Traveling the world

JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Flanked by enormous golden Ridgeback dogs, the entrance of the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa will make you feel as though you’ve entered a magical place… and you have.

This 5-star resort is truly spectacular. Built upon the concept of a mythical university, the “campus” is an architectural wonder by Bill Bensley. It’s been described by Helen Coffey of The Independent as Alice in Wonderland meets Disney meets Tim Burton, and that’s a pretty accurate description. But don’t think tacky… think upscale and mind-blowingly decorated.

Apparently, Bill Bensley is a bit eccentric and quite a shopaholic to boot, which turns out to be an inspired combination. He actually shopped for items for this property for years and shipped antiques in from all over the world to create this magnificent masterpiece. He reportedly personally placed each item of décor, and the result is an absolutely one-of-a-kind aesthetic. You’re definitely not going to forget this property.

JW Phu Quoc bell desk
Bell desk

The lobby alone with make your jaw drop. Passing by the “bell desk” with nearly 50 different bells curated from all over the world, you are led into the “library” with countless antique books and welcomed with a cool drink and even colder cloth, which you will need since “winter” temperatures are in the high 80s with 90% humidity. But who cares if you are sweating when there’s so much to look at?  Let the picture taking commence! 

JW Phu Quoc staff
Welcome drinks and one of the many wonderful staff – we absolutely loved all the different uniforms!

The Room

After checking in, you will be taken in a golf cart to your room. Rooms are decorated according to the “department” they are housed in (Department of Zoology, Department of Anthropology, etc). Our room, 2302, was in the Department of Agriculture, and although having pictures of vegetables on your walls might sound a bit odd, it was very elegant and chic!

I was really really really hoping for an upgrade based on my Platinum Marriott status. From the pictures on the website, the suites look incredible. Because we were there over Christmas, there was no availability. But I have to say, even the “standard” room did not disappoint! It’s stunningly decorated, and we had to use panorama setting on the camera to even begin to capture the giant bathroom!

To die for bathroom! You can open the shade for light, revealing a gorgeous hanging plant as well.

Then the pièce de résistance: the balcony. Hands down my favorite balcony ever! We love ourselves some private outdoor space, and that is exactly what you get here.

Balconies are set into the building, so you have complete privacy. They are also huge and include a very comfortable day-bed and (there’s more?!) a ceiling fan! I’m telling you, they’ve thought of everything! They even provided a mosquito plug-in to keep those pesky critters away.

Tip: If you value privacy the way we do, be sure to request a room not on the ground floor. While those rooms have direct access to the pool and beach, people walk right by and can easily see into your room. 

UPDATE: We returned to the property in 2023 and were fortunate to get a suite upgrade! We loved it! The décor of this property remains our favorite thing about it. Unfortunately, with staff turnover, the service that we had previously raved about has gone downhill a bit, and they must have lost their fabulous pastry chef as well. Hopefully, with time and training, the service will get back on track. That’s not at all to say it was terrible. It just didn’t wow us in the way it had before.

Sunset Seekers Beware!

Just so you’re not disappointed, the position of the rooms, balconies, and resort in general is set up for sunrise not sunset. It’s not a sunset destination. It is, however, perfect for early morning coffee or tea and curling up with a good book.

Phu Quoc sunrise
Sunrise over Emerald Bay

Tempus Fugit: Breakfast

In 2019, Breakfast at Tempus Fugit (Time Flies in English) was incredible. The quality of it had blown us away, and was one of the things we had been looking forward to enjoying again. We didn’t take pictures when we returned in 2023, and were honestly a bit disappointed with the quality. Even the soups were not as good as they had been.

There is still a good selection of bread, cooked-to-order crepes, waffles, pancakes, French toast, eggs of every kind, a pho station (alternating daily – could be beef, fish, or chicken), a Korean section, Japanese section, several meat carving stations, a selection of ice cream, and more!

fruit station

One of our favorite things was their extensive fruit section… complete with someone to cut it all for you! It’s a great way to try all of those exotic fruits that might otherwise be intimidating. Jackfruit is now T’s new favorite fruit.

The Department of Chemistry

With staff in lab coats serving drinks and light meals, the Department of Chemistry is a beautiful place to lay back on a daybed (the ones in the back swing!) and look out at the white sand and impossibly blue water.

We enjoyed the Mixology class during both of our stays, and we’d do it again. Prices have changed a little with inflation, so don’t go by the price on the menu below. The second time around, we got to choose from any drink on the menu, which was fun!

Happy hour is 5-7pm daily.

Pink Pearl: French fine dining

pink pearl phu quoc

From what we heard on our second visit to this JW, the décor outshines the food. We actually had reservations for Valentine’s Day and cancelled because it was a bit too seafood heavy. As that was the only day they were open during our stay, we’ve yet to eat at the Pink Pearl.

French & Co: Afternoon Tea

French and Co. tea time

Do it! The Afternoon Tea was excellent (in 2019 not sure about now)! This is a fun way to try lots of bite-sized deliciousness. It comes with unlimited tea and coffee, so it’s also an opportunity to sample various fun beverages. Our friendly waitress, Trinh, encouraged us to take our time and to order as many drinks as we’d like. If you haven’t had Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, you’re in for a treat! (You can also order this at breakfast.)

