Review: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort featured image

After spending a few days in Northern Vietnam following our Starlux A350 business class and Starlux A321neo business class flights, my wife and I were looking to experience the Southern and more tropical side of Vietnam with a visit to its largest island located in the Gulf of Thailand. Having long been intrigued by this fantastical looking property since first seeing pictures of it, this resort seemed like the ideal spot to unwind after a very busy itinerary leading up to this point in our trip. 

The JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort and Spa — otherwise known as Lamarck University — is a very unique property with a fun and convincing (albeit fictitious) backstory.

This backstory alleges that this property was once a great 19th-century French colonial university that had fallen into disrepair and has now been restored into a luxury resort. The designers of this property were clearly aiming to create a memorable and one-of-a-kind experience here, and for the most part, it’s executed wonderfully. 

The buildings on the property are not only themed after different university departments, but the staff also don college uniforms. There are championship banners hanging in the gym, and the property features a full-sized sports field and race track. The on-property bar is intricately designed to resemble a chemistry lab, and thousands of vintage trinkets are scattered throughout the property to celebrate its history.

It’s difficult to convey the essence of the JW Marriott Phu Quoc without seeing it for yourself. One might liken it to an otherworldly journey down the rabbit hole, where unmistakable traces of inspiration from Alice in Wonderland have vividly come to life.

The unique campus, picturesque scenery, welcoming staff, amazing pools, and opulent rooms all contributed to a very memorable stay. However, our stay wasn’t quite as perfect as we had hoped. Read on for all the details of Lamarck University, and whether it’s worth making a part of your trip to Southeast Asia.

Booking & Check-in

For our stay, we made a 5-night redemption to take advantage of the 5th night free benefit offered by Marriott Bonvoy. The total cost came to 198,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, which worked out to 39,600 Bonvoy points per night

The base-level room available for redemptions is the 1 King Emerald Bay Guest Room, which has a rate of about $450 per night during the peak winter months. I generally find it acceptable to use my points when the redemption value exceeds 1 cent per point. Given that this stay would surpass that threshold, I felt comfortable using my points for this particular stay.

However, the value of our redemption skyrocketed when, prior to our arrival, I noticed in the Bonvoy app that we had been upgraded to the Turquoise Suite — one of the best suites on the property, with a nightly rate of $1,600! The JW Marriott Phu Quoc has some of the best elite recognition I’ve ever experienced, and this set the tone for the numerous similar instances we encountered during our stay. 

I will also note that there are many days throughout the calendar where nightly redemption rates are well under 50,000 Bonvoy points, making this a particularly good use of a Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificate with a modest top-up.

You can obtain multiple Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificates by holding the various co-branded Marriott cards issued in Canada and the US, such as the Canadian-issued American Express Marriott Bonvoy card and the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business card.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card

The American Express Marriott Bonvoy card earns Bonvoy points and offers cardholders benefits including an annual free night and 15 qualifying nights towards elite status.

Check out our American Express Marriott Bonvoy card review for more details.

80,000 Marriott Bonvoy
May 6, 2024

The resort’s entrance creates an impressive introduction to this unique property, featuring two imposing bronze sculptures of the university’s varsity team mascot, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback, positioned on either side of the driveway. The hotel leans heavily into the French influence that has left its mark on Vietnam over the years, as noted by the “Bienvenue a tous Université Lamarck” carved into the base of each sculpture.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa entry driveway
Entranceway – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

We arrived at the hotel around 8:00 pm and were met by two friendly members of the staff who would be assisting us during our check-in. We were invited to sit down and enjoy a chilled mint and hibiscus tea while our check-in was finalized.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa welcome beverage
Welcome drink – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

The resort lobby is designed to emulate what was once the private library belonging to the Dean of Lamarck University, adorned with a rich collection of antique furniture, books, busts, portraits, and sports memorabilia. Marble tables and towering bookcases sat on top of intricately designed mosaic floors and giant pillars held up what seemed 30-foot-tall ceilings. Given that the entire backstory of the resort’s theme is entirely fabricated, the meticulous attention to detail is undeniably impressive.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa lobby

Marriott Bonvoy Elite members that hold Platinum status or higher are entitled to their choice of 1,000 Bonvoy points or a daily buffet breakfast at Tempus Fugit, the resort’s all-day restaurant. Naturally, we chose the daily breakfast, and as it turns out, the breakfast spread at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc is probably the most impressive breakfast buffet my wife and I have ever seen. I’ll cover the breakfast buffet in its entirety later on.

