I love Florida. Maybe it’s because the first time I ever laid eyes on the ocean (and became completely enamored) was on Florida’s sunny coast. The ocean is my happy place. But for whatever reason, my life is firmly planted in the Midwest (about as land-locked as a girl can get). So–I dream of vacation…And now that 3 of my 6 kids are teenagers, it’s become much easier to squeeze in romantic getaways. Which is exactly what we did last summer when we escaped to the JW Marriott Beach Resort on Marco Island! It’s truly spectacular, and we couldn’t recommend it more!
So if you’re like me and dreaming of ocean breezes…I’m sharing everything we learned and experienced at this amazing beach resort so you can make the most of your vacation!
Why JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort
My husband travels. A lot. On the bright side–we have lots of travel points! And we put our Marriott Rewards to good use last summer at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort. When searching the internet for “Best Marriott Beach Resorts in Florida,” –the JW kept popping up, and I just knew this was our spot. I was looking for a relaxing, beautiful beach resort on the gulf coast–with great restaurants and amenities so we could just plop down (with a pina coloda) and stay put for the entire trip! Everything I read about the JW seemed to fit that bill–so we left our kiddos and set off to celebrate our 21st Anniversary!
We flew Southwest (Yep–using reward points again! We like free!)–which flies into Fort Myers (Southwest Florida International Airport–RSW). This ends up being about an hour ride to Marco Island (48 miles South of Fort Myers). We Ubered, and it ran us about $80, one-way. For this trip, we decided against renting a car. The resort charges $20 per day for self-parking/ $25 per day for valet–plus there’s already a daily $30 resort fee. Our plans didn’t include sight-seeing around the area or even visiting Naples, and we figured we could always Uber if we changed our minds and decided to explore beyond the resort!
Upon arrival we were greeted by breathtaking views of the gulf from the lobby. It has an upscale but relaxed feeling. In general, the entire resort gave me Hawaii vibes–tropical tiki huts mixed with sleek modern lines. And to our delight, we were upgraded to a room in the Palm Tower with a full view of the Gulf of Mexico.
Our room was on the 4th floor–and when we walked onto our balcony, we not only had an amazing view of the water and beach, but also a perfect vantage point for the live music set up in the outdoor restaurant (Kane Tiki Bar & Grill) just below our room! We enjoyed the various bands and artists that played throughout our stay–usually they started around 4 p.m. and played through the evening. Such a fun touch while enjoying drinks or strolling along the beach!
The room was completely updated, with dark wood finishes complimented by elegant cream colors. We LOVED our room!
The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort currently has 10 dining options on site (they actually have 2 other restaurants as part of their nearby golf clubs). We enjoyed 7 of the resort restaurants and didn’t even think about heading off-site! There’s plenty to choose from and enjoy right at the hotel!
Two of the restaurants are brand-new and part of a huge expansion project that just wrapped up in late 2018. So we didn’t get the opportunity to enjoy them: 10K Alley and Tesoro. From what I’ve read, they are impressive and have received rave reviews! 10K Alley is not only a bar and grill–but also an arcade and bowling alley! Tesoro is an adults-only, fine dining destination–part of the brand new adults-only experience at the hotel. (The Lanai Tower was just being finished up when we took our trip–the new adult-only suites are gorgeous, and we cannot wait to go back to see one for ourselves!)
Here’s a look at the 7 restaurants we were able to try:
1) Quinn’s On the Beach
Our first stop was Quinn’s On the Beach–a bar and grill, and of course–right on the beach! We tried some local Florida beers and split an order of fish and chips (which was plenty for sharing and perfect to hold us over until dinner)! Nothing like fresh fish on the beach! (About $45 with tip, for our drinks and late lunch.)
**Quinn’s also takes order and delivers drinks right to your lounge chair on the beach!
2) Kane Tiki Bar & Grill
Later we enjoyed a sunset dinner at the restaurant below our room–Kane Tiki Bar & Grill. It offers an asian fusion menu, while also showcasing specialty rums and cigars. We decided on the PuPu Platter (delicious) to share for $45 –along with drinks and an after dinner glass of rum with a cigar on the beach (which is part of the their daily Rum Affair–Sunset Sessions)! (Dinner, Drinks, and a Cigar ran us about $130 with the tip).
Our first morning, we decided to try Maia–home of the resort’s large breakfast buffet. It really was huge–there were tons of offerings. The buffet runs about $30 per person (some tiers of Marriott Rewards guests receive a Buy-One/Get-One Free Breakfast Buffet–and thankfully we qualified for this perk). I didn’t feel like I was able to take full advantage of all that the buffet had to offer–it was just so much food! This is the ideal place to have a late brunch that will hold you over through the evening! We didn’t eat again until dinner!
