My “go-to” onsite hotel at Universal Studios is, without a doubt, the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. During a joint Disney World/Universal Studios trip in December 2016, my family and I stayed at this stunning resort…and I fell in love. Today, I’m excited to share all of the reasons that I adored this resort AND (in fairness) the few things that I wasn’t so crazy about.
Theming: One word…bellissimo! We sincerely felt as though we’d been transported to a
quaint Italian seaside town. From the waterfront Harbor Piazza to the interior old-world décor, Portofino Bay’s theming is truly impeccable.
Location: The Portofino Bay Hotel is a little too far from the parks for most families to comfortably walk, which can be a drawback for some folks. But the complimentary ferry transportation is frequent and dependable, and I personally found the more secluded ambiance to be a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.
Pools: Here’s where the Portofino Bay Hotel really shines. This resort is home to three incredible pools, one of which features a Roman aqueduct-themed slide, a secluded hot tub, and a sandy lounge area. Pure paradise, particularly in contrast to the lackluster pool area at the Royal Pacific Resort.
Restaurants: Rarely have I stayed at a resort with such a variety of onsite sit-down and quick-service restaurants. Our favorite meal was at Mama Della’s Ristorante, which served up tableside entertainment along with traditional Italian fare. Trattoria del Porto came in at a close second with its extensive brunch offerings. Looking for an unforgettable fine dining experience on that special occasion? Look no farther than the renowned Bice Ristorante. If you’re in the mood for grab-and-go, Sal’s Market Deli will fit the bill. And also, there’s a Starbucks. Enough said.
Guest Rooms: Portofino Bay has among the largest guest rooms on property, and it’s home to the popular minion-themed Kids Suites. These suites are 650 square feet of awesome. A master bedroom for the parents, a kids’ room inspired by Gru’s Laboratory, a TV in each room, and the opportunity to enjoy some grown-up time after the kids go to sleep. I mean, what’s not to love?
Check-In: Honestly guys, it stunk. After our positive experience at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort on our previous visit (see my last blog entry), I was once again expecting a large front desk that was amply staffed with friendly people. Unfortunately, this was not the case. It took a whopping forty minutes for us to check in, and the front desk employees made little attempt to hide their frustration with guests who were becoming irritated by the wait. In fairness, this could have been an anomaly. But check-in is the first opportunity that any hotel has to impress its guests…and Portofino Bay failed miserably.
Overall Impressions: Despite the less-than-stellar front desk encounter, the Loews Portofino Bay Resort resort was simply amazing. It's one of those places that just forces you to exhale and relax. This will be my "happy place" at the Universal Orlando Resort from now on.