My wife and I just spent a week at the Marco Island Marriott. It is about a one hour drive south from the Fort Myers airport and very easy to find. The property is situated on the main thoroughfare on the island, right on the white sandy beach of the Gulf of Mexico. Valet parking is $20 per night and self-parking is $12 per night. We did valet upon arrival due to having our luggage, but beyond that, it was really unnecessary. Most people seemed to be self parking as well. The lot is right across the street with ample parking. Valet is just a section of the same lot. I honestly think you could retrieve your car more quickly by walking to it yourself (unless you call down ahead of time) and you save money on the fees and tips that way.
The lobby is nice but not very opulent compared to some of the other Marriotts that we’ve visited. There is a small row of shops selling clothes, jewelry and souvenirs, and there is also a coffee shop (which we did not try, although it looked good). The elevators are quick but a bit small. The building looks like it was remodeled fairly recently, but if you look closely, there are some signs that defy the updated veneer. Besides the older elevators, the stairway doors and the A/C vents stood out. However, this did nothing to detract from the experience.
We had a nice new flat screen in the room, although most of the channels were non-HD and looked crappy. The furniture was new and there was a granite counter in the bathroom. The closet had louvered sliding doors and was one of the biggest I’ve seen in any hotel room. There was a mini bar (which we never opened) and a small refrigerator that we used to stock breakfast items from a quick grocery trip – and save a ton of money. The safe was in a drawer and was typical of hotel safes except that it was not very deep and could not accommodate our SLR camera. We had free wi-fi as gold members, although it had some intermittent connection issues. It was $12.99/day for purchase, which seemed pretty steep.
Housekeeping was not as on the ball as you would expect for a category 7 Marriott property. One day they failed to replace our towels and tissues, so I had to call down and have some delivered to the room. Another day, my wife stopped by the room at 3pm (we’d been at the pool since 10am) and it hadn’t been cleaned yet, so she called to have it done. We had a comforter replaced one night because it had a giant red stain near the top (maybe lipstick, but who knows?) that really should have been caught. Upon check-in, we discovered that our balcony had not been cleaned at all because the floor was filthy and there was a beer can with cigarette ashes in the corner. Also, it seemed like they didn’t vacuum the hallways everyday, which was rough because there was a lot of sand being tracked throughout. Each time we had an issue, we called down and received an apology and swift resolution. I just would have expected a higher level of service the first time instead of reacting to problems as they arose.
We visited the spa just to find out our options and thought pricing was a bit high, albeit comparable to other spas of this caliber. It seemed very luxurious. There is even a separate pool for spa guests that’s fully enclosed. The spa included hot tubs, steam rooms and cold dip baths. They were offering a $35 spa day package that included unlimited use of the facilities. We were tempted, but passed. Near the spa is a 24-hour fitness center available to all guests. The equipment looked brand new and appeared to be in excellent condition. There were several bikes, ellipticals and treadmills and numerous weight machines. We passed by many times and it was never very crowded.
The hotel is comprised of two towers that have different views of the beach and the two pools on the property. The beach was a very short distance from the resort and had nice, white sand. The sand was not as white – nor the sea as blue – as it is in Caribbean, but it was very nice for Florida. There were various chairs on the beach for general use and a number of straw umbrellas (with attached bench) were available for rent from the hotel for $30. There were some jet skis and parasailing nearby, but the beach was mostly filled with people walking and looking for sea shells. We walked the beach each morning and went one mile in either direction before turning around and heading back.
The north side of the north tower has a view of the “tiki pool”, which is a bit smaller and more family oriented than the main pool. It has a very shallow section for little ones, a waterslide and a big waterfall at the other end. There is also a somewhat secluded hot tub to the side. The tiki bar there serves typical poolside drinks (with and without alcohol) and a very limited menu (read hot dogs, burgers and chicken sandwiches). There is no food/beverage service at this pool. You have to go up to the tiki bar to order and wait for your food/beverage. Also, the towel hut is located at the other pool. Neither is a big deal. I waited 15 minutes tops for food from the tiki bar and it’s a 30 second walk to the towels. Still, it’s good to know that there is some degree of separation from the main pool.
The “adult” pool still had plenty of kids and families, but the shallowest section was 3 feet. Moms with infants were sitting on the steps with them where it was shallow. The pool itself was pretty large and had palm trees in planters throughout. It was very well landscaped in and around and made for a nice atmosphere. Everything was impeccably maintained. To be honest, the design, atmosphere and upkeep of this pool rivaled –if not exceeded – some places we’ve been in Hawaii and Cancun. This is one of those few resorts within the continental U.S. where you really feel like you’re somewhere exotic, luxurious and tropical. That’s also why they command such high rates! In keeping with that, you can rent one of the four pool cabanas for $250/day. They were doing half off Mondays, but it’s still overboard. One couple did it two days we were there and they were empty the rest of the time. You get reserved chairs (far away from the pool), use of the cabana and a personal attendant.
