If you haven’t been to Vietnam yet, put it on your list! Beautiful country, wonderful people, amazing food and so much history and culture. Vietnam is also very affordable. It is also home to my absolute favorite worldwide Marriott property for point redemption value: the J.W. Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay.
My husband and I went there in March and we both loved the resort, perched on a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand. This five-star hotel is perhaps the best value in the entire Marriott Rewards portfolio at 35,000 points per night
You can get to Phu Quoc from many places in Asia, including Bangkok and all major Vietnamese cities. Inexpensive flights on low-cost airlines are plentiful and Phu Quoc airport is compact but very modern.
The resort is located on the southern tip of the island, the cab ride from the airport takes about 20 minutes. The hotel can arrange for a car to pick you up but we just took a cab for about 300,000 Vietnamese dong or $13.
JW Marriott Phu Quoc is about a 30 minute ride away from the main town of Duong Dong, where most of the other resorts are located. This is important because if you want to go to town, you’ll need to plan your trip a little bit ahead of time and take the travel time into account.
When we arrived at the resort, we were greeted by a guest services representative and offered delicious cold drinks. They ushered us into what looked like a beautiful living room, definitely not your standard hotel lobby. No standing in like to check in at the counter at JW Marriott Phu Quoc!
The resort is designed as a mythical university, and no detail is too small. The theme is carried out with such precision, you really do feel like you stepped back in time into a beautiful and magical place.
We didn’t have to wait long, the guest services representative took us in a golf cart to our room. My husband is Gold Elite with Marriott and I’ve contacted the resort ahead of time and requested an upgrade. We were given a beautiful ocean view room, just steps away from the beach and the family pools. Our room was on the ground floor so we had a big patio with a grassy area in front.
I had also let the hotel know that we were there to celebrate our wedding anniversary and they offered to make us an anniversary cake. I had to let the resort know that I am gluten free and they were happy to accommodate. The service at the resort is incredible, and this is just one example of the exceptional service we received there.
What can I tell you about the room? In one word, incredible. I’ve never seen anything like that, the décor is truly unique, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Our room had an enormous bathroom and a separate half bath with a toilet and a sink.
The room was not huge but the bathroom was almost as big as the room itself! Double vanities, huge walk-in shower, all done in beautiful marble.
Each building is named after a university department, we stayed at the Department of Zoology.
Before my trip I’d read a lot of conflicting things about the beach and the water in the Gulf of Thailand. Being able to swim and to enjoy the beach are two most important factors I consider when deciding on a beach destination. Some articles said there’s a lot of trash in the water and it washes up ashore, depending on the current. Some reviews said the water was crystal clear and the beach is pristine. I decided to take a chance and I was not disappointed!
The grounds crew are the unsung heroes of JW Marriott Phu Quoc. They are on the beach day and night cleaning and picking up an occasional piece of seaweed that washes up ashore. And yes, I’ve seen an occasional plastic bag in the water but the water was crystal clear and calm. The water does look green, the name Emerald Bay is very apt.
The beach is not huge, but very picturesque. It looks exactly how you imagine a beach in Southeast Asia would. The beach never felt crowded, there’s plenty of shade and beach chairs for everyone.
Right now, JW Marriott is the only resort there, however, there’s a big new hotel and condo development going up on the other side of the beach. If you’ve been considering this place, go now before the crowds arrive and spoil the impression that you have the island all to yourself.
We were there at the beginning of March, there was barely any wind or surf and I’ve spend hours enjoying warm, calm water of Emerald Bay. At night, the low tide comes in and the water recedes pretty far. It was a lot of fun looking for starfish and other sea creatures buried in the sand during low tide.
To sum up, my fears were unfounded and we enjoyed the beach and the water a lot!
Because the rest of the resort is so fabulous, I expected the food to be fabulous too. The price of the food at the resort is definitely more Western than Vietnamese. I can’t say that the food was bad but it wasn’t very special.
The breakfast buffet was very nice, lots of Asian and Western choices, and there’s even ice cream! When we stayed there, Gold Elites got free breakfast, but right after we left, the resort changed its policy. Now you need to be Marriott Platinum Elite to receive free breakfast. The cash price is about $17/person, so take that into account, especially if you are traveling with your family.
The new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card comes with $300 Marriott statement credit, so that should help offset the cost of food.
We ate at Tempus Fugit, the resort’s main restaurant and Red Rum, the beachside grill. Both were OK, but not remarkable. We enjoyed little snacks and ice cream at French & Co Deli, a beautiful French café style pastry shop.
There’s also Pink Pearl, a Thai restaurant.
The resort is big, but there are only 234 rooms, so the bars and restaurants always looked half empty.
The whimsical décor throughout the resort is what makes it really special. The “main street” is beautifully lit at night with Hoi An-style lanterns. A side note – if you go to Vietnam, you absolutely have to go to Hoi An, a little gem of a town and UNESCO World Heritage site.
There’s a gym, but after stopping by a couple times I had never seen anyone inside. I guess everybody was outside enjoying the beautiful weather.
There are three pools, the main seashell-shaped pool is adults only and it was never crowded or loud. There is also a family pool and another pool on the other side of the resort. For some reasons, there was never anyone there so if you want to swim laps, it is perfect for that, you won’t be disturbing anyone.
There’s no nightlife to speak of, although there’s a bar where they have a band for a couple of hours each night, but this resort is very quiet and relaxing.
It is important to know that the resort is pretty isolated from the rest of the island. You can’t just scoot over to town for lunch, everything is at least a 20-30 minute cab ride away. The resort has a shuttle that goes to the main town of Duong Dong every night. It departs from the resort at 6 p.m. and picks you up in town at 9 p.m. The shuttle costs about $4, cheaper than a taxi. Lots of people go to town to eat at the night market or its many restaurants, but we only went once and spent the rest of the time exclusively at the resort.
How to Book?
JW Marriott Phu Quoc is a category 5 hotel. Right now, you can book it for 35,000 points/night. Starting in 2019, you will need between 30,000 to 40,000 points/night depending on the season.
This would make the price per night even more affordable, making this place even better value. The cash price fluctuates between $300 in low season to $600 in high season, so if you’ve been on the fence about this property, book it now. I predict Marriott will make it a category 6 property soon.
You can earn Marriott points by opening Chase Marriott Premier Rewards personal and business cards. Click here to learn more
American Express Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards and Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card also earn Marriott points.
Both my husband and I loved our time at JW Marriott Phu Quoc. The beach was fantastic, the rooms were incredible, the service impeccable. The only downside was the food. It was quite expensive but not very special. We didn’t mind that the resort was so isolated, we enjoyed the quiet time. I think at 35,000 per night it’s an incredible value, especially if you take advantage of the fifth night free five nights. Just be aware that the food is pricey, and there’s no easy way to get to other places to eat.
I highly recommend this place, the resort is whimsical and beautiful and the natural setting is private, clean and highly unique.