Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Keri Stooksbury
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While contemplating the perfect way to celebrate my twin daughters’ birthday during the blistering summer in South Florida, I decided to plan a fun weekend for them that would not just leave them with lasting memories but also serve as a respite from the unforgiving heat and humidity.
That’s why I booked a room at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, which gave us access to the renowned Tidal Cove Waterpark. This popular waterpark on the resort grounds promises a good time, and resort guests have complimentary access to it as part of the resort fee. In contrast, non-resort guests are required to purchase admission tickets.
Since the hotel unveiled its plans for the Tidal Cove Waterpark grand opening in 2019, I have been yearning to check it out for myself.
Let’s take a look at this property and see what it has to offer.
The Mediterranean-inspired JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa is nestled between the vibrant cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The resort is discreetly tucked away just steps from the revered Aventura Mall, the third-largest shopping mall in the U.S.
Aventura is most known for the Aventura Mall, which is a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike, but the beaches of Sunny Isles and Miami Beach are only a short drive away
The distance between the resort and Miami International Airport (MIA) is around 19 miles. Under typical traffic conditions, it takes roughly 40 minutes to get to the hotel, but it could take much longer if you drive during rush hour.
Flying into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), 12 miles from the resort, is your best option. This trip typically takes 30 minutes, but it could take much longer if heavy traffic is northbound on I-95.
Before I booked my stay at the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa, I compared the cash rates and Marriott Bonvoy points rates directly on the Marriott website and then went to Amex Travel to see if Amex’s Fine Hotels + Resorts (FHR) program rate was close.
Since the resort is a member of Amex’s FHR program, which grants elite-like benefits to cardholders of The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, or Centurion® Card from American Express at more than 1,100 properties worldwide, I always check Amex Travel before booking a hotel stay if I’m not using points to book a stay.
I only have Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, which probably would not get me any room upgrades or other highly-valuable perks. I knew that if cash rates were the same, I’d book the Amex FHR rate to get extra perks like room upgrades, daily breakfast for 2, and noon check-in, to name a few.
Looking at about a month in advance, the lowest rate I could find for our 1-night stay was $494, including taxes and fees, for a double room with 2 queen beds. Cash rates generally range from $151 during the low season to $815 per night over the holidays.
Award nights for a standard king room started at 59,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night for our stay, which was a reasonable amount. However, I hoped to save my balance for a future stay.
So the final step was to compare the Amex FHR rate to the $494 nightly rate I saw with Marriott and determine how I would book my stay. The lowest Amex FHR rate for a standard room for our date was $419!
However, the price did NOT include the $68 resort fee — which would total $487 per night! I’d save $7 by booking through Amex Travel instead of direct with Marriott (a first for me!), but I’d also receive valuable added benefits such as:
To commemorate my twins’ birthday, our family of 2 adults, 2 kids, and 1 infant opted for the Junior Suite. This room type offers an additional 200 square feet compared to a standard room, albeit at a higher cost of approximately $110 more per night for our stay. We found the additional cost of the extra space to be worthwhile as it provided us with a greater level of comfort.
I booked my 1-night stay through Amex Travel with the Amex Business Platinum card to earn 5x points per $1 spent on my prepaid hotel booking.
While the $68 resort fee per night is high, booking an award night or finding good rates will save you a lot of money since waterpark admission fees range from $55 to $500 per person, depending on the time of year you visit. The resort fee includes daily access to Tidal Cove Waterpark, the relaxation lounge at the spa, the driving range, use of the resort’s bikes, the fitness center, fitness classes, and Wi-Fi.
From our house in Fort Lauderdale, the journey to the resort took around 40 minutes with no traffic. You’ve arrived at the hotel when you drive past the entry gate and see the enormous water fountain feature flanked by palm trees.
I had heard that hotel guests could use the waterpark on both the day they checked in and checkout day, so we timed our arrival at the hotel just before noon to spend as much time as possible enjoying the waterpark.
Since I booked through the Amex FHR program, one of the many valuable benefits I was eligible for was a 12 p.m. check-in (if a room is available). I was hoping for access to the room so we could leave our stuff there, change into our swimsuits, and go straight to the waterpark.
The check-in line was lengthy and moved very slowly. While waiting in line, it became obvious that the hotel was popular among locals, particularly families with children.
In addition, the hotel was hosting a women’s leadership conference featuring celebrity hosts. It made the resort feel extremely crowded even as we had just arrived.
