I had the pleasure of visiting the Portofino Bay Hotel with the Family Forward Retreat.
My family received a room for a reduced rate. All opinions are my own.
5 Best at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando
My family stayed at the hotel for 5 nights while attending the Family Forward blogger event. We arrived a day before the official event to enjoy the hotel and pool. Here are our 5 Best Highlights.
My kids could have stayed at the family pool everyday if it were not for the Universal Theme parks nearby. For our first full day at the hotel, we stayed by the pool for hours. There was ample seating for guests with towels provided. The pool entry is has a sandy beach and a zero entry setup so that toddlers can wade for quite a few feet before the water level becomes truly swimmable. This was a fun area to just sit and relax in the water as well. The water temperature is very comfortable.
The main attraction for the kids (and many adults) is a great water slide that cascades down from within the stone tower. I had a blast splashing down with my kids. The slide picks up good speed with a couple of sharp turns before spilling you into about 4 feet of water.
My only complaint was that there were not as many shady spots available. Many lounges were in pure sun with no umbrellas. That’s fine for the sun worshipers, but for my fair skin family, we need shade. We decided to splurge for a poolside cabana. There are only 3 at the Family Pool so call ahead and book early if you want one.
The rooms of the hotel were very well appointed and spacious. The bathrooms was the size of some of the bedrooms in our house. Too bad it was not an extra room for the kids. Oh well! The view from our window was lovely overlooking gorgeous landscaping and the water. We could watch the water taxi heading to Universal go by.
The beds were very comfortable and the rooms were quiet. I am a light sleeper, so I really appreciated that. I did request a room away from elevators, ice machines, etc. and a great room was selected for us. We also had a roll away bed so the kids did not kick each other through the night. It was surprisingly comfortable as well.
Location, Location, Location…
You really can’t beat the location of this hotel, which is considered “on site” for the Universal Orlando Resort. It is one of 4 on-site hotels. The hotel is about 1/4 walk from the Universal City Walk and theme parks. There is also a free water taxi from the hotel and rickshaw bikers who work only for tips. The rickshaw guys came in handy a number of times when the water taxi lines were long and our kids were too tired to walk.
It was great to arrive at the hotel, unpack and never need to worry about driving anywhere. It made for a much more relaxing vacation without the hassle of traffic or parking lots. I highly recommend staying at one of the on site hotels for these reasons.
We really enjoyed the overall ambience of the hotel. My kids have never been to Europe so this hotel gave them just a taste of the different architecture and Italian Village vibe. It made them want to visit the real thing someday. I love places that inspire them to learn more about the world. The hotel was HUGE, but the design made it feel like smaller sections within a larger “village.” The grounds were lovely and well cared for as well. The walking paths to Universal were also very nice with lots of shade and benches to take in the views or just rest your feet after a busy day in the parks.
Probably the best feature of the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is is the convenience of staying there. I already mentioned some of the benefits in the “location” section, but there are quite a more excellent conveniences to staying at this hotel.
Early Park Admission – Guests of the onsite hotels are able to get into the parks one hour earlier than the general public. This is a fabulous perk to getting on your favorite rides with minimal to no lines. See that empty line above? Priceless!
Express Pass – In addition to the early park admission, onsite hotel guests receive an express pass to skip the standard lines for nearly all rides in both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. We were there during a rather busy weekend so skipping those long lines throughout the day was amazing!
Hotel Hopping – Guests of any onsite hotel can visit the amenities of the other onsite hotels. For example, we visited the pool at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the newest onsite property. We had to take a shuttle to this location. The other hotels are all in walking distance.
Shops/Restaurants – The Portofino hotel has many restaurants to on site from a quick stop at Starbucks to a more elegant meal at one of the up scale restaurants.
If you haven’t guessed it by now, I highly recommend the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. We look forward to a future visit soon.