2020 has been an unforgettable year for all of us. Everyone was so excited back in 2019 for the roaring 20s; little did we know it meant almost the same as the previous centuries issues: global pandemic, high unemployment rate, stock market crash, what a year. My husband and I travel 3-4 times a year in normal times, hence the blog’s original name. Earlier in 2020, we had a trip planned to both Seattle and Phoenix, with hopes to go to Europe in the summer. Obviously, like the rest of the world, our plans got cut short. We quarantined, socially distanced, and still ended up getting COVID; such is life. Overall, we were lucky that our symptoms were mild, and as soon as we recovered, I booked a quick getaway to Florida. I needed some sunshine for my mental health and sanity. I also wanted to take advantage of this apparent immunity for the little time we have it. My favorite type of vacation is when I’m surrounded by white sands and blue water, beach, beach, beach. Put me on a beach and leave me there. Last-minute, I ended up booking a trip to Marco Island, FL, completely on points. Keep reading if you are interested in my JW Marriott Marco Island review, as well as our experience traveling during COVID. Check out my Vacation Outfit Roundup Post as well!
Milwaukee has a small international airport, so I figured the airport would be pretty dead with everything going on, especially since we flew out on a Sunday afternoon. I was wrong. From my perspective, the airport seemed to be at normal capacity. The terminals were filled with people sitting pretty much shoulder to shoulder, but masked. One thing I noticed immediately was the lack of hand sanitizer stations around. It’s as if, at the airport, this pandemic didn’t exist. I’m being dramatic, but still. Obviously, I was prepared with hand sanitizer, masks, wipes, etc., but it definitely would have been nice to have a station near the high touch areas like the check-in screens, bathroom doors, and TSA screening. We flew Southwest, which recently stopped eliminating the open middle seat a few weeks prior, while cases continue to skyrocket. Our initial flight to Florida was pretty much full. Everyone on board the plane did a great job keeping their masks on, besides while snacking and drinking. Honestly, after months and months of social distancing, I was still a bit anxious being this close to strangers. If you choose to fly, note the airline’s policies on leaving the middle seat open.
On our flight back to Milwaukee, the Fort Myers airport was empty. Southwest decided to board groups of 10 instead of the typical 30-60, but people were already sitting right next to each other in the terminal. This airport also didn’t have any hand sanitizer stations, which got me wondering if any do at all. My friend flew American Airlines out of O’Hare on the same dates we flew to Florida, and she said the airport wasn’t too busy, and American Airlines actually passed out wipes to each customer, which I thought was cool. Both of our flights had plenty of families with kids, older folks, etc. It had me wondering how many of these people already had COVID and are taking advantage of the immunity.
Before having COVID, I was way too anxious to travel and definitely judged those who did, but everyone needs to do what’s best for them at the end of the day. I think right now, planes are cleaner than they have ever been, most people are more sanitary than they have ever been (I certainly didn’t sanitize my hands 100 times a day), and I would guess many people who are traveling have already had COVID.
The JW Marriott Marco Island is about an hour’s drive from the airport. Usually, we would use Lyft, but we were still trying to stay safe, so we rented a car at the airport. Our rental car was only $35 bucks for the day, half the price of a Lyft to Marco Island. The drive to the hotel is super easy and basically on a straight road. We stopped for lunch at the halfway mark, so it didn’t seem long at all. Since we planned to stay close to the hotel during our trip, we only rented the car for 1 day. Note that the rental car prices are extremely more expensive when booked at the hotel. We wanted to rent one on our last day to drive to the airport and it was about $130 from the hotel, so we opted for Lyft. With this, I made sure to schedule pick up in advance, as there are not a ton of Lyft’s or Uber’s around the area right now.
As I mentioned above, we booked the JW Marriott on Marco Island for a quick beach getaway and our first alone trip since having Elliott. A bit of a gamble in December with the weather, but we got fortunate with amazing weather in the upper 70s and lower 80s. I repacked about 3 times watching the forecast.
