Preferred hotel?

Discussion in 'Universal Orlando Resorts & Hotels' started by EdmondD, Feb 13, 2018 at 8:11 AM.

  1. EdmondD

    EdmondD DIS Veteran

    Jul 23, 2014
    I hate to be that person who after only a little research asks a very broad question which can only be answered with the a lot of caveats, but....

    Your preferred hotel? I think I'm leaning toward Portofino Bay in May 2019. A reason to choose otherwise? Confirm my thinking?

    For reference, we frequently rent DVC points at the Beach Club but have happily stayed at all resort levels at WDW.

    It will be our first non-Disney trip to Orlando and our first visit to Universal in 16 years, and we've never stayed onsite there. So looking for any helpful input.

  2. Robo56

    Robo56 Look into my eyes

    May 8, 2015
    There are great sticky’s on all the deluxe hotels that have Unlimited Express Pass included. The pictures of the rooms are also included.

    All the regular’s here have their favorites. My favorite is Portofino. The rooms are large and nicely decorated the staff is fantastic. They have 3 pools to choose from. It is the farthest from the parks of the resorts, but I like that. For me it feels a little more relaxing. It has the boat taxi to parks just like all the deluxe resorts do. Sal’s has great pizza and I really enjoyed my meal at Mama Della’s a couple of weeks ago.

    The Royal Pacific is also a beautiful resort. I had not been there for years and they have done a beautiful job of remodeling. I did a stay there in January and the rooms were very nice, staff were lovely, and nice selection of restaurant's choices for your dining.

    When you look at the pictures of the resorts each has done a great job with tasteful theming.

    The Sapphire Falls is also a beautiful resort, but it does not include Unlimited Express, but it is really nicely done.

    Have fun deciding. You can’t go wrong with any choice you make. They are all very nice resorts pixiedust:
    macraven and EdmondD like this.
  3. Avatar


  4. JaxDad

    JaxDad DIS Veteran

    Sep 23, 2014
    They all look great. We have stayed at Cabana Bay once and Royal Pacific three times, each stay for only 2-3 nights.

    We REALLY like RP. We like the theming. The rooms are nice, with enough space to get comfortable. We did club level once, and that was really awesome. The club became like our living room. My kids love the pool at RP, which is funny, since it is really one of the more basic pools in the resort--no slide, no lazy river, etc. But they love the volleyball games, and they ALWAYS end up meeting new friends there. The walk to the parks is perfect for us. We do ride the boat, but usually only once or twice. The walk is an enjoyable down time to talk about what we have done and what we are doing next. I will say that we don't eat much at RP, other than the pool bar. But, we usually eat in City Walk anyway, just because of the various options.

    I honestly have chosen RP because it has always been the cheapest deluxe for our trips, but we really do love it. I think the next one I would like to try is Portofino.

    ETA: I mentioned Cabana Bay, but didn't really give it it's due. We also really enjoyed our stay there. It has cool theming, big rooms, and good, informal dining options. After taking our second trip and staying at RP, we just got hooked on the EPs and the location.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018 at 9:23 AM
    EdmondD likes this.
  5. schumigirl

    schumigirl It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts

    May 15, 2007
    Honestly, between PBH, RPR and Sapphire Falls there isn’t really a bad choice to be had. Add in HRH too.

    As Robo says, check the stickies and see what style suits you and your family best........they all have their points in favour of each other........
    macraven and EdmondD like this.
  6. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

    Feb 11, 2009
    I agree with PPs that you can't go wrong with any of the Universal hotels. PBH is usually my last choice, but only because the theme doesn't tickle our fancy and we prefer to walk to City Walk. We find PBH just a touch far for us to walk without it being a hassle. We prefer HRH for the fun, laidback atmosphere, The Kitchen, and the quick walk to City Walk. But all of that is personal preference - it just depends on what's important to you.
    macraven and EdmondD like this.
  7. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

    Apr 21, 2003
    Op, if you are used to dvc hotels then go with the deluxe at the darkside
    PBH, rpr or hrh