We were provided with a handy Student Book, which contains a map of the resort grounds and provides information about all of the resort’s restaurants and activities available to the guests. Along with the Student Book, we were given a voucher for two complimentary drinks at the Department of Chemistry bar in recognition of my status. 

You can view the digital version of the Student Book here.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa student book
Student Book – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

To finish up our check-in, the resort’s loyalty manager detailed all of the other amenities and perks that would be extended to us during our stay. Marriott Bonvoy members receive the following:

  • 10% discount at all food & beverage outlets (excluding room service)
  • 20% discount on laundry services
  • 20% discount on spa services
  • Complementary business amenities, including meeting-room usage

With all of that out of way, we were assigned room 2501 in the Department of Agriculture building. Our check-in agent offered to drive us to our room and provided a brief tour of the property along the way. The resort grounds are massive, and as a convenience, complimentary buggy service is available on request. Additionally, pedal bikes are provided for guests to use throughout their stay.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa map
Resort map – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Directly behind the lobby is Rue de Lamarck, the resort’s main shopping and dining thoroughfare. Most of the resort’s amenities, such as the gym, a French bakery, shops, games lounge, and spa, are located along Rue de Lamarck. Vietnamese paper lanterns are strung across Rue de Lamarck, which creates a very neat ambiance at night.

At the end of Rue de Lamarck is the beachfront, where the Pink Pearl and Tempus Fugit restaurants along with the Department of Chemistry bar are located.

Resort Cash Credit Check-In Deal

A new resort initiative is the Resort Cash Credit Check-In Deal. Essentially, you pre-purchase room charges at check-in and receive extra value depending on how much credit you buy in advance. You’ll want to make some precise calculations, though, as none of the resort credit is refundable after purchase.

jw marriott phu quoc resort credit offer

When fellow contributor Daniel checked in for his stay, ironically, this was not offered during the check-in process, but he was still able to purchase after his first night at the resort. There are a few nuances to the program, for example, the 10% food and beverage discount for Marriott Elite members does not stack with Resort Cash.

This means that if you have Platinum Elite status or higher it’s not worth buying Resort Cash unless you plan to purchase 10,000,000 VND ($550~ CAD) of credit or more. Resort Cash is also only eligible for Restaurant and Spa purchases, buying merchandise or beach supplies from the gift shop are not eligible charges to use up Resort Cash. 

However, it does stack with spa promotions, whereas the Marriott Elite member 20% spa discount does not. Daniel clarified this with reception staff before purchasing the Resort Cash, and they called the spa to confirm Resort Cash can be used to book promotional spa packages. Additionally, if you purchase Resort Cash then you are not eligible to participate in happy hour which is quite a negative impact.

As this program is brand new to the resort, be sure to clarify that the room charges you plan to make are eligible to use up your Resort Cash.


The JW Marriott Phu Quoc is situated at the southernmost point of Vietnam’s Phu Quoc Island, approximately 5 kilometers off of the Cambodian coast in the Gulf of Thailand. The property lies at the center of Emerald Bay and shares a large stretch of private access to Khem Beach along with a few neighboring resorts.

Since the resort is quite isolated from the nearest town, unless you plan on renting a car or calling for a taxi daily, you’ll likely find yourself spending nearly all of your time and meals at the hotel. There is a large development under construction in the vicinity, where you’ll find a convenience store and a few restaurants, but the options are still rather limited. 

The resort is easily accessible from the airport via a Grab taxi and costs around $13 for the 20-minute ride. Also available, is the hotel’s car service, which charges roughly $50 for a one-way trip to or from the airport. 

While the remote setting of the resort might be a disadvantage for certain individuals, it perfectly suited my wife and me. We were seeking a laid-back retreat without many activities, and this aspect aligned perfectly with our preferences for this stage of the trip. Therefore, I encourage you to keep this in mind if you are considering a resort such as this.


