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While Loews Portofino Bay Hotel may transport you to the romantic Italian Riviera and Loews Royal Pacific Resort may transport your to Polynesian paradise, the fourth resort to grace Universal Orlando property transports you the a leisurely estate in the heart of the tropics. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is a charming Caribbean-inspired oasis that drowns out the screaming of frogs on nearby roller coasters with the calming sounds of blue waterfalls and steel drums. We love this hotel for the relaxing, beachy vibe and the many benefits that come with its Preferred status. Grab a Hurricane and let the island breezes take you away as we breakdown everything you need to know about this tropical retreat.
After Royal Pacific Resort was built in 2002, the three Premier hotels were the only accommodations on Universal Orlando property for 14 years. Finally, in 2016, the first (and, currently, only) Preferred hotel opened — offering frogs a cheaper option that still provided the world-class benefits, accommodations, amenities and dining the resort had come to be known for. Sapphire Falls houses 1,000 total standard rooms and luxury suites that provide scenic views of lush grounds and picturesque palm trees, calling to mind the idyllic landscapes found in the Caribbean islands. Nestled in between Royal Pacific, Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal's Aventura Hotel, Sapphire Falls is in a prime location for frogs looking to conquer either the crazy coasters and sick simulators of the theme parks or the wet and wild thrills of Universal's Volcano Bay water park.
Because Sapphire Falls is a Preferred property, it doesn't offer all of the same benefits that the Premier hotels do. However, frogs staying at this hotel are still granted Early Park Admission — that is up to early access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and other awesome attractions at Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure up to one hour prior to park opening and early access to select attractions at Volcano Bay up to 30 minutes prior to park opening. Additionally, all hotel guests on Universal property complimentary transportation to the theme parks and Universal CityWalk, resort-wide charging privileges with a room key AND complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to your hotel!
The decor is absolutely lovely at Sapphire Falls. It's modern and tropical, white and clean, with splashes of color. This decor is carried through to to the rooms, which are quite comfortable and include ample electrical outlets (for all of your devices) and complimentary Wi-Fi. Standard rooms are 321 square feet with two queen beds and all cotton linens. You can also book lagoon and pool-view rooms — both of which come with either one king bed or two queen beds and the latter of which may offer views of Hogwarts Castle, Doctor Doom's Fear Fall and other Islands of Adventure attractions! Families who want to splurge can also take advantage of suites, ranging from 595 to 1,353 square feet.
Most of the rooms come with an oversized shower and no tub, which will work quite nicely for most families. If you just can't live without a tub (like me), know that there are a limited number of rooms at the resort with tubs, and you would need to make this request when booking. If it's an absolute must, consider staying at another one of the Universal hotels. The vanity and sink is separate from the shower, which makes morning prep a bit easier, but families planning longer stays will likely find the double vanity area at Cabana Bay to be more helpful.
You'll be hoppy to know there are several different transportation options available to you as a guest at Sapphire Falls. The fastest way to get to CityWalk and/or the theme parks is a water taxi. They come every 15 to 20 minutes and the trip takes six to 10 minutes. There's also the shuttle busses which arrive every 30 minutes starting one hour prior to park open and run until 2 a.m. That's a 15 to 20 minute trip to CityWalk and/or the theme parks and only a 10 to 15 minute trip to Volcano Bay. Lastly, if you're looking to start getting your steps in early (and if you think you'll be able to handle it at the end of a long park day), walking paths are available. It's going to take you 20 to 25 minutes to get to Universal Studios, 15 to 20 minutes to get to either Citywalk or Islands of Adventure and only five to 10 minutes to get to Volcano Bay. For those of you driving, there's both self-parking and valet available.
One of the biggest considerations we factor into our stay is what the pool(s) are like. We are frogs after all ;) While Sapphire Falls doesn't have multiple pools like its across-the-street neighbor Cabana Bay, it does have the largest pool on property. There are two sand beach areas, a children's play area, oversized hot tub and water slide. One of the nice things about the Universal hotels is that guests are free to use any of the pools, so you could hop over to the Hard Rock Hotel or any of the others to mix it up.
If you want to keep to your exercise routine, you'll find a large, state-of-the-art fitness center, which includes a combination of cardio and strength equipment plus an assortment of free weights.