    Those hotels offer free unlimited usage of all express lines in the parks, water taxi transportation

    All hotels on site allow early entry, paid merchandise sent back to your room, and charge back to your hotel

    Pool hopping is allowed at all the hotels
    schumigirl and EdmondD like this.
  8. bobbie68

    bobbie68 DIS Veteran

    Aug 14, 2009
    Hi everyone on here has such great advice. All the PPs are great. I have stayed at PBH,Cabana Bay and Hard Rock. I will be staying at RPR this June. We enjoy the deluxe hotels for the EP it really comes in handy the time of year we go. My family really enjoys the Hard Rock. It has a really good vibe with a really good pool and slide. The music and theme appeals to us. I like the walking distance to the park and I think it is more compact. We have stayed at Cabana Bay twice and really like this resort. It is so much fun and lively. The lazy river is great and there is so much to do. We like the theme and the layout. The only down fall is no EP, but if you are going during a slow time of the year you could do it without EP. We visited RPR this past summer and it was really nice. We are staying there this June for 5 days. I think you can't go wrong with any of the Universal hotels.

    Look at trip reports, pics and reviews to see what fits for you. Enjoy your planning.
    macraven and EdmondD like this.
  9. rayruiz9191

    rayruiz9191 Earning My Ears

    Jun 1, 2017
    My first time staying at an onsite Universal hotel, was just within this past year. It was alwayyyyyss something I’ve wanted to do since coming to the parks every summer from being a kid in the 2000's to now. Now I can’t imagine staying anywhere else! We first stayed at Sapphire Falls In may of 2017, and we absolutely loved it. It has a HUGE and impressive lobby with a authentic island feel. The hotel feels very new and bright, obviously because it IS new haha. It has a huge pool and great restaurants. It sits on a huge lagoon and also has cute little waterfalls. We were very pleased with this hotel, but for our next trip we wanted to try a property that had unlimited express pass (which sapphire falls regrettably does not have) - so for our next stay which was this past October for Halloween horror nights, we picked the Portofino Bay resort... needless to say, we fell in love. From the second you walk into the lobby, I kid you not... it smells like heaven. I don’t know what it is, but we all always comment on how wonderful it smells (wonder if they sell whatever they are spraying lol). The property itself is gigantic. It’s a sight to see at night when you are coming in from universal on a boat, the resort just glows brightly on the bay like a true tucked away Italian town. The rooms are very nice, and I’m an annoyingly picky person. I love how quiet the resort can feel. Some people don’t like the distance it is from city walk and the parks... though it is literally a 4 minute boat ride to and fro... no complaints in that department for me. Tons of dining options, we loved mama dellas and sals pizza. Side note - NOTHING IS BETTER THAN THE CHOCOLATE EMPORIUM in city walk though haha! The only thing I could see as a down side would be the amount of walking you may have to do to venture around the resort due to its large size, but we don’t mind at all. All in all, it’s a lovely resort with a beyond accomadating staff. Sorry for the essay! Hope you enjoy your trip!
    schumigirl and macraven like this.
  10. houseofthrees

    houseofthrees Mouseketeer

    Sep 10, 2014
    That smell is when we know we are truly on vacation, lol. My daughter has a body spray that smells just like Royal Pacific, but we have yet to find anything that smells like the Portofino lobby.
  11. soniam

    soniam Wooden leg named Smith...

    Jun 22, 2012
    Who's in your group? I think the make up of the group, ie kids, ages, makes a difference as to hotel choice. Also, do you plan to go to the water park, Volcano Bay? I think Royal Pacific and Portofino cater more to adults. They are fine for kids too, but I think adults enjoy them more. However, Royal Pacific has a really nice water area for little kids. Bigger kids, tweens, and teens tend to like the atmosphere and pool at Hard Rock better. We found that for quick food for a picky eater, Hard Rock and Portofino had a better selection. Royal Pacific really doesn't have any quick food but has a sushi bar set up at least at night. I have heard good things about the sushi bar. The rooms at Portofino and Hard Rock are a little bigger than Royal Pacific. The deluxes I have listed all provide Express Pass, which is great. The others do not but have cheaper rates and their own special characteristics. I can't comment on Cabana Bay or Sapphire Falls, since we haven't stayed there. Cabana Bay is the most convenient to the water park.
    schumigirl likes this.
  12. Meghan Strickland

    Meghan Strickland Destination Specialist

    That's like a "who's your favourite kid" question!! ;)

    They are all awesome in their own right - just depends on what YOU want.

