My only JW experience is international. We stayed for 5 days at JW Guanacaste Costa Rica last year.We were upgraded x2 levels. We were given a better rate on inclusive, and treated amazing.
We will be going back in April for 12 days, all points. Woohoo, can't wait. Sure hope they didn't change their attitude towards elite members.
alphawolf500, clebert is absolutely correct. Resorts under the Marriott family of brands, regardless of their brand, do not participate in elite benefits. Even the Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort doesn't provide free breakfast like ALL Fairfield Inns are supposed to because it's a "resort." Calling it a resort is a REALLY FAR STRETCH if you ask me, as this property is literally a standard FF with a crummy pool and a Pizza Hut jammed in it. But, such are the rules with Marriott.
We received a room upgrade, as well as free breakfast vouchers and no resort fees at the Marriott at The Buttes last year. Had we not opted in to the Griffin Club at the JW Los Cabos Resort and Spa two weeks ago, we would've received a room upgrade, but not to a suite (they are explicit about that). No free breakfast. We were Platinum for these stays. I really think that some resorts are more generous with elite benefits than others, though most are not (generous), and the only way to know for certain is to call the property and speak with the front desk/rooms control folks.
To answer the question, "Why?" Why indeed? For some, because they can, I recon. Seriously, a really outstanding resort will have far more amenities than a regular hotel, and thus, guests are charged for access to these amenities. For a not so good resort, and there are a number of them, it does appear to be a rip-off. For a really good resort, say with 15 gorgeously appointed swimming pools, a couple of swim up bars, a half dozen (or more) dining/lounge venues, gorgeous grounds, rooftop bars, gardens, fire pits, full service salon and spa, full size gym with trainers and exercise classes, libraries (yes, libraries!), rec rooms, kid activities and day care, culinary classes, full housekeeping twice/day, and an attitude from the staff that "Anything is possible for our guests, here at JW [insert name]," it would be considered reasonable, at least to my mind.
I received free parking (big plus), $5 of daily resort fee and a great upgrade at the JW Marriott at Grande Lake.
There's clearly a variety of benefits (or not). It seems that if you want to have an idea, the best thing is to call or email and ask the hotel. Sometimes they might surprise you.