Review: 5 nights at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa

This post is part of a series. To read more from this trip:

– Review: The Club SEA at Sea-Tac International Airport
– Review: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class | SEA-HKG
– Review: The Pier, Business Lounge in HKG
– Review: Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class | HKG-HKT
– Review: JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa
– Review: Coral Executive Lounge in HKT
– Review: Malaysia Airlines 737-800 Economy Class | HKT-KUL
– Review: Plaza Premium Satellite Lounge in KUL
– Review: Hyatt Regency Bali

Introduction
Checking In
Property Overview & Amenities
Ocean Front Suite Comparison
Standard Rooms
Breakfast Benefit for Elites
Summary

Introduction

The JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa is a Category 6 (formerly Category 5) resort in Mai Khao Beach, just 20 minutes north of Phuket International Airport (HKT). Following Marriott’s category update and redemption chart changes in March, the JW Phuket can now be booked for as few as 40,000 Bonvoy points during “off-peak” season.

Make sure to check out cash rates before booking, as prices (before taxes and fees) can dip pretty low. In those cases, you may find that cash is king versus a poor reward redemption (unless you’ve got expiring certificates).

Checking In

After a great flight in on Cathay Dragon’s A321 Business Class, we collected our bags and dusted off the old Grab app. A ride from the airport to the JW Phuket costs about 550 Baht ($19). If you’ve never used Grab, it’s the ride sharing app used across Thailand and 7 other Southeast Asian countries. I’d recommend downloading the app and signing up before traveling, to avoid any issues once you arrive in Asia.

Our Grab driver managed to drop us off at a side entrance (I don’t even know how) where we stumbled up a flight of stairs and around a few corners before eventually landing in the lobby. There, we were met by staff who courteously welcomed us, admired our ability to sneak into the resort unnoticed, and then grabbed our bags and directed us to the check-in counter.

We were offered the option of alcoholic and non-alcoholic welcome drinks, cold towels, and given our Platinum Elite welcome letter. Naturally, we selected breakfast for 2 in the Marriott Cafe each morning of our stay.

We were also shown a map of the property, which is quite large given that the resort also accommodates Marriott Vacation and Beach Club patrons. Our suite was situated in building 7.

Should you get dropped off at the front entrance, the JW Phuket has a very welcoming courtyard and driveway, with beautiful local decor and lush greenery at every turn. While the property is showing its age, the grounds and common areas are very well manicured by gracious and attentive staff.

Property Amenities

With nearly 300 guest rooms, the JW Phuket has very impressive grounds and amenities. A beautiful fountain runs through the center of the resort, and guests can choose from 3 large pools (including a kid’s pool) and a long stretch of beach to explore.

Despite the resort sharing space with Marriott’s Vacation Club, the property never felt overrun or chaotic — that is, until a large and loud wedding toward the end of our stay all but took over the whole resort. The below notice was provided, but didn’t mention anything about the chaos that would ensue late into the evenings. Without getting into too much detail, we were just relieved we only had to put up with 1 day of their 3-day wedding. It definitely didn’t help that the newly weds were staying in the suite above us…

Private events aside, the JW Phuket aims to keep vacationers on-resort with a decent sized spa, fitness center, dive and watersports centers, and 10 restaurants and bars immediately on the property (many of which are indoors to beat the heat and mosquitoes).

Resort dining is pricier than we expected for Phuket — but we found the Siam Deli to be a good value.

The JW Burger at Siam Deli — 389 Baht ($13), subject to 10% service charge + 7% government tax

For those who want to get off the property and walk around, there isn’t much within striking distance. There are a handful of other restaurants and shops along the beach, or at the Turtle Village and Mai Khao shopping centers about half a mile down the road (both of which are very small). However, there isn’t much beyond that without driving a considerable distance.

The resort does help coordinate day excursions, however, which we really enjoyed. Motorcycles and cars can be rented for a day rate of about $13 or $35 respectively (or cheaper if you’re willing to go off resort and find one yourself). We had a fantastic time visiting Phuket’s #1 Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and would highly recommend it.

Additionally, head on over to one of two massage stands that post up on the beach each day. They offer full-body massages for 500 Baht/hour ($16), which is a pretty good value. Note — the massages are not private, so wear your swimsuit. We’d recommend visiting in the morning, since the ants and mosquitoes can be very frustrating in the afternoon and evening.

The Suites

The JW Phuket has two types of gorgeous Ocean Front suites: upper level Ocean Front suites and ground level Ocean Front pool suites. You really can’t go wrong with either since they’re both huge and well appointed, but we’ll do a quick comparison and explain why we prefer the upper level suites (spoiler: more privacy, better interior space, less noise, and views).

