We’re lucky in Southwest Florida. When the urge for a vacation strikes, there’s no need to hop on a plane or even plan far in advance. A quick car ride is all it takes to find yourself on a beach, drink in hand, reality far away.

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That kind of paradise was just what we had in mind when we headed to Marco Island and the new JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort for an extended weekend getaway. We’d been to the resort before, but this was the weekend it got a new identity as it officially became a JW Marriott brand hotel—the only beachfront one in the continental US—after a $320 million renovation.

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The Balinese-inspired design and architecture made us slip immediately into vacation mode (even though we were only a half hour from home).

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Our first stop was Kane, the beachfront grill and tiki bar, for rum cocktails. Rum is what Kane does best; they have 42 varieties from around the world (and expertise on all of them, should you choose to boost your rum IQ).

What to order: Turtle Season Lights Out (Flor de Cana rum, Clemente Coconut, Bacardi Select, Wicked Dolphin Spiced Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, housemade grenadine), $12; pupu platter (chicken yakitori, crispy chicken wings, vegetable spring rolls, shrimp roll, skewered shrimp), $45

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Kane

There are plenty of other dining options at the resort. We loved Quinn’s on the Beach, a beachside restaurant and bar with Caribbean-style seafood and tropical drinks; Maia for breakfast (the Florida lobster Benedict with brioche, poached egg and lobster hollandaise is a must); and 400 Pazzi’s for authentic brick-oven pizzas.

What to order: grilled vegetable pizza (whole wheat dough, provolone, mozzarella, spinach, tomato sauce), $18; farro and arugula salad (tomato, cucumber, red onion, basil, ricotta salata, red wine vinaigrette), $12; Stemmari rosé, $12

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400 Pazzi’s

You can’t visit the resort without a visit to the new Spa by JW. (Confession: I went twice.) You could easily stay the day hopping between treatments, the private spa pools and the steam room or sauna, but if you’re eager to get to the beach, one of their new 12- or 25-minute Express Treatments may be all you need.

What to get: Balinese signature massage, $155; Hydrafacial MD, $235; Express Energy Boost Massage, $25

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Spa by JW

Did I mention we were in full vacation mode? That included a private restorative yoga session on the beach …

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followed by an en-suite brunch and mimosas on our beach view balcony …

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and a private chickee hut, where we whiled away the day with frozen cocktails and a good book.

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It wasn’t all lounging around, of course. Jesse’s favorite part of the weekend was the guided Wave Runner tour through the nearby Ten Thousand Islands. Our guide, Brian, was a total expert—we got up close with mangroves, dolphins, white pelicans and even a bald eagle. The resort also offers shelling excursions, sailing lessons, bike tours, parasailing, kayaking and paddleboarding.

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The resort has undergone some major changes, but it’s still under construction. One of the biggest additions yet is still to come in October 2017: a new adults-only tower with a rooftop pool, entertainment center and two new restaurants.

VISIT FOR:
A quintessential Florida beach vacation with the kind of world-class service and amenities to rival Naples’ best—and priciest—hotels.

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Thank you to the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort for hosting us.

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