On our Luxury Round-the-World trip, we made a stop in Hong Kong to get over some serious jet lag and to check out the city. One of the decisions that needed to be made was where to stay during our time in Hong Kong. As a Platinum Marriott Member, I value the quality of the hotel but one of the most important things was how we would be treated as Platinum members and the benefits associated with that status.
I was torn between staying at the JW Marriott and the Ritz Carlton, properties that fell under the Marriott brand. When doing my due diligence in deciding between the two hotels, I called the Ritz Carlton and inquired about the benefits that I would receive a top-tiered member of the Marriott Rewards Program. While Ritz is part of the Marriott family, they are distinctly separate and Ritz has been known to not convey the same benefits that Marriott Platinum members have come to know and love. The Ritz Hong Kong confirmed that as a Platinum Member, I may be provided a room upgrade at check-in but would not be given access to the Ritz Lounge nor provided breakfast, a benefit that I value dearly. Being that the Ritz was out of the question, I chose the JW Marriott and I am definitely glad that I did.
The JW Marriott is conveniently located near the Pacific Place Mall (actually it’s connected) in the Admiralty area of Hong Kong. The MTR, Hong Kong’s subway, is directly connected to the mall and offers a convenient way to get to other parts of Hong Kong, thus making the JW an excellent home base.
Much of the hotel is new, save the rooms but we’ll get to that part in a minute. The JW has invested a hefty sum into to rejuvenation of the common areas of the hotels including its many restaurants as well as their ballroom, which is spectacular. The JW has invested more than $10M USD into this new area and it of course shows. While I doubt many of you will be using the JW as your wedding venue, it is certainly well set up for those types of events.
The rooms at the JW are to be quite honest, a bit dated. It’s not to say that the room is “worn out” in any way because it’s not, it’s just that the decor harkens to an older time just simply isn’t as modern looking compared to many other hotels that I have visited. That being said, it’s perfectly serviceable and quite comfortable. In particular, the bed, the duvet, and the down pillows really helps to ensure a great night’s sleep, something that was quite important to get over our jetlag. I have been told that the hotel is due to have its rooms to be updated sometime in 2018. Once that is done, this hotel will be simply perfect!
Here is a walkthrough of our room, 3116
As you can see, the room itself is quite simple but provided us with everything we needed in a room. Of note, the water pressure in the room was spectacular and sure not to leave a dirty spot on your body 🙂
This is where the JW SHINES!
The JW Lounge is located on the 33rd and 34th floors of the hotel and offers some amazing views of Hong Kong. Not only is the lounge beautiful and spacious, the food is out of this world! There are multiple services at the lounge including:
- Breakfast from 6:00 AM – 10:30 AM
- Afternoon Tea from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
- Hor’dourves from 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM
- Evening Snacks from 9:00 PM to Midnight
Each setting was different in terms of the food on offer. I’m sad but yet happy to report that many of our meals were taken in the lounge rather than in and around Hong Kong. The food was just too good to pass up and the price was right 🙂
I found out later that the lounge is serviced by the same kitchen that prepares the food for the JW Cafe, a very popular casual dining establishment in the hotel. While the similarities are quite apparent, there seems to be much more selection in the JW Cafe and that’s saying a lot as there is a ton of food on offer in the lounge. One of my favorite items was the freshly made dim sum, in particular, the Pork Sui Mai was out amazing … I think I may have had 12 or so 🙂
The times that we were in the lounge, it was not overly busy so seating was not an issue nor was the noise, which is not something that every lounge can claim. Even when people were in the lounge, there was a certain reverence for the room that almost kept people quiet … I don’t know … it’s hard to explain.
In a word, the service was excellent. Every single person we encountered at the hotel was very adept at their job and completed their tasks with pride. Everyone from the check-in staff to the doorman that opened the connecting door between the JW and the Pacific Mall, everything was on point. The JW is a luxury brand hotel and it definitely shows in the way the staff goes about their business. I was very impressed.
The JW Marriott is a Marriott Category 9 Hotel due to the quality inherent with the JW brand, the ideal location of the hotel and the fact that it is in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Category 9 hotels are the top offering that Marriott has outside the Ritz brand of hotels so the cost is expectedly high at 45,000 points a night. While that may seem high, it really isn’t, especially because most Canadians will be converting SPG points to Marriott points to make the redemption. If you remember, you can convert SPG to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio so essentially, you are really only redeeming 15,000 SPG per night.
I converted 30,000 SPG points to 90,o00 Marriott points in order to stay 2 nights at the JW which often retails for over $500 a night. During my stay rooms were going for $570 per night, so the redemption value was quite high.
Here’s some math for you.
If you went ahead and got yourself the American Express Personal Platinum card, would receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points upon meeting your minimum spend requirements. You could then convert your Membership Rewards points to SPG at a 2:1 ratio, leaving you with 30,000 SPG. You could then convert those SPG points over to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, giving you 90,000 Marriott points, enough for 2 nights at the JW Marriott Hong Kong. Doing so would save you $1,140 for the cost of the American Express Annual Fee of $299 ($699 but you receive 2 x $200 Annual Travel Credits for a total of $400).
Spend $299 to save $1,140 … that’s pretty good math by my standards. You would also receive additional benefits like Priority Pass Lounge access, which is quite a value onto itself.
You could, of course, do this with any of the American Express cards that provide Membership Rewards as a reward currency. These cards include the following (don’t worry, the link will direct you to my review of the card … it’s up to you whether the card makes sense for you or not):
- American Express Gold Personal – 25,000 Membership Rewards after $1,500 spend – $150 Annual Fee
- American Express Gold Business – 30,000 Membership Rewards after $5,000 spend – No Annual Fee for the First Year
- American Express Platinum Personal – 60,000 Membership Rewards after $3,000 spend – $699 Annual Fee (get that to $299 – info in the review)
- American Express Platinum Business – 75,000 Membership Rewards after $5,000 spend – $399 Annual Fee
We were only in Hong Kong for a short period but were quite pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed our stay at the JW. I have absolutely no regrets in choosing the JW over the Ritz Carleton. If you are ever in Hong Kong, I would highly recommend checking it out, especially after the rooms are refurbished sometime in 2018.
If you are either a Gold or Platinum member of Marriott Rewards, you definitely do not want to miss the lounge and the benefits it provides.