We’re the first to say that we have a real soft spot (as evidenced here) for a truly well-done hotel – which for us means one that feels transportive in a way that has nothing to do with whether you’ve actually traveled to get there. Stepping into the right hotel can take you out of your own headspace, can set the tone for a vacation or an evening, and can even become an inextricable part of the event that brought you there in the first place.
Brand sparkling new to Edmonton’s vibrant ICE District is the JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District, a towering hotel with 346 guestrooms, a fitness centre and a spa, two restaurants and two bars, and – cue the event profs holding their breath – 22,000 square-feet of beautiful and extremely well-appointed event space that we can’t wait to get into. But before the trees threaten to overtake the forest, let’s take a quick step back to take in the view.
For those less familiar with Edmonton, the ICE District is a 25-acre neighbourhood found in the heart of downtown Edmonton. Appropriately for this hockey town, the District initially formed around Rogers Place, home of the Oilers, and is now a hub of entertainment, community, and nightlife.
Inspired by this location, by Alberta’s vivid and varied natural landscapes, and by an overall embracing of contrasts, the JW Marriott was designed around a “fire and ice” concept. With a phrase like that we know where your mind’s going, but think less Westeros and more epically elegant live-action Frozen where Queen Elsa rules from a dazzling and opulent castle made of ice and snow, with none of the Disney kitsch and not a singing snowman in sight. The hotel’s pale-blue polished marble floors were inspired by sheets of ice, and the slightly crystalline white walls are meant to evoke snow. Wood features bring the outdoors in and add an element of the Canadian wild that brushes up against the coolness of the other materials at play. A hotel-wide art collection continues along this vein, celebrating Canadian environments and pulling in yet more references to ice as well as sport, including a show-stopping 6-panel piece by Curtis Cutshaw that is meant to replicate the energy and awe of standing at centre ice looking up at a packed arena.
Anyone who has made a snow angel or seen animal tracks in freshly fallen snow can immediately recall the unique quality of impression that fresh snow has, a characteristic that has been beautifully emulated in the carvings on ceilings and vertical columns. Wherever you look, contrasts abound – metal and wood, stone and leather, light and dark, public and private, energy and calm. If you’ll allow us the string of buzz words, the concept is immersive and transportive, expertly executed and exhilarating in its success.
There is no doubt that events will be a major part of the JW Marriott’s presence in the ICE District, thanks to a group of meeting and event spaces that are equally as striking as the rest of the hotel, and come fully loaded with all of the things that make an event prof feel like a kid on a snow day. The spaces are named after the hockey legends that made up the greatest hockey team of all time, with the signature space being, of course, the Wayne Gretzky Ballroom – a 10,500 square-foot space with 22-foot ceilings, massive windows, and more moves than – ok, as many moves as – The Great One himself. The Ballroom features three 16-foot built-in projection screens and projectors, multi-programmable full-colour-spectrum lighting, and an adjoining patio that overlooks the ICE District – and that’s just one of the 10 meeting and event rooms that all offer these kinds of practical technology perks in spaces designed to carry forward the balance of edge and elegance found in the rest of the hotel. You can see the full event space offering, with floorplans and other details, here.
In an environment so fully dialed-in to overall experience, it’s a given that the event experience has been carefully considered as well. The convenient JW Event HUB package includes your room rental plus technology and chef catering for breakfast, lunch, and intermissions, all encompassed in one per-person price.
And now that we’ve touched on food, let’s linger here a moment; whether you’re stopping in to indulge your taste buds at Kindred Food + Drink or Braven, or you’re looking at catering for an event, Executive Chef Kiran Patnam and his team will leave an impression. Formerly the Executive Sous Chef at Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, Chef Patnam is now taking the lead role in the JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District’s kitchen, this on the heels of his 2018 victory on TV culinary competition, Beat Bobby Flay.
Photos and video courtesy of JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District