We were eventually called to the check-in counter after waiting about 30 minutes in line. At the front desk, an associate welcomed us and handed me an FHR program sheet that explained all the benefits we were entitled to during our stay.
Unfortunately, our room wasn’t ready yet, so the front desk employee advised us to enjoy the waterpark while leaving our bags in storage with a bellman. He handed me a property map, and we were on our way to the waterpark with our bare necessities in hand.
I had hoped that our room would be ready in an hour, but due to how busy the hotel was, it wasn’t until 3 p.m. that I received a call telling me we could head to the front desk to retrieve our keys.
After a few hours at the waterpark, we walked back inside to the front desk, picked up our keys, and went to our room, which was located on the fourth floor of the Jasmine tower. The Jasmine tower, one of the hotel’s 4 tower structures, happens to be the one with the rooms closest to the entrance to the waterpark.Hot Tip:
Waterpark admission fees can be quite high, especially on weekends, often exceeding $100 per person. In instances like this, it can be more cost-effective to consider booking a hotel room, which includes waterpark access for registered guests, rather than purchasing day passes separately.
Let’s check out what the JW Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa offers, from its world-class waterpark to its country club facilities.
The main attraction at the JW Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa is Tidal Cove, which holds the distinction of being the first and only hotel-based waterpark in Miami.
The $68 resort fee covers admission to Tidal Cove for resort guests. Tidal Cove is open to non-resort guests, but tickets must be purchased separately. The admission price for non-resort guests to Tidal Cove ranges from $50 to $500 per person on certain weekends and holidays. Children under 3 are free.
The Tidal Cove Waterpark has a 60-foot tower with 7 waterslides. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, and the lines to enjoy some more adventurous slides were long. None of us wanted to wait more than 30 minutes to go on a single waterslide, so we decided the next morning we’d be among the first guests at the waterpark to avoid the lengthy queues.
We arrived at the waterpark the next morning at 10 a.m. Due in large part to the assurance of a 4 p.m. checkout granted through our Amex FHR reservation, we could enjoy the attractions with fewer lines since many guests had already checked out.
The first FlowRider Triple surf machine in the country is at Tidal Cove. Before riding the waves, guests must watch a video and sign a waiver.
The slow-moving lazy river was anything but lazy when we got in, mostly because there were so many people in it simultaneously. It felt a lot like driving on I-95 in Miami during rush hour.
There were cabanas for rent all over the pool. These had flat-screen TVs, personal safes, filled minifridges, and more. Cabanas are very popular and fill up quickly, especially on the weekends, so book as soon as you can if you’re interested.
The waterpark featured a safe space for the little ones — Kids Cove, a 4,000-square-foot kids’ swimming pool, and an emoji-inspired aquatic playscape. We spent much time here with our 1-year-old daughter; our twins also enjoyed it.
As of August 31, 2023, Tidal Cove is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the attractions running daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hours vary seasonally, so make sure to check the Tidal Cove website for the most current hours. If you want to skip the long lines for the exhilarating water attractions, you should arrive at the waterpark at opening time. The wait, if any, will be minimal.
The resort featured 2 distinct pools, one of which was oriented toward families with children and was located at Tidal Cove. The family-friendly pool operating hours were the same as the waterpark.
The other pool was adults-only in the hotel’s courtyard, perfect for sunbathing and relaxation. It’s open daily from sunrise to sunset.
The resort’s âme Spa and Wellness Aventura was a luxurious facility that spanned 3 floors.
It offered many services, including a full-service spa and a beauty salon.
Since we were only staying for 1 night, we didn’t have enough time to indulge in a spa treatment, much to my wife’s disappointment.
The resort offered a spacious 3,600-square-foot gym equipped with state-of-the-art strength and conditioning equipment and various machines for guests to use.
It also provided a variety of weekly classes to members and guests. These classes included H.I.I.T., Indoor Cycling, Total Body Workout, Zumba, Yoga, Circuit Training, Strength Upper & Lower Body, and Water Aerobics.
Registration was required for all classes, as classes have limited space. However, fitness classes were complimentary for hotel guests. The fitness center operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you enjoy golfing, you can tee off on 2 renowned 18-hole golf courses on the premises or practice your golf skills on the state-of-the-art driving range.
