May 13, 2022

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa debuts a pioneering herb garden envisioned and planted by renowned landscape designer Lily Kwong as part of the brand’s JW Garden program. 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.

Lily 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. 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, currently growing at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa and JW Marriott Essex House New York.

At JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, Kwong and her team were inspired by the diverse landscape of the California desert, using 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.

“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.”

For the JW Desert Springs garden, plants that are drought tolerant and native to the desert ecology were carefully chosen, including native sages and pollinator-friendly flowers. The garden features a peaceful olive grove walking path and a planting palette of endemic sages, desert marigold, milkweed and wildflowers to provide habitat and ecosystem support to fauna and insects. Sage is a signature herb along with Rosemary, Prickly Pear and Olive Trees. Lily’s thoughtful selection of herbs intermixed with local plants offer a multi-sensory space for guests to enjoy moments in nature. Studio Lily Kwong incorporated sustainable practices, including the use of repurposed, low-emission materials such as stucco and ceramic garden labels made from natural ingredients; water-conserving techniques such as drip irrigation and mulching; the integration of gravel as a porous ground cover for healthy water flow and the omission of spray pesticides and fungicides common in commercial gardens.

Providing a thoughtful and dynamic experience, while also supporting the hotel’s culinary programs, Kwong and her team centered each JW Garden around aromatic herbs. The property’s newly-appointed Executive Chef, Eric Theiss, will be sourcing ingredients and inspiration from the California native and edible-forward JW Garden for recipes, cocktails, oils and more. New offerings include Barramundi with Celery Root & Sage Lemon Sauce, Himalayan Mint & Amelda Chutney and Blueberry & Sage-infused Cocktails & Mocktails. The garden will feature in some of the hotel’s family-friendly programming, including as a must-see destination on the popular daily nature walks.

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.  Mojave Desert Land Trust was selected as a charitable partner for JW Desert Springs Resort & Spa, 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.

“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 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 fibre 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 a number of the leading hospitality company’s 30 extraordinary hotel brands.