Dec. 30–The new year is often seen as a time to reinvent oneself, and the Marco Island Marriott did just that; as of Jan. 1, the hotel officially re-brands itself as the luxury-tier JW Marriott Marco Beach Resort.
"To tell you that we're excited would be a true understatement," General Manager Rick Medwedeff said during a news conference at the Marriott on Friday. "We want to define and establish what luxury is."
The $320 million renovation began summer 2015 when the Marriott closed its doors for three months to complete the first phase of the project: demolition of its existing meeting space. The property re-opened Aug. 1, 2015, but the construction of the new Lanai Tower — the epicenter of the project — has been ongoing, with a final completion date of late October 2017.
The new tower will include a 12,000-square-foot state-of-the-art indoor entertainment center, 94 adults-only rooms and over 100,000 square feet of meeting space, with up to 24-foot ceilings and extensive views of the Gulf of Mexico.
"We [are] the only beachfront JW Marriott Hotel in the continental United States," Medwedeff — who helped open the first JW Marriott in 1985 — said. And that's a huge draw for companies seeking a truly unique and luxurious venue for conventions and conferences.
The Lanai Tower will also feature an infinity-edge rooftop pool, a restaurant and a bar.
"The bar will be in the middle of the entertainment center, and it will focus on craft beer," Charles Albanos, director of food and beverage, said. "We wanted to do something different from our other bars, so it's really exciting, and I'm looking forward to working with local breweries."
In addition to the new amenities, all of the hotel's existing amenities received face-lifts, the most recent of which was the spa, which just re-opened this fall after two months of closure.
"We know we will have a savvier spa customer," Paul Nunez, director of The Spa at the Marco Island Marriott, said in a previous interview. "High expectations are something we live with now. Let's just say the expectation level goes up."
The newly renovated spa now features a whirlpool, hot and cold plunge pools, a steam room, sauna and much more. It's also one of only two "SPA by JW" concept spas in the continental United States, Medwedeff said, which is yet another draw for guests.
The impeccable service of the staff is also a selling point, he said. The staff received hundreds of hours of training on how to embody the values of the JW Marriott brand: authentic, intuitive, crafted and warm. And no detail was overlooked.
"[We trained them] on how you hand something to a person," Medwedeff said, demonstrating the JW Marriott's signature way of using both hands to deliver an item. The staff also received posture training, he said.
"[The goal] is to assess what the needs of a guest are before they ask and, more importantly, act on it before they ask," he said. "It's that level of focus that our brand has on guest service."
Upon completion in 2017, the property will have a total of 810 guestrooms and suites across three towers, more than 800 employees, nine eateries, five pools and two golf courses. The JW Marriott will host an official grand opening ceremony in November 2017.