Why honeymoon here?
One for the foodies. The culinary standards at JW Marriott Venice, particularly at fine dining restaurant Agli Amici Dopolavoro, are outstanding and commendably locavore. Add to this its laidback launchpad appeal (on a private island, a mere 15-minutes boat ride from St Mark’s Square), and its escapism exhale once the swarms of tourists and bridge queues in Venice become a little too much, and this could just be the missing piece of the Venetian honeymoon puzzle.
Style of honeymoon?
The easygoing, pampering type, where hot, docile afternoons stretch out in the spa, golden hour takes place along the rooftop pool and evenings can be spent crunching the gravel through the rose gardens, en route to aperitivo under the architecturally brow-raising bones of an old barn.
See the scene
It’s hard not to cite James Bond when chugging into JW Marriott from the Venetian Lagoon on the hotel’s classic boat. Drooping willows appear to part for the boat gliding into its dock, where, having jumped off, sliding doors slip you into a peachy marble dimension. The tinkle of piano music wafts through the lobby decked in artworks from Biennale exhibitors, negronis dot the terrace and, beyond it, protected gardens are a shady reprieve from the heat – a maze of vast pine trees, olive groves, roses, snaking gravel paths and chirping cicadas. The main building at JW Marriott Venice is admittedly corporate in flavour, if not ‘XL-American-hotel,’ though the new complexes scattering pretty (and private) Isola delle Rose are a triumph in new-meets-old architecture and design. These overlook the Venetian lagoon, inhaling a warm, salty breeze, or spill onto olive groves and preened gardens. The sheer size of the island keeps any sense of being marooned at bay, although it’s hard to resist the seductive haze of Venetian antiquity, beckoning just across the turquoise lagoon.
The 230 rooms here differ vastly in style, to the point where you could come back three times and feel as though you’d stayed in three different hotels. Carved into the main behemoth hotel building (softened by its surrounding rose and pine gardens) are a series of pared down rooms, with deep Japanese-style bathtubs, his-and-hers sinks and large balconies calling for an early evening Campari Spritz. These enjoy easy access to the rooftop pool and Sagra restaurant, with knockout views over the gardens and across the lagoon to Venice. There’s also an easy descent to breakfast – best taken on the terrace overlooking the shaded gardens. For the privacy most honeymooners crave, reverential design and a sense that you’re miles away from it all, we’d recommend the white-washed Maisonette rooms, some of which come with their own lagoon-facing plunge pools. Room service is a must while staying at JW Marriott – a theatrical, silver service affair, which, when set along a balmy terrace, carries the magic of a privately arranged supper, without the service interruptions.
Food and drink
While hotel guests have various haunts to dine in on the island, it’s worth booking knockout Agli Amici Dopolavoro in advance – you’re competing with those chugging in from Venice, who’ve heard whispers of its culinary wizardry. At the helm of this oxblood-hued restaurant, reminiscent of a Sicilian villa, is Chef Emmanuele Scarello (owner of the two Michelin-starred Udine restaurant, Agli Amici 1887). Scarello has reconfigured the fiercely local tasting menus around a vast kitchen garden, local Venetian lagoon farmers and fishermen. These are then whipped into gourmet shape across Venetian lagoon and Rose garden menus, with standout dishes including an asparagus, egg and bernaise sauce medley, perfectly-cooked sole with seafood zabaglione, coffee and cubebe pepper and a delectable olive ice cream with celery and bay leaf jelly. Ensure you arrive promptly for the negroni trolley and artistic canapes beneath the eerie, skeletal beams of a bar, and with views across the kitchen gardens. Likewise, the house-baked sourdough lathered in dill butter is a delicious teaser for the foodie theatre to come.
