JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa Offers The Perfect Respite From Italy’s Tourist-Filled Destination

An introvert’s paradise.

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Thirty million. That’s how many visitors flood the iconic floating Italian city of Venice yearly. Yes, you heard that right. To be fair, the cluster of islands (118 total) is truly a sight to see and experience. Between the majestic Venetian Gothic architecture, ornate Murano glasswork, rich culture and art, winding picturesque canals, and luxury shopping, this European hotspot is booming for good reason. Which is why, upon my very first visit to Italy, I made it a point to meander over to Venice for a couple days. However, an introvert at heart, the idea of navigating such a high-traffic region for that amount of time — alone, no less — sent my anxiety soaring. Luckily, I discovered a tucked-away resort, JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, that served as the perfect respite from the islands’ ever-present crowds.

While I would’ve loved to have kept this gem of a hotel under wraps for fear of it being discovered by the masses, it is my duty as an editor to share my knowledge with the public at large. (Condé Nast Traveler Magazine named it one of the Best Resorts in Europe for their 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards, so the secret’s been out.) Located on the private island of Isola delle Rose, just some 15 minutes or so by water taxi from the famous Piazza San Marco, the 40-acre JW Marriott Venice was once a hospital for pulmonary illnesses. These days, its seclusion is leveraged for crowd-averse travelers like myself seeking all the comforts of a luxury hotel.

For context, my visit to Venice was coming off of a packed two days in Milan, so upon arrival to the Santa Lucia station, I was seeking a quiet atmosphere to rest and recharge for sightseeing the following day. Luckily, the hotel’s complimentary water taxi was waiting to whisk me off to the private island to do just that. Already kicking off my stay in style, I was greeted by a concierge at the resort’s arrival dock, which led me straight to the main lobby for a quick check in.

While given a tour of the premises prior to settling in, I was able to take in the full expanse and splendor of the award-winning property. In addition to the main hotel, which houses classic “JW” rooms and suites, the resort takes privacy a step further with its “JW Retreat” accommodations, located in remote spots among the grounds’ sprawling gardens. Also on the premises is a luxury spa, fitness center, three swimming pools, olive groves, and a chapel-turned-meeting-space.

My Retreat suite was a neutral, modern space with a view of the property’s edible garden, which grows fresh ingredients like pomegranate, apricots, blackberries, and cabbage throughout the year for the resort’s various onsite restaurants and culinary offerings. For its understated, elegant interiors, JW Marriott Venice employed renowned designer and architect Matteo Thun, known for his sustainable, simple aesthetic. “Interiors present a chameleonic, metropolitan mix of no-design in natural hues with one-off artistic pieces,” explains the property’s site. This approach allows for the easy capturing of natural light and tranquil atmosphere. Just what I needed to recover from my jam-packed European excursion.

My first, and arguably most important, order of business on my stay at the hotel was a visit to the spa. For me, true self-indulgence always involves a massage. To fully lean into my theme of total relaxation I opted for the spa’s Relax service, which “is characterized by light, slow, and embracing movements, that help soften tensions” in the body. (To be clear, the spa’s offerings are extensive and include some 10 different types of massages and body treatments, facials, scrubs and wraps, makeup and hairdressing, and access to the fitness room, vitality pool, and relaxation areas.) After my 50-minute treatment, I quietly sipped on ginger tea in the outdoor garden, which offered a prime view of the Venetian sunset over the Adriatic Sea.

Post-spa, I had a quiet al fresco dinner at the property’s Sagra Rooftop, where the menu consists of regional Italian specialties like creamed seafood risotto, baked gnocchi with fresh mozzarella and basil pesto, and pappardelle with lamb ragù and toasted pine nuts. For reference, the property boasts several culinary experiences on the premises that range from a delicatessen and outdoor grill to the ultra luxe fine dining restaurant Agli Amici Dopolavoro. The latter recently reopened under the leadership of Michelin-starred Chef Emanuele Scarello, who created a garden-to-table menu based on Venice's lagoon delicacies and the resort's aforementioned edible garden. For those who want to fully immerse themselves in the idyllic setting, JW Marriott Venice offers full-service “chic-nic” set-ups. The elevated picnic experience includes blanket seating under shady trees, gourmet meals of Italian sandwiches, snacks, and healthy salads.

The day’s rest proved helpful for the next, which was filled with sightseeing and exploring. But first, I booked a cooking class at the resort’s Sapori Cooking Academy, where I had a one-on-one session with the onsite chef, who taught me how to make tiramisu (which I paired with coffee for a well-rounded breakfast). While my session only consisted of one course, guests can book a lesson that consists of an entire traditional Venetian menu.

Angela Melero

After a hard morning’s work in the kitchen I took one of the hotel’s water shuttles to Murano, where I took a private tour of the island’s famous glass factory and showroom, then headed to Venice for some sightseeing and shopping at Piazza San Marco. A few hours of canal-cruising, people-watching, espresso-sipping, and gelato-eating later, I had had my fill of the crowds and was ready to return to my tranquil abode. The hotel offers regular complimentary shuttles that run in half-hour increments from Venice to the property, so I was able to catch a ride quickly, just in time for a delicious last supper of pizza at the Pizzeria Cucina Saporé.

The next morning I left Venice the way everyone should — rested and with a very full stomach. Despite being forewarned of the hectic touristy atmosphere, I feel like the JW Marriott Venice served as the perfect buffer and escape, allowing me to enjoy the splendor and excitement of the area, sans exhaustion and overstimulation. Until next time, Venice. Thank you for serving this introvert well.

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