Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel: A Taste of Italy in the Heart of Orlando

This year has been more on-the-go for usual for the two of us; in part, now that we’re running a business as a pair, I don’t feel guilty traveling on so many back-to-back trips. On the flip side, we’re fortunate enough to work with so many brands and destinations that we love, and many of the projects just seem to fall one after another.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

So we’d barely unpacked our bags from Grenada when it was time to head to Orlando for four blissful days of sunshine. Given that we planned our trip for late February through early March to beat the Spring Break rush, it was the perfect opportunity to squeeze in some prime tanning time while the rest of our Tennessee friends were pallid from the winter months.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Growing up, my parents had a timeshare down in Lake Buena Vista (they actually still do), so we always stayed off-property when going to the Orlando theme parks. It wasn’t actually until I attended the opening of Diagon Alley three years ago that I first stayed on-site. And what a difference it makes!

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

For one, we flew in from Nashville on the first direct flight out in the morning—which is both cheap and convenient, thanks to Southwest—arrived before noon, took a Lyft straight to our hotel, dropped our bags at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, picked up our park passes and went straight into the park.

Did you know that those who stay at one of three Universal Orlando Resort hotels (Royal Pacific, Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel) receive complimentary Express passes? It’s one of the many perks of staying on-property.

For those of you keeping tabs at home, that’s an $89 value per person. And it definitely adds up!

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Another thing I love about staying in the parks is that I don’t have to do my standard arrive-when-they-open-and-leave-when-they-close routine. SVV and I were very much lazy park-goers this past trip. We’d get up, exercise our extra hour of access to the parks in the morning before the regular folk arrived, then leave for lunch and spend the rest of the day here, in a state of bliss, beer in hand.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

When we were deciding where to stay on this trip, I’ll admit: I was stumped. Did I go for the shiny newness of Sapphire Falls? The vintage retro vibe of Cabana Bay? The islander scene at the Royal Pacific? So few days, too many choices.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

In the end, we decided to go halfsies: two nights at Loews Portofino Bay, two nights at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

In other words, some peace and quiet at the more adult-y resort, followed by some rock ‘n roll glam at the Millennial favorite.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Portofino Bay is meant to transport you to Italy, and it does a pretty solid job of just that. As you pull up to the front by water taxi, you’ll see candy-colored houses lining the waterfront, canoes dotting the lake, and a piazza brimming with live music, food and beverage options.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

For those who have never been to Europe, you’ll feel as if you’re abroad. For those like me who have spent a lot of time there, you’ll get nostalgic for Naples, Rome, Cinque Terra, Burano.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

I’ll confess: During our two days at Portofino Bay, we spent far more time kicking it at the resort than we did in the parks.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Why? Well, this pool, for starters.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Tell me you’d ever leave this spot, particularly with the temperature topping out at 90 (and in February, at that!).

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

The parks were pretty uncrowded given that we were there in shoulder season, so we were able to tackle many of our favorite attractions in the morning hours. We also made use of the hotel’s various food and beverage options. We dined on fine Italian at Mama Della’s Ristorante.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

And cooled off with gelato from the resident gelateria.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

We ordered lunch and poolside drinks from the Beach Pool—and took them to the adults-only pool, which was much quieter than the kid-friendly one.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

The hotel has a Mandara Spa that I took advantage of, as well, after a pretty bad fall doing acro two days prior. And while I didn’t use the fitness facility (oops), I did make use of all that manicured lawn space and got some arm balances and inversion practice in.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

And, of course, there was some park time, too. The free water taxi leaves every 20 minutes or so from the main piazza to Universal CityWalk, so you never have to wait long.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

In summary, Portofino Bay is, in my opinion, the chillest of the Universal resorts. Looking for a romantic, yet low-key couples getaway? This property is the one for you.

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation

Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
This post is in partnership with Universal Orlando Resort as part of the #UORBlogSquad ambassador program. All thoughts, photos and opinions are my own.

 

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Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacationo
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
Why You Should Stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on Your Next Universal Orlando Vacation
COMMENTS
  • April 17, 2017

    I love that photo of you next to the one of the bird! Haha you created a nice symmetry there!

    I can’t believe I’ve never been to world famous theme parks in the US! I also still can’t believe I’ve only visited the US once! Florida is on my list of places to travel for a couple of reasons, Universal is certainly one of them!
    Dominique recently posted..Doha – A Long TransitMy Profile

    • April 17, 2017

      I mean, the US is so massive, it would take you forever to see it all! Florida itself would take months to travel and just see the highlights: the parks, the Keys, the white sands of the Gulf Coast, the Crystal Springs and its manatees…

  • April 17, 2017

    I love Loews properties. I think if I was staying in this spot I would have never made it into the parks! Looks delightful and you feel like you are in a whole other world.

    • April 23, 2017

      I’m such a fan, too! I’ve only stayed in the Atlanta, Nashville and Orlando properties to date. They seem to be more concentrated on the East coast.

  • April 18, 2017

    Orlando is so beautiful place to visit and spend some memorable moments there. Really its feel amazing
    Ketherin Smith recently posted..Hello world!My Profile

  • April 20, 2017

    Great photos as always.
    Florida definitely has TONS to see, and yes it would take months to see it all… For those that don’t have months, a week’s drive down one coast and up the other (and not forgetting the two-hour drive to Key West from the mainland!) is an unforgettable experience.
    Chris Backe recently posted..Why German men sit down to pee, traveling as a mother, and traveling ‘green’: your April 2017 book reviewsMy Profile

    • April 23, 2017

      Thanks, Chris! And I agree, that Keys drive is one of my very favorite trips in the US, period. As a diver, I love the wrecks of Key Largo; as an animal lover, the turtle sanctuary in Marathon is fantastic; and as a foodie, you just can’t beat Key West! OK, now I need to plan another Keys trip, stat, clearly 😉

  • April 24, 2017

    So, this post is super useful for me because I’ve been nervous about taking my kids to theme parks. Staying here and having the Express Pass would make the vacation a breeze! My older son is almost 10, so he’s been begging me to take him to Universal.

  • April 24, 2017

    I originally clicked on this post because I’m heading to Portofino, and the cover photo looked like Italy. What a beautiful place, and a nice surprise to see this resort not too far from my home. Thanks for the intro, Kristin!

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