I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world in style from first class on the plane to a Maserati transfer to the hotel. But to arrive right outside a hotel doorstep in a luxury mahogany finished gleaming boat in the style reminiscent of a James Bond movie, was a first even for me. This marked my grand arrival at J W Marriott Venice Resort and Spa on the private island Isola delle Rose.
This magnificent five star hotel emphasises on the importance of having an authentic local experience from the onset. And after a hearty lunch our group immersed ourselves in the Venetian culinary tradition with a cookery class at the Sapori Cooking Academy with chef Micki.
I’m not much of a cook so was a bit apprehensive as I donned on the apron and appeared like a fraud. But any reservations I had in my own abilities diminished quickly as Micki placed faith in me. Step-by-step he showed us how to create simple vegetarian dishes using local ingredients from nearby St Erasmo Island as well as those produced on the island itself. The end result was worthy of a few pictures which I planned to show friends and family back at home. And they tasted great too – the hot beetroot dip with garlic, cumin and curry powder infusions was absolutely finger-licking good.
With the hotel offering private water taxis it is convenient to head over to nearby islands. We headed to the Murano Glass Factory to discover the ancient art of glass blowing. I was literally blown away. A master glassblower created an ornamental colourful horse, worthy of any mantelpiece, within seconds right before our eyes.
Island hopping along we ended up at the charming and colourful Burano Island known as fisherman island and for its lace making. Legend has it the brightly painted houses helped drunk fisherman crawl their way back home after a day of fishing. To this day anyone wishing to repaint the buildings must seek permission from the Venice Council.
And while most men went off in boats, women passed their time with lace making. To this day the oldest lace maker Marissa, with over 65 years experience can be seen beavering away meticulously to produce a range of products from table cloths to elegant clothes. It’s incredibly impressive. Sadly the skill is dying as youngsters opt for careers in other industries but the 2,700 inhabitants are trying desperately to keep it going by continuing to teach this labouring art.
Back on Isola delle Rose just minutes away from St Mark’s Square, it has its own unique history. The building that stands today which was been renovated and refurbished to open in March 2015 was once a hospital and had a little community complete with a Church dating back to 1921. The church remains but no longer consecrates weddings but is used for symbolic ceremonies only. The 40 acre island has its own olive trees, animals, vegetable garden with herbs and is self sufficient.
The romantic and family resort features 266 contemporary-styled rooms and suites designed by the architect Matteo Thun. It has five distinct accommodation experiences located in secluded corners of the Island: the Hotel, La Residenza, L’Uliveto Villa Rose and La Maisonette where we stayed. Clean lines throughout the apartment with floor-to-ceiling glass walls give them the light, airy and modern finish. The Bulgari products in the bathroom were super indulgent and welcomed after a busy day.
Further R&R can be found at the Goco spa on the resort. Guests can book a three- hour experience in the humid area and use the vitality pool, sauna, biosauna and hammam. It was difficult to fathom where my three hours of total bliss went as I lounged around in the indoor-to-outdoor pool overlooking the smooth lagoon and Venice.
Venetians do food very well. And that’s not just me saying it. Within six months of opening the restaurant Dopolavoro – meaning ‘after work’ in Italian – was awarded its first Michellin star. We took the liberty of spending an exciting mouth-watering evening here as we devoured course after course of deliciousness. Guided by chef Giancarlo Perbellini from Verona – one of the most acclaimed chef’s in Italy – staff ensure your experience here is as exquisite as the dishes. From the original structure of the building in 1936 to the service and wine pairing it was a gastronomic experience to remember.
The resort has a further three restaurants and four bars offering both international and local cuisine. Each one is different from the other and you easily can spend a month sampling all the foods on offer. You can always mull it over with a drink in hand from the rooftop lounge area complete with pool offering a dramatic 360 degree view over Venice. Now this is what I call sampling the Venetian way of life.
Where and how?
Isola delle Rose, Laguna di San Marco, P.O. Box 731 30133 Venezia, Italy
T: +39 041 852 1300 email@example.com