While there is no on-site spa, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel has a Mandara Spa. Parents looking for a night out can take advantage of one of the kids clubs at the Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific or Portofino Bay. The concierge can help arrange complimentary transportation if you don't want to take a water taxi. Tadpoles will also love the vast array of activities available at Sapphire Falls whether its poolside ping pong tournaments, water balloon tosses or hula hoop contests or the exciting variety go arcade and video games at Calypso Game Room.
As far as shopping goes, you'll find snack options, toiletries, swimsuits and other clothing, and souvenirs in the large Universal Studios Store.
There is no shortage of tasty food options at Sapphire Falls, with grab-and-go and tasty, Caribbean-inspired quick-service options at the New Dutch Trading Co. There is also a full coffee bar, a yogurt bar and pastry case, which offers different selections depending on time of day. In the mornings, there are more breakfast items, while in the afternoon and evenings you'll find more sweets such as cakes. I highly recommend the turtle brownie—it's ooey-goey caramely goodness with a heavy dollop of ganache on top.
The Amatista Cookhouse offers breakfast (buffet or off the menu), lunch and dinner. There are gluten-free options, and each of the menus (minus breakfast) include mostly Caribbean and Caribbean-inspired dishes, although there are some American standards.
Don't skip the Strong Water Tavern, which offers daily rum tastings, a ceviche bar, and classic Cuban, Puerto Rican, Colombian and other Caribbean dishes. With two full-time rum captains, you'll be in good hands if you want to explore its many rum options or try some of their original infusions. We highly recommend the daiquiris, more sophisticated cocktails than the frozen concoctions you're thinking of. For a taste of something more unusual, try the milk punch, made with Flor de Cana 7 year, black tea and clarified milk.
Those who are spending their afternoon at the pool will find tasty, tropical drinks and Tapas-style appetizers starting at 11 a.m. at Drhum Club Kantine.
For families, couples or even groups of friends looking to escape the hullabaloo of the theme parks but still be right next to action, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is a frogtastic choice. Nothing beats starting the day with a delicious breakfast buffet and then racing off to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before the crowds arrive or walking back from a relaxing day at Volcano Bay and ending the night with a curated Rum Lab cruise.
Accommodations range from standard rooms with two queen beds or one king to stunning suites that sleep anywhere from two to 14 frogs! Sapphire Falls is also one of the five hotels on property that also offers kids suites. The ones here come with a separate nautical-themed bedroom for the tadpoles while the parents enjoy a comfortable king bed in a room to themselves. You can also bring Fido along as Sapphire Falls is the most wallet-friendly hotel on property to allow pets!
Additionally, only the top two tiers of hotels offer valet parking and 24-hour room service (a life-saver on busy mornings or late nights). They're also the only four hotels to have both a business center and a concierge desk. No matter how many times I've visited Universal, I always have questions and ask for recommendations, so I love having someone who can help us make every vacation memorable!
The one thing you won't receive here, though, as opposed to the Premier hotels is Universal Express Unlimited. Luckily, Undercover Tourist does sell it at a discounted price if you're looking to skip the lines! However, with free transportation, an incredible pool, flavorful food, clean and spacious rooms, plenty to do to keep the tadpoles entertained and calming island vibes, Sapphire Falls is still a favorite of this frog family. It's a great option if you're looking the amenities and comfort of a luxury hotel without the price tag.
We Sapphire Falls and we're hopping to hop back soon! Have a question about Sapphire Falls or any of the Universal resort hotels? Share it in comments below.
Related: Universal's Sleek, Sultry Aventura Hotel Is Value at Its Best
Universal Orlando Resort Hotels,
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
So if I'm staying here I'm free to use other pools? Does that mean I can eat at other hotels on the resort also? does one particular hotel offer anything especially great I should take in while staying at Sapphire??
Yes, you can visit any of the hotel dining spots. Sapphire is actually one of our favorite places for dining. Amatista Cookhouse offers incredible quick comfort foods that are a big hit with Tad and Lily, and Strong Water Tavern has quick bites along with terrific rum drinks! Another favorite restaurant is the cozy Mama Della's Ristorante at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. I highly recommend them!
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