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My first stay at a JW Marriott left me with a positive impression of the brand. JW Marriott South Beach was a nice city hotel with a great location, good elite recognition, stellar views, and spectacular food including my favorite buffet ever.
Pros- Spectacular Food, Cool Decor, Nice Art Work, Stellar Views, Large Basic Room, Huge Suites, Great Location, Great Executive Lounge and Spectacular Restaurant Breakfast Buffet, Fantastic Spa, and Solid Gym
Cons- Bad Staff Communication, Poor Property Maintenance , Ice Cold 18th Floor Pool, and Weak Bathroom Amenities
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The JW Marriott South Beach is located in downtown Singapore, about a 15 minute drive from Changi Airport, which is an unbeatable location especially for first-time visitors to Singapore. The hotel is located in the South Beach development, which has a mix of commercial and residential buildings. The hotel is also located right above the Esplande subway station which allowed easy access via subway to the majority of Singapore. The hotel is also walking distance away from many tourist and cultural attractions including the National Museum of Singapore, the Singapore Flyer, Fort Canning Park, Little India, Kampong Glam, and about a ten-minute car ride from Gardens by the Bay. This made it easy to navigate the city and made us happy with our hotel selection.
As we pulled up to the hotel we were immediately impressed by the size and design of the hotel. The hotel took up 24 floors of the east tower in the South Beach development while the hotel's spa, nail salon, and Sky Deck Pool occupied two floors in the west tower.
As we got out of the taxi a porter grabbed our bags and whisked them away without us asking. We would eventually see our bags reappear after check-in. The lobby had a large digital art display, art all around the lobby, and had a cool modern vibe. The hotel offered an art, tour though we never had a chance to go on the tour during our stay.
Christina checked us in and the check-in agent asked us for our passports, something I am now used to happening when we travel internationally. Once the agent saw that Christina was a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite he handed us off to a VIP Check-in agent who handles Marriott elites. The VIP agent was very friendly, thanked Christina for her loyalty, and apologized that she could not upgrade us because there was a large business group at the hotel. She also asked us if we wanted 1000 points or the welcome amenity and we chose the points. She said that was a good choice since all of the amenities are available in the room anyways. I liked the fact that the hotel did not make elites choose between points and breakfast. I heard that not forcing elites to choose is more common in high-end Marriott Asian hotels. I also asked the agent about the additional 5000 points which were part of reservation. She said she would look into it and get back to us later.
One thing that was strange about the hotel was that throughout our stay there were items that we found not well maintained. For example, the second day during our stay the second lobby door was broken and remained unusable throughout duration of our stay. I was surprised about the condition of the property given the hotel only opened in 2016.
As we entered the elevator to our room on the seventh floor we continued to be impressed by the cool vibe of the hotel. In the elevator there was a video playing which made it seem like the walls of the elevator were an underwater glass display. The elevator itself was a smooth and very fast ride. As we excited the elevator hotel the artistic touch continued with the impressive grey pattern on the walls.
Our room was a Deluxe King room the smallest category of rooms in the hotel with king beds. I was impressed by the size of the room given that it is one of the most basic rooms at the hotel. The room had curtains which we raised to see the nice city view including a view of the adjacent historic Raffles hotel. Unfortunately, the curtains were partially broken when we first entered the room, while they were fixed after we notified the hotel, it was strange that no one noticed this when cleaning the room. Another annoying part about the curtains was that they had to be either fully open or fully closed. The room also had numerous mirrors and white drawers all around. These drawers were not only for clothes but also contained the mini-bar and safe. One of the downfalls of the room was that it did not have enough drawer space for us put way all of our clothes. This would have been nice since we were spending nearly a week at the hotel. The closet had hangers, two sets of slippers, two robes, a shoe horn, shoe polish, and a shoe brush along with a light. Christina and I found the robes and slippers to be very comfortable.
The room also had a white desk next to the window which had a lamp, the spa menu, and a remote for the television, along with a paper outlining the great Marriott Bonvoy Platinum benefits at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach.
Later on, we found a welcome amenity of fruit sitting on the desk with no note. We were unsure why we got the welcome amenity since it could have been because of Christina's Platinum elite status, the lack of an upgrade, or because of our honeymoon. The welcome amenity was a nice touch but poorly executed. Next to the desk was the King bed which we really liked.
