Universal Noob Observations: Portofino Bay, Minions Suite

ChrisM

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
The hotel is very nice; more expansive than I expected. The theme is incredible, but it almost sits in that “uncanny valley” of being too well themed but not quite perfect enough to come across as intended. I think that actually speaks well to the designers, but comes across as more fake than it should given the obvious effort put into it.

We had a Minions suite which ended up being on the first floor in the far end of the East wing. Although it was quite a hike from anything, it was very nicely secluded and had an excellent view of the water. Hardly any foot traffic past our windows and nice patios separated from the path outside by wrought iron fencing and manicured hedges. Unfortunately this also appeared to be in the heart of the pet friendly rooms and I ran into people and their dogs in the hallways on a half dozen occasions or more, plus occasional dog barking at night. I’m not an animal hater, but I’m simply not a fan of sharing my resort with pets. So it goes.

Room was more impressive than I expected, mostly owing to the 14 foot or more ceiling height! I was really floored by how spacious they felt. I’ve been in some pretty lamely themed “kid suites” at various locations, but the Minion room was phenomenal. They went all in and it showed. More impressive than the pictures. My only complaint was there was barely any lighting in the Minion room of the suite - a large overhead or some can lights would have made a huge difference.

As you’ll hear, the bathroom is huge. That said, they definitely have enough room to make it a split bathroom with the toilet and one sink on one side and sink and bathtub on the other. Would be hugely more practical if they configured it this way.

Which leads me to my overall observation that the property looks like it could use a head to toe refurbishment. Seemed worn overall.

Room service was good. Food was about what you’d expect from a nicer hotel but nothing exceptional. Service was very good.

The pool was fantastic! Nicely laid out so you weren’t in a sea of chairs and a great slide. Large zero entry area really helped keeping the small kids and bigger kids separated.

Boat service was excellent - punctual and professional. I didn’t realize how popular they were so there was almost always a line of folks waiting to ride but we never waited for more than 2 boats, even during the obviously busy times when the park closed. It seemed like they did a good job of being flexible with routes to manage crowd throughput.

We didn’t explore all of the resort food options but the food at Sal’s was good, with the exception of a piece of aluminum foil being baked into my wife’s calzone. The manager was extremely apologetic and they refunded the cost of the item, but a sour experience nonetheless. We had plans to eat at Bice one evening but were overridden by the kids and ate at Toothsome instead (a fun experience but service was insanely slow and the food was mediocre).

I don’t think it’s fair to compare theme park hotels against non-theme park hotels, so I would say it compares favorably with the Grand Floridian. The GF feels a bit more “authentic” in style and theme but that’s likely because it’s a much easier style to replicate, whereas Portofino Bay is much more ambitious. Services and amenities are very similar. My wife found the spas at both to be relatively comparable. Portofino’s pool is definitely better than the GF, but I found the service at the GF pool to be slightly better.

I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at Portofino again. A rehab and a split bathroom configuration in the kid’s suites would knock it out of the park.
 

keishashadow

Proud Redhead...yes, I have some bananas!
Joined
Dec 30, 2004
The hotel is very nice; more expansive than I expected. The theme is incredible, but it almost sits in that “uncanny valley” of being too well themed but not quite perfect enough to come across as intended. I think that actually speaks well to the designers, but comes across as more fake than it should given the obvious effort put into i
Nice review, so few have booked that particular suite and shared their experience here. There are three pools at the resort, sounds like you enjoyed the main one.

Replicating the feel of the actual Portofino area of Italy was the basis for the design of the property. It was suggested by Steven Spielberg in his capacity as an investor & consultant for USO. It was designed by world-class architectural firm (Atlantis in Dubai, Caesars Palace & numerous other properties, including for Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons and Fairmont)

Their goal was to mimic the ‘real thing’ In Italy. The resort is a nod to the centuries long tradition of using trompe l’oeil to fool the eye. Idea to both achieve a desirable appearance & also avoid paying taxes on the fancy architectural designs they admired.

Since I’ve never made it to Italy, going to take the experts’ word for it, that they knocked it out of the park.
 

damo

Proud Redhead
Joined
Jan 1, 2001
It is interesting when you look at the actual Portofino in Italy that the "fake" is original. Fake bricks and fake embellishments. It is a common misconception that they cheaped out by doing this at Portofino Bay Hotel but it is accurate.

 
  • schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    It is like the real Portofino...….they did knock it out the park Janet...…:thumbsup2

    And the one at Universal smells a lot nicer than the real town of Portofino ::yes:: When we went there they had a serious drain problem......not nice!!
     

    ChrisM

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 5, 2010
    It is interesting when you look at the actual Portofino in Italy that the "fake" is original. Fake bricks and fake embellishments. It is a common misconception that they cheaped out by doing this at Portofino Bay Hotel but it is accurate.

    Oh, I'm aware that the trompe l'oeil decorations are fairly accurate. I don't think I'm clearly stating my "objections".

    The theming is phenomenal - but being so close to perfect but not quite perfect is what throws me. Again, they did a fabulous job.
     

    schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    So we'll know by the smell when they've finally committed to delivering perfection.

    Slackers.... ;)
    lol.....

    I hope never to repeat having to breathe that odour in ever again...….we were quite unlucky and couldn't have picked a worse time to visit there if we tried, very pretty but the overwhelming memory is the smell!!!
     
  • houseofthrees

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 10, 2014
    It is like the real Portofino...….they did knock it out the park Janet...…:thumbsup2

    And the one at Universal smells a lot nicer than the real town of Portofino ::yes:: When we went there they had a serious drain problem......not nice!!
    Glad they didn't go that authentic, lol.

    The smell of Portofino lobby is one of those things that tells me my vacation has started.
     

    CPanther95

    Mummyketeer
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2000
    Glad they didn't go that authentic, lol.

    The smell of Portofino lobby is one of those things that tells me my vacation has started.
    I come in from a long drive and usually need the bathroom pretty bad by the time I get there - but I hold it long enough to check-in.

    My vacation officially starts after check-in when I'm standing at the urinal in the bathroom just before the business office and I hear the Italian music playing. The relaxing music combined with the extreme relief of, well, relieving myself really hammers home that I'm now on vacation.
     

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