As the name suggests, Ocean Front pool suites are ground level suites that feature private plunge pools, as well as large garden patios with a sun deck. While nicely manicured, we noticed the patios seem largely occupied by gardens, which are beautiful but limit the amount of usable space for activities.

Ocean Front suite floor plan (lower levels)

Meanwhile, upper level Ocean Front suites feature private balconies that wrap the entire suite, small cabanas with sun loungers, and large hot tubs.

Ocean Front suite floor plan (upper levels)
Sun loungers and hot tub

The sunset views from the upper level Ocean Front suite are beautiful — especially from the hot tub.

We enjoyed sunset views from the hot tub on our private balcony

Aside from the view, we also felt that the upper suites offered more privacy and were a little quieter, since they were recessed away from the footpaths that run in front of the Ocean Front pool suites. Being recessed also meant we could see down into the Ocean Front suites below us.

View of the suites from the nearby footpaths along the beach

As far as interiors go, we were totally enamored by the size and space of our Ocean Front suite. There’s not only a ton of living space, but an even larger balcony that runs the entire length of the suite, and even around the side.

Immediately upon walking in is a half bath and a short corridor leading to the main living space.

Suites feature nice wood flooring across the living area and bedroom, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors leading out to the balcony.

Ocean Front suites face the ocean and have fantastic balcony views – with sand and sea just a stone’s throw away. The balconies run the entire length and sides of the suites, offering gorgeous sunset views over the water.

There are a couple of interior differences between the upper and lower level suites — while ground level Ocean Front pool suites have a dining nook, the upper level Ocean Front suites feature a large walk-in closet and a huge bathroom with a gigantic bath tub and his & hers vanities on each side.

Guest rooms at the JW Phuket are definitely showing their age, but we found the suites were more modern feeling than the standard rooms.

Standard Rooms

As there aren’t very many suites on the property, I figured it would be worth showing photos of the standard rooms as well. The JW Phuket has 7 standard room types with interiors that are all fairly uniform (despite a fairly large fluctuation in price for more “premium” room types).

Rooms either feature poolside or garden views, with patios on the ground floor and small balconies on the upper levels. At over 500 square feet, they’re very comfortably sized for couples, and do a decent job accommodating families traveling with small children, thanks to a decent sized reading nook in lieu of a larger balcony.

Standard room bathrooms feature a shower and tub, with a single sink. Unlike the suites, they have very worn tiling across both the living and vanity rooms rather than wood flooring.

Breakfast

Platinum Elites have the option of selecting daily breakfast for two in the Marriott Cafe as a welcome gift, and we’d highly recommend it. In fact, we’d recommend it so highly that it’s getting its own dedicated section here.

Breakfast is served daily in the Marriott Cafe. For those without Elite status, breakfast is 950 Baht (or $31), and is absolutely worth it.

They even have a sign indicating breakfast peak traffic hours so you can plan ahead.

The staff keep the Marriott Cafe immaculately clean, and we were extremely impressed by service, breakfast spread and high quality of food options. We were served by many of the same staff each day, and the morning coffee messages kept us on our toes.

Seating is plentiful, and guests have the option to sit indoors or out on the patio.

The spread was expansive, the table service was phenomenal, and most importantly, it checked all the right boxes. The noteworthy fixings were:

– Traditional Thai foods like pad thai, curries, stir fries and satays
– Western breakfast offerings like sausage, bacon, pancakes, beans, and made-to-order eggs
– Tons of fresh-squeezed juices, including fresh coconut water and the ability to blend your own concoctions
– Fresh-cut fruit, which included tropical fruits like mangoes and passion fruit
– Dim sum, including Chinese custard buns, and shrimp hagaau and beef siu mai
– Noodle soup bar with 3 different broths

A few of our morning selections…

This is easily a top 5 resort breakfast for us. For non-Platinum Elites, breakfast here is relatively affordable at $31 per adult. We found it very comparable to the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Resort & Spa, which is currently priced at about $40.

Summary

With the exception of an ant problem, and a wedding taking over the resort on the last day of our stay, we really enjoyed the JW Phuket Resort & Spa. We’d absolutely recommend it to couples and families looking to stay near the airport, soak up the sun, and do an excursion or two. However, for those who are looking to soak up fewer rays and more local Thai culture, we might suggest trekking to Southern Phuket for better proximity to the local scene.

Rooms can be had for very affordable prices, but overall costs will add up given the cost of resort activities and dining — so this is something to be mindful of. Having Platinum Elite status to offset those costs with complementary breakfast will definitely help — especially given the high-quality breakfast offered here.

But if an easy-to-coordinate, convenient beach vacation is what you’re after — the JW Phuket in Mai Khao is a one-stop-shop with plenty of amenities, pools, and on-resort dining options to keep you entertained for a week. And it’s just a short, 20-minute drive from the airport.

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