Overall, I would give the JW a 4/5, and here’s why. The resort itself is beautiful! They have 2 main pools, with one pool focused more on family/children, with slides and some areas for the kiddos. The beach is the reason I booked this resort. It’s stunning! I’ve been to a few different Florida areas, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and St Petersburg, and I think this was one of my favorites. The water was blue, and the white sand stretched for miles. The shore was covered in beautiful seashells throughout. With it being December, the water was cold, swimmable, but cold. In fact, most days, not many people actually swam in the ocean. Most just ran in and out to get a quick escape from the sun. We also had a few days with choppy waves and a day with a red tide. The loungers and umbrellas on the beach are included in the daily resort fee. The staff brings the loungers out for you daily, and you pick your spot on the beach. Umbrellas were already set up more than 6 feet apart. People were very spaced out at the beach, and I felt comfortable during these COVID times. They also had a bartender driving around serving drinks, the service was great. You can also rent private cabanas for up to 8 people; however, the cabanas are a far walk to the ocean. The pool was fine too, it was definitely more popular than the beach, but we still felt comfortable. Overall, the beach and pool areas are fantastic and perfect for families, even with society’s current status.
Our room was booked on points, and when booking, my only option was no view or partial ocean view, so I splurged for the partial ocean view, which I enjoyed waking up to. The room we had was modern, clean, and spacious for the two of us. I was disappointed that we didn’t have robes or slippers waiting for us, but that might be the diva in me.
The hotel lost some points from me in the dining category, which may be a problem during COVID only. The JW boasts more than 10 different dining options, but due to COVID, the menus and options were really condensed. For example, I was excited to try the sushi place Koral’s, but the menu had zero sushi and only had a few small bites/appetizers. In fact, Koral’s had pretty much the same menu as Tesoro, a Mediterranean restaurant. We went to dinner here one night and were really disappointed by the options. We waited an hour for our food and there was no one at the restaurant. We ended up getting our meal comped, which was super generous. Our waitress let us know that their restaurant kitchen is closed due to COVID and all of the resort restaurants were getting food from the main kitchen downstairs. I would say 4 out of 10 restaurants all had pretty much identical menus. A few restaurants were either open for breakfast or dinner. There are 2 places around the pool and beach to get food, with menus that seemed condensed as well. Pool food included appetizers like wings, tuna poke, quesadillas, and entrees like a fish sandwich, burger, chicken sandwich, and a few salads. Overall the food at the hotel wasn’t anything spectacular, and again it was limited. I totally understand why, but just know what to expect. It’s not going to be a typical hotel experience. One of the restaurants (10K) was basically like a Dave and Busters. They served appetizers and burgers in an arcade-like atmosphere. They had a ton of games, bowling, and mini-golf. We went there one night and had a blast! Perfect for families and groups!
Regarding COVID policies at the JW, the hotel does require masks inside, but no one wore masks on the beach or pool, and very rarely were people masked walking outside. There are signs everywhere to social distance, including the elevator. Everyone I came into contact with was very respectful of the policies.
Besides the beach and pool, the hotel has a spa and fitness center, as well as a golf course. I didn’t check out the spa or gold course, but I used the fitness center daily. As a Peloton owner, I was really excited to see that the hotel had 2 Peloton bikes in the fitness center; however, one of the bikes wasn’t working properly. The one working bike was definitely one of the most popular items and was being used every time I went down! The other crappy thing about the fitness center was they only had 2 mats for floor activity, which seems strange considering the room’s size.
Overall, I would come back to this property and would like to bring my toddler next time. The resort was clean, spacious, and had beautiful amenities. I will, however, plan to dine elsewhere if the menus continue to be condensed. There are a few surrounding hotels that have great dining options, as well as an icecream spot a few blocks down and a sushi place within walking distance. Marco Island is a beautiful area, so whether you decide to stay at the JW or one of the other many resorts/rentals is available you won’t be disappointed!
Let me know if you have any questions! Follow me on Instagram!