Free parking, which also includes complimentary valet service, is provided for all guests.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa valet and bell service desk
Valet and Bell Service Desk – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Room – 1 King Bed Seafront View Turquoise Suite

Our room was located in the Department of Agriculture, which is directly adjacent to the sports field. This building, along with the neighboring Department of Zoology building are the two closest buildings to Rue de Lamarck, which is quite convenient. On the flip side, this did result in them being the furthest buildings from the pools and beach access.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa department of zoology and agriculture
Exterior of Dept. of Zoology and Agriculture – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Various agriculture-related scenes were depicted in the entranceway to the Department of Agriculture building. Meanwhile, at the rear of the building, two Phu Quoc Ridgebacks watched over the gardens.

During the elevator ride up, we were entertained with intriguing “fun facts” from the Department of Agriculture. Upon reaching our floor, we found ourselves in an open-air hallway lined with drawings of various plant species.

The Turquoise Suite we were assigned was a corner unit located on the top floor of the building. This is one of the most eye-poppingly stunning suites I’ve ever seen. The level of opulence on display, along with the amount of space in this suite was truly a sight to behold.

Stepping inside led us directly into the main living room for the suite. Owing to its name, the room was of course finished in turquoise accents throughout the space. The furnishings, all incredibly ornate, complemented by more drawings of plant species, nicely tied the theme of the room together.

Floor-to-ceiling windows on the far side of the room flooded the space with abundant natural light, along with even more turquoise hues from the distant waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite living room 2
jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turqouise suite living room 1
Turquoise Suite living room – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Just off the living room is a small half-bath with a vanity.

A flat-screen TV is mounted on the wall dividing the living room and bedroom, seemingly as if it were a picture frame suspended from one of the numerous eye-catching dome-shaped mirrors in the suite.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite television
Turquoise Suite living room – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

The coffee machine and mini-refrigerator were tucked into a cabinet next to the entrance to the bedroom. Inside was a selection of coffee pods, teas, an ice bucket, a kettle, and some bottled water.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa minifridge and coffee machine
Turquoise Suite pantry – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Transitioning into the bedroom unveiled yet another lavishly furnished space, featuring a king-sized bed and a turquoise loveseat. Flanking the bed were dressing tables that also doubled as nightstands. More dome-shaped mirrors reflected the intricate details of the room from various perspectives.

Universal power outlets along with a USB charging port were readily accessible from the bedside.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite bedroom 1
jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite bedroom 2
Turquoise Suite bedroom – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

We used the sitting area next to the windows for our room service meals. While not a proper desk, I did also use this table to work on my laptop briefly during our stay.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite seating area
Turquoise Suite seating area – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Opposite the bed was another wall-mounted flatscreen TV, again appearing to be suspended from a dome-shaped mirror. Beneath the TV, a small desk along with some additional universal power outlets.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite bedroom television
Turquoise Suite bedroom – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

The ensuite bathroom, like many features in this room, cleverly integrates a design that allows natural light to enter from an outdoor atrium that runs the length of the building.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite bathtub
Turquoise Suite ensuite bathroom – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

The spacious bathroom features a dual vanity setup, a large freestanding tub, walk-in shower, and a separate toilet chamber.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite double vanity

The shower includes handheld fixtures mounted on each wall, along with a rainfall head mounted high above.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite shower
Turquoise Suite shower and bath – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

A very blue toilet chamber was tucked in beside the shower on one side.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite toilet
Turquoise Suite toilet chamber – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

On the other, there is a dressing and wardrobe area along with a closet. Within the closet, you’ll find the in-room safe, two bathrobes, two umbrellas, two bamboo hats, a beach tote bag, two pairs of flip-flops, as well as an iron and ironing board.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa closet with robes
Turquoise Suite closet area – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

The enormous balcony had enough seating for at least 10 people, and standing room for many more. Furnished with two large outdoor sofas and several patio chairs, it offered comfort and relaxation in abundance.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite outdoor seating 1

Perched on the top floor, the balcony provided a sweeping panoramic and unobstructed view of Emerald Bay. The thick forest of palm trees completely concealed the resort grounds below.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa turquoise suite view from balcony 4
Turquoise Suite view from balcony – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

There’s absolutely nothing to gripe about regarding this suite. It was extravagantly over-the-top in the most indulgent way possible, and I relished every moment of it. It provided far more than necessary for just my wife and me. 

