Venice, along with Paris, is often touted as ‘the capital of romance’. That’s because it is indeed quaint, quirky, and picturesque, with lots of love-filled photo opportunities (gondola, anyone?) and plenty of places to loll about, gazing into each others eyes over a pizza, Aperol Spritz or bridge. I first visited when I was 18 as part of an inter railing trip around Italy, and we stayed in a hostel. My second visit, in 2015, was entirely more luxurious. Staying a the JW Marriott on Isola delle Rose – a resort retreat on a private island – surely, you don’t get more romantic than this?
Hotel: JW Marriott Isola delle Rose – The hotel is open from March until October, annually
Location: Isola delle Rose, Venice
Address: Isola delle Rose, Laguna di San Marco Venice 30133 Italy
Nearest airport: Venice Marco Polo airport
How to reach the island: VIP transfer by private car and speedboat, bookable throughout the concierge at 215 euros one way, private water taxi, or public boat service to San Marco, where you can pick up the hotel’s private shuttle boat for free.
Rates: British Airways Holidays is offering two nights at 5* JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa from £359 per person, for travel before 30 June 2016. Includes Euro Traveller flights from Gatwick and accommodation. For reservations visit ba.com/venice or call 0844 493 0758. Check the website for the latest offers.
Website: JW Marriott Isola delle Rose
Pool? Yes, one large family pool and one in the spa, indoors and out – with a view over to Venice, and one rooftop with a bar, also with the view
Wi-Fi? Yes, in room and in communal areas
Perfect for: Couples looking for a romantic trip to Venice, away from the crowds. Also, great for families – whatever the age.
FashCatherine credentials: The location is incredibly beautiful and unique. The swimming pools are idyllic: the larger pool’s location makes you feel you are in rural Italy and the spa pool has the view over to Venice. The cookery classes are a brilliant addition, where you can cook authentic Italian dishes in a high kitchen with a friendly chef.
Italy’s famous floating city is popular for a reason – it is truly enrapturing. So, you won’t be the first ones to book a trip… Meaning, it can get a little crowded in the main hot spots. The solution? Book at the JW Marriott, which has been built on Isola delle Rose and opened in March 2015 – the only structure on the island. Remote enough to feel like an escape, and only a short shuttle boat ride away from St Marks Square, with a superb and uninterrupted view over to Venice city. You can see the Basillica from the sunbeds at the spa!
We took a private chauffeured car from the airport, then a private speedboat from Venice city, which can be pre booked with the hotel – very James Bond!
So, when visiting the most romantic city in the world, who should you take? I decided on my dear mum. It was a kind of trip down memory lane for us, as we had kind of been together before – when she was pregnant with me! My wonderful mum is the reason I love travelling so much. She has given me wings and always encouraged me to be independent and to see new places; and I know she will always be as excited as I am to travel anywhere in the world. Plus, she loves a bit of five-star glam…
Travelling from Venice to our island
Isola delle Rose is an island just 20 minutes boat ride from the floating city of Venice. Knowing how busy the streets can be, we decided that the Marriott would offer us the best of both worlds – a serene and luxurious hotel with incredible views, and just a stones throw from the buzzing, culture-rich canal lined streets. Plus, we were looking forward to travelling around by boat.
After a short flight, we easily found our transfer driver, who took us to our blacked out BMW car, which we had prearranged with the hotel. We were driven to a city port, where an open top speedboat took us from Venice to Isola delle Rose. Talk about la dolce vita! Gliding past the familiar skyline of Venice, we headed out further into the Lagoon and could see our hotel – the only property on the island.
Inside the speedboat
The entrance for boats is very grand – setting the tone for your stay. Old school Venetian glamour has been modernised with lots of glass décor and modern art sculptures dotted around the grounds. There are 266 rooms at the hotel, located in various buildings: the Hotel, La Residenza, La Maisonette, L’Uliveto and Villa Rose.