There is also an à la carte menu with lots of tasty choices, as well as pastries and other packaged goodies.

Trinh, who we also saw at breakfast!

If I’m being picky, I will say that although the ambiance at French and Co is on par with the gorgeous and detail-oriented décor the resort is known for, we were a little disappointed with the seating. The first place we sat was oddly proportioned… like your legs won’t fit under the table – the chair is too high, or the table is too low. When Trinh saw us sit, she suggested we move to a more comfortable place, and we did… but that was at two seats around a column. Although more comfortable, staring at a structural column wouldn’t be my favorite view. Other seating involves a large family-style table, which also isn’t ideal for an Afternoon Tea for 2 and was being used for a smoothie-making class.

Rue de Lamarck: Main Street

On this Disney-esque street, you’ll find little shops selling local coffee and…yeah, we don’t know what is in the shops; we don’t shop. Pretty sure there were hats and colorful scarves, but we didn’t actually venture inside any of the shops except for the coffee one. If you are in the market for some luwak coffee or a nice coffee grinder, you can find them both here.

We wish there were a convenience store on Rue de Lamarck or anywhere on the property, but no such luck.

JW Marriott Phu Quoc Activities

There is plenty to keep you as busy as you want to be at the resort. The beach is stunning, and it’s very shallow for quite a ways out. Kayaks and stand up paddle boards are complimentary. There are hammocks, lounge chairs, and daybeds to relax in and plenty of shade. There are 3 pools including the iconic shell pool, which is adults only.

When I first saw the university schedule, it reminded me of a cruise. There are different things going on at different locations all throughout the day, and many things are complimentary! We did: Beer Yoga (Have you heard of this?! You literally drink beer while doing yoga!), Thai Stretching (you must come with a partner), and Flow Yoga.

Our paid activities were, as mentioned above, Afternoon Tea and the Mixology class, both of which we’d recommend.

In addition to the classes and scheduled activities, you can always stop in the Lamarck Lounge to play pool, ping pong, or foosball, and the Department of Physical Education has all the workout equipment you could want.

Phu Quoc game room

Of course, there are things to do off property as well, like ride the world’s longest cable car to Pineapple Island. Complimentary bike tours can take you several places, but for us, it was simply too hot and humid to even consider.

We loved the university campus theme and bright colors

We were more than happy just staying at the resort. Since we’ve been to Vietnam several times, we didn’t feel bad just relaxing, and you shouldn’t either! A great vacation is whatever you want it to be whether it’s go-go-go sightseeing or simply unwinding on a gorgeous beach with a cold drink in your hand.

passion fruit drinks beach side

Top 5 Tips for a Great Stay at JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa

  • Contact the concierge before you arrive to get a detailed schedule of activities and classes. In the spirit of a university, they will send you a timetable complete with both complimentary and fee-based “classes”. They are booked on a first come first serve basis, and some are limited to just a few couples, so sign up asap!
  • Definitely, absolutely, 100% sign up for the complimentary University Tour. You will see parts of the resort you’d never see without it (private dining spaces in Pink Pearl, for example), and have I mentioned that everything is stunning?! You will want to see everything you can! Our second time around, we did it again. During the tour, we were told that you got a special surprise if you sat in the Secret Spot, but after hanging out for 30 minutes, nada. Not sure what that is about, and we didn’t want to be complainers, so we didn’t mention it or ask. Perhaps you’ll have better luck. We also tried the QR code treasure hunt (see back of student book), but it didn’t work. Maybe our devices are too old? The app was glitchy. We just gave up without asking about it.
  • BYO wine and snacks.  I was really surprised that the resort does not have some sort of convenience store for beverages and snacks. In the restaurants, wine choices are quite limited (and, as is true at every resort, incredibly overpriced), and since each person can bring up to 4 bottles of wine into Vietnam in their checked luggage, why not bring your favorite to enjoy on your balcony?
  • Download the Marriott app and use the chat feature for any requests. We always got friendly responses very quickly.
  • Be prepared to take lots of pictures! Whether that means you should bring an extra SD card or multiple outfit changes, you will surely take frameable pictures here!

How to Get to the JW Marriott Phu Quoc

Getting to the JW Marriott Phu Quoc could not be easier. Flying into the Phu Quoc airport, exit, pick up some cash at the ATM (located under the stairwell near the taxis), and jump in either a Mai Linh or Phu Quoc taxi (both recommended by the hotel). Using the meter, it cost just about 400,000 dong in 2023 for a one-way trip (It was close to 360,000, but we rounded up to 400,000. Leaving, we used Grab, which was significantly cheaper.


We’ve stayed in amazing properties all over the world, but I can honestly say the JW Marriott Phu Quoc is in the top 3 for sure. (The others being an overwater bungalow in Moorea, French Polynesia and a room with a private plunge pool in Koh Samui, Thailand.) Having now been twice, we would still come again!

Vicariously yours,

E (and T)

p.s. If you think staying at a property like this is out of your reach, think again. We are far from rich, and in fact, we stayed here entirely on points! To learn about how to travel for free on points (and see some pics of those overwater bungalows and the Koh Samui plunge pool!), check out our post on credit card points and how we afford to travel on teachers’ salaries.

FYI: We were not compensated in any way for this or any other review on our site, nor do we currently have any affiliations. If you found this useful, share freely on social media!