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JW MARRIOTT LAS VEGAS

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Northwest of The Strip

221 North Rampart Blvd.

Las Vegas, NV 89128

877-869-8777

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541 Rooms

$99 and up double

$175-$225 per night

$19.99 per night plus tax

77

AT A GLANCE

Highs

Beautiful, peaceful, and elegant surroundings.

Lows

Quite a hike from The Strip.

Location: 2

To far from the action to be practical for most.

Price: 7

Expensive but not out of line for what you get.

Value: 10

You get a lot for your money.

Rooms: 9

Among the nicest in town.

Casino: 7

Small but well-equipped and comfy.

Amenities: 10

Rooms have everything you need and more.

Facilities: 8

You never need to leave the place.

Service: 10

Excellent across the board.

Fun: 7

If relaxing=fun then this place adds up.

Bonus: 7

A true resort experience.

Total: 77

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FULL REVIEW

When this hotel opened it was known as The Resort at Summerlin and was designed to capture an upscale resort market and capitalize on the many golf courses in the area. Over the next couple of years, the hotel changed names (Regent Grand) and eventually went bankrupt leading to its purchase by the Marriott hotel chain and its third, and hopefully final, name: The JW Marriott.

What that means to you is that not only do you get to use up those Marriott rewards points at a Vegas hotel/casino, but this once struggling property has the backing of one of the most prestigious and well-respected hotel companies in the world.

The JW Marriott is located in Summerlin, a bedroom community just northwest of Las Vegas. They bill it as being 25-minutes from McCarran airport - which may be true at three o'clock in the morning when there is no traffic, but on a Monday afternoon it took me 45 minutes to get there from The Venetian. This fact is noteworthy if you're planning on staying here and want to jaunt over to the Strip for an evening of entertainment. Allow extra time. The good news is that it is just off the Summerlin Parkway so you can get there mostly by freeway. As long as you don't go during peak travel times you should be fine.

Once you get there you are greeted by a rambling three-story building with Spanish Missionary architecture (think stucco, exposed wood, iron railings, arches, tile, etc.). It really is one of the most beautiful hotels in the entire city, with lush landscaping and a peaceful quality that is definitely missing from properties in the heart of The Strip.

Originally it was billed as two separate hotels - The Regent Grand Spa and The Regent Grand Palms. Each hotel comprises a wing that stretches back from the main entrance and casino with room for the pool, gardens, meeting rooms, shopping, and the spa in between.

A hushed but comfy lobby greets you with more of the Spanish Missionary detail - wrought-iron railings and chandeliers, a large stucco fireplace, and exposed wood beams. Several sitting areas are scattered about with plush furniture making a nice area for quiet respites.

The rooms are also quite lovely - very large with walk-in closets, mini-bars, "waterfall" showers, Jacuzzi tubs, ceiling fans, coffee and tea service, and flat screen TVs. You also get the more typical iron and board, safe, high-speed Internet, and the like. First floor rooms all come with very large semi-private terraces and all of the rooms have nice, calming views of the beautifully landscaped grounds.

Those grounds, as long as I'm on the subject, are stunning. Footpaths wander through lush greenery, babbling brooks, waterfalls, and peaceful retreats. The centerpiece is the large pool area surrounded by private cabanas and a putting green. If relaxation is high on your list of activities during your next trip to Vegas, you'd have a hard time finding a better place to do it than here.

Speaking of relaxation, you should also put the Aquae Sulis Spa high on your list of things to check out. You can work off those buffet meals with the exercise area, stuffed with all the latest high-tech work-out gizmos, free weights, and an aerobics studio. Or you can slough off all the toxins from you wild night on the town in the spa area, complete with 36 treatment rooms, dipping pools, waterfall showers, steam room, hot tubs, sauna, mud bath Jacuzzis, and much more. Sufficed to say that if you're in the mood for pampering, you won't be disappointed.

But if the thought of all that relaxation is getting you antsy, you can always go check out the Rampart Casino, which is part of the complex but managed separately. It's on the small side and completely separate from the lobbies of both hotels to the point that while you are registering you would have no idea that slot machines lurk nearby. The casino is circular in shape with the gaming tables in the center and slots and video poker surrounding. They've done a good job of making the area feel less crowded than it was originally, so I think this is a good place to go waste some money. They are also one of the few casinos in town that still have the "classic" coin-in/coin-out slots so you can thrill to the sound of change raining down in the payout bin.

There are several restaurants and a buffet, some with beautiful views of the grounds.

The price has dropped substantially since the hotel first opened, so if you were turned off (as I was) by the outrageous room tariffs, try again. You're still going to be paying a lot more than you would at the local Motel 6 but you also get a lot more than you're average Motel 6 so stop whining. Figure on paying above $200 per night on the weekend and approaching that benchmark on the weekdays, although specials and slow times will bring the price down. Note that there is an option $19.99 per night (plus tax) resort fee on top of that.

So yes, the place is expensive, especially when you can get a room in Vegas for a fraction of that cost but for a resort-level experience like this one it's very fair.

My one and only complaint about the JW Marriott remains the location. For the first time or infrequent visitor to Vegas, this place is just too far away from all of the things you're going to want to see to make it a practical alternative. However, if you've been to Vegas before and are looking for something different - a peaceful retreat that's still within driving distance of all the Vegas action - the JW Marriott should be near the top of your list.

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