In 2016 we won an all expenses paid trip to Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida. Just writing that it still doesn’t seem real. Six months later, we set out on the trip for my dad’s 60th birthday. Staying at the newly opened on-site Universal Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.
I had mixed ideas about reviewing this hotel. However, when we ended up paying to book a second room at the hotel, I decided that it was ‘appropriate’ for me to review it. When I was asked by many of you who have viewed the daily videos from our time in Florida for a complete review of the hotel, I knew I had to. So, here it is…
Dates: 26th April 2017 – 1st May 2017
Price We Paid Per Night: $157.50 (on average)
Room Type:2 Queen beds (sleeps 4. You can have a pull out bed in the room too for an extra $15 a night)
Booking Platform: Won in a competition, but you’re best booking with Loews Hotels
This was our first time staying on-site at Universal Studios, or any theme park both in the UK or elsewhere for that matter. Here’s what’s so great about staying on-site at any of the fantastic Universal resorts.
Universal Loews Sapphire Falls Location
Universal Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Orlando is one of the many on-site hotels at Universal Studios. It’s a 20-minute walk to City Walk (the entertainment complex, entrance to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Blue Man Group) via the garden walk. Alternatively, take either the complimentary bus or the water taxi. We opted for the scenic water taxi which runs every 10 minutes from 7am until 2am daily.
One thing I was asked a lot on our daily videos was ‘how much did it cost to go to…’ during our time at Universal Loews Sapphire Falls resort we used an Uber to go off-site. Here are the places we visited and the cost (each way)
Magic Kingdom – $25
Disney Springs – $21.50
Premium Outlet – $10.92
Walmart Super Centre – $6.16
All prices are based on an Uber XL as there was 5 of us. So if you’re a party of 4 or less, it will be cheaper.
Ultimately, for a five-night break focusing on the two Universal Parks, the location of Universal Loews Sapphire Falls couldn’t have been better. Here are some of the other benefits of the location;
We didn’t have to walk and search for our car in a parking lot after a long day of walking.
We could go back to the hotel during the middle of the day and then back to the park a little later on.
Our group could split with some going back to the hotel and others staying in the park.
We had two rooms at the Universal Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Both of which were situated close together on floor four (the same as the reception).
The first room had wonderful views of the pool two floors below. The other backed onto the entrance of the hotel. Other than the views both rooms were exactly the same.
The room also has a 42 inch TV with a wide variety of channels in both English and Spanish. Two of the best queen size beds I’ve slept on in my life (seriously, I’ve stayed in five-star resorts that have had worse beds). As well as a super practical desk (ideal for that late night vlog editing and catching up on work)
The facilities of this hotel are endless, I mean honestly…
Let’s start with the basics. The wifi. It’s complimentary and despite serving conferences and up to 1,000 guests it’s still super fast. Both uploads and downloads could be done in minutes rather than hours.
The hotel is also home to a Universal Studios store allowing you to make those early or last-minute purchases. As well as this they have one ‘supermarket’ it’s the perfect place to grab a snack, a drink or breakfast – although it’s pricey. Remember, this is an on-site hotel so you’re going to be paying a similar price for food and drink as you would inside the park itself.
With a complimentary fridge in each room save money by calling in Walmart and picking up some drinks, snacks and cereal (or another breakfast item) to eat in your room. It should save you the best part of $8 per person per day.
Bars & Resturants
There’s one bar on-site. It’s the perfect place to grab a drink and watch the game or just sit out on the balcony and watch the sunset over the water. As well as this there’s one ‘fine dining’ restaurant, a complimentary gym (with a wide variety of equipment) and a games room.
Moving to the swimming pool. Universal Loews Sapphire Falls Resort has a wonderfully large swimming pool – although it’s not very deep. I could comfortably stand up in every part and I’m only 5ft 4″. There’s also a slide, like an actual slide! Complimentary swimming vests for the young ones, as well as complimentary water (including lemon and lime flavour), towels and factor 50 sun cream.
The pool has two outdoor bars – the perfect place to grab a cocktail. As well as some great outdoor games including table tennis, speed stacks and sacks.
Finally, the one ‘facility’ or feature if you like of the hotel that seems to fit nowhere else, and yet is probably one of the most major selling points of the hotel. The ability to enter both of the Universal parks one hour before the general public. That’s almost an Express Pass in itself. A chance to jump the queues on your favourite rides. Unfortunately, the hotel does not include Express pass with the hotel stay.
In conclusion, it’s certainly not my standard priced hotel. However, if we’re talking solely based on value for money I’d say that Universal Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Orlando is absolutely fantastic! Every second we spent at the hotel was magical and it made our entire time at the Universal parks ten times better when compared to staying either in a hotel on I-Drive or in a villa.
I wouldn’t recommend a fourteen-night stay at this hotel (unless you’re mega rich) however a couple of nights here while you’re visiting the Universal parks is certainly going to take a load off and make your entire vacation much more enjoyable.
My final words on the value of Universal Loews Sapphire Falls resort would be this. There’s no smaller room than the one designed for four people. If you get four people in the room then at just short of $40 a night per person it’s outstanding value for money. Especially if you’re splitting the cost with family and friends.
My personal downside to the value for money is there are no standard double rooms. They all have the capability to sleep four people, with two beds. So put two people in the same room and the value per night per person is $80. What I believe it would have been good to see is a standard double room with just one bed that was financially somewhere in the middle.
The location is absolutely perfect for the Universal Studios Theme park. While still being easily accessible to other amenities in the area. The food on site is at a similar price point to the parks, a fridge in your room and a Walmart superstore near by provides you the option of saving a little money. The facilities such as life jackets for the children, towels, sun cream and water as well as the fantastic customer service from staff really made our time at this hotel super convenient and extra special.