By Brandon Schultz
If fantasy tops your vacation goals, there’s no more surreal haven of ultra-luxury than the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa in Vietnam. Here, renowned architect Bill Bensley has curated a collegiate experience so detailed that the property has no General Manager; instead, the Dean is in charge. Decked with thousands of authentic antiques repurposed to tell the tale of fictional Lamarck University, this sprawling campus is a getaway within a getaway, spinning the yarn of a colonial era university off the impossibly enchanting Emerald Bay on the island of Phu Quoc. With 234 rooms and suites ranging from the merely spectacular to the impossibly opulent, it’s the impeccable detail in design and story-telling that sets the fairytale in motion at the JW Marriott.
Book a relaxing treatment at the award-winning Chanterelle – Spa by JW to ease into a luxurious escape. Chanterelle’s Alice in Wonderland themed facilities (focused on the more mushroom-induced moments of the tale) simultaneously soothe and invite you down the rabbit hole toward the adventure that awaits elsewhere throughout the JW Marriott.
Outside, continue a quiet unwind by lounging at the shell pool, the whirlpool, or the sun pool overlooking palm-lined Khem Beach. Later, stroll the Rue de Lamarck, shopping under Chinese lanterns before grabbing a pastry and some sweets at the French café.
When evening falls, head to the Department of Chemistry Bar to test concoctions at a beachfront laboratory that could only belong to a Great Uncle Ridgewell IV, the jolly scientist who’s used to the best but loves a cheeky chuckle (check out the restrooms here, as you should throughout the property).
Guest rooms are organized by department, ranging from Herpetology and Ichthyology to Astronomy and Oceanography, and are themed accordingly. When simple extravagance isn’t enough, rooftop suites and palatial villas complete with private pools and gardens are available. No matter your booking, your room alone will be an adventure, filled with original art and curious antiques waiting to be examined as they shed some light on, or raise more questions about the legends of Lamarck University.
This JW Marriott is naturally equipped with a Department of Physical Education with 24-hour access to equipment and free weights, and offering complimentary fitness classes. For more experiential exercise, the resort also offers kayaking, boating, snorkeling, and hiking and biking trails.
Off the property, explore the floating restaurants in the fishing village of Ham Ninh, once believed to be home to a beautiful mermaid, or visit the Duong Dong Night Market for a unique culinary and sensory experience particularly thrilling for seafood lovers.
Like the Smithsonian, the Vatican, or even Epcot Center, not even a week would be enough time to unearth all the treasures packing the tables, walls, ceilings, and halls of Lamarck University . . . uh . . . that is . . . the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa.
This is a resort that leaves the real world far behind with an entirely immersive story you’ll never want to close the book on.