out what to order. He then simply asked us if we had any food allergies or if there was anything we wouldn't eat. We said no and no. He then said I'll select items for you and keep bringing them over in appropriate sizes so that the six of us could share, and once you're almost full I'll bring dessert. I don't know about you, but when I'm on vacation I don't like to have to think too hard or make decisions about anything. We went along with him and it turned out to be a terrific experience. If you dine there you should ask to be served by Ene and tell him you read about him on the Marriott website. He will be extremely flattered and will take good care of you!
10K Alley- This is a brand new upscale arcade and sports bar. They offer more than 50 craft beers on tap (which made me happy) and a wide selection of barrel aged bourbons (which made my son happy). They offer a nice selection of appetizers and sandwiches. While you are enjoying the beverage of your choice you can walk around and play dozens of arcade and other games. There is a 9 hole black light mini golf course we tried, a 6 lane bowling alley that we spent some quality time at, several virtual reality adventure games and sports simulators, and dozens of arcade games. And just like other arcades, you can win tickets to be redeemed for "highly valuable merchandise" (you can probably guess). This area is adults only after 10 pm each evening.
Maia- A very nice breakfast restaurant on the lower lobby level. As a platinum you receive complimentary continental breakfast for 2 people (or a one time choice of 1,000 points), but for $10 more can upgrade to full buffet. The buffet has something for everyone including a carving station. We ate there most mornings.
Korals Lobby Bar- They feature delicious hand crafted cocktails and also have a sushi bar. This is a nice place to begin or finish your evening.
Quinn's on the Beach- Features a nice beach side bar with indoor and outdoor dining. The fire dancer that performs nightly does so on the beach right in front of Quinn's. This place serves lunch and dinner.
Kane Tiki Bar- This bar is also on the edge of the beach. Many days it has live music, and late in the afternoon it features a cigar and bourbon special. Such and dinner is also served. I can't speak for the food, but the drinks and cigars are terrific!
Rookery Grill & Hammock Bay Grill- These two restaurants are located at the two off site golf courses and serve breakfast and lunch. We had lunch at both places which was good. My favorite was the Hammock Bay Grill since it had an outdoor bar overlooking the club pool.
Marco Island has tons of great places to dine, but we chose two that were within walking distance of the hotel. If you are interested in Italian food you should consider Sale E Pepe located a five minute walk away at nearby Marco Beach Ocean Resort. It is a gourmet fine dining Italian restaurant featuring pasta, fish, beef, veal, lamb and several other things. As soon as I saw bolognese on the menu I went with that along with a caprese salad. Both were delicious. The rest of the family went with fish or veal and all seemed to like their meals.
The other offsite restaurant we ate at which was a ten minute walk from the JW, located in a small plaza, was the Oyster Society . This restaurant obviously specializes in oysters and fish dishes. It is owned by the same group that owns the next door Davinci and Marco Prime restaurants. At the Oyster Society i had the "Pier 39" cioppino which had clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, fish, scallops and squid in a roasted tomato broth. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
I don't think you would be disappointed by either of these restaurants.
Marriott owns and operates two golf courses on the island which are both a 15 minute drive from the hotel on their free shuttle. Speaking of the shuttle, here is an interesting side story. The hotel offers a free shuttle to the courses leaving on the hour. We didn't know you had to reserve the shuttle ride in advance but thought you just went out front to get it. The six of us went out front, saw the shuttle van but no driver ever came. After a couple minutes the valet attendant came over to see if he could help us and that is when he told us we needed to reserve in advance. He said the driver was out with other guests. Not to worry, he said he would take care of it. Minutes later two well dressed individuals came out and loaded us up for a ride to the course. It turns out the valet rounded up the Director of Personnel, Mr. Tu Chi, and the Director of Marketing, Ms Amanda Cox. On the way to the course they gave us a guided tour of Marco Island, suggestions for dining and other activities, and gave us a lot of insight about the JW. I was really struck by their friendly demeanor and their "can do" attitude. They are a terrific example to their associates showing them how to step up to the plate, solve a problem, and cater to the guests needs! BRAVO to these two individuals!
The two courses are both private clubs but are available for play to guests of the JW on alternating days. If you have the time, both are worthy of playing.
Hammock Bay GC- Very scenic, a fun yet challenging course, is the easier of the two courses. This course has a good mix of holes and is fairly generous off the tees.
Rookery GC- The harder of the two courses. This course has more water that comes into play, but if you can avoid the hazards, there are scoring opportunities out there.
This JW is a terrific ocean side resort that caters to both couples and families alike. The personnel we dealt with during our five day stay were most accommodating and very friendly. There is clearly something for everyone here. I would highly recommend this JW to everyone and I look forward to my next return visit.
Hotel pictured from the beach.
The lobby decorated for the holidays.
Lobby with vaulted ceiling.
One of a dozen or more Christmas trees adorned the resort.
Sandcastle announcing the "Sirene" adults only section at the JW.
One of the 4 resort pools.
Ocean view from the balcony of our room. Notice the beautiful and expansive beach.
View of the spa and pool from our balcony.
Amazing sunsets every evening...No extra charge!
Just another sunset...It never gets old!
Fire dancer on the beach in front of Quinn's.
Fire dancer. And the answer is no, he didn't set himself or the JW on fire!
King room with balcony.
Good size bathroom with double vanity and walk-in shower.
10K Alley bar with large selection of craft beers and bourbons, and other stuff too.
Bowling. I seemed to get better after a few beverages.
Arcade with dozens of games. Playing these games makes you feel like a kid again! Don't forget, you win tickets with each game you play that can be exchanged for prizes or at least bragging rights.
Black light mini golf at 10K Alley. Fun for the whole family, even if there are no kids in the family!
Menu of games that can be played on the two simulators.