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Pool and lagoon at JW Marriott Gold Coast

Ever run into an old friend you haven’t seen in years and been amazed by how fabulous they look? That’s exactly how I feel when we walk into the lobby at the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa. More than 25 years has passed since I ordered my first ever pina colada in the lounge bar but, unlike me, this five star hotel is looking younger and fresher than ever. With one of the world’s most iconic beaches only a short walk away, you would think it would be tempting to nip across the road for a swim. However, if you’re like my husband and I, you won’t make it to the beach once during your stay. The JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa is the ultimate Gold Coast staycation hotel whether you live in nearby Brisbane like we do, or are visiting from interstate or overseas.

JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa
JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa

The unique water playground at this luxury resort remains the biggest drawcard for most guests, especially those with children. Spread over a hectare, there’s a zippy waterslide, tumbling waterfall, rocky grottos, multiple spas, a regular swimming pool, and a saltwater lagoon filled with tropical fish. Moon wrasse cruise around the deepest section, their colourful scales reflecting every colour of the rainbow, black and white clown fish gather near a rocky outcrop, and a school of bream hover near the base of the waterfall tumbling into the lagoon. Even better, the pool is heated so it’s possible to enjoy it all year.

JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa
JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa

This fantastic pool area is the perfect spot for kids (or adults) to learn how to snorkel. Masks and snorkels are available for hire at the Watersports Kiosk or you can bring your own from home. There’s no need to bring fins as the lagoon isn’t as big as the ocean so you don’t need to go far to see the fish. Sports equipment is also available at the Watersports Kiosk if you would like to enjoy some active fun on the hotel’s sports court which has tennis, basketball, soccer, and hopscotch. Plus there’s the Family by JW activity program with options including Pizza Making, and a Mini Misono Sushi Class. These sessions are either free or attract a small charge for activities like the pizza making which doubles as lunch or dinner depending on what time the session is on.

JW Marriott Gold Coast pool side cabanas for hire
Cabanas at JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa

The pool is the jewel in the crown at the JW Marriot Gold Coast Resort & Spa and a lot of thought has gone into helping people make the most of it. It’s easy to spend an entire day here thanks to a tasty lunch menu featuring things like burgers that can be ordered at the pool bar. Hot food is cooked in a funky retro Airstream food truck near the pool and there’s an attractive outdoor seating area shaded by palm trees or you can enjoy your lunch on a deck chair. Another option is to book one of the cabanas around the pool for a half-day rental. These are large enough for two adults and a couple of young kids to fit on comfortably and would be a lovely spot to spend the day.

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JW Marriott pool side dining
Shady lunch spot at JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa

We stayed in an Ocean View King Suite which was extremely spacious and had a beach view. We loved the modern decor as it felt beachy but was also very elegant, and the rain shower was fabulous with loads of water pressure. While the view from the Ocean View rooms is lovely, a Hinterland View room would be equally nice in its own way and a great choice if your love of luxury hotels is larger than your holiday budget as you get a lovely view of the hills of the Gold Coast hinterland, the sunset, and the sparkling lights of Surfers Paradise.

King room at JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa
JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa has a sophisticated beachy vibe

On our first night, we had dinner at Misono Japanese Steakhouse which is Australia’s largest teppanyaki restaurant with 19 grills spread throughout multiple dining rooms. Despite its impressive size, this popular Japanese restaurant frequently books out, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. The early seating at 5.30pm is a winner for anyone dining with young children. There’s even a simplified kid’s teppanyaki menu for under 12s with ice cream included for dessert, but we opted for the later 7.30pm sitting which was popular with adults and those travelling with teenage or adult kids. Our chef Romeo’s superb cooking, cheeky showmanship and rockin’ soundtrack was a highlight and made for a fabulous dining experience.

Romeo in action at Misono
Romeo in action at Misono

Buffet breakfast was at Citrique the next morning so we figured we would enjoy a lazy morning and let all the families with young kids get in early for breakfast and we would eat later after the rush. However, it turned out this was the busiest period as everyone else wanted a sleep in as well. Not surprising, when you consider how comfy the beds are! If you would rather avoid the breakfast crowds, drop into Citrique before 8am and then hit that gorgeous pool as you’ll have it pretty much all to yourself.

Citrique at JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa

After a lazy morning reading and relaxing in our room and enjoying the view, we headed down to the Spa by JW which turned out to be one of the best Australian spa experiences we’ve ever had. It is a brand new spa and the decor and styling is gorgeous and very upmarket. After a warm welcome we were taken through to the male and female change areas and we both checked out the Experience Shower which combines a rainshower with multiple jets around the edges of the shower cubicle to give you a full body ‘power shower’, plus there’s a lovely sauna and steam room. All of these facilities are complimentary for spa guests so arrive early or allow time at the end of your treatment so you can make the most of them.

Treatment room at JW Marriott Gold Coast
We each opted for a solo treatment room

Then it was time for our massages which we opted to enjoy in separate rooms because one of us falls asleep and snores if the treatment is really relaxing (hint: it’s not me). Turns out it’s lucky we did because my husband’s massage therapist, Karina, had him so blissed out that he declared her one of the best spa therapists he had ever had. I felt the same about my therapist Alex and would definitely ask for him the next time I visit the spa. A cup of herbal tea accompanied by sweet ginger biscuits in the luxe relaxation area at the end of our treatment was the perfect finish. On our next trip to the Gold Coast, we’ll be booking another treatment at the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa for sure.

Relaxation area at the JW Marriott Gold Coast spa
Relaxation area at the JW Marriott Gold Coast spa

Later that evening, we enjoyed dinner at Chapter & Verse in the lobby as we watched everyone heading into dinner at Citrique for the restaurant’s famous seafood buffet. There were mountains of prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, oysters, etc in the seafood section plus roasts, salads, cheeses, curries, rice, veges, and desserts including a ‘make your own’ ice cream sundae station. We don’t eat seafood so Chapter & Verse was a better choice for us but the seafood buffet at the hotel looked terrific. On the night we were there, the seafood buffet was offering a 20% discount for in-house guests which was a great deal.

JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa is a standout for holiday accommodation which offers plenty of family fun and some of the best dining in town. Its chic décor, friendly staff, fabulous pool, and excellent spa and restaurants make it a top choice for anyone visiting the Gold Coast. Just be warned, with so much to enjoy at the hotel you might not make it to the beach.

Disclosure: The writers stayed as guests of JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa. They would not hesitate to stay, spa and dine at this hotel again at their own expense.

Looking for some things to do on the Gold Coast? Some of our favourite Gold Coast activities include hot air ballooning, whale watching, jet boating, visiting Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or David Fleay Wildlife Park, indoor skydiving with iFly, bushwalking in the Gold Coast’s national parks, SkyPoint Climb, exploring the Gold Coast’s markets, checking out the local cafe scene, and enjoying the Gold Coast for free. There’s also plenty of fun to be had if you visit the Gold Coast in winter or have some wet weather.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.