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Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club and Spa’s culinary and cocktail crawl provided a preview of four different world-class eatery venues at Marriott’s luxurious beach resort overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

The resort will officially transition to a new brand – the JW Marriott Marco Island. Upon completion in 2017, the property will become the JW Marriott brand’s first beachfront resort in the continental United States.

The culinary crawl and kick-off included members of local press and representatives of Southwest Florida tourist and fine-food websites.

• After sipping ice-cold blackberry lemonade made from blackberry vodka, the group was escorted to Quinn’s on the Beach with its laid-back atmosphere, its tables reaching out to the white sand overlooking the Gulf.

Golden margaritas made with Jose Cuervo Gold, Grand Marnier, and fresh lime juice accompanied appetizers of coconut shrimp with mango relish and Scotch bonnet jam, and a seafood platter of snow-crab claws, raw oysters with orange and lemon slices.

• As the sun began to set, the group, now totally relaxed, set off for their next adventure. With shoes removed, the barefoot diners walked down a torch-lit path of soft cool sand to Kane’s Rum Bar and Grill to “toast the turtles” with turtle season “lights out” rum drinks in fresh coconut shells made with Myers Rum, Cruzan rum, Capt. Morgan Malibu, OJ and pineapple juice. Kane’s serves 25 aged rums and a variety of frozen drinks.

Grilled Chicken Yakitori with Thai-Chile Ginger Teriyaki and Pork Belly Bao with Cilantro, radishes and spicy peanut sauce were a great addition. A enclosed fire pit surrounded with torches and beach chairs called out to the group as they sipped their rum drinks and prepared to watch as fire dancer Jennifer Campos entranced the private audience.

• Back to the Marriott’s new eatery, Ario, escorted by Youssef Oualidi, director of restaurants, who pointed out the $600,000 newly renovated state-of-the-art kitchen with its $350,000 Jade cooking range, where several chefs were preparing dishes for guests in the dinning room.

Ario, formerly known as Kurrents, opened Oct. 1. In a setting of stars on the ceiling, the luxury eatery offers a wide selection of in-house artisanal aged beef and local seafood enhanced with salts and spices from around the world, giving each dish an international flair. Chef de cuisine Gerald Sombright and his culinary team present an unforgettable dining experience.

With a beautifully set table of china, crystal wine glasses and fine cutlery, guests took their seats and received a warm introduction by chef Gerald Sombright and Charles Albanos, director of food and beverage, explaining how the food and wine were paired.

The Ario chefs’ table room features a pass-through window to the kitchen and intimate private dinning rooms where guests will enjoy a one-on-one interaction with the chef and an exclusive menu. The main dining room and bar with an extensive international wine selection enhance the dining experience. Ario is open daily for dinner from 5-10 p.m.

• Topping off the evening, the guests on tour went to Korals for a nightcap of special cocktails and confections.

Marriott officials say the transition to the JW Marriott Marco will be complete on Jan. 1, 2017.

More information

The Marco Marriott is at 400 S. Collier Blvd., call 394-2511; see video about the transition to the JW Marriott Marco at at jwmarco.com.

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