Writer Gillian Watkins explores the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa to find out what it offers for families as well as a relaxing retreat
Bustling, busy, beautiful Venice. it's an incredible place to visit with your family, for all the sights, sounds and tastes it offers. But, it can be a little crowded. We think we have found the solution - stay on an island in the lagoon around the city, and take the ferry boat in as and when you please. Read on to discover more...
Arriving at Marco Polo airport we had our first taste of just how special our family trip to Venice was going to be, when we were whisked away in a VIP BMW and taken to a small dock to a waiting speedboat, which then swiftly took us to our hotel, the J W Marriott Venice Resort & Spa. It opened in March 2015 and is on a private island, Isola Delle Rose. The dock is very grand, and offered an insight into the luxury awaiting us.
Life in luxury
The resort consists of several buildings housing over 250 rooms from suites to private villas with their own docking area for complete privacy - perfect for larger families. The designs are contemporary and the accommodation is effortlessly stylish in neutral colours with a cool feel. Our suite consisted of a Superking bed, seating area and beautifully furnished bathroom.
There were two floor to ceiling windows offering a wonderful view over the immaculately tended gardens with their geometric pathways and scattered olive trees which blended perfectly with the terracotta tiles and brickwork and blue sky. There are pullout beds and cots available for children.
The hotel offers a complementary shuttle service by speedboat to St Marks Square which is a 20 minute ride across the lagoon. There are 3 pools, a roof pool with views of the Venetian skyline, a family pool and a pool half inside half outside at the GOCO spa. The spa area is extremely relaxing offering a variety of treatments and there are daybeds outside with magnificent views of Venice. There is also a well equipped gym.
Lunch at Sagra
Breakfast was a feast of fruits, yoghurt, eggs cooked any way of your choosing, cheeses, juices, complained meats, donuts the list goes on. On the first morning we ate it in the main dining area but on the second day it was served in the church which is the original shell but now has huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
We ate in the rooftop restaurant, Sagra, where there was a selection of meat and cheese platters as well as pasta dishes and delicious desserts, especially Italian ice creams.
If you enjoy fine dining then I can recommend the 2 star Michelin restaurant, Dopolavoro . We were welcomed into the glamorous setting with a glass of pink champagne and this was followed by several dishes all expertly created and exquisite. Our glasses were kept topped up with amazing local wines chosen for us to compliment our food by our very attentive waiters. Even our handbags were given their own velvet covered chairs. Children are welcomed - if you want to share, or perhaps call on a babysitter via the hotel's concierge?
For daytime snacks, there is a great outside grill next to the family pool serving amazing toasted sandwiches, salads and fruit.
The 'family' pool, with playground at the far end
Something for the kids
The children are catered for by a cool kids' club which offers classes such as mask making, gardening and art and craft. There is plenty of outdoor space for any boisterous children to run about or use the play area next to the family pool. I'm sure they would love the speedboat ride, pretending they are in a James Bond film.
Sapori Cooking Academy
What we did
We had a very enjoyable and informative two hour cookery class at the hotel's Sapori Cooking Academy where we made a variety of authentic Venetian tapas.
After us adults used the spa facilities we all ambled along to the pool (which we had to ourselves) for a splashing good time before dinner at the Dopolavoro. Even when the hotel is busy there is plenty of space so it never felt crowded.
On our second day we took the boat to St Marks Square. It was extremely crowded so we decided to follow our noses and took any route we thought looked interesting. We meandered little backstreets crossed many stone bridges over endless canals, each seemingly more beautiful than the one before, finding hidden piazzas, cafes, churches, houses with colourful window boxes and more gondolas than you can imagine, all adding to the magic of Venice.
A good tip: If you have a young baby, take a good sling. The amount of bridges in Venice, to cross the canals, is not conducive to pushing a pram for a long amount of time.
The J W Marriott on Isola Delle Rose is definitely somewhere I would recommend. There is plenty to keep children happy and parents too, but it is also a most romantic destination for couples. A delicious serving of glamour, tranquillity and romance. Oh, and don't forget to try the delicious gelato...
Visit JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa online for more information. For reservations visit ba.com/venice or call 0844 493 0758. Check the website for the latest offers.
The outside spa area at JW Marriott Vencice