This Loews Sapphire Falls Resort Review at Universal Studios Orlando comes to you after we were invited to attend the Family Forward blogging conference, a 5 day retreat of family fun. We paid a rate to attend the conference, which included our hotel stay and attraction tickets. Additional VIP perks were provided at no additional cost. Any opinions are our own.
We’ve stayed in dozens of hotels over the past few years, but I can not remember staying anywhere longer than a few nights. We stayed at the Lowes Sapphire Bay Resort for 5 nights and it never once disappointed us.
Check-in was super easy. We arrived around noon, even though check in was at 4, and they immediately had a room available for us.
The Standard Room at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
You can check out what our standard room at Sapphire Falls Resort looked like upon our arrival here:
The standard room was perfect for the 3 of us. Although depending upon what you like to do at the resort, you may want to consider asking for a room near the pool if you plan to do a lot of swimming and want fast access to your room.
We had beautiful weather and a packed itinerary, so we were really only ever there to sleep and change. The hotel at the time of our stay was only 1-year-old and we had no complaints, everything appeared to be in new condition and in working order.
Our room was cleaned and made-up by the housekeeping staff after every night of our stay. One thing they offered at this resort, that we have never had offered to us on a previous stay, is we received a nightly knock on the door from housekeeping to ask if we needed anything, like more shampoo or new towels, which was really helpful when you travel with a child.
The pool is huge, beautiful, clean and spacious.
We visited mid-August and there were always plenty of chairs available. Not all of the chairs were in the shade though, and the shady spots will vary depending upon the time of day.
Towels, lounge chair towel covers, cups of water and sunscreen are provided for free.
If you bring a re-usable water bottle or container, there is Coca Cola Freestyle machine that has water in it that you can fill up for free with water and ice at the restaurant area.
We did not participate, but there is also a drink program you can purchase at Universal, that allows you to fill up a special Universal cup, which you buy. Then, at participating machines with soda and other drinks, you have access to unlimited refills, for a flat fee for the entire length of your stay.
There is real, soft, white sand around the perimeter of the pool underneath the surrounding lounge chairs.
Now that we live in Texas, my son loved it. If you want a premium location at the pool and guaranteed shade? Covered cabanas are available to rent for a fee.
The pool also has a gorgeous water slide, which my son spent a lot of time on. There is a little walk from the pool up some stairs to the top to ride.
The pavement near the pool can be really hot, so make sure you have flip flops to take to and from the pool instead of walking bare foot.
There are servers who can visit you at your chair and bring all sorts of food and drinks right to you.
The lifeguards at the hotel pool were absolutely unbelievable. I looked out on several occasions at different times of the day walking by the pool, when there was clearly no-one in the pool because of the time or day or it may have been slightly raining.
These lifeguards were 100% dedicated to constantly moving, watching and searching the water, making sure that no-one was drowning, especially at the bottom of the water slide. There are lifeguards stationed all around the pool and they rotate frequently.
I witnessed one lifeguard jump in, sneakers and and all to quickly assist a little girl who was vertical in the water and having trouble keeping her head above water.
As a parent I am constantly watching my son, but I felt so much more at ease knowing these professionals were clearly focused on keeping everyone in the pool safe.
The level of attention from these lifeguards is nothing like I have ever seen at our local pools and water parks.
The Food and Restaurants at Loews Sapphire Falls Resorts
We were in Orlando for 8 days, and we stayed 5 days at Universal Studios Resort Orlando. For a family of 3, over the course of the 8 days, we budgeted and spent close to $1000 on food and treats.
This included skipping meals and sharing plates during others. We also had many meals provided to us during our conference that were included in our rate.
Do not overlook this part of your budget when planning your theme park vacation.
Really get to know your options to determine how you will plan out where you will eat so if you need to stay within a budget you can make it happen.
On our first day, we ate lunch at Amatista Cookhouse. Our server was very friendly and service mid-day was leisurely. My husband and I ordered flatbread pizzas and there were plenty for leftovers that we took back to the room and stored in our room refrigerator for a late night snack. The kids meal included choices of additional sides and a drink.
We got a meal one night at the Dhrum Club Kantine, which is the outdoor restaurant by the pool. My son enjoyed a kids cheeseburger meal. I wasn’t in the mood for a full meal and my server was helpful, allowing me to choose a side caesar salad instead of a full meal, which helped keep our costs down and our bellies full.
We had breakfast most mornings at the New Dutch Trading Company. I won’t lie, the food was expensive in my opinion. An egg sandwich with sausage and a grande sized ice coffee is $12. A smoothie is $7. A bagel is $4 (includes cream cheese or butter). The quick-serve stop has soups and made to order salads, pastries, sandwiches and have an extensive menu of specialty coffee and espresso drinks.
The New Dutch Trading Company also had a good selection of snacks, cereal, ice cream cones, shakes, wine, beer, pre-made sandwiches and salads you can buy and take to-go.
In comparison though to the food elsewhere, in the theme parks and at City Walk restaurants, I felt like it was a step-up in comparison and worth the money for the quality when you get tired of eating at popular theme park franchises and snacks like popcorn, Dippin’ dots and donuts.
Plan ahead and bring some boxes of granola bars, nuts, breakfast bars, and pretzels with you to take to the park in a backpack or keep in your hotel. This also cut back on some of the spending and freed up some space for us to then take home our souvenirs.
Transportation to the Parks
You can walk from the hotel along the path on the waterway to the Universal Resort Orlando Theme Parks, which takes 15 minutes. In order to save the time on your feet, the boat is a great option. We hardly waited any longer than a 5-10 minutes for one. We logged 5-6 miles, on an average per day just roaming the park. You will be bused to Volcano Bay from the resort, and the ride is less then 5 minutes.
Plenty of Family Activities
Every night there was a dive-in movie at the pool. My son loved being able to call down to the front desk and ask for the schedule, which included Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone.
If you are relaxing, live music was played during the day by the pool.
Families can enjoy ping pong and corn hole by the pool, too. $5 at the arcade allows you to play a 1 or 2 video games and a round of air hockey.
We did not use it, but next to the pool was a very large gym with a lot of exercise equipment.
The Gift Shop
The gift shop at the hotel had a great selection of some of the same types of souvenirs that you can get inside the park gift shops which include t-shirts, lanyards, and plush toys featuring your favorite super heroes, Minions and Harry Potter characters. If you shop in the park, they will deliver your items to your hotel for you, but you can not be checking out the next day.
We Found 1 Con To Staying at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
The only potential drawback you might find at staying at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort Hotel is that this resort does not offer guests access to the Express Unlimited Passes when you stay there. The express unlimited pass allows you to wait in the shorter express line once inside the parks, skipping the longer, regular line.
The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort offer the express unlimited passes as part of the room rate, which is apparently a value of about $89 per person, per day.
I would not let this con deter you from staying at the resort, anyone can still purchase the express unlimited passes, but make sure to sort this out with reservations well before your arrival if it is an option you do not want to pay for separately.
Staying at this resort still gives visitors early access to the parks. There may be different times of the year when you may not need to purchase the express unlimited pass anyway, if you are visiting the parks in the off-season.
On the Universal Resorts website, this hotel is rated as a 3 star option. In my opinion, in comparison to other standard hotel rooms, with the amenities and decor I believe that it rates closer to a 4 star hotel.
Disclosure: This Loews Sapphire Falls Resort Review at Universal Studios Orlando comes to you after we were invited to attend the Family Forward blogging conference, a 5 day retreat of family fun. We paid a rate to attend the conference, which included our hotel stay and attraction tickets. Additional VIP perks were provided at no additional cost. Any opinions are our own.