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Old 08-20-2005, 05:52 AM   #1
Frances999
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* Portofino Bay Hotel - Review + Photo's *

We originally planned (and had a reservation) for a Deluxe room at Hard Rock Hotel for our dates, but when the APH rates were released, I switched us to Portofino Deluxe for a much lower price.

We stayed in Portofino Bay Hotel last year and found it very good. The service was average, but the rooms and resort theming was excellent. The children loved the pool here as well.







We arrived at about 5pm and had troubles checking in. You can read about it in another post (here) but we finally got the room we reserved, after much debate. As somebody else said, I too found the front desk and management staff to be rude and particularly unhelpful.

The room was excellent. It was 2490, located on the 4th floor of the Villa wing. It was of a great size, beautiful decor and with a wonderful view of the villa pool and gardens. Unfortunately no balcony, but we were very happy with the view and room overall. We ordered a roll-away bed and it was there waiting when we got back from Universal Studios later that night. We requested turndown service, but it only showed up on two out of our four night stays - not really acceptable for such a high-end resort. Housekeeping was adequate, but not a touch on Disney.

View from our room (2490 Villa Wing)









The bathroom was beautiful! I love the speaker which pipes in the television sound as well. The bath and separate shower cubicle were very spacious and the hatch from the bathroom to bedroom was a nice touch too. The toiletries were wonderful, especially compared to Disney resorts. One thing we really liked about the room was the little amenity area to the right of the door with he coffee machine and fresh coffee – it was lovely in the mornings.





The beds were extremely comfortable (I remember them being divine from last year – the downside was it being difficult to get up early and getting to the parks!). Room service was prompt and polite, we ordered some of the raved-about Marshmallow Milkshakes as well......they were divine! Being the milkshake fan I am (!) I believe Portofino Bay to serve some of the best milkshakes in Orlando....truly delicious!



The transportation was the worst part about our trip. Our stays at Universal Resorts are primarily for the Express Pass access and the walking proximity to the parks. Last Christmas, it didn’t seem too much of a problem to stroll to Universal/IOA. This year, it was blistering hot and the walk seemed much too far to handle. The bus form the front entrance ran every 30 minutes – yes 30 minutes!! There was no timetable (which really annoyed me) so it was just luck whether you arrived on time or had to wait another 29 minutes. Furthermore the buses are too small to cope with the number of guests and there is no orderly queuing system. We waited 25 minutes for one bus, and some people who just arrived as the bus did, pushed themselves to the front of the crowd of people to get on. We had to walk in the sweltering heat because the water taxi was closed due to lightning (is there a specific reason why they close the water taxis at Universal? The Disney water taxi between the GF/Polynesian and MK never closes whatever the weather).


When the water taxis did actually operate there were simply not enough of them. After the fireworks at Universal Studios one night we had to wait 45 inutes for a water taxi, which is totally unacceptable. The lines for Hard Rock Hotel and Royal Pacific Resort were less than half the length of Portofino Bay Hotel. The folks in front of us were literally screaming at the staff member on the dock because of the wait times. Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident. We always had long waits for the water taxi during our entire 4 night stay. I was seriously disappointed in the transportation they offer to and from their “flagship” resort.

The express passes were great and the “3pm limitation” rule never came into force during our trip. It might just be me, but there seemed to be more and more people using the express lines. It was interesting in the “Cat and the Hat” express line one evening. Standby line was 10 minutes and we queued in express for 15 minutes. The staffs just totally ignored all the guests in the express line. A lady at the front of the line started waving at the attendant to get her attention and she rudely said “we have to deal with the regular as well you know”. Luckily this never occurred anywhere else, and the front of the line access is still an invaluable perk for hotel guests.

Despite some of the negatives the trip was, for the most part, extremely pleasant. We had breakfast at Trattorio (expensive but delicious) and I had some treatments at the Mandara Spa which were lovely. The pool area was excellent and having a choice of three pools was great (although we never went to find the “hillside” pool). The villa pool was such a great spot in the morning to relax by and do a few laps. The pool service at the Beach pool was excellent as well – the smoothies are to die for! We will definitely return to a Universal resort next trip, but I think we are done with Portofino Bay for a while. I much prefer the location and compactness of the Hard Rock Hotel, which would be particularly valuable during the summer months. Last December it was not much of an issue, walking was not so bad and the resort was at low capacity so there were minimal lines for the water taxis.

Trattoria del Porto







I hope my review about our stay was okay. Sorry if I waffled a little bit, I have never been particularly succinct I would be happy to try and help with any questions.