I will also acknowledge that not everyone will want to stay in a themed resort and room on their beach getaway and could view it as a gimmick. However, as a one-off experience, it was thoroughly delightful, though I admit that novelties such as this have their limits and are probably best enjoyed in moderation.

Room – 1 King Emerald Bay Guest Room

During our time at the resort, I had a chance to tour the base-level 1 King Guest Room that I had originally booked for our stay. While paling in comparison to the Turquoise Suite, the 1 King Guest Room was a well-appointed space and would have been more than enough for the two of us.

A bright red loveseat was placed at the foot of the king-sized bed, facing the floor-to-ceiling windows on the opposite side of the room. A flat-screen TV was mounted in the corner of the room with a small desk placed adjacent to it.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa emerald bay guest room bedroom 3
Emerald Bay Guest Room – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Much like the Turquoise Suite, the bathroom boasted a spacious open shower, a freestanding tub, and a dual vanity arrangement.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa emerald bay guest room bathtub

The balcony provided more scenic views of the bay and was furnished with a large outdoor sofa and side table.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa emerald bay guest room balcony
Emerald Bay Guest Room balcony – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Although our stay was significantly enhanced by the upgrade to a suite, I wouldn’t have minded if we had been assigned a standard room. It had all the amenities we needed, except for an additional bathroom, which is particularly convenient when traveling with a companion.

Restaurants & Bars

There are four restaurants and one bar at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort. We visited each of them on multiple occasions, with the exception of The Pink Pearl, which we chose not to dine at. I’ve taken pictures of all the menus and you can view them here.

Although the food was generally excellent and served in generous portions, the dinner options were somewhat limited. We were mainly stuck rotating between Tempus Fugit and Red Rum each evening. Though we had the option of also dining at Pink Pearl, neither we nor nearly any other guest wanted to dine there. I’ll elaborate on the reasons shortly.

Tempus Fugit

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Complimentary Breakfast

Tempus Fugit is an all-day dining restaurant that serves a mix of Vietnamese, Japanese, and Western inspired items. As a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member, we received free breakfast each day, saving us from the daily rate of 780,000 VND ($43 CAD) per person. This net us a tidy savings of nearly $450 over the course of our stay.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa tempus fungit restaurant
 Tempus Fugit interior – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Breakfast is served from 6:30 am to 10:30 am every day and is without a doubt the resort’s standout meal. The variety and size of the buffet were unlike any other breakfast offering I’ve ever seen. It consisted of three expansive sections, each offering a comprehensive selection of Vietnamese, Japanese, and Western dishes.

While the inside is designed to replicate a university dining hall with various interesting items adorning the walls, such as architectural drawings and nautical trinkets, we opted to dine al fresco on the shaded porch overlooking the ocean.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa tempus fungit restaurant outdoor seating
Tempus Fugit outdoor seating – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

The center station of the buffet consisted of mostly cold items including fruits, salads, cheeses, nuts, dried fruits, smoked and pickled items, breads, pastries, yogurt and cold cereals, and more.

Hot items from the Western buffet offered oatmeal, baked beans, grilled vegetables, hash browns, egg frittata, and grilled chicken.

The buffet features several made-to-order stations, including an egg station where eggs are prepared in any style upon request. Additionally, there is a pastry grill where you can order French toast, pancakes, crepes, and more.

A sushi chef was preparing freshly made sushi rolls. Additionally, Miso soup and Vietnamese pho were available, although neither of us felt inclined to have a bowl of soup considering the warm outdoor temperatures.

To round out the food offerings, Vietnamese items included a congee station along with a roasted honey ham pork belly.

My wife particularly favored the eggs benedict, and we both found the freshly cut fruit and pastries absolutely divine. The amount of food available felt a little overwhelming at first, but we did our best to try as much as possible.

Juices, smoothies, and specialty coffees were all included with the buffet. We spent many mornings sipping on iced Vietnamese coffees after we finished our leisurely breakfast routine.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa tempus fungit breakfast buffet smoothies

Each day, one of the resort managers would drop by for a brief chat, inquiring about our stay. I felt like this was a very nice touch, as it seemed that everyone involved in the resort’s operations truly valued our feedback. The exceptional service from the entire staff was so friendly and personable. In fact, my wife and I still reminisce about their cheerful “xin chào!” every time they greeted us. 

