Famous for its clear waters and powder-soft sand, Clearwater Beach, Florida, is consistently voted as one of America’s best beaches. Some have even called it the best beach in the US. With everything from mini golf and beach bars to five-star dining, it’s a destination that’s popular with families, groups, and multi-generational travelers. It’s also the site of Marriott’s newest luxury resort, the JW Marriott Clearwater Beach. A recent stay confirmed everything I’d heard about this vibrant beach town: the sand is indeed baby soft, the water is crystal clear, and Clearwater Beach has entered a new era of luxury travel.
Located within walking distance to the area’s most popular attractions, the JW Marriott Clearwater Beach occupies a secluded stretch of shore that feels miles away from the town’s bustling tourist spots. With three restaurants, a full-service spa, a fitness center, and 20,000 square feet of event space, the resort is a self-contained destination for travelers seeking a luxury beach getaway. Yet with only 162 guest rooms and 36 residences, the property retains an intimate feel that’s anchored by its warmth and personalized service.
A seven-year vision come to life, with family-friendly rooms and residences
The JW Marriott Clearwater Beach was first conceived of seven years ago and took three years to build. It’s the first JW Marriott property to be designed and built from the ground up. Local developer and physician Dr. Kiran C. Patel and his firm, Vision Makers, collaborated with a team of architects and designers to bring the $200 million project to life. After a few setbacks during the pandemic, the resort opened its doors on May 1, 2023, and has quickly become the hotel of choice for luxury travelers in the area.
“We have become a haven for couples, families, girls’ getaways, guys’ fishing and golf retreats, and honeymoons or babymoons,” says Mike Manzari, the resort’s general manager.
The hotel knows its audience and has smartly tapped into Clearwater Beach’s reputation as a family-friendly spot by incorporating six floors of residence-style accommodations that are ideal for multi-generational travelers. A particularly great choice for groups, the residences come equipped with kitchens, living and dining areas, and expansive balcony space. Though privately owned, the one- to three-bedroom residences can be rented through the hotel and provide guests with full access to resort amenities.
While touring the residences, Manzari shared the resort’s aim: to capture a new standard of luxury for Clearwater Beach while also applying the unique formula of personalized service and comfortable opulence for which JW Marriott properties are known.
“Our exceptional accommodations are designed to make guests feel like they’ve found a home away from home, but it’s our exceptional service that has brought our vision to life and created loyalty amongst our JW travelers,” he says.
The hotel’s residences stand out in a beach town full of condos and timeshares, but the JW Marriott’s hotel rooms are the most spacious and well-appointed in town. Guest rooms feature a soothing blend of neutral colors, natural elements, and woven textures that evoke a sense of natural, coastal luxury. Thoughtful details such as Art Deco-inspired lighting, Nespresso bars, touchscreen controls, and wall-mounted 55-inch flatscreen TVs also grace every room. The floor-to-ceiling windows and large balconies, complete with comfortable seating, keep the focus on the expansive views of Sand Key and the Gulf of Mexico.
The resort’s public spaces also exude an understated coastal vibe, starting in the lobby. There, sculptures of seagrass and waves by local artists Carrie Jadus and Mark Aeling set a serene tone. The resort’s stretch of shore isn’t the biggest in town, but its secluded location on the southern end of Clearwater Beach provides an incredibly peaceful setting. Every guest has access to two complimentary beach loungers, and service at the beach is friendly and attentive. The 11th floor rooftop pool deck showcases 360-degree views of Sand Key and the Gulf of Mexico, making it the perfect spot to take a dip or watch one of the Gulf’s legendary sunsets.
Things to do at JW Marriott Clearwater Beach for travelers of all ages
In keeping with its commitment to being a getaway for travelers of all types and ages, the JW Marriott Clearwater Beach has a variety of activities and amenities suited to both children and adults. The JW Kids Club, named the Hideaway Hangout, is a bright and open space for kids to engage in crafts, story time, games, and other activities on site. Morning and afternoon sessions feature a rotating schedule of programming, much of it focused on the area’s marine life.
