We spent 9 days over Easter/Spring Break at the JW Marriott. While the resort has a lot going for it there were a few big misses that prevent this resort from being 5-stars in our eyes, enough that we may stay elsewhere next time.
This resort has over 800 rooms plus a convention center, so it's really quite large. Expect weekends to bring in weddings, bachelorette parties and college kids. This causes overcrowding at the smallish pools and a mix of hard partiers and families with small children...not always the best combination.
Overall, there are some key operational and organizational misses that I'd attribute to management as there just seems to be a lack of knowledge and communication among the staff despite that we could see just how hard they were trying all the time.
The property is quite beautiful with lots of colorful flowers, plantings and green lawns everywhere that make a nice backdrop to the desert mountains. The gardens are well-maintained so it's a pleasure to walk around the outside grounds. Golf course is gorgeous and provides some challenge without being too intimidating to the average golfer. There is plenty to do on-site and nearby so you'll never be bored.
Check-in was a bit rough. The girl may have been new but she was completely oblivious to what our rate included. She tried to charge us the daily resort fee (which was already included in the rate we got). She also seemed to miss that we are Marriott Elite Gold members which required a special wristband to access our benefits such as Elite member's lounge and room upgrade. She told us she gave us a pool view (which would have matched the reservation) but when we got to the room it overlooked the parking lot. Because we were so far from the lobby we called down to get the room changed. One of the housekeeping managers overheard as we had the door open. He took it upon himself to show me three different rooms on that floor to which we could switch and stated, "You are the guest. You should have whatever makes you happy while you are here." Amazing, right? We moved across the hall to a slightly bigger room with a much better view which we coordinated by phone with the front desk. So right away we had two distinctly different levels of service.
The best things include:
•Housekeeping staff was one of the best we've ever experienced. Anita knew when we were leaving in the morning and by the time we'd finished breakfast, our room was spotlessly cleaned. We had fresh towels and bottled water without asking at least twice a day. Every person servicing our floor was professional and really friendly.
•Overall the staff is really friendly and happy to accommodate in all areas of the hotel.
•Restaurants, even poolside, have tasty food. Drinks are well-poured and not watery.
•Good activities on-site, including tennis, golf, lawn games such as bocce and badminton. Something for everyone.
•Lots of fun extras during Easter/Spring break. Clearly, the staff is trying to offer something for everyone. Easter morning was a treat with the bunny arriving via parachute, Easter egg hunt, petting zoo and pony rides.
•Easter brunch buffet was really outstanding and offered a great selection, especially on the desserts!
Things that could be improved:
•I realize that Spring Break means big poolside crowds, however, despite being well-staffed, this team just couldn't keep up. Chairs & tables were dirty first thing in the morning and it got worse as the day went on.
•Pools are actually quite small for the size of the resort. Chaises are crammed in with little room to move around them.
•Expect to be at your chaise by 9:30 AM or you may not have a place to sit. I'm all good with reserving a few chairs and then coming back after breakfast, but true to many resorts at this time of year, there are those who reserve large numbers of seats that never get used. The staff tried to help with this as best they could.
•The staff seemed confused at times and you could ask the same question to five different people and get five different answers.
•Poolside service was slow and it was hard to find a waiter at times.
•There seemed to be quite a few new employees who weren't ready to be without supervision.
•Long coffee lines at the on-site Starbucks. We were fortunate to get ours in the Elite lounge, but it would have been nice to see the hotel set up an extra coffee stand during peak times.
So, should you stay at the JW Marriott? Yes, if you don't mind a huge resort and the crowds and chaos that go with it. No, if you prefer something a little more peaceful or if you expect a higher service level.