I write this review whilst lazing on the balcony of my Junior suite, dappled in sunlight at the new JW Marriott in Venice. The outlook is not what you would expect of Venice, all I can hear is birdsong and all I can see is an expanse of green forested gardens with the odd glimpse of Venetian Lagoon through the trees.
Opened just over 2 months ago in March 2015 this is an impressive hotel. Arrive by water taxi if you can, not only is this a glameous way to travel through Venice, but the dock at the JW Marriott is like something out of a Bond movie, providing a great first view of the property. Experience of water taxis has taught me to resist the childlike urge to stand up throughout a journey, failure to do so on past trips has left me with a hairdo resembling that of a seafarer caught in a force 9, not a look I intended to sport as we glided into the stylish and cavernous dock under the hotel, welcomed off the boat by three smartly dressed JW Marriott staff members.
The Island of Isola delle Rosa
JW Marriott is the exclusive inhabitant of the small Venetian island of Isola delle Rosa, one of the largest islands in the Venetian lagoon and the youngest. At 16.03 ha, it was artificially created in 1870 with materials from the construction of the Santa Marta commercial port. On it, they built a hospital for those with pulmonary disorders so patients could leave the pollution and humidity of central Venice for this plant filled oxygen rich retreat, complete with fresh onshore breezes. The hospital closed in the 1970’s and the island stayed abandoned until JW Marriott converted it into their beautiful hotel.
Isola delle Rosa is perched on the edge of Venice but only 15 minutes from the centre, with extremely regular and comfortable shuttles that whizz you right past the Cipriani and onto St Marks Square. This lush green island houses easily the best Marriott I have ever stayed in. The main building sits in the centre of the island and is home to most of the rooms, as well as the rooftop bar and pool. Outside the entire island is yours to explore, take a wander along meandering paths past groves of olive trees and fields of poppies and you’ll reach outbuildings, which include some of the higher end rooms with their own private pools. Continue on to a church, herb garden, family pool, the Dopolavro Dining room and the Gardino Grill all set in a pretty garden. The Spa here is also immense and offers the same superb views across the water.
Most of the buildings are built either in red brick or come with a traditional white finish. All are originals which have been converted, so the look is of beautifully converted old out houses and boathouses surrounded by greenery. You can walk around the edge of the island or stick to the centre as it isn’t huge, but offers enough to keep you there for 4 or 5 days without getting bored – and I get easily bored. I can’t help thinking the church grounds and hotel here would make the perfect venue for a dreamy wedding.
On the ground floor you find creamy marble corridors, fun artwork and flower arrangements dotted all around. It’s really modern and incredibly spaceous for Venice, I particularly loved the thick patterned glass panes exhibited throughout. There is a large and contemporary Foyer Piano bar with flowing muslins draped from the ceilings and blowing in the breeze and spilling out into the gardens for warmer nights. It was amongst this lovely decor that we chose to spend the start of our first evening. Dress at the hotel is very casual, most guests being well turned out but the clientelle, who seemed to be largely Americans and British, were not the type to parade in the latest styles and couture. This gave a relaxed and laid back feel to the resort, more like you might find in Hawaii.
The roof top infinity pool, located just beyond a rooftop bar and restaurant area seems to tick all the boxes and in the main it did. Gobsmackingly good views from comfy seating on a beautifully decked terrace. Music playing in the background and plenty of daybeds and loungers. Dip your foot in and the pool is as warm as a slipper, perfect for lounging in the bubbles at the edge. Perfect, except for the fact it is incredibly shallow. The water level came up to my hips and when you wanted to get from one side to the other, looking stylish and chic you found yourself crawling across the pool. The kids were loving it, as even my four year old could touch the bottom, but my only effort at a length was abruptly terminated by smashing both my knees on the bottom. The pool is perfect for lazing with mega views into Venice, sitting so close to the edge of the roof that you almost felt you could topple into the sea below, but for me it was simply too shallow for a swim. Thankfully there is another outdoor “family” pool hidden away the greenery of the Island which is a bit of a trek in your dressing gown, but offers the option of swimming, along with some more extremely comfy loungers and just across from a young kids playpark.
Behind the rooftop pool and loungers is a large expanse of decking edged by flowers and filled with comfy seats and sofas. It is a truly magical place to have an evening Bellini as you can watch the sun set over the domes of Venice and across the Adriatic – easily the best rooftop bar in Venice. We have spent many an evening admiring the view always finding something new to gaze at, with the attentive staff refilling our glassed well past sundown.
My Final thought
The sun is setting and I am back on the balcony tapping my thoughts into my laptop after a day of strolling the circumference of the island under droopping willow trees and across wild lawns strewn with poppys and clovers. It has been a perfect day and I haven’t yet felt the need to pop over to Venice! My keyboard tip tapping is soothed by birdsong, rustling trees and distant boats. It is so relaxing that hubby has fallen asleep on a lounger, a brochure advertising the resorts newly opened Dopolavro restaurant with its 2 michelin chef on his font – which alone will no doubt necessitate a return trip.
This resort is so idylic, so totally peaceful and relaxing that you really wont want to leave. The crazyness of St Marks Square, Gondollas and tourists seem a world away, and for the next few days I am going to keep it that way and stay in this little island paradise on the edge of Venice.