These courses were originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and have since been enhanced by Raymond Floyd. The Miller Course and Soffer Course are 2 golf courses that provide a challenging experience for golfers of all skill levels. The Soffer Course is known for hosting LPGA and PGA events.
The resort offered complimentary bikes for guests who want to leave their car parked and venture to the nearby Aventura Mall or enjoy a quick outdoor cycling workout.
Valet parking was available at the hotel for $50 per night plus tax, including unlimited in and out privileges.
The hotel also offered a self-parking option for $25 per night. However, based on my observations, most guests seemed to want to valet their vehicles.
Complimentary Wi-Fi was provided to all guests and could be accessed in rooms and public areas. The Wi-Fi in my room and on the grounds was consistently excellent, with no connectivity issues during my stay.
A friend had stayed at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa a week before us. She had also booked the Junior Suite and sent me photos, so I was excited to get to my room (#1419) and check it out.
The rooms at the resort are in 4 towers: Jasmine, Orchid, Hibiscus, and Magnolia. There are 685 guest rooms and suites, ranging from 500 to 2,400 square feet.
The Jasmine tower, where our room was located, was the closest to the waterpark entrance, so I already knew it was the ideal location for us. However, all the towers are extremely convenient for all the resort amenities.
When I opened the room door, I knew I’d made the correct choice by paying a bit more ($110) for additional space, as we went from a 500-square-foot 2-queen bedroom to a 700-square-foot Junior Suite.
The Junior Suite had an elegant and simplistic feel to it.
It featured a comfortable sitting area with a sofa bed, round table, and a coffee table.
The lovely French doors opened onto an attractive panorama of the golf course and the high-rise buildings of Aventura.
By the TV was a note from the hotel manager thanking me for making my reservation through Amex FHR and some chocolates that only lasted a split second before we devoured them.
When booking a suite, I always prioritize rooms with wall separators to divide the main room from the living room space. While we didn’t have this sort of room arrangement here, the open-spaced layout produced a feeling of spaciousness that suited all of us.
Our luxurious king bed was comfortable and had an end-of-bed bench.
The bed was flanked by 2 elegant nightstand tables on either side with outlets for charging electronic devices, lamps, and hotel phones.
The television in the bedroom was mounted on a wall unit with the dresser below for storage space. It had streaming capabilities, which, of course, my daughters enjoyed having available as they could watch YouTube and Netflix.
For our 1-night stay, we didn’t use the closet much, but the room had 2 of them, equipped with bath robes, slippers, additional pillows, an ironing board, and extra storage space.
A Keurig machine with coffee pods, 2 water bottles, an ice bucket, and snacks for purchase were available on a console against the wall.
A minifridge underneath the console was filled with refreshments and alcoholic drinks for purchase.
The marble bathroom was a delightful touch of glamour. Ours featured a tub and shower.
Beautifully designed, the bathroom featured a double sink and elegant marble counters that perfectly complemented the theme.
For seclusion, the shower featured an enclosed door inside the bathroom and was separate from the bathtub.
If a soaking tub is more your style, turn on the water and add bubbles (rubber ducky not included).
I always appreciate a hotel bathroom design with the toilet area separated from the rest of the bathroom by a door.
The bathroom featured Aromatherapy Associates bulk toiletries for the shower and single-use for the double sink, a brand curated for and commonly found at JW Marriott properties.
While the hotel only had a few on-site restaurants, these establishments packed a strong punch in quality.
Corsair was a casual eatery at the resort that offered contemporary cuisine.
This restaurant was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and featured an American-inspired kitchen and bar.
We ate here on the first day, and I was very pleased with the food.
We all loved our dishes, including the lobster roll, mahi mahi tacos, and salmon and chicken breast for the kids. Every dish we ordered at Corsair was better than we expected.
The restaurant was open for Sunday brunch, a popular choice among locals. On other days, Corsair was open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The last time I dined at Bourbon Steak was 15 years ago, and it was a memorable meal.
The award-winning steakhouse features a wood-burning grill and serves perfectly prepared steak cuts, fresh seafood, and over 1,000 fine wines.
The restaurant also served as the hotel’s breakfast buffet location each morning. So while we didn’t enjoy an incredible steak at Bourbon Steak, we did have breakfast here. However, since we used the Amex FHR program to reserve our hotel, we were treated to daily complimentary breakfast for 2. We paid a total of $47 for my twin girls, which was $19 per child plus taxes. Children 3 and under were free.