For a more laid back, poolside lunch. Sagra stretches across the rooftop and into an air conditioned, tiled patch indoors, serving Italian classics and wholesome grain-filled salads. Breakfast is served buffet-style (and with an accompanying menu) at Cucina, which spills down the terrace into gardens under parasols. The crepe stand is worth beelining for, and there’s plenty of fruit, nut, seed and bircher muesli options for the health-conscious. There the pizzeria-style Gardino by the family pool – a boon for parents as it avoids lugging their broods back to the main building – while Dispensa, just off the hotel, lobby whooshes and sizzles out Italian-strength coffee and delicious healthy smoothies throughout the day.
No stay at JW Marriott Venice is complete without the hotel’s gluttonous garden picnics – laid out with haute-cuisine precision on whimsical red and white gingham. Sample moreish slices of cured meats, cheese, salads and Sicilian puddings under the shade of the olive trees, with rosé-on-ice staving off the heat. Couples can check their own culinary skills at the Sapori Cooking Academy, where they can enjoy a crash course in authentic Venetian cooking.
Despite its claim as the biggest spa in Venice, the old-meets-new design of JW Marriott Venice’s spa packs the sort of architectural punch you’d expect from a boutique hotel. A modern rendition of the classic, wrought iron window grates seen across Venice nod to the archipelago’s remarkable history, while keeping things cool and contemporary across what appears to be original, buffered brick. Overlooking the lagoon and Venice beyond it, with bushes forming a barrier from any nosy parkers on passing boats, the spa pool is an oasis of calm, surrounded by a blonde wooden deck.
Inside, guests wrapped in towels, slightly delirious from their treatments, float between the Finnish sauna and hammam, hydrating on citrus-infused water and keeping sugar levels up with buttery Italian biscuits. Excessive gnocchi and Tuscan wine can be worked off in the TechnoGym (though we’re told guests rarely use this…) and a long line of treatment rooms are across a decked courtyard scattered with cushioned round sofas and contemporary sun loungers. These are remarkably spacious, with right-on relaxing soundtracks (not too loud) and doors that can slide open onto gardens and the lagoon. Therapists revive tired faces with potions from clean beauty brand, Bakel, ease stiff muscles into the holiday and wrap dehydrated skin in various creams, oils and scrubs. Honeymooners can opt for the Couples Spa Experience, with their own private waterside deck, outdoor showers facing the lagoon and tailored pummellings to avoid any early marital arguments.
JW Marriott have cleverly created separate family areas to keep the peace for couples without little ones. These include a family pool area with a smaller toddler pool, alongside which families cool off with gelato from Gardino, or, on Tuesday evening, shimmy into beanbags for some open air cinema. A light-filled, craft-heavy Kid’s Club keeps sprogs entertained while parents take an uninterrupted dip in the rooftop pool or a well-deserved stint in the spa.
JW Marriott Venice have conjured a plan to leverage the unused land around the islands for solar panelling – a move that will see up to 80% of their electricity derive from renewable energy. Just off the hotel lobby, guests will find a beautifully-curated boutique of sustainable clothes and accessories, including patterned silk kimonos and summer dresses.
Italian designer Matteo Thun’s subdued reimagining of an island sanatorium (the olive trees were planted to heal those with pulmonary disease in the 1900s) really set JW Marriott apart from the Venetian hotel mosaic since its doors opened in 2015. The island is the peaceful antithesis of Venice’s tourist bustle, while its rooms eschew Doge-style, fresco-and-gilt splendour for muted tones and gently contemporary furniture.
With St Mark’s square only 15-minutes by shuttle boat, Venice’s photogenic canals, legendary aperitivo spots and palazzo museums are within easy reach. Those staying at JW Marriott will be equally glad of the easy escape, back to the crowd-free, shaded gardens of Isola delle Rose. The hotel is also well-placed for exploring the other islands peppering the Venetian lagoon. We’d recommend pairing JW Marriott Venice with a stay at one of the classics (The Gritti or The Cipriani), or a boutique spot (Cima Rosa or Il Palazzo Experimental) right in the heart of Venice. That way a boat trip to Isola delle Rose feels more a relief than a disappointment, being a far stretch from the main Venetian action.
Doubles from £328 per night
To book your honeymoon at JW Marriott Venice, visit: marriott.com
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