I don’t purposefully write with a bias but I think that if you’ve read the blog long enough, you will realize that I am a HUGE Alaska Airlines and Marriott fanboy. The reasons are numerous but in terms of hotels, I just like the Marriott brand more than any other brand out there. I have held elite status at Hyatt, Hilton, Fairmont, Accor, Club Carlson, MGM Resorts, and Best Western and while I have stayed at all these hotels, I am often left feeling underwhelmed. Sure, there are nice hotels in each of these brands but the consistency just isn’t there for me and when you take into account the fact that Marriott purchased SPG a while back, it’s hard for me to look anywhere else for my hotel needs. Also, consider that Marriott has been a HUGE supporter of our community through their sponsorship of PointsU and you can start to see why I’m such a fan.
When we went on our Luxury Round-the-World trip, we chose to stay primarily at Marriott properties and after having a chance to reflect back on our stays, I can honestly say that I am incredibly happy with our stays both at the JW Marriott Hong Kong and the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai.
If you’ve never been to Dubai before, you will see that it is a city of excess. Some may view it in a negative way but for those looking to stay at the most luxurious hotels in the world, it is a definite positive. The competitive landscape in the hotel industry of Dubai is absolutely cutthroat. The one-upmanship is truly a sight to behold. Remember, Dubai is home to the only 7 Star hotel in the world in the Burj Al Arab, which is considered the most luxurious hotel in the world. I mean … you can arrive to the hotel by helicopter if you want.
What does that mean for you? Well, besides that fact that almost every hotel in Dubai is gorgeous, it also means that your reward stays will typically cost a lot less than normal. Cash prices for these hotels can be exorbitant but I imagine that most people reading this are looking to redeem miles/points for these types of stays.
The JW Marriott Marquis
Why this is impressive is that most JWs in popular metropolitan cities like Hong Kong are usually a Category 8 or 9. There are obviously exceptions to the rule but for the most part, JWs are usually at the top of the points required chart.
Per night, the JW Marriott Marquis is only 35,000 Marriott Points or 11,667 SPG points as you can transfer SPG to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio.
The other plus here is that if you redeem for 4 nights, you get the 5th free. If we do some quick math, that means that you can stay for 5 nights for 140,000 Marriott (46,667 SPG points). For me, that’s a steal of a deal, especially considering how beautiful the hotel is.
The JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is also the second tallest hotel in the world, only being topped by another hotel in Dubai, the Gevora Hotel. The Gevora is only 2.8 meters taller than the JW … told you the one-upmanship here is strong. With over 1,600 rooms spread over 2 towers, the hotel is MASSIVE.
Probably the biggest disappointing aspect of the entire hotel was the check-in process. There must have been at least 30 agents working the check-in desk but only two at the Platinum desk. Unfortunately, they were both with clients and there was already a line two deep so I made my way to a free agent in the regular check-in area. It’s ultimately not a huge deal but I prefer to deal with the Platinum desk as they tend to be more accommodating in terms of upgrades and making you feel valuable as a status member of the hotel.
As I checked in with a free agent, I noticed that he had an “In Training” badge but he seemed to know what he was doing. The check-in went smoothly but he did not mention any upgrade to our room. When I asked him about it, he told me that they were “sold out of suites”. Now, I’ve been around the block a few times and while I can accept that sometimes there just aren’t upgrades available, this was certainly not the situation at hand.
Keep in mind that this is one of the largest hotels in the world with over 1,600 rooms so the possibility that there were no suites available on January 2nd is outlandish. As a Canadian, you usually apologize for asking the question and simply accept your fate but I felt lied to and pressed the agent. I pulled up the Marriott app and showed him that there were indeed suites available in inventory and asked him to check his system again. Miraculously, a suite was indeed available but it was “being cleaned” at the moment.
To his credit, the agent offered to allow us to take our originally assigned room to freshen up while our suite was being prepared. This is the first time this kind of offer has been made in all my travels and it was a welcome offer as we were all dying for a shower. As a side note, the standard room in this hotel was beautiful but ultimately not as nice as the suite we ended up with.
After about an hour of waiting, we were told that our room would be ready in about 20 minutes. The agent suggested that we go up to the Marriott Executive Lounge for some dinner and by the time we got to the lounge, our room keys would be ready. We were also advised that we could enjoy our time in the lounge and our bags would be moved over to the new room so once we were done in the lounge, we could simply go to our new room. While I was not incredibly happy to have to fight for our upgrade, I certainly was happy that they made the transition to the other room quite comfortable.
The Executive Lounge
The Executive Lounge at the JW is in a word, incredible. It takes up the entire 37th floor of Tower A with about 80% of the floor completely dedicated to the Executive Lounge and the remaining 20% reserved as the Business Centre (no kids allowed). The views from the lounge are quite good being that you are on the 37th floor.
And as much as the views are gorgeous, the food really is the star of the show. There is just so much food that I don’t even know where to start except to just show you the pictures. I should note that there are two major platings; breakfast and dinner. Yes … dinner. As we got there in the late afternoon, the pictures show the dinner plating followed by breakfast the next day. I’ll apologize up front. There was just so much food that I didn’t take note of what was on offer. Suffice it to say, you aren’t going to go hungry and yes, there are both Western and Middle Eastern offerings.
As you can see, there is a TON of food available and during dinner, there is an open bar serving beer and wine. Not only were we spoiled for choice, the quality of the food was second to none and probably the best food I have had in a hotel lounge. The service in the lounge was also amazing. The head of the lounge came up to us our first morning and chatted us up for a few minutes. While the gesture was nice, what blew me away was the next morning, he remembered our names and had the wait staff bring out the drinks we had the morning before; orange juice for me, coffee for my wife and water for my daughter. The fact that he remembered our names was one thing … remembering our preferred drinks? Out of this world!
The room we were provided was absolutely stunning. For some unknown reason, I didn’t get any pictures but I did manage to do a video tour of the room along with the elevator ride up from the lobby. Just a note, the video has no sound.
Perhaps one detractor for this hotel is that it is in a new area of Dubai (but what area isn’t new in Dubai?). This means that there is a ton of construction in the area and GPS is almost essential as new roads seemed to pop up all the time.
While Google Maps shows that the hotel is not too far from the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall, it’s quite a trek and certainly not walkable if you care for your life (nobody walks in Dubai). For better or worse, Dubai is a city where you need a car and fortunately, the JW Marriott Marquis offers free valet service if you are a guest of the hotel. The valet service was very quick, efficient, and polite. I don’t think we waited more than 2 minutes for our car. One great perk is that you are able to call down for your car prior to leaving your room. Additionally, the hotel offers an hourly shuttle to the Dubai Mall and while we did not use it, it is certainly a nice free perk.
If you are ever in Dubai, I would highly recommend this hotel to you. The value you receive is incredible, especially if you are a Gold or Platinum member with Marriott. If you aren’t a Gold or Platinum member, you can quickly become one with the American Express Platinum or Platinum Business as both cards come with SPG Gold status, which will be automatically matched with Marriott Gold. This mean room upgrades and free breakfast in most hotels and breakfast, dinner, and spectacular views with the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai.
The three biggest things that make this hotel sing are the low cost of redemption (Category 7), the amazing lounge (including the free food), and the room itself. Do yourself a favour and check out this hotel.
A word of warning, there is another JW Marriott in Dubai but it’s not as good. Look for the JW Marriott Marquis.