Universal Resorts Read Part 1: Islands of Adventure and Part 2: Universal Studios
Universals three on-site hotels (all AAA Four Diamond rated) provide an atmosphere for guests to enjoy their vacation, no matter how they define the word relax
Does relaxing involve rocking out at the pool, gazing at rhinestone-covered guitars of the stars or divining a little inspiration from the funky threads of Elvis, Jimi and countless others? The Hard Rock Hotel seeks to leave a lasting impression on guests, captivating them with a menagerie of sight and sound.
Rock legends greatest hits wail away in the elevators, lobby and even underwater in the pool! Costumes and instruments belonging to one-word icons like Cher, Elton, Clapton, Gene and Ozzy dazzle the public areas.
In the guest rooms, visitors can kick back in classy, contemporary surroundings and enjoy the fact theyre just a five-minute walk (or even less strenuous water-taxi ride) from the Universal parks and CityWalk.
Perhaps relaxing involves a South Pacific twist that evokes the Golden Age of Travel with a hint of mystery. That enduring ideal comprises the theme of the Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
This 1,000-room property celebrates the most beautiful and elegant facets of the South Seas. Witness the breathtaking Orchid Court lobby next to the reception desk, with its flowers, fountains and statuary arranged just so for perfect visual harmony. Ponder the quirky artifacts of Jakes American Grill, homage to a lost adventurer.
Foodies can dine like kings with the Orchid Court Sushi Bars creative concoctions, the Wantilan Luau complete with Polynesian dancing and delicacies and Emeril Lagasses Tchoup Tchoup, the celebrity chefs spin on Asian cuisine.
Maybe relaxing truly means a getaway to la dolce vita (Italian for the good life). The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel,a mere 10-minute boat ride from the hustle and bustle of the parks, is a peaceful bay nestled against a replica of the famous Italian cruise ports boardwalk.
This slice of Italy comes complete with three pools, a full-service spa and Universals most spacious guest rooms. The Villa Pool in particular is a visual treat palm trees lining the red-stone promenade, with cabanas for an extra degree of secluded luxury beside crystal-clear water a perfect spot to laze away an afternoon.
No detail seems to be overlooked at Portofino Bay, where Italian singers serenade guests in the courtyard at twilight and at Mama Dellas Ristorante dinner feast. And when it comes to guest rooms, step up to the deluxe tier if you can the rooms feature a separate tub and shower with a neat little shutter window into the bedroom.
Staying on-site at Universal means shelling out significant hard-earned cash, but the savings in time and hassle rack up quickly. In fact, its like staying at three resorts in one since guests are welcome to use the amenities of all three hotels.
I stayed at the Hard Rock but made time to visit Portofino Bay for a relaxing game of bocce on the authentic red-dirt court a half-hour of sun-baked heaven for a Euro-sports fan like myself and truly an evocative experience! The hotels rotate hosting duties for kids camp and Dive-In Movie night at the pool on weekends.
Perhaps the greatest benefit is unlimited Universal Express privileges skipping to the front of the line at nearly every ride. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a notable exception but, fortunately, it opens one hour early just for resort guests.
All three hotels feature unique kids suites rooms with a separate, kid-friendly sleeping space with a door to keep the peace with the adults. Pets are welcome, too just $25 extra for the whole stay for Fido and Fluffy.
Later: Universals nightlife district, CityWalk