GABY Soutar checks into the JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Venice, Italy
A VISIT to the JW Marriott in Venice is perfect for an asthmatic like me. That’s because this building, on its own 145-year-old private island, Isola delle Rose, was originally built as a sanatorium for those suffering from respiratory diseases. (Apparently, it’s something to do with the air from the lagoon mingling with oxygen from the Dolomites.)
Anyway, it wasn’t a lung condition that made us gasp on arriving at this 250-room, five-star hotel. It was the fact that our motoscafi jetted right inside the building to its own cavana (an indoor pier). We wanted to screech with excitement, but put on nonchalant faces to avoid embarrassing ourselves.
Opened in March last year, this is a tranquil, calm and chic retreat from the wonderful but hectic streets of Venice. If you’re doing the tourist thing, don’t worry, it’s only a 15 minute boat ride away and you can still see the city’s skyline from this little island.
Beyond the huge white building, with its acres of sparkling ivory marble, rooftop swimming pool and bar, there are 16 acres to explore, with contemporary sculptures scattered around the gardens, a deconsecrated church beside an orchard of olive trees, a vegetable garden featuring pendulous aubergines and climbing roses, an outdoor swimming pool, private villas and the glass-fronted GOCO, the largest spa in Venice.
WINING AND DINING
Try Dopolovaro, situated in a red brick building on the island that was constructed in 1936 as a working man’s club. Its head chef is Giancarlo Perbellini, originally from Verona and the recipient of two Michelin stars. On our visit, it was booked up, so we could only lurk outside, in the darkness, listening to the water lapping and watching lucky so-and-so’s dining in the candle-lit space.
Sagra – on the top floor of the main hotel – is more casual and family friendly, with dishes such as roast turbot with zucchini blossom, wrapped in caul fat with Sicilian caponata. Breakfast is served in the ground floor Cucina and, in the summertime, there’s an outdoor eatery, Giardino Garden Grill. We became reliant on Dispensa – the hotel’s deli – as it does a good espresso and serves traditional Venetian sandwiches and pastries to take away or sit in.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Boutique all the way. This is a trip-of-a-lifetime sort of place. It’s also family friendly, with an outdoor pool area for all ages, a little playground and enough space for small people to get some exercise.
We stayed in a 60-square-metre Studio Suite, which had a large, sheltered balcony with a view out to the garden, where the trees rustled in the (highly oxygenated) breeze. Decorated with black and white photographs of stars like Audrey Hepburn holidaying in Venice, this room was beautifully laid out, with a double bed and a giant telly that divided the sleeping area from the comfortable seating space, where we were left a selection of fresh and dried fruit. The white marble bathroom had a large rectangular tub and a separate shower cubicle. There are also private villas available, some of which have their own pool.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
There’s loads to do at the resort, such as yoga classes on the spa terrace and various treatments including Organic Facials by its brand, Amala. You could take a plunge in the rooftop pool or do a class at cooking academy Sapori, where sessions include shopping at the Rialto market before taking your wares back to the hotel to cook.
If you want to visit Venice, the hotel boat runs back and forth every 15 minutes or so from 9am until midnight and docks at its private pier at the Royal Garden in San Marco.
Prosecco as part of the buffet breakfast anyone? You know you want to.
Beautiful location, amazing and accommodating staff. It made a special city even more spectacular.
• Jet2.com (www.jet2.com) flies from Edinburgh to Venice from £42 one way, including a 22kg baggage allowance. For flight and hotel packages visit www.jet2citybreaks.com. Rooms at the JW Marriott Venice start from €395 (£293) including breakfast. The hotel is seasonal and is closed until 17 March. jwmarriottvenice.com