A rooftop bar and the city’s best spa are among the highlights of the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, the first true five-star hotel to open in Tampa, Florida ahead of Super Bowl LV – designed by NBWW
I usually find it kind of disorienting to stay at a hotel in the same city where I live. No matter how indulgent the thread count, it can be hard to feel truly transported when the place I receive bills and tackle mountains of laundry is just a few nagging miles away.
But during my late-December stay at Tampa’s first true five-star luxury hotel — the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, designed by Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe (NBWW) architects — it was easy enough to imagine I was someplace quite removed from the town where I spent much of 2020 confined to my neighborhood.
With the city hosting the Super Bowl this year (it’s still scheduled to happen on Feb. 7), Tampa has seen a flurry of impressive late-2020 pandemic openings, including boutique Hotel Haya in Ybor City (which pays homage to mid-century Havana and the historic neighborhood’s Cuban and Spanish roots) and the excellent new Sicilian restaurant Casa Santo Stefano.
But the Dec. 21 soft opening of the 27-story JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, located in the core of downtown’s $3.5 billion Water Street Tampa district (a multi-use project funded in part by Bill Gates), marked the arrival of the city’s first true luxury hotel and cemented a more leisure-focused future for the burgeoning corridor brimming with luxury condominiums, wellness offerings, and surprising riverfront hangout Sparkman Wharf.
The opening of the JW Marriott here and Water Street Tampa’s ongoing evolution (an EDITION hotel will eventually open in the district, too, also by NBWW) “is part of the progression of Tampa as a destination and not just a place you go because there’s an event of some type,” said Christopher Adkins, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. And after my visit to the property, I agree.
Together with its sister hotel, the Tampa Marriott Water Street across the street (designed by NBWW architects), the JW property is the official host hotel for the Super Bowl (interestingly enough, the JW has also been the temporary home of the Toronto Raptors this season — the NBA team turned the fourth-floor conference space into their practice courts, locker rooms, and offices). While the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street is expected to host private events during the Super Bowl, the hotel amenities will generally be open to guests and the public as normal.