The television was built into a panel behind the desk and had several features. It included not just television channels but also music channels.
The bathroom was large for a non-suite room and also was covered in mirrors. The bathroom had a sink with a drawer, various amenities, and a shelf below for towels. The amenities were provided by Aromatherapy and Associates and I really didn't like them. In particular I found that the body wash had a horrible scent. This was my first time staying at a JW Marriott and first time trying these amenities and I hope they are not the brand standard for JW Marriott. The bathroom had a separate door for the shower and the toilet room. I loved that the shower had strong water pressure and both a rainforest and handheld shower head.
The most interesting aspect of the bathroom was the Japanese Toto toilet. The toilet came with a remote and had a self-clean and bidet function. This was the first time I had ever seen one and I was very impressed. The biggest issue we had with the toilet was when we first entered the room it did not function. It turned out that the hotel turns off all of the toilets to save energy which is fine but when a guest checks in it would make sense to turn them back on automatically.
On the second day after we hadn't heard back about the availability of a suite upgrade we went downstairs to talk to the check-in agent. The agent checked in and said that a suite was now available. We went back to our room to pack up all of our stuff which was annoying but turned about to be very worthwhile! We ended up getting upgraded to Deluxe Suite on the 14th floor. As we exited the elevator there was a very strange smell in the hallway which thankfully didn't reach the room.
As we walked into the room I was blown away by the size! It was the largest room Christina or I had ever stayed in. The funny thing was that the hotel considered this a junior suite and it was the smallest suite in the hotel. It was crazy to think that the junior suite was bigger than our first joint apartment. I can only imagine the size of the other suites in the hotel! One awkward feature of the room is that it had no manual lock and only contained a digital lock. I think that the hotel room must have sensors to show when a guest was in the room because whenever we were in the room the hotel employees would ring twice. On the left side of the hallway as we walked in was a half bathroom which was also equipped with a Japanese Toto toilet.
Next was the living room area of the suite which had a desk with several lamps, a couch, table, television, and artwork. I found several of the design choices to be questionable. For example, the artwork in the living room was creepy and the television obstructed the view of the city out of the living room window. However, I appreciated the large number of plugs on the desk including two USB plugs and two international plugs.
The room also had a small kitchenette which had a coffee machine, sink, cabinets, and a mini-fridge. The mini-fridge and the cabinets contained very expensive items for sale. Also, Christina could not get the coffee machine to work and it was another example of something broken in the hotel.
The suite also had two closets with one in the entrance hallway and the other in the hallway heading to the bedroom. I really appreciated that the closets had ample space for us to store all of our clothing and that the entire room contained soft close drawers. Also, inside the bathroom hallway closet were laundry bags which included absurdly high laundry prices. A few things I did appreciate about the closets were that they included a steamer and an umbrella which are both uncommon items in a hotel room.
The bathroom was amazing! It was very spacious and contained a shower, toilet room, and two sinks on opposite sides of the bathroom. However, the show stopper in the bathroom was the free-standing soaking tub with stunning views of Singapore. The bathroom also had both larger sizes and a wider variety of amenities than those in the Deluxe King Room. The additional amenities included a shaving kit and a nail filer.
The bedroom had a chaise lounge, a king bed, and a desk. The desk was positioned awkwardly on a carpet cutout which made it difficult to use. The room also had similar creepy artwork as the living room. The best part of the bedroom was the view. Since the room was a corner room on the 14th floor it had great views of downtown Singapore in both directions.
The JW Singapore South Beach had a plethora of dining options which was unsurprising in an amazing foodie city as Singapore. The hotel had eight dining and drinking options across the South Beach complex. This including Akira Back, run by a Michelin Star chef, Beach Road Kitchen, Court Martial Bar, and Tonic which were all accessible directly from the hotel. Additionally, Cool Cats, Fish Pool, Madame Fan, and Stag's Room were located inside the NCO Club in the South Beach complex. Also, specifically for those with Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Status or above and a room with executive lounge access had access to dining in the executive lounge.