Your towel card (one per person) gets you two towels from the hut. There were fairly well-padded chairs all around, some with umbrellas. The bar service was pretty good. You put up a flag on the back of your chair to notify them you need something. You can order food and drinks from Quinn’s – good quality and taste all around but predictably expensive. You can also walk to the Italian restaurant on the property (facing the beach and between both pools) to order pizza, pasta, paninis and ice cream. For $12, you can buy a mug there that gets you unlimited refills from the soda fountain during your stay.
I do want to clear up one trend in reviews about the pool’s being overcrowded and the incidence of chair saving. Those reviews seemed to have been written around the peak of spring break. We were there 5 days and had no trouble getting a good spot on any day. If you want a prime spot (e.g. umbrella and table, near the water, etc.), then you do need to go down and claim it before 10am. We found that some families would claim chairs first thing and then disappear for hours, which was annoying. However, there were usually enough other spots that it wasn’t an issue. If we’d wanted to move, I wouldn’t have thought twice about moving someone else’s towels if I hadn’t seen them in a couple of hours – especially if they just threw the still-folded towel on the chair. The pool folks did clear the folded towels periodically, but I can imagine why it was so frustrating during the really crowded time. We would go down at 9am to claim our spot, then walk on the beach for an hour and come back. I felt like this was acceptable and saw others do similar things. However, there were no lines, no shortages of chairs or anything of the sort. In fact, some people would go for a few hours in the morning and then leave, so people coming in after lunch would get great spots. It was not anything to worry about. We were concerned ahead of time because of these reviews and the fact that the hotel was full for several nights during our stay. We found out there were multiple conferences going on (there are lots here) and they were taking up rooms but not really using the facilities very much.
I think the thing that surprised me the most on our trip was the lack of great restaurant and shopping options on Marco Island itself. We did a quick trip to Winn-Dixie to get some groceries for breakfast and snacks and we ate one breakfast and two dinners on the island. There are not many hotels on Marco Island – it is mostly condos and other residences. The food options were okay, but not outstanding. In my opinion, some of the highest rated eateries wouldn’t even be listed in most places. We drove a half hour to check out 3rd St. and 5th Ave. in Naples and ended up going back for dinner a second night just because there are so many fantastic options. Unless you’re with kids, I’d recommend skipping Marco Island for dinner altogether and just driving to 5th Ave. in Naples. You could eat somewhere different every night for a week and not be disappointed. If you are unable or disinclined to drive that far, there are a few places on the island that are okay. Just don’t expect the options to be in line with the caliber of the resort itself. We did not try the hotel restaurants. They looked good, but expensive.
So what’s the bottom line? We were staying on Marriott points and got an upgraded view and free wi-fi due to our gold status. Otherwise, we would’ve been spending nearly $400/night to stay there. It was a great trip but definitely not worth that. I realize it’s easy to travel there and it’s within the U.S., so that’s probably a big draw for a lot of folks. The resort was also very family friendly, so that’s a bonus if you have kids. If you stay, you won’t be disappointed, but make sure you do some comparisons of other options, because there are probably some better values out there (even with Marriott) for the tropical, beach and pool type of vacation. We’d go back again, but probably only on points.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is a renowned vacation playground that opens guests up to the world around them and creates an authentic sense of place. Situated on a sprawling private white sand beach along the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the enchanting ecosystem of the Florida Everglades is at our doorstep and provides myriad opportunities for exploration and adventure. Experience true luxury in our newly renovated guest rooms and suites, feed your intellect through our locally sourced menu selections and interactive food and beverage experiences, and find balance, health, and harmony at our Spa by JW(R). Following a $320 million renovation, our resort pays homage to the Balinese-inspired Marco Island heritage and provides leisure and business travelers with everything they need. Two private 18-hole championship golf courses, three swimming pools, 10 restaurants, an array of water sports and recreational activities, and a children's Tiki Tribe camp deliver endless opportunities for relaxation and fun. JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is an immersive sanctuary where guests can delve deeper into their passions while enjoying our legendary warm, attentive service delivered by those who genuinely love what they do. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club And Spa
- Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club Hotel Marco Island
- Marriott Marco Island
- JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort Florida