Lunch & Dinner

Tempus Fugit offers an identical menu for both lunch and dinner, and we’ve had the opportunity to dine here multiple times, sampling a variety of their dishes. One evening, we enjoyed the roasted free-range half chicken, while on another occasion, we tried the clay-pot braised pork belly.

As all of the restaurants at the resort only offer bottled water, I highly recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle and using the complimentary bottled water provided in your room, as purchasing a bottle of still or sparkling water on-site costs around $10 CAD. 

In-room dining is also provided by Tempus Fugit with a slightly scaled-down menu compared to the restaurant menu, though it still includes many of the same items. We arrived late in the evening on our first day and were both tired after our flight so we ordered the wagyu beef burger and a Caesar salad to our room.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa tempus fungit room service
Room service meal – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

This was the only occasion we opted for room service, as we wanted to make the most of the 10% discount applied to restaurant dining, which as I mentioned earlier, does not extend to room service.

Red Rum

Red Rum is the typical outdoor poolside bar and grill that one would find at any resort. It serves Latin American-inspired seafood and barbeque dishes, as well as pizza and burgers. Red Rum is also the establishment from which poolside drinks and food are served from.

We stopped by here primarily for a light snack to share, such as a quesadilla or tacos, paired with a refreshing beverage. Later in the evening, we’d return for a post-dinner treat.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa red rum restaurant chocolate tres leches
Red Rum Chocolate Tres Leches – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Department of Chemistry Bar

Located on the beachfront, the Department of Chemistry is the resort’s themed cocktail bar, where the “chemists” craft signature cocktails while guests enjoy the views of Emerald Bay.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa department of chemistry exterior
Department of Chemistry exterior – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Inside, the bartenders don lab coats, and the interior is adorned with beakers, test tubes, vials, and flasks. The walls are embellished with the periodic table elements as decorative accents.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa department of chemistry interior
Department of Chemistry interior – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Our evenings usually began here as we enjoyed a couple of drinks from the happy hour 2 for 1 menu along with an appetizer before dinner. The food served here consists of the usual classic bar fare, such as chicken wings, prawns, sliders, and fish and chips. We tried the charcuterie board and crispy-fried tiger prawns.

The signature cocktails showcased exceptional creativity, often incorporating a variety of Vietnamese herbs grown directly in the garden of the JW Marriott Phu Quoc. Each drink order also came with some spiced peanuts served in test tubes, which was a neat touch.

French & Co.

French & Co. is a French deli/pâtisserie open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm each day. This was our usual lunch destination, offering a variety of coffees, pastries, artisan sandwiches, salads, and an extensive selection of both hot and cold teas.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa french & co restaurant interior
French & Co. interior – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

French & Co. offers a fantastic variety of Vietnamese banh mi. Their generous size made it convenient for us to enjoy a shared lunch while also saving some money in the process. Along with some strong air conditioning and chilled drinks, this was our favorite spot to grab a bite to eat and escape the mid-afternoon heat.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa french & co restaurant lunch

Pink Pearl

Pink Pearl is a French fine dining restaurant set in a 1920’s-era palatial oceanfront pink mansion. Positioned as the premier dining destination at the resort, it promises a highly refined culinary experience, underscored by its extravagant pricing.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa pink pearl restaurant exterior
Pink Pearl exterior – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

While I would have loved to dine at Pink Pearl at least once, neither of us were feeling particularly motivated once we saw the prix-fixe menu, which starts at $200 CAD per person. And we were far from alone on this front; throughout our stay, we saw very few guests dining here each night.

However, by all accounts, the food and service at Pink Pearl is highly regarded as one of the best restaurants in all of Phu Quoc, as evidenced by the numerous awards it has received since opening.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa pink pearl restaurant awards
Pink Pearl awards – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort


For the most part, the facilities at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc are exceptional. We divided our time between the pools and the beach for the majority of our days. Moreover, our trip to the spa was a definite highlight and well worth the visit. However, on the beach is where the resort’s most prominent issue surfaced.


I’ve heaped a ton of praise on the JW Marriott Phu Quoc thus far, and deservedly so. Unfortunately, the beach and water in Emerald Bay were a major letdown. 

