Before guests even set foot on the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa grounds, the journey to the hotel transports them to another world. From bustling Piazza San Marco in historic Venice, guests board a private boat that ferries them across the Venetian Lagoon, delivering them in 20 minutes to the resort’s lush private island, Isola delle Rose.
The 40-acre island — the biggest in the south part of Venice’s main lagoon — is home to an abundance of gardens, as well as a century-old park, an olive grove and myriad fruit trees. It also lays claim to the largest spa in Venice, tucked within the JW Marriott Venice.
This all makes the resort the perfect “destination within a destination,” as well as the ideal place to escape Venice’s crowds and truly unwind, according to the resort’s general manager, Cristiano Cabutti.
“The overall idea was to create a resort which didn’t exist in Venice,” says Cabutti. “A resort where you really capture the best of the two worlds.”
So much of Venice has a historical, classic style that when the resort’s designer, Matteo Thun, was conceptualizing the JW Marriott Venice, he wanted to give it a more contemporary twist. From the beginning, Thun’s vision was anchored in wellness and place.
The hotel’s aesthetic is designed to reflect the Venetian Lagoon that the resort resides in, with pastel greens and grays peppered throughout the property. Thun also felt that providing guests with spacious, light-filled suites, villas and rooms was essential to the wellness experience.
Despite its contemporary design, the resort and its home, Isola delle Rose, remain noteworthy for their historical dedication to wellness.
In the 19th century, the human-made island housed a vegetable garden that produced crops for Venetians — the garden’s original olive trees remain to this day. In later years, the island housed a pulmonary clinic where patients were sent to heal — physicians at the time believed breathing in the fresh sea air would benefit patients’ lungs.
The clinic was abandoned in the 1980s, and Marriott International took over the island in 2010 with plans to revive it. And though Isole delle Rose no longer houses a pulmonary clinic, it’s still a place people go to heal.
“Every time we have people coming here, especially when they arrive from the hustle and bustle of Venice, they immediately say, ‘Ah, finally, we can breathe here,’” says Cabutti.
Of course, the path to wellness looks a bit different now than it did nearly a century ago. Cabutti believes guests seeking the ultimate in relaxation need to look no further than the JW Venice Spa.
“We have the best spa in the city. It is really stunning,” he says, adding, “It immediately reconnects you to the world and creates this sense of well-being.”
The much-touted facility consists of an indoor-outdoor vitality pool overlooking the lagoon and Venice skyline, a bio-sauna, Finnish sauna, hammam with scrub room, and eight treatment cabins, also overlooking the lagoon.
“When I enter into the spa, I feel more relaxed, even if I didn’t do any treatment,” Cabutti says.
When designing the spa, Thun imagined it full of light and embedded in serene nature, creating “a mini oasis,” according to Cabutti. To achieve this, large windows allow direct sunlight to enter the space, with views of the surrounding lagoon, abundant trees and other flora.
Angelica Fiorasi, the spa manager, feels this symbiosis with nature is crucial to guests’ restorative journeys. “You can directly feel yourself immersed in nature and in the light,” she says, which offers a “sense of wellness.”
Fiorasi sees the spa as a place to find your inner peace — and the experience isn’t limited to guests of the hotel. In fact, many Venetian people visit the spa for a few hours to luxuriate in the serene facilities, as well.
At a time when people need to relax more than ever, the JW Marriott Venice is repositioning the spa to include even more mindfulness and self-care treatments and activities in its offerings, including several weekend yoga retreats.
And while the spa and location help make the resort a sanctuary, an equally important feature is the sustainably sourced food served at the JW Marriott Venice’s four restaurants and three bars, which include fine dining at Fiola at Dopolavoro Venezia, classic Italian cuisine at Sagra Rooftop Restaurant, and casual fare near the hotel pool at Giardino.
Executive Chef Giorgio Schifferegger says his vision for the property’s restaurants centers on food reminiscent of his grandmother’s cooking. His litmus test for authentic Italian cuisine? Whether a dish summons up childhood memories or not. If it does, it’s the real deal.
“When … people from other countries come to Italy, the must-have for me is Italian tastes and Italian flavor,” says Schifferegger. “And the best way to give this [to our guests] is with my grandmother’s secrets.”
Some 99 percent of the food served on-site is locally grown, and the hotel’s restaurant menus are seasonally refreshed.
The bread and pasta are made by hand, as are the baked goods served at breakfast, such as croissants, brioche and fugassa, a traditional sweet bread.
Fresh herbs for cooking are picked from the garden, while the majority of the vegetables come from private gardens on nearby Sant’Erasmo and Le Vignole islands.
Olive oil from the island’s olive grove is served at the property’s restaurants, and it’s also paired with local bread and cheese during on-site cooking classes at the resort’s Sapori Cooking Academy.
In between Michelin-star meals and spa treatments, guests can also enjoy a host of wellness activities on Isola delle Rose.
“We have so many different kinds of activities that you can do [while] immersing yourself in nature,” Fiorasi says. There’s the lush, 30-acre historical park, which guests can stroll around, and a jogging path that wraps around the island.
The JW Venice is the only property in the vicinity with bicycles, so guests can tour the island on bikes; and soon there will be a vineyard on the property from which the property will make their own wine.
For the JW Marriott associates who spend day in and day out at the resort, it’s easy to feel grateful for their surroundings — a sentiment that guests can relate to.
“We are really lucky to have this beautiful island among nature,” Fiorasi says. “It’s not common to find this amount of nature and green near Venice. And here you can immerse yourself in it completely.”