    Cabana Bay -- Awesome vibe - it's like Frankie and Annette's Beach Party. The pools are amazing - lazy river? Yes! Waterslide? Yup! There is a bowling alley upstairs, the Bayliner Diner is like Landscape of Flavors (and the food is actually really good), you can walk over to Volcano Bay. The rooms are awesome 50's vibe, but still comfortable. All of the rooms have a fridge, but the family suites have a kitchenette-ish area (fridge, micro, sink, cupboards) and a living room with sofabed in addition to the 2 queens. No express, so we only do CBBR with a split-stay, or when it's just a couple of us, and we don't mind using the single rider line when it's busy.

    Sapphire Falls -- Gorgeous. It is Caribbean cool. Still fairly new and pretty; the rooms are laid out well, but small. The water taxi is a wicked perk - you don't have to go through the main security hub EVER! You have your own little security crew at the dock before you even get in the boat. Awesome time saver in the mornings! Not much food that my picky kids would eat there though - they still really like the food court at CBBR, since everyone can just go get there own and meet up so mom can pay! lol No express either, so when it's busy, we gravitate more to RPR.

    RPR -- still my favourite. I love the tropical feel, especially after the refurb/renos. Love the lobby, and crossing the bridge as you enter. It just transports you, you know? I love grabbing a coffee in the morning and sitting in the centre area and just listening to the water. The pool is nice (the food and drinks at the Bula Bar are awesome), but geared for little ones with the splash park area. There's a great little beach if you actually wanted the "vibe" of sitting in a beach chair by the water with a drink. :) Downfall - no starbucks??? :(

    Portofino Bay -- SOOO authentic! It's crazy. Last year was the first time I worked up the nerve to take my heathens to LPB (Clampetts go to Maui, anyone?? lol). It's stunning. Like jaw-drop, wow stunning. The rooms themselves are just fine. You can tell it's the oldest resort, but the bathrooms have been redone, and they are super nice - like the size of my bedroom at home?. We didn't make it to the pool (only one night there and it POURED), but I am looking forward to it this trip. The entire resort, from the water taxi dock, to the giant marble fountain out front - just oozes old world charm.

    Hard Rock is one we've never stayed at. I just don't "feel" it. I love that it's really close, but it's always a price thing for me there. If I could get it cheaper than RPR or Portofino Bay, maybe... but the feel is more of a party, upbeat, funky resort. I really like the relaxed, beautiful "vacation-y" vibe from the rest.

    Sorry for the book - I'm kind of an addict! ;)
    soniam likes this.
  13. schumigirl

    schumigirl It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts

    May 15, 2007
    Would agree.

    The Sushi Bar in Orchids is amazing......some of the best sushi we have ever eaten we have enjoyed there.......

    Not sure everyone knows but you can get food to go from Jake`s Bar.........ideal if you`re in a rush and have no time to sit down at table service.
    Meghan Strickland and soniam like this.
  14. hhoope01

    hhoope01 Mouseketeer

    Jul 13, 2015
    While I know all 3 deluxe hotels can cater to all age groups and families, I've always thought of them as

    RPR - family with smaller kids due to the interactive water play area at the pool plus the rooms in general tend to be a little bit smaller than the other 2.

    HRH - young adults and families with teens - the whole "rock music" theme plus piping music into the pool.

    PBR - adults without kids as it has a more "romantic" feel than the other two. Does have a nice big "main" pool with a slide, but I think this is the only onsite hotel with an "adults only" pool and has the very nice onsite SPA.

    But as I stated, kids can stay and enjoy any of the 3 and adults can stay and enjoy any of the 3.
    soniam likes this.

Share This Page