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As we told you last fall, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios would be opening on March 31st and today, the property lived up to its promise as the resort's first guests began checking in.
You can learn more about what the guest rooms have to offer here but for now, check out this dive tower water slide that drops you out into the 10,000-sq.ft. zero entry pool in the Cabana Courtyard ("Castaway" is the name of one of the guest room towers.)
The hotel will also unveil a lazy river experience, a first for the Universal Orlando Resort hotels, on June 16th (along with Hideaway Bar and Grill, the Tower family suites and standard rooms.)
Right now the hotel is offering a special opening offer for a family suite at a standard room rate. Rooms were sold-out this weekend but we did find a family suite for $239 a night next weekend. That room can sleep up to six people (it is kind of cramped, you've been warned) and it gives the family early access to Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, along with a few other benefits.
[Photo: Cabana Bay Beach Resort]
Stay at a hotel in a city, and you've got very little chance of hopping into a pool. Stay in a hotel in a vacation destination in Florida however, and you not only are almost guaranteed a pool, but typically you've got your choice of pools.
This is the case at Universal Studios' Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, which sports both an "adult" pool and a "family pool." The latter is where we found all the action when we visited the hotel for a few days recently, and yet no one was at all interested in the quieter, more refined adult pool.
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Yea, we totally snapped this photo and the best moment between storm and sunset
You may arrive to your hotel by limo, taxi, subway or even helicopter, but nothing beats the romance of gliding up to a magnificent hotel by boat. Naturally, when you think of hotel boats, your thoughts first turn to Venice's gondolas and the Hotel Danieli or the tender out to the W Maldives, but we found something a little bit closer to home.
As part of the attempt to inject Universal Studios' Loews Portofino Bay Hotel with all the charms of Italy, the hotel boasts its own water taxi for direct transport over the Universal CityWalk area, which you don't need to have a ticket to the amusement park to enter. Okay okay, so the other two Universal HotelsLoews Royal Pacific and The Hard Rockalso have this, but only the Portofino actually tries to make it look like you're off the Italian Riviera. Oh yea, and it's free.
While some hotels are all about flaunting their Top Chef winners (ah hem Affinia Chicago and Marcus Samuelsson of C-House), others stick with the already established names, like Wolfgang Puck or Emeril Lagasse. You'll find the latter dominating the in-room coffee trays of Universal Orlando's three resortsLoews Portofino Bay Resort at Universal Studios Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific and Hard Rock Hotelwith Emeril-branded "Jazzed Up Decaf" and "Big Easy Bold" paired with a Keurig coffee machine.
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Are we in Italy right now? Nope, but this hotel is pretty convincing in its Italian-ness, if only it could decide exactly what part of Italy it wants to be. We're talking about the Loews Portofino Bay Resort at Universal Studios Orlando, aka our base camp during the opening days of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Although Steven Spielberg initially conceived of making this hotel in the spirit of the Italian Riviera town of Portofino after spending his honeymoon there, a wander around the grounds reveals that it's smushed a bit of Venice, a dash of Tuscany, a dollop of Sicily and a pinch of Naples together to form a complex that exudes more La Dolce Vita than actual hotels in Italy. And if you guessed that last night, the plaza was serenaded by an opera singer performing "O Sole Mio" from a terrace, then you'd be correct.