While we were at the hotel we had the opportunity to try only two of the dining options, Beach Road Kitchen and the executive lounge. We attempted to try Akira Back, however, it was completely full for Mother's Day dinner. We didn't attempt to try the other dining options because Singapore had such amazing dining that we wanted to explore the city. However, I can tell you that the breakfast buffet at Beach Road Kitchen along with the food and drinks in the executive lounge were spectacular!
Beach Road Kitchen is located in the South Beach complex across from the main tower (east tower) of the hotel. The restaurant served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, however, we only tried the breakfast buffet during our stay. Breakfast was served from 6:30am-10:30 am during the week and 6:30 am-11:00 am on the weekends. The breakfast buffet included an extensive selection of food reflecting the diversity of Singapore. It was by far the best buffet I have ever tried. We had access to the buffet every day as an amazing Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite benefit, normally a cost of $45 Singapore dollars per adult and $23 per child, and it allowed us to skip lunch every day resulting in a substantial savings on dining.
The breakfast buffet took up multiple rooms of the restaurant and included Indian food (e.g. curry and roti) Chinese food (e.g. dim sum and mode to order noodles), Western food (e.g. pancakes, eggs, and waffles).
My favorites were the Chinese and Indian dishes including the multiple types of dim sum, and the Beef Curry. The restaurant rotated several of the hot dishes every day which meant we were able to try different dishes every day we ate at Beach Road Kitchen.
I also really enjoyed eating the fresh honey and various jams with bread. If all of the food offered at the buffet was not enough the restaurant also came around with additional food samplers during breakfast.
I also tried several unique tropical fruits I had never heard of before including snake fruit. I was not a big fan of snake fruit.
The buffet also included a large variety of fresh fruit juice. In particular I loved the fresh orange juice. The only compliant at all about the buffet was that the desserts were mediocre. Overall, the buffet was spectacular and I would strongly recommend purchasing access at least one day even if you can't access it on a complimentary basis as a Marriott Bonvoy elite.
As a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite Christina also had access to breakfast (6:30-10:30 am), afternoon tea (2:30-5:00 pm), Hor d'overes (5:30-7:30 pm), and evening cocktails (5:30-9:30 pm) in the executive lounge.
One morning we had breakfast in the executive lounge. The offerings were very similar to the Beach Road Kitchen breakfast buffet. Some differences included that the lounge offered different types of dim sum, fresh cooked eggs, and the lounge did not have table tea and coffee service like the restaurant. The best part of the lounge breakfast was how quiet it was in comparison to the restaurant.
The evening hor d'oevers were also a great benefit. The options included a variety of cold cuts and a few hot snacks which all together were enough to make a meal. The lounge offered several types of wine and beer along with water in the evening. However, the stand out were the variety of complimentary evening cocktails which included a tequila sunrise, mimosa, and old fashion. This was another great benefit of Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite status given the high alcohol prices in Singapore.
One of the nice features of the hotel was that Wi-Fi was complimentary and available throughout the hotel without a need to login. This made it easy to access the internet throughout the hotel. The JW Marriott South Beach also featured two pools one on the 18th floor of the main East Tower and another called the SkyDeck located on the 6th floor of the West Tower. We checked out the 18th floor on our first day. The 18th floor had a wraparound balcony with amazing views of Singapore. On one side was comfortable lounging furniture facing the Marina including the Marina Bay Sands hotel. We really enjoyed relaxing on these chairs to have a bite to eat or read.
On the second side was a view of other South Beach Development buildings and games including pool and foosball. We had a lot of fun playing a few rounds of pool and foosball in this area.
On the third side was the pool bar Flow 18 along with tables and chairs to eat, and the gym.
On the fourth side was the pool which had stunning views of downtown Singapore. When we walked towards the pool we were greeted by friendly staff who gave us towels and room temperature water, though we would have appreciated cold water given the hot temperature. The upper level the pool was shallow with three semi-submerged chairs and another chair with a table overlooking the Singapore's World War 2 Memorial. The upper level of the pool seemed to be set up to be photographed and looked more like a piece of art than a pool. The lower-level pool was much deeper and afforded the opportunity to swim. However, the water was ice cold! In the super humid tropical climate of Singapore a cold pool may sound good but this pool was freezing so cold in fact that we only lasted 10 minutes swimming. I was very surprised that the hotel did not do a better job to regulate the temperature of the pool and it seemed like they were pumping in ice cold water. If the pool had a more comfortable temperature I am sure it would be a social scene, however, almost every time we went up to the 18th floor the pool was empty which I assumed was due to the ice cold water.