Upon first glance, Khem Beach is one of the most beautiful stretches of oceanfront I’ve ever seen. The turquoise hues of Emerald Bay’s waters, coupled with gently swaying palm trees surrounded by a verdant forest backdrop, perfectly embody the essence of a tropical paradise. 

Which is why it’s such a shame to report that there is a major issue of sea debris and trash plaguing the waters and shores of Khem Beach. This isn’t a problem that is unique to the JW Marriott Phu Quoc, as this is an issue throughout Phu Quoc and Vietnam. When visiting Vietnam, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s among the world’s most severely affected countries by water pollution, making the situation on Khem Beach an unavoidable reality.

While it’s unfair to hold the resort accountable for what washes up on shore, to their credit, the hotel and the local government are aware of the issue and are actively taking measures to reduce the impact of debris washing ashore, as well as minimize any inconvenience to the guests. 

Although cleaning crews were out on the beach all day cleaning up the debris, to my eye, this appeared to be nothing more than an exercise in futility. As soon as one piece of trash was picked up, another washed ashore right behind it. All that said, the water was by no means filthy and unswimmable. We did manage to get in the ocean a few times, but it was obviously not under the most ideal set of circumstances. 

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa beach cleaning crew
Cleaning crews were on the beach all day – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Fortunately, midway into our stay, the ocean conditions (winds, currents, etc.) shifted. As a result, most of the sea debris we had been encountering had mostly disappeared. This, combined with the continued work by the cleaning crews, had the beach in much better shape for the remainder of our stay. 

I hope that both the resort and the local government can continue their efforts to address the current situation until the broader problem of water pollution in Vietnam is resolved. In the meantime, I’m finding it difficult to reconcile with the fact that this resort markets itself as a 5-star beach destination, yet has a beach that is nearly unusable.


Although the beach turned out to be a letdown, thankfully the resort has three outstanding pools, which did help to alleviate our disappointment with the situation on the beach. Two of the pools are designated for adults only, and all offer ample poolside loungers with plenty of shade or sun, depending on your preference.

Sand Pool

The Sand Pool is the main swimming pool at the resort suitable for families with young kids. This very large pool has several bridges and walkways to “private islands” around its edge for some more secluded seating.

Shell Pool

The Shell Pool is one of the adults-only pools situated directly adjacent to Red Rum. As its name would suggest, the pool is shaped like a seashell. Although not as expansive as the primary Sand Pool, the Shell Pool features a number of seats arranged in a quasi-stadium style setup. The loungers situated farther from the pool are elevated to provide a view of the beach and ocean.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa shell pool
Shell Pool – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Sun Pool

The Sun Pool is located quite far down the beach, away from the rest of the resort’s amenities. Because of this, we found this pool to be very quiet during our stay. This pool is ideal for swimming laps, which seemed to be what most people who used this pool were doing.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa sun pool
Sun Pool – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

Each pool provides towel stations, bar service, and outdoor showers. Connecting the pools is an extensive outdoor garden, creating a delightful, lush atmosphere. Overall, the pools at JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay were all fantastic, almost making up for the less-than-ideal swimming conditions at the beach.

Fitness Center

The fitness center of the resort, housed within the Department of Physical Education, also serves as the venue to highlight the illustrious history of the Lamark University Ridgebacks varsity team. Basketball lines are painted on the floor and many championship banners are hanging from the walls. Some vintage lockers and boxing equipment were incorporated into the decor to enhance the nostalgic vibes.

The fitness center not only looked neat, it also excelled as one of the better equipped facilities I’ve come across. The fitness center includes several elliptical trainers, treadmills, and stationary bikes, along with an extensive selection of free weights and exercise machines, including a Smith machine.

The fitness center also served as the meeting point for the complimentary morning jogging tours and the daily bike tours to some of the nearby attractions.

Chanterelle Spa

The spa facilities are where the resort fully embraces its Alice in Wonderland inspirations. Quotes from Lewis Carroll’s famous novel are inscribed on the walls and mushroom imagery is integrated throughout the spa.

