JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa
Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
- Boutique Spa
- Day Spa
- Family Friendly
- Fine Dining
- Kids club
- Personal training
- Pool – Outdoor
Welcoming visitors with 5-star luxury and a quirky style – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa is an innovative beachfront resort in one of Vietnam’s most up and coming destinations. Famed Architect Bill Bensley has designed the resort to pay homage to the fictional historic Lamarck University – with a whimsical ambiance that is utterly unique.
244 rooms, suites and villas span the resort – all designed to look like a 19th century French-colonial university – most featuring breathtaking views of the bay. An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ inspired spa completes the fantastical retreat.
Chanterelle – Spa by JW
Decorated with a mix of colourful style, flair and whimsy – with an eclectic, Alice in Wonderland theme, the spas reception area is a riot of pink flamingos and drawings of toadstools and mushrooms. Seven stylish, yellow and grey, couples-sized treatment rooms sit on the upper level – each with its own dressing room. There’s a also VIP spa suite which doubles as a venue for the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea!
Highlights include plunge pools, steam rooms and therapy baths and treatments are high-end holistic from award-winning British brand Aromatherapy Associates.
- Treatment rooms
- VIP treatment suite
- Reflexology rooms
- Steam rooms
- Plunge pools
- Therapy baths
- Relaxation areas
- Nail bar
- Hair salon
244 rooms, suites and villas are spread out over seven guest buildings in a variety of different categories. Almost all have a sea view, onto the Emerald Bay itself – so called because of the stunning turquoise shade of the water. Choices range luxurious double rooms to lavish three bedroom villas with private pools.
Check out: 11:00 AM
There are five dining and drinking options: Tempus Fugit, the main restaurant, which offers international and Vietnamese cuisine; French and Co, a laid back colonial-style cafe; Red Rum, a beachside barbecue restaurant; the soon to open Pink Pearl, which will offer fine Chinese cuisine; and The Department of Chemistry cocktail bar.
Facilities and Activities
- Crafts classes
For the Kids
There is a kids’ club on site, with plenty of toys and facilities to keep children entertained, and they can also arrange a visit to Vinpearl Safari Park, a zoo and wildlife park with elephants, lions and more.
Sitting pretty on the shoreline of one of Vietnam’s most up and coming destinations, the palm-tree-covered, backpacker-vibed Phu Quoc island, is a resort the likes of which I’d never seen before. Its Bangkok-based architect, Bill Bensley, has over 200 hotel designs to his name, and was originally commissioned to create a boutique-sized property by a local investment company. It was taken over by JW Marriott as the project grew bigger and bigger, and the result is a unique property with 244 rooms, suites and villas.
The ‘backstory’ is that the resort is a restored university which was originally established, in the 1890s, by a French naturalist and philosopher, Jean Baptiste Lamarck (who was actually a real person), and which fell into disuse during WW2. The design, therefore, incorporates much of the university’s salvaged ‘memorabilia’, from vintage sports equipment to class photographs (all actually antiques scouted by Bensley and his team from across Europe) and it’s laid out like a campus, with each building – there are seven guest buildings, as well as a conference and events centre – named after an educational department, such as Zoology, Architecture, Ornithology, Botany etc, all featuring subtle, tasteful décor which matches their theme.
Staff uniforms are a jaunty mix of striped blazers, feathered flapper headbands, and knickerbockers, while retro music plays in the restaurants, stores and spa. There are statues everywhere of ridgeback dogs, which are portrayed as the mascots for the ‘university sports team’, and the interiors feature colourful fabrics, stylish furniture and handmade floor tiles. The overriding impression is Hogwarts meets Harvard, with a dash of Wes Anderson, but it doesn’t feel like a theme park – it feels like an enveloping, luxurious experience.
Chanterelle – Spa by JW
Chanterelle – Spa by JW was named South East Asia’s top Luxury Emerging Spa in the 2017 edition of the World Luxury Spa Awards and, like every other building here, has been decorated with a mix of colourful style and whimsy. It has an eclectic, Alice in Wonderland theme, its reception area a riot of pink flamingos, drawings of toadstools and mushrooms, and a mural of the Caterpillar smoking his hookah. It’s located on what the hotel has named ‘Rue Lamarck’ – a main thoroughfare lined with what look like traditional, colonial houses, with shops or cafes on ground level.
