Hotel Review: JW Marriott Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Max and I have been in the Dominican Republic for a few months. Before we jump into the review, I wanted to be very clear that while we are traveling during COVID and are lucky to have the experiences we do, we take our position very seriously and wear masks in all public places, including restaurants. We also did quarantine ourselves for two weeks prior to entering into a number of media related activities back in July when we first arrived in the country. Times have changed and hospitality looks very different now. We urge you to travel cautiously and only when you can be sure you are not ill. Please be aware of all state or local regulations for any destination prior to travel.
Ok, onto the good stuff! As mentioned above, Max and I have been all around the Dominican Republic in the last few months. Last weekend, we were invited to experience the Presidential Suite at the JW Marriott Santo Domingo and let me tell you, it was epic. We were very comfortable with the invitation, knowing that Marriott would take great care of us during COVID, thanks to their stringent policies around mask use and cleanliness. Read on to hear more about the JW.
Santo Domingo is a sprawling city, to say the least. Located on the coast, Santo Domingo is one of the New World’s oldest cities and now is the capital city of the Dominican Republic. It’s home to about 1 million people and in recent years the traffic has been unbearable, giving even LA and NYC drivers major headaches. Apart from the Zona Colonial, there is not one central hub of the city, rather, there are a number of shopping centers and malls that travelers frequent during their stay. The JW Marriott is located directly above one of the nicest malls in the DR, Blue Mall. You do not even need to leave the property to experience world class shopping and dining.
Do expect to either drive or take taxis to everything in Santo Domingo if you plan to explore the city because it is such a spread out destination.
Lobby & Check in experience: 4.5/5
When you arrive at the JW Marriott Santo Domingo, you are greeted by the bellman and escorted to the 12th floor lobby. The lobby features expansive views of the city and is the central hub for the entire hotel. The 12th floor is also home to the bar, restaurant and pool.
Check in was easy, efficient and safe. There is plexiglass between the desk and the guest as well as a nice video showcasing how to wear a mask appropriately. The front desk agents were sweet, spoke excellent English and sent us on our way quickly.
We checked into the Presidential Suite on the 20th floor of the hotel. While the building itself goes taller, the 20th floor is the highest hotel floor and offers panoramic views of the city. This floor is also the club level floor and in non-COVID times, there is an executive lounge located on this floor that services breakfast, snacks and appetizers/cocktails in the evening. The lounge is closed due to the pandemic so we will have to try it out next time.
Suite 2020 is the corner suite with floor to ceiling windows and over 2,000 square feet of space. The suite features a kitchenette with a full fridge, a boardroom, massive living room complete with 4 couches and a full dining set, a large master suite and two bathrooms. To say it’s opulent is an understatement. Since most people will not be checking into the Presidential Suite, I was sure to inquire about other room types. Every room has similar elements: dark woods, nice marble bathrooms, excellent recessed lighting and the same comfortable bedding.
The master bath was incredible, with a large soaking tub with jets, double vanity and a shower with multiple jets. The lavender scented bath amenities were wonderful and felt very luxurious. We were incredibly impressed by the custom headboard with recessed lighting and beautiful design. The views from every room were spectacular. Rest assured, every room sits above the 12th floor, so every room will have a nice view.
The internet speed was great and we took advantage of having a board room to upload video content and work on some past projects in a comfortable and clean space. However, our favorite feature was the TV in the living room. At the touch a button, the TV slid in and out of the console. That way, your view was never obstructed unless you were watching TV.
The only reason we felt we could not give the room 5 stars is due to the lack of technology. Lighting, curtains and general tech are missing in the room. Particularly when the room is so large, it’s almost impossible to find every light switch and close every curtain. It would be great to see a master switch that functioned with both lighting and the curtains in the future.
Service these days can be quite hit or miss, with new protocols and removal of many luxury amenities at so many properties around the world. However, we found the service to be excellent all around. Despite turn down service not being available due to COVID, housekeeping was efficient, timely and did and excellent job.
