BETHESDA, Maryland—JW Marriott announced the debut of three herb gardens envisioned and planted by landscape designer Lily Kwong as part of the brand’s JW Garden program. Kwong, whose reverence for nature comes to life through her botanical installations, is the founder of Studio Lily Kwong, a 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. 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.
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 Sunday night dinners. Today, JW Marriott hotels 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.
Providing a 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, 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 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.”
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
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 has walking paths and shade trees to mitigate the desert heat. The garden also has a 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. The donation will provide fourteen growing benches for a shade house, education signage, and support the growth of 1,200 plants annually.
JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa
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 seating and vignettes, will help embed memories for guests.
- Signature Herb: Rosemary
- Also Growing: Thyme, Lavender, Chives, Oregano, Mint, Marjoram, Orange, Kumquat, Tangerine, Meyer Lemon
- Charitable Partner: Orlando City Foundation. Two new school gardens will be built as a result of the donation, with produce going to the community.
JW Marriott Essex House New York
Kwong and her team created a terrarium that serves as both a botanical art piece and sets a standard for an indoor edible garden. Sitting in the hotel’s lobby, the garden takes cues from the design of Central Park, which can be seen through adjacent windows, and 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 a Japanese Shou Sugi Ban process.
- Signature Herb: Mint
- Also Growing: Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, Marjoram, Chives, Oregano
- Charitable Partner: GrowNYC’s Greening program. The donation will support their one-acre Teaching Garden on Governors Island, a field trip destination giving NYC students an opportunity to plant, water, harvest, and cook fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
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 with Halden Garden heirloom Thyme, Mint, and Oregano seeds; Kanso planters made of upcycled rice husk, bamboo fibre, and wheat husk waste; JW Marriott chef-crafted recipe cards; and a journal collaboration with poet Mia Moretti. Studio Lily Kwong chose these herbs as they grow perennially, meaning when transplanted into the ground, they will grow back every season. 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 items.