There are seven stylish, yellow and grey, couples-sized treatment rooms on the upper level, each with its own dressing room, and a VIP spa suite, which doubles as the venue for the hotel’s highly entertaining Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea, featuring the surreal appearance of a giant white rabbit, over-sized lollipops, and crustless egg and cucumber sandwiches. There’s a lovely rest area, with comfortable, lime-coloured chaises longue, and a boutique in the reception where you can buy products by their partner brand, Aromatherapy Associates, and other brands such as L’Occitane, or Paul Mitchell, as well as two reflexology rooms, and a salon room providing hair styling and nail services for both men and women. There is also a separate gym a few doors down on Rue Lamarck.
I have the Ultimate Aromatherapy Experience massage, which involves an all over body massage using one of Aromatherapy Associates’ massage oils. I choose the De-stress oil, with black pepper, ginger and rosemary, which will help ease any muscular aches and pains and boost circulation. The whole experience feels luxurious and exclusive, as the treatment room is almost as big as my own room, with its own changing area and bathroom, which leads out into a spacious area with two beds. The therapist exerts a consistent medium pressure, and, as I asked her to, focuses mainly on my neck and shoulders, my most problematic areas. She’s good at getting right into the knots, and afterwards I feel much less tense, and pleasantly loosened.
The Spa’s signature treatment is the 1970s Sports Therapy & Wrap, which focuses on relieving stubborn knots. It starts with a body wrap, using wormwood leaf and Phu Quoc sea salt and herbs to instantly release muscle pain. A one-hour massage follows using a structural integration technique to unwind strain patterns. Through manipulation of these soft tissues, the body is restored to its natural balance and alignment for better posture, while chronic pain is also eased to make everyday activities more pleasant. This age-old technique draws from traditional healing practices rarely found in the present day, and requires a specially trained therapist to execute.
There are 244 rooms, suites and villas. The rooms and suites are spread out over seven guest buildings in a variety of different categories. Almost all have a view onto the Emerald Bay itself – so called because of the stunning turquoise shade of the water. I’m in a Turquoise Suite – there are nine of these in total, which get their name from the decor. Covering nearly 1000 square feet, they comprise of a spacious living area with mirrors covering the far walls; a four poster bedroom; a bathroom with twin sinks, a twin shower, a free standing, rolltop bath and Aromatherapy Associates toiletries; and a long terrace overlooking the beach (a couple also have a private pool). The soothing décor is in shades of eau de nil, grey, and white. I am staying in the Department of Architecture, so there are nods to the theme, such as the compasses embroidered in the thick carpet in the bedroom, for example.
The fabrics used throughout are beautiful – my sofa is upholstered in a mustard/gold and grey houndstooth check and I have a turquoise chaise longue. A beautiful wooden, antique-looking cupboard houses the fridge, mini bar, and Nespresso machine. Not that you’ll watch them, but there are two flatscreen TVs, one in the living room, one in the bedroom.
Breakfast at Tempus Fugit is extensive, with over 15 food stations dishing up anything from Eggs Benedict to warming bowls of pho. I go back at lunchtime and try the freshly made summer rolls with a fresh, zingy pomelo salad. Dinner at Red Rum, to the sound of the waves washing up and down the sand, is epic; their speciality is grilled fish, seafood and meat, so I try the local grouper fish, as well as grilled squid, and the (very big) local oysters. And one night, I sample the cocktails at the Department of Chemistry; the Five Spice Mojito is sweet – they mix in honey from their own hives – while the Muller is smokier, a mix of rye whiskey and orange peel.
Facilities and Activities
Continuing the educational theme, the resort offers a range of classes you can take part in (most are complimentary), which is a lovely idea. You can do anything from learn how to make a traditional Vietnamese lantern (which I do; the results are beautiful, though I had a lot of help…) to finding out all about the history of Vietnamese coffee, which is strong and sweet, and often drunk with condensed milk. The resort also offers various tours, from a boat tour to some of the nearby islands, to visiting a local pepper farm. They can also take you to the local night market, which sells local crafts and souvenirs.
I did the boat tour, which is a whole day out on the water, and where you can stop to swim and snorkel in the sea, and try your hand at fishing the way the locals do. Lunch is prepared and served on board, too, and it’s a great way to see more of this beautiful region.
Don’t miss a trip to see the beautiful Buddhist Pagoda at Ho Quoc, which doesn’t look as if it was built in 2012, and has stunning views out across the ocean. And take a cab into the nearest town, Duong Dong, for dinner at Crab House, which serves up huge bowls of fresh seafood smothered in delicious homemade sauce.