For those seeking relaxation, perhaps while their kids are at the Hideaway Hangout, The Spa by JW offers a full-service menu of treatments in a soothing, minimalist environment. The locker facilities include a sauna, a steam room, and an experiential shower. While I wish the relaxation lounge had been more spacious so I could have lingered longer, I received one of the best massages of my life at the spa from a provider named Brandi.
Elsewhere, the resort’s spacious 24-hour fitness center has state-of-the-art cardio equipment, free weights, and daily fitness classes, including programs such as beach yoga that allow guests to enjoy their daily activity in the fresh air. Complimentary bikes are also available for guests to use.
Dining at JW Marriott Clearwater Beach
Dining at JW Marriott Clearwater Beach is a sophisticated experience that goes way beyond your average casual beach fare. The culinary program is led by Chef Inder Suryawanshi, who came to the property from the JW Marriott Marco Island, and Sous Chef Soumi Hazra, this year’s winner of Marriott International’s prestigious Master of the Craft culinary competition. Both chefs bring a level of expertise to the kitchen that elevates the resort’s three restaurants, all of which serve globally inspired dishes using locally sourced seafood and produce.
Latitude 28, named for Clearwater Beach’s geographic location, is the resort’s signature restaurant serving breakfast and dinner. The décor is a mix of reflective tile, woven light fixtures, and warm wood tones that set the scene for chic and glamorous evening dining. The restaurant’s Mediterranean coastal menu consists of small plates, flatbreads, spreads, and mezze, as well as steaks and seafood. Standouts such as the smoked burrata, Wagyu steak, and mint-crusted lamb are memorable twists on classics. The eggplant laban — a combination of spiced eggplant that’s lightly fried and served on a bed of garlic yogurt with turmeric — was the best eggplant dish I’ve eaten anywhere.
The 11th floor restaurant, The Deep End, commands attention with its panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as a Nikkei-inspired menu that fuses Japanese and Peruvian flavors. Dishes such as the Peruvian spiced grouper and pork bao tacos pair perfectly with the restaurant’s inventive craft cocktails. Sipping a margarita while taking in the sublime sunset views at The Deep End is the perfect way to end any day.
Eskape, the hotel’s beachfront bar and grill, serves burgers, salads, and Florida classics such as shrimp tacos. For quick meals and small bites, the JW Market is a grab-and-go coffee bar and market offering breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, and snacks.
How to make the most of a trip to Clearwater Beach outside of the resort
While the resort’s three restaurants offer plenty of variety for guests, the hotel is also walking distance to several casual eateries and beach bars. Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is a local institution serving up frozen drinks, live music, and an extensive menu of fresh seafood. Try the famous grouper sandwich, prepared a variety of ways, the fish tacos, or the jerk chicken.
For fine-dining off property, head to The Black Pearl, located seven miles away in nearby Dunedin. The restaurant only has 12 tables and offers an intimate, personalized level of service that makes it a great choice for celebrations or anniversaries. Every dish is thoughtfully prepared and presented, but don’t leave without ordering the pork belly over cheddar grits or the indulgent white truffle lobster risotto.
In general, Clearwater Beach is a walkable town with dozens of casual restaurants, tiki bars, and shopping venues that sell everything from standard tourist tchotchkes to designer apparel. The town’s reputation as a premier fishing destination is apparent as you drive along Clearwater Memorial Causeway, a road surrounded on both sides by marinas. There’s no shortage of boating tours that offer everything from sunset cruises to dolphin tours.
For families traveling with kids, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is home to bottlenose dolphins, river otters, sea turtles, and countless fish species. The Ruth and J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex houses five pools and hosts several dolphin shows daily. The Royal Conquest Pirate Ship out of nearby Madeira Beach is a fun choice for a Goonies-style adventure on the water.
As Clearwater Beach’s top attraction, Pier 60 has a large playground, pavilions, telescopes for stargazing, and a 1,060-foot fishing pier lit for night fishing. The Pier 60 Bait Shop sells bait and tackle and has equipment available for rent. Later in the day, Sunset at Pier 60 is the on-site entertainment venue offering nightly live music that begins two hours before sunset and concludes two hours after sunset.