The entrance--a broad, covered footbridge high above a tropical stream--sets the tone for the Pacific Rim theme of this hotel, which lies amid 53 acres of lush shrubs, soaring bamboo, orchids, and palms. Guests enjoy the benefits of staying on Universal property. The focal point is a 12,000-square-foot lagoon-style pool, which has a small beach, a sea-plane, and an interactive water-play area. Lots of kid-friendly activities. All guest rooms have bright, tropical wall accents, white duvet-style bedding, and 32-inch flat-screen TVs. The hotel hosts Polynesian-style luaus every Saturday.
Guests staying at Universal's on-site hotels receive a wide range of exclusive benefits: early access to parks, no waiting in line, purchases delivered to the hotel, charging to your room key and more.
Rooms feature bright sprays of tropical flowers on one wall, Asian-inspired decor, beds with white, all-cotton, duvet-style linens, and grey, campaign-style furniture. Free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV join a thoughtfully designed work-space with an ergonomic chair. The hotel also offers special Jurassic Park style suites that are really popular with youngsters.
Marble and tile-work impart a sense of luxury to the bathrooms. The single-sink vanity offers plenty of space to keep your toiletries out, and it is separated from the shower/tub and WC portion of the bathroom by a door.
The soaring beamed ceiling of the spacious lobby and the carved wood of the reception counters evokes a Pacific Island longhouse, with rich colors, dark woods, and orchids everywhere. Ample check-in space ensures that large groups of convention goers are processed quickly.
The lagoon style pool offers lots of activities for young and old alike. Parents can lounge beneath umbrellas or in private cabanas sipping a cocktail, while kids play at the Royal Bali Sea, an island steamer-like interactive play area, shooting water guns and cannons. The real sand beach gives a genuine sense of being in the South Seas. Poolside activities include arts and crafts, water games and movies.
No spa onsite, but a quick stroll takes you to the full-service Mandara Spa at nearby Loews Portofino Bay.
A 5,000-square foot gym is available for all guests, featuring strength training equipment, treadmills, exercise bikes, ellipticals, stair-stepping machines, circuit training equipment and more. There is a steam room and sauna, a whirlpool and separate locker rooms as well.
Filled with animal print and bamboo furniture, the Islands Dining room focuses on Pan Asian cuisine and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every Sunday a Character Breakfast features a variety of Universal Orlando characters. The Orchid Court Sushi Bar serves rolls and sashimi, inventive martinis, and Asian desserts in an open-air environment. A continental breakfast is available each morning. Bula Bar & Grille is the go-to spot for poolside cocktails and light lunch, and Jake’s American Bar features light fare and cocktails.
The Orchid Court Lounge in the lobby, overlooking the spectacular fountains and stunning orchids of the serene Orchid Court, is a perfect place to unwind or defuse after meetings or roller coasters. Jake’s American Bar offers full bar service plus specialty cocktails. Plus, any of the dining establishments onsite have full bars.
Universal provides complimentary shuttles or water taxis from all onsite hotels to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and CityWalk. If Disney is also on your agenda, a car or rideshare service would be necessary.
If you tire of serenity and want to change up your food options, hop on the water taxi and head for City Walk (10-minute boat ride) where dozens of restaurants offer everything from burgers to shrimp. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., serves up shrimp and more, "just like mama makes it" in rustic surroundings; Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville offers southern cooking including that famous Cheesburger in Paradise, and enough shakers of salt to spice up any of the 10 Margaritas on offer; Emeril Lagasse's Emeril's Orlando and Pat O'Brien's both offer New Orleans-inspired dishes.
City Walk (10-minute boat ride) offers more drinking establishments than you can visit in one night. You can sample margaritas at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville; hurricanes at Pat O'Brien's; tequila-based cocktails at Antojitos; and Red Stripe beer at Bob Marley's place, plus many, many more.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Zen-like serenity of this truly beautiful hotel provides the perfect counter to the roller-coaster and high-intensity rides of the conveniently close Universal Studios parks. Plus, the park perks are hard to beat, and the food options are excellent, and the water taxi transportation around the property is a joy in its own right.