That’s what Hegarty likes to hear. The employees went through training when the hotel became a JW property and were taught to always be on the lookout to satisfy a guest’s slightest need or request. Guest service associates circulate the lobby with iPads ready to show people how to find the nearby eagle sanctuary, check tee times for golf courses or print boarding passes. (They stand with arms clasped behind their backs so they are more approachable than with arms crossed.) New Yorker Michael Phillips, in town for a convention, came down with a cold and had to miss his group’s final banquet.
“I was sitting in my room and there was a knock on the door,” he said. “Someone from the hotel had brought up a full plate of food from the dinner. I had never heard of that.” It’s not a bad place to be stuck in the room. Each of the JW’s 726 rooms is now updated with sleek wood and smooth marble throughout. Suites boast wrap-around balconies, two refrigerators and a separate dressing area, with multiple closets including one just for shoes. After guests make a reservation, Stella Spera, the hotel’s vacation planner, contacts them to go over the menu of options from water scooter eco-tours, a massage or stargazing through a telescope on the beach. She’ll also arrange a airboat tour of the Everglades, a 40-minute drive away. Other guests fly for 45 minutes to Key West or take a 3 1/2 hour ferry there. Before the resort converted to a JW, Spera arranged for a sand sculptor to create a hand holding a ring box for a guest who proposed on the beach. Monograms are another popular sculpture for birthdays and anniversaries. She’s hidden Easter eggs for one guest’s children to spontaneously come across on the beach and decorated a Christmas tree for another family’s room. “We do things like a private dinner on the beach or cake and champagne in a cabana a lot,” she said. Some conference attendees have walked in their rooms to find their name etched on a bar of soap and carved into wooden coat hanger. (That’s when it’s clearly okay to take them home.)
Guests enjoy the spa and its private pool.
Photograph by Katherine Snow Smith
Fly Away. Vol. 10, No. 5. Copyright 2017.