Review of the JW Marriott Macau

img_0383In recent years I’ve left a long weekend in Macau feeling a bit meh.  Which was a shame, given its close proximity to Hong Kong. In fact last time I contracted food poisoning (thank you Brazilian restaurant at the Venetian) and spent the next 24 hrs on the bathroom floor of the Sheraton.  But now I’ve rebounded and I’m back on the loving Macau bandwagon. It was such an easy, fun trip that I can’t wait to return.  


Where did we stay?
We had previously stayed at the Sheraton (pool area set-up a bit strange & food very average), Galaxy (great rooms, lots of bling) and the Hard Rock (lots of fun but room rates expensive).  This time a scan of Booking.com showed the JW Marriott Macau as having the best rates (we ended up paying around $1500 HKD for the basic room).  The JW Marriott is set within the Galaxy Macau complex. This includes 5 hotels who have a shared ‘Grand Resort Deck’ consisting of a wave pool, water slides, lazy river and artificial each. In addition, each hotel has its own individual pool for hotel guests only.
JW Marriott Macau Resort PoolHow do you get to Macau?
For those that don’t know, Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China. It was actually a Portuguese territory until 1999 and so the place has a fascinating history and aesthetic.  To get there from Hong Kong, you have several ferry options depending on where you are staying. If you are in Macau Old Town, get the TurboJet. If you are staying on ‘the Strip’ the Cotai Water Jet is the closest port.  We booked our ferry tickets through a travel agent (Concorde Travel) although it is easy to do online.  If you are booked on to a later ferry, you do have the option of trying to get on to an earlier ferry through standby.  Be prepared for queues at immigration, both leaving Hong Kong and arriving in Macau. In fact it pays to run off the ferry to get to the front of the queue. (tip – it’s quite a long walk from the Cotai ferry to immigration hall so you may wish to have a stroller with you for little ones).
Once you arrive in Macau, you have the choice of a taxi or a resort bus.  Whilst the resort buses are free, you have to wait till they load up before you depart. We jumped in a taxi (you can pay in Macau using HKD and Macanese Patacas) and the JW is a short 8 minute ride away.
What did I think of the JW Marriott Macau?img_0346
First impressions were elegant and relaxing (the opposite to some crazy OTT Macau hotel lobbies). A friend likened the JW lobby sculpture to Elsa’s Frozen Castle.  Then we were confronted with a mammoth check-in queue. With whining kids, we decided to chance it by heading to the ‘Executive Check-In’ and pretend we were Gold Marriott reward members. To be completely honest, we weren’t sure whether we actually did hold this status, but they didn’t question us. Unfortunately our rooms weren’t ready (3.15pm at this point, they really should have been).
What is the room like?img_0358
We booked the cheapest available, a Deluxe Double with City View.  The room is fantastic and could easily fit a family of four if your kids don’t mind sharing a bed.  There’s also plenty of room for a rollaway bed and travel cot.
The room is large with views out to the adjacent marshland which is in the process of even more development.  There’s a desk, table and chair and two double beds. The bathroom is luxurious with a lovely tub, stand alone shower and most importantly, heated toilet seat.  img_0355Kids will love the buttons which control the lightshade between the bathroom/bedroom and also window. Aromatherapy Associates products are provided and also a Nespresso machine.
For comparison, I also bring you a few photos of the Galaxy Hotel. They share the same ‘Grand Resort Deck’ and similarly to the JW, also has its own pool for hotel residents. My advice is to just pick the hotel that has the best room rate..!  Thanks to Claire from Hong Kong’s best loved stationery business, the Lion Rock Press for these pics (plus the foodie ones below).
Galaxy Macau Hotel Room
What are the hotel facilities like?
This is the real reason you have come to the JW/Galaxy complex.  Each hotel within Galaxy Macau has its own pool area for hotel guests only. The JW has a decent sized resort style pool (I think nicer than the Galaxy hotel) winding around the Pool Bar in the middle. There is also a large hot tub and separate children’s pool with slideimg_0377
Then you have the ‘Grand Resort Deck’ which is shared amongst all the Galaxy hotels and is absolutely fantastic for kids. There’s a lazy river, water slides, wave pool and beach pool. If you have babies/really young kids it’s probably easiest just to park yourself at your hotel pool. However for those with 3+, the Grand Resort Deck is a blast. img_0349The area is huge so be warned you do need to keep an eye on where you are all headed otherwise it could be easy to lose your family members. Even the lazy river is enormous! For young kids there are life jackets and to ride the waterslides you do need to be 1.2m.
One thing to note, the pool temperatures throughout the resort seemed to be consistently on the cooler side!
The JW Marriott offers a Kids’ Club although you do have to pay extra. The Fitness Centre is well equipped and there’s also a spa.
How are the dining options?
We ate snacks and the cocktails at the JW Marriott Pool Bar.  Decent food and drink although it is pricey.  We didn’t eat breakfast in the hotel but a friend told me the breakfast is very good. Instead we nipped downstairs to the ‘Promenade’ to Passion coffee shop for coffees and pastries.
We had an outstanding dinner at Cafe Litoral in Old Town Taipa (a 5 minute walk from the JW Marriott).  We had eaten at its sister restaurant, Litoral in Macau old town many years ago and it’s wonderfully convenient that you can now eat delicious Macanese food so close to the Galaxy complex. The African chicken, Portuguese fried rice and garlic prawns are a must!
Claire recommends another Taipa Villa gem, A Petisqueira, especially the pork & clam dish and Galo on Rua da Cunha.
A Petisqueria - pork & clam
What is there to do outside the hotel?
Macau is an odd place. If you’re looking for the fun of Vegas i.e. getting glammed up for cocktails and a flutter on roulette, you won’t find that in Macau.  The Chinese take their gambling very seriously, so the minimum bets are high and there’s no banter at the tables. At least they have now banned smoking in the casinos to make it slightly more bearable.
Outside of the casinos there are often great shows and big acts playing Macau. We had intended to take the kids to see the ‘House Of Dancing Water’ but tickets for the 5 of us would have cost HKD 2500+ and so I’m saving that for a special occasion. I’ve also heard it on good authority that ‘Thriller Live’ at the Parisian Macau is very good.
We loved wandering around Taipa Old Town after dinner at Cafe Litoral.  Hunt down a fresh Portuguese egg tart, one of the best things I have ever eaten. Thanks to the Portuguese heritage, the streets are reminiscent of a town in the Mediterranean.
Not something for the kids but the shopping in the interconnecting malls is very good, covering the spectrum of high street to luxury labels.  
For a spot of culture, go to Mandarin’s House, a historic residential complex in Old Town Macau.
Mandarin's House Macau
However, if the kids aren’t interested in visiting historic houses, there’s always Macao Science Center. Our3kidsvtheworld has a great write up on what to do in Macau from the St Pauls Cathedral Ruins to a Bungy Jump from Macau Tower (no thanks).
Have you visited Macau recently? Where did you stay? Any tips?

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