The view from our bedroom
We stayed in a double room in L’Uliveto, which has views out over the olive groves and is decked out in cream and chalky green tones. There are lots of room options to choose from, including split level suites with private patios, perfect for bigger families.
Our beautiful bedroom
After unpacking, we went for a walk in the grounds. I later went for a run around the island, which took me around 20 minutes, wiggling in and around the gardens. You can walk (at a slow pace) around the whole 45-acre island in around an hour, which is a good idea to get your bearings. The hotel was full during our stay (possibly since we accidentally visited during Venice Film Festival – we didn’t see Eddie Redmayne during our stay, but we did hear that he was staying there!), but we hardly saw a soul as we explored the resort – so peaceful.
There are three pools – one for families, (above) which is lined with daybeds and has a playground at the end, as well as a snack bar, one rooftop pool, (below) which is on top of the main hotel and is best for adults only, and one in the spa.
The rooftop pool (above) and the spa pool (below)
The GOCO Spa at the hotel is the largest in Venice and as well as a half in, half outdoor pool, has daybeds with an unspoiled view over to the city. I indulged in a massage at the spa, which I promptly feel asleep during, while mum enjoyed the sun on a double day bed, looking over to Venice.
The spa treatment rooms at GOCO Spa, above
Food glorious Italian food…
Ice cream at Sagra restaurant
There are four restaurants to choose from at the hotel, including a fine dining restaurant, Dopolavoro Dining Room. Our favourite was the Sagra rooftop restaurant, which offered meat and cheese plates, and the best Italian ice cream.
The Dopolavoro is headed up by 2-Michelin star Chef Giancarlo Perbellini and is a real treat for all the senses. We celebrated with a four-hour meal, including salted codfish, braised veal cheek and, of course, tiramisu, in the finest of settings.
It is pricey, but what an amazing experience. You can’t beat Italian food, especially when it is cooked up by a Michelin starred chef! Breakfast was also magnificent buffet with everyone feasting on an array of fresh fruit and cooked ‘as you like’ omelettes, as well as a few mini donuts – as a treat…
Venice itself is obviously a culinary treat for foodies like us. Our favourites were the traditionally Italian meals, like tomato or carbonara pasta, and pizza – especially when it was served with a prosciutto, fig and mozzarella topping. Italian restaurants are so welcoming of families in general, so don’t worry if you are travelling with children – although there are lots of steps and bridges in Venice, so you might like to bring a baby carrier or sling instead of a pram.
What we did…
Aside from eating, drinking and swimming at the hotel, we went to a cookery class at the Sapori Cooking Academy, within the hotel. During the two-hour class we studiously learned how to make traditional Venetian tapas. There are other classes on offer, too, which teach everything from making Burano cookies to full meals, all served alongside a few glasses of Aperol Spritz, of course. There are also lovely things regularly put on for children such as Venetian mask making classes, gardening classes and ‘messy arts and craft days’.
It could be all too easy to stay in the sophisticated and fun bubble of the island hotel, but, the sights and sounds of Venice were calling us. We took the free shuttle boat, which runs regularly, from the hotel straight to St Marks Square.
Instead of going on a mission to take in all the top sights, we decided to drop the guidebook and get lost in the backstreets. Bridges navigate the streets over the hundreds of canals. You can take water taxis to and from main sights, too, which makes getting around easier.
Once away from the main tourist traps, however, you can turn a corner and find yourselves on a deserted canal, or in a relaxing square filled with locals. That’s where the real magic is, for us. Although there are fantastic museums, the sights of the bobbing gondolas and sounds of the street sellers are rich in culture enough – for one weekend, at least.
As our trip came to an end and we were sailing away on a speedboat straight back to the airport, we couldn’t believe how lucky we had been to stay on such a wonderful resort – a luxurious bolthole so close to the thumping heart of Venice.
The stay reviewed in this article, in September 2015, was supported by JW Marriott.
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