+ Positives
Room: modern, nicely furnished, excellent bathroom and view
Pools: Lots of choice, large enough for resort size and DS’s assure me that the slide is excellent too!
Dining: The dining options were great. We enjoyed getting breakfast from the little cafe by the marina in the morning. It was good value and very fresh. Mama Della’s in the evening was wonderful as well.
Theming: The resort is beautifully themed. Coming in at night is a wonderful experience with the lights and the new musical they had playing during the summer evenings.

- Negatives
Front Desk Staff: On all occasions we encountered they lacked enthusiasm to assist and friendliness.
Transportation: Not enough buses or water taxis considering the size of the hotel.
Distance from parks: In my opinion, in hot weather it is too far to walk to the parks with three children.
Spread Out: The hotel is incredibly spread out. Our deluxe room was in the “villa” section of the resort, and it took about 5/10 minutes to walk to the water taxi dock and about the same distance to the lobby.
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~~ Our Disney Holidays ~~
Polynesian Resort - Concierge Lagoon View (x3) Trip Report & Regular Lagoon View (x2)
Bay Lake Tower - Magic Kingdom View 2 Bedroom Villa (x1), Bay Lake View 2 Bedroom Villa (x1)
Grand Floridian - 2 Bedroom Suite, Royal Palm Club (x1), RPC (x1), Garden View (x1)
Animal Kingdom Lodge - Savannah Concierge (x1)
Boardwalk Inn - Concierge (x1)
Yacht Club - Water View (x1)
Hard Rock Hotel - Garden View (x1), Club Level (x1)
Portofino Bay Hotel - Bay View (x1), Deluxe (x1) Trip Report
Disneyland Hotel Paris - Regular (x1), Castle Club Park View (x2) & Tinker Bell Suite (x1)
Newport Bay Club Paris - Admiral Floor (x1)
Grand Californian - Standard (x1) Concierge (x1)
Disneyland Hotel, California - Resort View (x1) Trip Report

Last edited by Frances999; 08-20-2005 at 06:03 AM.
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Old 08-20-2005, 11:12 AM   #2
3for Me
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Loved your review and pic's. Thanks for posting!

I totally agree with what you said about service at the PBH. We have now stayed at all three and the service here was the worst! The rooms are lovely, and we loved, loved, loved the bathroom, but the service was totally less than stellar and we also found the transportation sorely lacking.

I am glad we tried it, and do think it is a beautiful hotel, but we will stay at the HRH again next time.
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Old 08-20-2005, 11:19 AM   #3
Candice30
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thanks for the report. i am heading to PBH in a couple of weeks and i have been worried about the distance from the parks and the transportation. though i have been to PBH to swim, this will be our first stay. i see your point about the heat. when i was there in july, we walked from HRH to PBH and almost died from the heat and the walk. hopefully september is cooler and it won't seem as bad. despite this, i am excited to finally be staying there and my sister is a walker/jogger so she doesn't care about the distance.

thanks for getting us excited and for the pics. she has never been to universal before and can't wait.
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Old 08-22-2005, 10:41 AM   #4
Frances999
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3for Me
Loved your review and pic's. Thanks for posting!

I totally agree with what you said about service at the PBH. We have now stayed at all three and the service here was the worst! The rooms are lovely, and we loved, loved, loved the bathroom, but the service was totally less than stellar and we also found the transportation sorely lacking.

I am glad we tried it, and do think it is a beautiful hotel, but we will stay at the HRH again next time.
I totally agree with your sentiments. It is a beautiful hotel with excellent rooms, but, like you will be at the HRH again on our next trip. I used to always hear about people complaining of the staffs at HRH, but they have always seemed fine to me. It's the PBH staff who need some more training in customer service skills IMO.

__________________
~~ Our Disney Holidays ~~
Polynesian Resort - Concierge Lagoon View (x3) Trip Report & Regular Lagoon View (x2)
Bay Lake Tower - Magic Kingdom View 2 Bedroom Villa (x1), Bay Lake View 2 Bedroom Villa (x1)
Grand Floridian - 2 Bedroom Suite, Royal Palm Club (x1), RPC (x1), Garden View (x1)
Animal Kingdom Lodge - Savannah Concierge (x1)
Boardwalk Inn - Concierge (x1)
Yacht Club - Water View (x1)
Hard Rock Hotel - Garden View (x1), Club Level (x1)
Portofino Bay Hotel - Bay View (x1), Deluxe (x1) Trip Report
Disneyland Hotel Paris - Regular (x1), Castle Club Park View (x2) & Tinker Bell Suite (x1)
Newport Bay Club Paris - Admiral Floor (x1)
Grand Californian - Standard (x1) Concierge (x1)
Disneyland Hotel, California - Resort View (x1) Trip Report
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Old 08-22-2005, 11:25 AM   #5
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Thanksso much for your review & pic's~ we check in on 9/14 for 2 nights and I am glad to have the heads up about the front desk staff...
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