I recently had the privilege of attending a 4-day travel agent training at Universal Studios in Orlando. As a group, we toured 3 of these on-site resorts on Saturday. Then our group stayed in another resort. And I also toured the other two resorts on my own on Sunday. In this post, we'll look at all 6 of these Universal Studios Orlando hotels.
Before reviewing the Universal Studios Orlando hotels, let's look at the resort categories. At present, there are 3 categories of Universal resorts. All resorts include Early Park Admission, complimentary transportation (buses and/ or water taxis), resort-wide charging, complimentary merchandise delivery, and free access to certain CityWalk venues. Below are more details about each category:
Below is a review of Universal Studios Florida's 6 resorts along with a preview of two new resorts that are currently under construction.
Loews Royal Pacific
Our travel agent group stayed at this resort during our training weekend. Out of Universal's three Premier resorts, I like this one the most. Modeled after a South Pacific resort like you might find in Bali, the grounds and the lobby are impressive. On top of that, the pool area is fantastic. And there are several great dining and drink options on site. Plus it is only a 10-minute walk or 5-minute water taxi ride to Universal CityWalk.
Loews Sapphire Falls
This was the first stop on our Saturday morning tour. Currently, it is Universal's only Preferred resort. Sapphire Falls is really gorgeous. One of the main differences between this category and the Premier resorts is that guests don't get a Universal Express Pass Unlimited. Also, there's only one full-service restaurant at this resort.
The second stop on our tour. Of all the current Universal Studios Orlando hotels, this is the most basic. At the same time, it is one of the closest resorts to Volcano Bay (the entrance to VB is literally right outside Aventura's pool area). With iPads in each room to control the lights and TV, this resort's rooms are an expression of its futuristic, modern exterior. However, the coolest thing about the 17-story Aventura Hotel is the rooftop bar with 360 degree views of the area. Stunning!
This was the third and final stop on our tour. When we went to Universal as a family in 2016, this was where we stayed. However, since then, the resort has expanded. There are 2 new towers on the south end of hotel. And with the construction of Volcano Bay, Universal's third Orlando park, there is also a private entrance to the water park.
Cabana Bay is definitely the most family-friendly of all the Universal Studios Orlando hotels. Indoors, it has great amenities like an arcade and the Bayliner Diner. But is also has the only bowling alley in any Universal resort. It is also a popular resort for pool-hopping because it has 2 pools and a lazy river. To top it all off, with the completion of Volcano Bay, many of the rooms have direct views of the water park.
Loews Portofino Bay
Approaching Portofino Bay by water taxi is an amazing experience. Modeled after an Italian seaside town, this Premier resort has a Mediterranean vibe. On Sunday afternoon, I toured this hotel on my own, taking in the grounds, the main lobby, and the pool area. The attention to detail in this resort is amazing. Although personally, I prefer Loews Royal Pacific.
The Hard Rock Hotel
After Portofino Bay, I took a short stroll to the last Premier hotel, The Hard Rock Hotel. Just as you'd expect from the name, there's all sorts of rock and roll/ music memorabilia in this hotel. Overall, my brief impression was that it was a really nice hotel, but not anything super special. Royal Pacific and Portofino Bay both have loads more character than this resort.
Universal Studios Orlando Hotels Under Construction
Universal is currently constructing two additional resorts, both of which will be Value Hotels, the lowest price point of all the Universal Studios Orlando hotels. They will be located slightly further from CityWalk and the parks than the other resorts.
The Surfside Inn & Suites (opening Summer 2019) and the Dockside Inn and Suites (opening Spring 2020) will both be no-frills resorts. At the same time, each will still have a resort style pool, pool bar, lobby bar, coffee shop, and even pizza delivery to rooms. Like other Universal Resorts guests, these guests will benefit from Early Access and will be able to reach the parks via shuttle bus.
Ready to Book Your Universal Vacation?
After my long weekend of training at Universal Studios, Florida, I'm very familiar with all the Universal Studios Orlando hotels, as well as the parks and CityWalk. Contact Jo or I today to book your very own Universal vacation at one of these Universal Studios Orlando hotels!
I'm a big fan of roller coasters, but I've also been known to ride carousels with my kids.
Jo is a travel planner who loves all things Disney! She also has food sensitivities and lots of experience with special diets while traveling.
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