My spouse and I had booked separate treatments and decided to arrive a little ahead of schedule to explore the spa and enjoy some refreshments before our appointments.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa chanterelle spa treatment beverages
Chanterelle Spa service – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

I booked myself just a basic 30-minute massage and found it very relaxing and quite reasonably priced once the 20% spa discount was factored in. Every treatment room is elegantly furnished with dual massage tables, a comfy sofa, and a private bathroom.

While I was waiting for my wife to finish up her treatment, I was brought some ginger tea and biscuits to snack on.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa chanterelle spa snacks
Chanterelle Spa service – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort

The Chanterelle Spa offers all the usual treatments one would expect to find at a hotel spa, such as massages, aromatherapy, steam rooms, therapy baths, and manicures/pedicures. Additionally, massage classes are available as part of the activity program.


The JW Marriott Phu Quoc offers a wide range of daily activities that include fitness, arts and crafts, and culinary experiences. Many of these activities are free for all guests, and those that do require a fee are offered at very affordable prices. 

For example, the bike tours are 100,000 VND ($5.50 CAD) and the most expensive hiking activity is 800,000 VND ($44 CAD). Other popular activities were the Mixology Class and Hoi An Lantern Workshop, which were priced at 295,000 VND ($16 CAD) and 200,000 VND ($11 CAD) respectively.

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa activity calendar

We joined one of the morning bike tours to the nearby Coconut Prison and also took part in the Vietnamese coffee workshop activity. During this, we were given a brief history of coffee production in Vietnam (2nd largest producer in the world) and shown how to brew a traditional Vietnamese coffee.

We then experimented with other varieties of coffees popular in Vietnam, including an iced coconut coffee and egg coffee.

There is also a dedicated daily calendar of activities tailored towards kids aged 6 to 12, such as pottery, origami, and more. And on the beach, watersports equipment like paddleboards and kayaks are available at no additional cost. 

jw marriott phu quoc emerald bay resort & spa paddle boards
Beach activities – JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort


I have some conflicted emotions about the JW Marriott Phu Quoc. The stunning and distinctive settings, along with the outstanding status recognition and service really made this a special place. The meticulous attention to detail and commitment to preserving the property’s “history” really contributed to a sense of discovery while here. 

However, the situation on the beach regarding the trash and debris cannot be ignored. Those who choose to stay at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc are confronted with two realities that are at odds — this is a beach resort with a far-from-ideal beach. 

Our stay was by no means ruined by this, as we thoroughly relished our time lounging at the pools and I feel the value proposition remains high for those staying on redemptions. We also appreciate how the property will cater to both guests seeking a leisurely and peaceful retreat or those desiring more active pursuits.

Overall, our experience at JW Marriott Phu Quoc was immensely enjoyable; nevertheless, a subtle hint of disappointment still lingers when reflecting on our stay.

Jeff Jamieson

Jeff Jamieson

Contributor at Frugal Flyer
Jeff stepped into the ring of points and miles in 2018, this was during his first trip to Italy where he had only just dipped his toe into what was possible with loyalty programs. After eating pizza twice a day for two weeks straight and taking in all that Tuscany of Rome had to offer he knew he was hooked on “la dolce vita” of points and miles. Always fascinated with aviation, Jeff obtained his Private Pilot’s License in 2006. Now he fuels his affection for travel and aviation by seeking out new strategies while building upon existing opportunities along with the help of his close circle of fellow travel enthusiasts.


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4 comments on “Review: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa

  1. Hey Stan

    While the breakfast is quite pricey at $45 per day. I think the breakfast here is one instance where you’ll probably feel like you got your money’s worth.

    Also consider buying some “resort bucks” to bring the cost down even further.

    Hope you have a great stay!

    • Thanks for the reply. Was thinking about the resort bucks, but since they don’t stack, I would still just get 10% off on breakfast being gold elite, correct?

      • Hey Stan

        If you purchase at least 10,000,000 VND you’ll receive at minimum a 15% bonus value, so you’ll still come out slightly ahead over elite benefit. This is assuming that you will be able to utilize the entirety of “hotel bucks” during your stay.

  2. Thanks for the timely review! Heading there in a week, also on a 4 night redemption/5th night free. I am only a lowly gold elite member so I doubt the turquoise suite is in the cards but maybe a move up to ocean views. Since I don’t get the free breakfast, do you think it’s still worth it to pay the 780k for it?