Service from F&B staff and the front desk was similarly very quick, friendly and high quality. Staff were highly focused on making sure every guest was happy and had what they needed at all times. When we called from our room, items would arrive within minutes and with a smile. At breakfast, the staff went out of their way to talk to you about your day, deliver your food quickly and make sure you were happy. At dinner, we wanted to sit on the very cool glass floor area of the bar and the bellman was very concerned about the wet floor from the earlier rain. He found a maintenance person to immediately clean every surface so we could comfortably sit. We really appreciated Freddy’s quick action and guest service mindset.
Dining at the JW Marriott was an incredible experience, and frankly, a bit unexpected. Both breakfast and dinner were outstanding and while the prices are on the higher side for the Dominican Republic, they are still incredibly low compared to US standards and the quality is exceptional.
Both breakfasts we had on property were fantastic. Salmon eggs benedict, prosciutto eggs benedict, regular ol’ eggs..everything was fantastic. We decided we had to try their dinner in the bar as well to see if it was just breakfast or if they really could wow us at every meal. While the service was a tad slower for dinner, the food was incredible. We tried the pork belly, ceviche and empanaditas. Every bite was better than the last and the cocktails were 5 stars as well. Delicious flavors like strawberry, coconut, pineapple – everything was excellent. I kept telling Max that my dad (who’s addicted to anything strawberry) would love this place with their multiple strawberry concoctions that you can’t seem to find anywhere else.
Overall, the dining experience was excellent and I look forward to returning for more of that ceviche…
The JW Marriott has everything a guest could need for both business and leisure alike. They have a beautiful infinity edge pool with pool service on the pool deck, a fitness center (that is currently closed due to COVID requirements), room service 24/7 and access to a mall with everything you could possible need directly inside the building. Santo Domingo has a lot to offer in itself, but should a guest prefer to relax in a nice hotel and not leave, the JW is the perfect place.
Max did get a haircut and full pampering at a salon in the Blue Mall called Miguel Torres and we can highly recommend their services for a super reasonable price. They also offer nail services within the salon as well. The mall features a number of restaurants and cafes along with some of the best shops you can find like Dolce & Gabana and other brands as well as a number of mid-level brands like Zara, Oysho, Parfois, etc.
The style of the JW Marriott is modern, chic and clean. The dark woods, beautiful recessed lighting everywhere and natural stone accents make for a calm environment in the heart of a big city. We loved the comfortable furnishings, huge ceilings and natural light in both the lobby and in the rooms. We believe the JW did an excellent job bringing together sophistication and style, matching the hip energy of Santo Domingo. While much of the room decor has been removed due to the current pandemic, the public spaces and rooms did not feel devoid of style or character. The style was very consistent across the entire property, with the same wood accents and marble across the restaurant, lobby and rooms.
Overall, we absolutely loved the JW Marriott and it is easy to see why they are ranked as one of the top hotels. The style, service and dining were exceptional and we are already talking about how we can go back again soon. If you’re looking for a truly luxurious experience in a central location, do not hesitate to book the JW Marriott.
COVID-19 Safety Rating: 4.5/5
We’ve stayed at a few Marriott properties lately and we were confident that the quality of their COVID precautions would be high and we were not disappointed. From their public-space mask requirement, to their thorough housekeeping and the deep sanitation at the restaurants, we felt very safe and comfortable with the actions they took to keep their guests safe.
We loved the video at check in, showcasing how to wear a mask properly as well as the rule to only allow one family or one guest in the elevator at any given time. We loved the virtual menus that were available at the bar and restaurant and felt confident about the precautions while dining. While, of course, not everyone follows the rules, staff were quick to correct guest mistakes with grace.
The only odd element that was missing for us was that some of the rooms had the seals for cleaning and some did not. We were unsure if this policy was something that had been removed as of late due to the ridiculously hard-to-get-off tape residue that it leaves behind on all the doors or if they simply forgot. Upon entering our room, it was clear that it had, indeed, been thoroughly cleaned, but it is worth noting that they did not have the seals during our stay.
Rest assured knowing that you will be safe and taken care of as much as possible during your stay. At the end of the day, it’s up to you as well to take the precautions you need to stay safe and sanitized.