Recently a spectacular new private island resort opened in Venice; the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa. During one of our recent European road trips we made a slight detour to Venice to find out what it is like to stay on a private island away from the millions of tourists that engulf Venice every year.
The JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa is located on a private island called Isola delle Rose – island of roses. The island is about 2 kilometers away from the Piazza San Marco by boat.
To get there you have a few options, the easiest is by private taxi boat from Venice Airport (180 euro one-way) or the Tronchetto parking (130 euro one-way). Since Venice protects this lucrative taxi boat industry very well the hotel is only allowed to run a complimentary shuttle to and from San Marco square. From the airport and the main parking you can get to San Marco by public water bus or Vaporetto as they are called in Venice. But doing this is all rather inconvenient and San Marco is the last place you want to be with a suitcase so we recommend to take a private water taxi.
The Isola delle Rosa is an artificial island created between 1860 and 1870. From late 1800s until 1979 a hospital was located on the island. After that it was abandoned for decades until this Millennium when it was sold and transformed to a hotel resort.
From 2010 til 2015 the island and the buildings were renovated under the supervision of Venetian star architect Matteo Tun. The island now hosts 266 rooms divided over five separate buildings: the Hotel, La Residenza, La Maisonette, L’Uliveto and Villa Rose. The resort includes four restaurants, four bars, a cooking academy, a spa, a church, a kids club, a rooftop pool and garden pool.
All buildings are considered monuments and it is not allowed to build any new buildings on the island so the architect had a few challenges during the renovation and transformation project. The gardens are absolutely beautiful and unique for Venice. With nearly 40 acres it is one of the largest islands in the Venetian lagoon.
Rooms & Suites
The 266 rooms and suites are divided across the five buildings and measure between 28 and 220 square meters. In the main building you find deluxe king and twin rooms, junior-, studio- and premium suites. But our favorite rooms are located in the smaller La Residenza and La Maisonette buildings. Some of these loft and suites in these buildings include a private plunge pool and stunning modern designs.
Our room was a deluxe king located on the third floor in the main building with views of the lagoon and the Venice ‘skyline’. The room itself was very nice but the design of the bathroom is very odd and dated from layout and design – it turns out those were already built before Matteo Tun was involved with the project. A renovation is due but it is unclear when that will happen, until then opt for a suite in the main building or any room in one of the other buildings.
Restaurants & Bars
The JW Marriott Venice has four different restaurants throughout the property. The Cucina serves breakfast every day with a small terrace overlooking the gardens. Sagra is the rooftop restaurant with views over the park and the lagoon serving creative Italian cuisine for lunch and dinner.
Dopolavoro is set in a seperate building next to the small church. Here Chef Giancarlo Perbellini creates dishes inspired by the province of Veneto. The restaurant is very intimidating and stylish with a very nice menu and wine selection. The chef’s creations earned the restaurant the first Michelin star last year.
The Giardino Grill is a small outlet near the garden pool serving various dishes from the wood fired grill. The Rose Bar Lounge in the main building offers everything from morning coffee to afternoon snacks and evening drinks.
The first challenge is to get to the resort. We decided to take the complimentary shuttle from San Marco to the hotel and that is not recommended. It took us around 1 hour 45 minutes from the parking in Tronchetto via San Marco to the resort. Partly due to the water bus journey from Tronchetto to San Marco square but mainly due to the hotel shuttle that runs only once every 30 minutes and on a first come, first serve basis and takes another 30 minutes from San Marco to the resort. Once there we were not the only one arriving and it took quite a while to check-in.
Once checked-in we dropped the luggage in the room and quickly went up to the rooftop pool to enjoy a sundowner. The rooftop pool is heated (nice!) but quite shallow and the steel stairs is very slippery. So slippery in fact that during the two days we were there multiple people slipped and fell – something the hotel should definitely fix.
From the rooftop pool you have a magnificent view across the lagoon to Venice and when you are lucky you can see one of the huge cruise ships that visits Venice regularly slowly progress through the main canal in the city. The nearby bar serves snacks and drinks at the pool although the service was incredibly slow and not very five star like.
We had dinner at the Sagra restaurant inside, the dishes were alright but the restaurant lacks a bit of atmosphere and it was quite cold. When you can reserve a table outside and enjoy the sunset there.
The next day we had breakfast in the Cucina restaurant and there were quite a few people queueing when we arrived. Since this happened every day we were there and the hotel is said to run near full occupancy, ideally the hotel should open Sagra also for breakfast to improve the breakfast experience. The breakfast selection was quite ok but it was very loud.
After breakfast we enjoyed a few hours by the garden pool, which is quite small but offers a large deck with sun loungers and views of the resort’s garden. After that we took the shuttle boat to Venice and enjoyed a stroll through the tiny streets of Venice. We took one of the last shuttle boats back and hardly everybody was able to go on the boat. Ideally the shuttle boats should run every 15 minutes and not every 30 minutes during peak hours.
The lobby area is very slick with bright white curtains and contemporary furniture. We enjoyed a nightcap in the Rose Bar Lounge. On the day of our departure we tried a la carte breakfast but this was a mistake, it took over 50 minutes to get a croissant and some eggs with the comment that the chef was kind of busy. It seemed that the slow service and the number of times something was forgotten were not incidental but a constant.
Overall our experience could have been much better if the service and guest well being would receive a bit more attention. Another thing which is a bit annoying is that so many services and activities are not included in the room rate. Everything from using the wifi to using the spa, even if you just want to go in the sauna costs extra. I rather pay a bit more for the room but have all these things included.
The JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa possibly has the most beautiful island in Venice. The rooftop pool and many of the guests rooms have unique views and it truly is something special. But sadly the service and guest experience is not as we would expect from a five star luxury resort. The location 30 minutes away from Venice makes it not the ideal place for first time visitors to Venice.