After the ice cold 18th floor pool we checked out the second pool on the 6th floor Sky Deck. This pool was located on the 6th floor of the west tower. In order to access the pool we needed to go down to the 2nd floor, across to the spa entrance then take an elevator up to the sixth floor. The set-up of this pool was awkward since it seemed to be set up for a bar and lounge atmosphere but there was no bar. There was a menu for Flow 18 at the pool but I never saw anyone taking orders. In fact, after multiple visits we only interacted with staff at the pool once when a staff member handed us a towel and asked for our room number.
We really enjoyed the Sky Garden pool since the water was room temperature, there was usually no one around and it also had stunning views of downtown Singapore.
Later in our stay we also checked out the gym on the 18th floor which we used once during our stay and it wasn't busy. The gym had a good mix of cardio machines and weights.
The gym provided cold towels, which were refreshing, cold bottles of water, wipes, and copies of the NYTimes and the Straits Times. Overall, it was a solid gym.
On our first day were really jet lagged so made a reservation at the onsite Spa by JW. We decided to have the jet lag couples massage which cost $150 Singaporean Dollars (SD) for 50 minutes. Before the massage we spent time in the separate men's and women's spa facilities. These included a jacuzzi and steam rooms. I found the steam room to be too hot but I loved the jacuzzi. The jacuzzi ended up being exactly what I needed after a long flight and after using it I realized just how sore my muscles were. After using the jacuzzi I went to relax in the spa lounge which was quiet and had cold water, magazines, and great massage chairs. I was very relaxed in this room until another client started working on his computer and fully opened the blinds. While in the spa lounge we were called into the massage room. I thought that the massage was really well done. My biggest complaint was that the masseuse was too hard on my sore muscles. Overall, I thought the couples massage was very good and worth the $150 SD.
Service at the JW Marriott South Beach could best be described as inconsistent. Prior to our arrival we reached out to the concierge about transportation options from the airport. The concierge offered us several options including the hotel's limo or private car options which were prohibitively expensive. When we let him know those options were too expensive he let us know about the less expensive airport shuttle. However, once we were on-site the concierge service was much less impressive. We tried to get a reservation to a Michelin star restaurant Lei Garden for lunch and after going to their website there were no openings. So we asked the concierge for help and he assured us that he would call us by 11:30 am to let us know if he secured any reservations. However, at 1 pm we hadn't received a call back so we called the hotel and left a message for the concierge. The concierge let us know that he made us a reservation for 1:45 pm. This meant we had to scramble to get back change and make it to the restaurant and this could have been avoided if the concierge had actually called us back earlier.
The same dichotomy existed when dealing with the reservation agents. Christina received a welcome email for being a Platinum elite and when we checked in we were sent to the VIP check-in agent. However, we never received any communications about our upgrade or the extra points despite the agent's promise to follow. Moreover, our reservation was showing up in the Marriott app with a $750 extra person fee which we were not quoted in advance. When we went downstairs to speak with a check-in agent about these three questions his response ranged from uninterested to dismissive. He indicated that the app was just a glitch and refused to even look and let us know that the extra points would post after we insisted he look up the reservation. While he ultimately upgraded us he made it feel like he was doing us a big favor despite the promise at check-in. Christina suggested that the poor communications and disinterest we saw some of the time may be driven by the fact that the hotel seems to cater to business travelers and big groups which may make them lazy sometimes with other guests.
We ended up enjoying our stay at the JW Marriott South Beach. It was a nice property with a great location in the heart of Singapore. The drawbacks of the property including poor communication, freezing cold 18th floor pool, and weak bathroom amenities were overcome by the positives. These positives included the cool decor, nice art work, stunning views, fantastic spa, and great rooms even at both the basic and suite levels. Ultimately the standouts of the property were the amazing location and the spectacular breakfast buffet. I would recommend staying at the JW Marriott South Beach in particular if it is your first stay in Singapore or if you are an elite with access to the executive lounge and breakfast buffet.