Staying at LOEWS Portofino Bay (a Universal Resort)

One of five the on-premise hotels at Universal Orlando resort.
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Loews Portofino Bay is one of five on-premise hotels at Universal. I arrived very late in the evening (around 10pm), so I wasn’t mentally ready to be WOWed by the lobby. The best visual of this hotel is the view from the water taxi as I return from the Universal Studio and Adventure Island; it was absolutely amazing as the hotel façade accurately replicates the city of Portofino in Italy.

Transportation To/From Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Portofino Bay

Flying into Orlando, you’ll most likely find yourself at Orlando International Airport. The terminals are connected to the airport hub via tram service and two major terminals A and B. Because Lyft is not allowed at MCO and Uber is allowed on via UberBlack, the fee for UberBlack and a Taxi are similar, on average $50 to $60.

However, Uber and Lyft are both available on your route from Portofino Bay to MCO, and that Uber cost for me was $19.34 with plenty of Uber cars hover around the hotel.

Portofino Bay Hotel Room & Service

The room (with 2 queen beds) was very spacious, and comes with a couch. Most importantly, the bed sheets were clean. I wish that every room had a balcony, but only the bottom floor rooms allowed outside access with a patio with a chair. The bathroom was huge, almost too large. It felt like it was designed to be handicap accessible.

Best of all, there was free Wi-Fi (up to 4 devices per room). They can be registered for any duration. So if you only want to use your tablet the first day, you can register it for 1 day of your stay. The wifi was available throughout the hotel, so you won’t need to worry about spotty mobile service.

The only complaints/suggestion:

  • The hairdryer was not producing consistent hot air in the morning and it took over an hours for another hairdryer to be delivered. By then, we had already left for the conference we were attending. When we tried the new hairdryer the next morning, the hairdryer didn’t even turn on.
  • The nightstand was definitely dirty and needed to be wiped down. The back of my phone got was a bit sticky and needed to be wiped clean.

Free Amenities at Portofino Bay

Three pools, with one major pool with a water slide and a beach area. There’s also a spa, gym, and bocce ball courts. There are Italian restaurants on-site, gelato desserts, and even a Starbucks. The pools were warm, didn’t have an overly strong chlorine smell, and was filled with kids and a waterslide.

There is lots of outdoor seating in their patio area that is great for watching nightly singing that echoes throughout the hotel. It lasts for around 20 minutes. Many people purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy while listening to the music.

Free Universal Studio Orlando Stuff

  • Free Universal Express Unlimited tickets for both parks for the extent of your stay (that’s a $84.99 value per person per day). You’ll still need to purchase admission tickets, but the ability to skip the line is a huge timesaver. (You’ll need to print a separate ticket which is good the duration of your stay).
  • Free Boat Ride to Universal Studios. The lines are short and the ride is approximately 5 minutes.
  • A path for a short walk to the park that takes approximately 10-15 minutes around the lake.
  • Enter Universal Studios one hour earlier (not valid at Island’s of Adventure).
  • Free Access to CityWalk ($12 value per person per day)

So, if you were planning on purchasing a Universal Express Unlimited ticket for your family, you’ll want to consider staying on the Universal lot to save money.

My Opinion Comparing Resorts at Universal

During my stay, I took a walk to visit the other Universal hotels and found slight difference in each. Though many of the features like pool, wifi, and customer service are likely similar, each one is themed differently. Note, that this was only a walkthrough of the hotel, I didn’t actually stay at each of the hotels.

  • LOEWS Portofino Bay – A complicated lobby, felt small, but there are many rooms and hallways, keeping with the theme of Italy.
  • Hard Rock – A closer walk compared to Portofino Bay, theming was a few guitars and rock star memorabilia, but otherwise I wasn’t overly impressed with their lobby. There was much more lobby seating than Portofino Bay.
  • LOEWS Sapphire Falls – Newest and nicest lobby. A very grand entrance, high ceiling with lots of seating. There’s an awesome stairwell
  • LOEWS Royal Pacific – Very well themed, and as I was entering the hotel, was reminded of the Hawaii or Bora Bora. But that was the extent of it. Lobby had a nice small garden.
  • Cabana Bay Beach – Best feature is the lazy river pool, from appearance the rooms are outward facing. No water taxi access, but a shuttle is available.
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