The food wasn’t anything special, but it had the normal buffet items like an omelet station, fresh fruit and baked goods, and hot items from the spread.
Breakfast was available daily from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and cost $38 plus tax per adult and $19 plus tax per child.
Bourbon Steak offers an outstanding dining experience with a touch of elegance. You can indulge in a delicious meal at its dinner service, available Monday through Thursday and Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Soff’s is a family-friendly lobby bar conveniently situated just a few steps from the reception desk. When we arrived for check-in during the middle of the day, we noticed that this stunningly beautiful space was unoccupied.
In the evening, I visited the front desk to inquire about something and noticed that Soff’s was quite busy, with many parents savoring handcrafted cocktails while their children enjoyed small bar snacks. Sadly, we were too tired from spending the day at the waterpark, so we didn’t get to try a hand-crafted cocktail from Soff’s.
Soff’s was open Monday through Thursday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The Starbucks on-site was in the same tower as the spa and fitness center. During our visit, the hotel’s location was crowded with resort guests and locals, resulting in a very long wait for a cold beverage or hot coffee.
Starbucks was open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for those willing to wait.
Aside from the resort’s eateries, hotel guests may enjoy a delicious meal or a refreshing drink within the Tidal Cove waterpark.
In front of the FlowRider Triple surf ride was the Surf House Bar & Grill, which served up market-fresh fare, including salads, sandwiches, seafood, and more. Families enjoying lunch here and the lively bar scene made this restaurant the place to be at Tidal Cove during our visit.
Surf House Bar & Grill was open each day of the week from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sandwiches, pizza, light afternoon snacks, gelato, and other sweets were available in the quick-service restaurant Freestyle. Most people I saw frequenting Freestyle were kids between 5 and 12 who wanted to cool down with a scoop of creamy gelato.
Freestyle was open each day of the week for lunch and snacks from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and also served breakfast items from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. daily.
Tidal Cove Waterpark had 2 food trucks known for serving tacos, king-sized sandwiches grilled to perfection, and other mouthwatering dishes.
I didn’t have a chance to sample either, but because I love food trucks, I will eat something from both the next time I’m at Tidal Cove Waterpark.
Both food trucks were open from Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If you’re having a lazy day by the pool and want to order from your lounge chair, waitstaff will often check on customers and take orders.
You can enjoy fresh food and drinks without leaving your sunny spot by the pool and waterslides.
My initial impression of service was positive since the valet staff was friendly and attended to our family when we arrived at the resort. The service wasn’t particularly welcoming at check-in. Still, I remember thinking that was because the front desk personnel were too busy with the seemingly never-ending check-in line to be overly courteous.
The restaurant service was praiseworthy, with attentive and friendly waitstaff at Corsair and Bourbon Steak. In addition, the service at Tidal Cove Waterpark was fantastic. Our assigned pool attendant Dora and the other Tidal Cove waitstaff members provided excellent service by being attentive and frequently checking on us at our pool loungers to see if we needed anything.
In general, the service quality at the resort surpassed the typical levels seen in South Florida.
The JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa offered an enjoyable time, despite our short stay. Our Junior Suite was spacious; however, the hotel rooms could use a more distinctive design while showcasing elegance.
The resort accommodates all types of visitors. From thrilling waterslides at Tidal Cove Waterpark to world-class golf and a spa and wellness center, this resort allows guests to truly personalize their vacation. Even with 2 top-rated restaurants and additional on-site food and beverage options, the location behind the posh Aventura Mall was great for access to additional shops and eateries. However, other options in Miami or Fort Lauderdale might be worth considering if you are looking for a resort within walking distance of a beach.
The information regarding the Centurion® Card from American Express was independently collected by Upgraded Points and was not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The closest public beach to the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa is Sunny Isles Beach, 3 miles away.
The JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa imposes a $68 resort fee on all reservations. This fee includes daily access to the following amenities: Tidal Cove Waterpark, the relaxation lounge at the spa, the driving range, resort bikes, the fitness center, fitness classes, and Wi-Fi.
As of August 31, 2023, Tidal Cove is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the attractions running daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hours vary seasonally, so make sure to check the Tidal Cove website for the most current hours.
Yes, JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa guests receive complimentary Tidal Cove Waterpark access.
The resort is located 19 miles from Miami International Airport (MIA) and 12 miles from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
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