BETHESDA, MD.—JW Marriott, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio of 30 hotel brands, recently announced the debut of three herb gardens envisioned and planted by renowned landscape designer Lily Kwong as part of the brand’s JW Garden program. Kwong, whose reverence for nature comes to life through her breathtaking botanical installations, is the founder of Studio Lily Kwong, a next-generation landscape design studio with a mission to reconnect people to nature. JW Marriott is guided by similar principles, with a commitment to mindfulness that allows guests to be present in mind, nourished in body and revitalized in spirit—pillars that directly align to the JW Garden experience. Kwong’s JW Garden projects are currently growing at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa; JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa; and JW Marriott Essex House New York.
Rooted in Marriott family tradition, the JW Garden is inspired by founder J. Willard Marriott who took daily nature walks, as well as his wife Alice, who grew fruits, vegetables, and herbs for her legendary Sunday night dinners. Today, JW Marriott hotels around the world grow fresh produce and herbs in their own JW Garden, which are used in recipes, cocktails, oils and more.
“There is a synergy that exists between JW Marriott’s point of view on well-being and Lily Kwong’s passion for bringing people back to nature,” said Bruce Rohr, Global Brand Leader, JW Marriott. “Our JW Garden program invites guests to enjoy serene spaces and find balance while staying with us—the garden instantly acts as a respite for the mind and spirit and later nourishes the body through its gifts. Lily is further elevating the JW Garden experience and we cannot wait for guests to enjoy her vision.”
The JW Garden Interpreted by Lily Kwong
Studio Lily Kwong incorporated sustainable practices in each JW Garden including the use of repurposed, low-emission materials such as stucco; water-conserving techniques such as drip irrigation and mulching; and the omission of spray pesticides and fungicides common in commercial gardens. In addition to the gardens she has planted, Kwong’s expertise will be shared through a JW Garden Toolkit, which will be shared with other JW Garden projects around the world.
Providing a thoughtful, multi-sensory experience, while also supporting the hotel’s culinary programs, Kwong and her team centered each JW Garden around aromatic herbs. A signature herb was chosen for each to be harvested and used throughout the guest experience—from garnishes and butters in the kitchens to oils and scrubs at the spas. This was the first time Studio Lily Kwong has built gardens with herbs at their core and the result is a trio of traditional kitchen gardens with a twist, blending mindful moments such as a meditative pathway through olive trees at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa and Shou Sugi Ban benches inside the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa. To further honor the collaboration and tie back to the mission of the JW Garden program, JW Marriott will donate to one of Lily’s favorite charitable organizations in each destination.
“An herb garden is a beautiful portal to reconnect us back to the land and our senses,” said Lily Kwong. “Our JW Garden projects were designed to honor traditional kitchen gardens, but Studio Lily Kwong’s artistic approach to plant life adds unique and unexpected dimensions to each project. We are thrilled that JW Marriott guests will not only enjoy our gardens’ beauty, but also their bounty. Our greatest aspiration is that our work might inspire some guests to go home and grow their very own herb garden.”
Description: Inspired by the diverse landscape of the California desert, Kwong and her team used native plants and edible herbs chosen for their therapeutic properties. With organically shaped garden beds that morph into hidden seating, the garden features peaceful walking paths and shade trees to mitigate the desert heat, inviting guests to rest and reflect. The garden also features a planting palette of endemic sages, desert marigold, milkweed, and wildflowers to provide habitat and ecosystem support to fauna and insects.
Signature Herb: Sage
Also Growing: Rosemary, Prickly Pear, Olive Trees
Charitable Partner: Mojave Desert Land Trust, an organization whose mission is to protect the Mojave Desert ecosystem and its scenic and cultural resource values. The donation will provide fourteen growing benches for a shade house, education signage and support the growth of 1,200 plants annually.
Description: In addition to drawing inspiration from the legacy of citrus in Orlando agriculture, Kwong and her team chose herbs with strong aromatic power as scent has a direct route to the limbic system—a direct connection to emotion and memory. It is Kwong’s hope that the garden—with its inviting seating and calming vignettes—will help embed joyful memories for guests.
Signature Herb: Rosemary
Also Growing: Thyme, Lavender, Chives, Oregano, Mint, Marjoram, Orange, Kumquat, Tangerine, Meyer Lemon
Charitable Partner: Orlando City Foundation, an organization that brings soccer to under-served communities by investing in safe places to play, urban gardens and access to healthy food choices. Two new school gardens will be built because of the donation, with produce going to the community.
JW Marriott Essex House New York
Description: Inspired by the hotel’s exquisite Art Deco roots, Kwong and her team created a terrarium that serves as both a botanical art piece and sets a new standard for an indoor edible garden. Sitting in the hotel’s grand lobby, the garden takes cues from the design of Central Park—which can be seen through adjacent windows—and renowned landscape architect Frank Law Olmstead. It sits inside a custom-designed millinery cabinet with nods to the design of the hotel’s facade and interiors, created by a master fabricator (Līmen Studio) using an ancient Japanese Shou Sugi Ban process.
Signature Herb: Mint
Also Growing: Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, Marjoram, Chives, Oregano
Charitable Partner: GrowNYC’s Greening program, which has been building and supporting community gardens, urban farms and other open space projects across New York City since 1975. The resulting donation will support their one-acre Teaching Garden on Governors Island, a popular field trip destination giving NYC students an opportunity to plant, water, harvest, and cook fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
The Gift of Green
Both Lily and JW Marriott hope the JW Garden inspires guests to plant a garden of their own and have created an Herb Garden Kit Curated by Studio Lily Kwong for JW Marriott featuring: Halden Garden heirloom Thyme, Mint and Oregano seeds; Kanso planters made of upcycled rice husk, bamboo fiber and wheat husk waste; JW Marriott chef-crafted recipe cards; and a journal collaboration with poet Mia Moretti. Studio Lily Kwong chose these powerful herbs as they grow perennially, meaning when transplanted into the ground, they will grow back every season for an endless bounty. The Herb Garden Kit is available through Curated by JW on Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques, a collection of online retail stores selling exclusive bed, bedding, fragrance, and other bespoke items from several of the leading hospitality company’s 30 hotel brands.