By far our favorite meal was at Ario–which is where we enjoyed our anniversary dinner! They brought out complimentary drinks to help us celebrate and made us feel extra special! The food was amazing! I ordered the lamb chop–and it was excellent! But honestly, the most memorable part of our dinner was the Sea Scallops appetizer! If you like scallops and mushrooms at all–you absolutely need to order the Sea Scallops…We actually went back to Ario the next night and ordered them again! This time we shared the appetizer and an order of Lobster Mac-n-Cheese for dinner at the bar. And the bar is wonderful–the sweetest bartender made us such a great drink in their smoking box (I think it’s called a Smoked Manhattan)! (Our anniversary dinner and bottle of wine ran about $250 with the tip.)
Korals Sushi and Cocktail Lobby Bar greets you when you enter the resort. It’s only open for dinner and late-night drinks. After eating a lighter dinner at Ario’s bar (sharing our favorite scallops and mac-n-cheese), we were still able to make room for some amazing sushi at Korals! The atmosphere is fun and lively well into the evening! (The large sushi roll we ordered was $18 and the fancy-pants drinks run about $16).
6) 400 Pazzi’s
After a full day in the sun, we just wanted something quick for lunch and the pizza at 400 Pazzi’s is a great, inexpensive option (a large pizza costs around $20)! They have indoor seating–but we opted for the shady patio by the pool! I kept thinking what a great spot this would be for feeding all my kids! (Yes…I was missing all my kiddos and hearing all the splashing and laughing in the pool kept reminding me of them!)
7) Cafe San Marco
After having a huge breakfast at Maia our first morning–we opted for the much smaller (and less expensive) “grab and go,” Cafe San Marco inside the hotel for our other breakfasts. They offer coffee and drinks throughout the day–plus pastries, small sandwiches, and other bites. We took our treats outside and ate on the beautiful resort patio. (My large latte was about $6 and a chocolate croissant cost me $4.)
And of Course–Let’s Talk About the Beach!
The beach is gorgeous! The sand is clean and soft near the resort–but becomes very shelly as you approach the water. We had a great time exploring and hunting for shells! But be forewarned–kiddos will probably
want need to have water shoes!
Included in the resort fee is an umbrella and chairs set-up on the beach. There are two beach huts–one with umbrellas and chairs, the other one runs all the water rentals. There are quite a bit of water rentals to choose from: waverunners, water hammocks, sailboats, paddle boards, and kayaks! We opted for a double kayak–the rental runs about $35 for an hour (which is plenty of time). It really is so much fun–100% worth giving a try! Next time we’d like to take advantage of the Sailing and Shelling Excursion on one of their catamarans!
(And as I mentioned before, Quinn’s has drink service on the beach!)
If you’re familiar with the beaches on Florida’s gulf coast, the water isn’t as clear as the Destin, Florida area (further north along the gulf coast)–but the shells make for a more interesting time exploring the sand! I’m not sure which I prefer…In my opinion, the Marco Island vibe is way more chilled out than the Destin beach area.
And the Cons…
- Crowded Pools, but nothing’s perfect right?! I could not help but notice the SWARMS of families at the pools…Extremely crowded! Personally, I cannot understand wanting to swim in the pool while at a beach resort…but that’s obviously just me! They have added an adults-only rooftop pool in the new Lanai Tower since my visit–which may change my mind about swimming at a beach resort!
- Expensive–it is pricey. But because we used Marriott Reward Points (and airline points) it was easier to splurge on drinks, dining, and activities. With that being said, the prices were exactly what I expect to pay at a resort of this caliber. And–I do think they had plenty of dining options at a variety of price points.
Is the Resort Only Geared for Couples?
Absolutely NOT! (Which may be a “con” for some people…HA!)
As romantic and exotic as the website pictures look–this is a truly a family friendly resort! As a couple staying without kids, we were definitely in the minority! It was filled with families! (Which simultaneously made us miss our own children, while also being completely relieved to be kid-free for the weekend!) Honestly–I was a little surprised at the number of kiddos! We would take our own kids in a heartbeat–I kept thinking about how much they would have loved the shells and water!
Now that the JW Marriott has opened up an entire tower dedicated to adults, the resort may become more of a couple’s destination. But I would come with expectation that there will be many, many children and families!
Is It Worth It?
100% Yes! We really did love this trip…We’ve been blessed to go on a few romantic getaways and have visited some great destination hotels–but this is the only one that has us planning a return trip!
So splurge on some romance (or be like us and save up those reward points)! Or treat your family to a super relaxing beach vacation…put the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort on your travel bucket list!
Feel free to ask me any questions–I’d love to help if I can! Or if you’ve been to Marco Island–I’d love to hear about your experiences too! Plus…I’m always looking for our next romantic destination! Let me know if you have a great spot! (Florida, I’m dreaming of you!!)