In November 2015, I spent three nights at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Standing at 1,165.84 feet, the hotel is recognized by Guinness World Records at the tallest in the world. It is located in the city’s Business Bay District, and is just over one mile away from the Burj Khalifa. There isn’t much to do directly around the hotel, but the Business Bay Dubai Metro station is only one stop away from the Dubai Mall.
JW Marriott is a luxury brand in the Marriott chain of properties. I love to use my rewards points at properties I might not otherwise be willing to pay for. Room rates during my recent stay at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai were roughly $450 per night. Advance booking is key. A sample search for rooms in May 2016 shows rates of AED 828 per night, roughly $225 USD. You can potentially save even more money with special discounts and promotions offered by Marriott Hotels. If you make a booking directly through the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai website, I will receive a small commission that will help pay for this website.
In this blog post, I will review the wheelchair accessible features of the hotel and my room accommodation, as well as my experience staying at the property.
If you’re looking for a hotel surrounded by restaurants and shopping, the JW Marriott Marquis shouldn’t be your choice. If you plan to be active in the city, and are not afraid of using the metro, the location and property will make you very happy. I would also recommend that you have dinner in one of the hotel’s many excellent restaurants.
The JW Marriott is located within walking distance of the Business Bay metro station, which is served by the red line. Not all sidewalks between the hotel and metro station have been outfitted with curb cuts – I am working with the hotel to petition the local government to fix this. I rolled most of the 1 km distance to the metro station (just over half a mile) in the street, using my power wheelchair. The road is wide, with multiple lanes, and has a relatively low traffic load. The one major intersection does feature curb cuts, pedestrian signals, and a well-defined crosswalk
Although you’ll see the Burj Khalifa clearly in the distance, I recommend taking the metro as opposed to walking or rolling the 2.5 km distance. You’ll spend more time in the street, as construction zones have closed many sidewalks and many still do not have cur cuts. You can read more about these challenges in the article, “Roll-ability” of Sidewalks & Streets in Dubai.
Hotel & Room Accessibility
I arrived at the hotel via wheelchair accessible taxi from Abu Dhabi, in the early evening. The front entrance featured multiple revolving doors, as well as manual ones. A bellman, conveniently named John as well, opened the manual doors and escorted me to check-in.
The lobby is large and spacious. Multiple check-in desks are located along the back wall. Due to my loyalty status with Marriott, I was escorted to the Executive Lounge for check-in. More on the lounge offering later.
My reservation was for a standard room with a roll-in shower. Check-in went smoothly and I took the elevator up to my room on the seventh floor, in Tower A, room A-701. The elevator was large enough for my power wheelchair, luggage, and 3-4 additional guests.
Access is granted to the room by touch key access. The door was large, though a tad bit heavy. It opened into the room. No equipment existed to hold the door open, or delay its closing. Still, I was able to manage it on my own, with some effort. At check-in, the bellman delivered my bags to the room for me.
The room featured a king size bed. It was extremely comfortable. It sat quite high, as you can see from the photograph above. The lights on either side of the bed were controlled using a portable, touchscreen remote/tablet. This remote also controlled other features of the room, including air conditioning.
The room also featured two chairs and a desk. As you can see, there was plenty of space to move about in my wheelchair. I had no difficulty turning around, even in my large powered chair.
I borrowed a power transformer from the hotel, which allowed me to safely convert the higher electricity voltage and charge my wheelchair. I was asked to sign a slip, guaranteeing that the device would be returned upon check-out. The guarantee was for 300 AED (~$80 USD), which would have been charged to my card if I left with the device.
I set up the transformer on the desk, and was able to stretch my wheelchair charging cord over to the bed. The power outlets near to the bed were behind the nightstand and not easily accessible.
The bathroom was large and very wheelchair friendly. Pictured above is the sink, which I was able to easily roll under with my wheelchair. Towels of all sizes were within reach. The two bottles of drinking water were free to take and replenished daily by the maid service.
The bathroom’s toilet featured grab bars on the walls to its left and right. My large power chair couldn’t fit directly next to the toilet, but it was still usable. A phone and emergency alert pull cord was located next to the toilet, above the paper dispenser. A bidet shower (also known as a “bum gun” or “butt hose”) is installed next to, and within reach of, the toilet.
The bathroom contained a wheelchair accessible roll-in shower. Grab bars were attached to two of the surrounding walls. The shower contained a seat attached to the wall and a handheld shower head. A rain shower was also installed on the ceiling, which could be used as well. Drains situated on the floor throughout the bathroom collected the water, but the floor definitely remained slippery.
While I’m always happy to have access to a roll-in shower, the design of this particular shower was quite poor. The controls for the water were located behind the seat. For many of us, that’s an accident waiting to happen. It was very difficult to keep from turning off the water, or adjusting its temperature with my back. I have been in contact with the hotel, in the hopes that an adjustment could be made to the shower’s design. If you have assistance in the shower, this might not be that big of a deal to you, but it was for me as a triple amputee. If you travel with your own portable shower chair, the built-in shower seat folds up.
The Executive Lounge
The hotel features an executive lounge on the 37th floor. While I received complimentary access to the lounge for my loyalty status, guests can pay to upgrade to an executive floor rom, which includes lounge privileges.
The lounge offers a free buffet breakfast each morning, which is loaded with premium food selections. A chef will prepare omelettes at your request.
Snacks and drinks are available throughout the day, including a period of afternoon tea. A happy hour with free alcohol (beer, wine and liquor) is offered nightly from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., along with a variety of delicious hors d’oeuvres. During my stay, selections included barbecue beef and chicken, sushi and cheeseburger sliders.
Another benefit of the lounge are the agents who can answer questions about Dubai, and connect you with the concierge to make reservations for dining and activities both at the hotel and around the city. The staff were extremely helpful and friendly.
Wheelchair accessible restrooms are available in the lounge, so you won’t need to go back to your room to use the facilities.
The Pool Deck
A pool is located on the rooftop of the hotel’s mezzanine level. Although there is no accessible lift or hoist for pool access, it is a great place to spend an evening admiring the Dubai skyline. The Burj Khalifa is plainly visible in the distance. There is an outdoor bar located next to the pool, which is open late. It’s definitely worth a look!
The Vault Bar
I enjoyed spending time at The Vault, a bar which takes up the top two levels of the hotel’s Tower A. Drinks are pricey, but the views are astounding. Since my room in the world’s tallest hotel was only on the 7th floor, I was able to get to the top at the bar. Casual attire is welcome, but avoid shorts or t-shirts – you’ll feel out of place.
It is certified as the world’s tallest hotel.
For those of you looking for evidence of the record, the hotel was certified as the world’s tallest by Guinness World Records in November 2012! Dubai does everything BIG.
Aside from the design of the roll-in shower, there is nothing I could find to complain about. The hotel’s staff offer an incredible level of service, from top to bottom. The accommodations were luxurious and modern. If you can shell out the dough (or points), I highly recommend a stay at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai. You’re not likely to be disappointed. If I had to give the property a grade, I’d say “B+” – only for the shower design and the lack of sidewalk accessibility between the hotel and metro station.