Hotel review: Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando

A resort that’s the best of both worlds

The received wisdom is you don’t come to Orlando – the theme park capital of the world – for a relaxing holiday. With the early starts, the tens of thousands of steps you can accrue navigating the various rides, parades and cavalcades there isn’t much room for downtime. Well think again. A stay at the Loews Sapphire Falls shows how very different things could be. It’s a Caribbean-themed oasis which whispers hushed calm and first class service, that just so happens to be on the doorstep of Universal’s two theme parks – Islands of Adventure and Universal Orlando – which boast some of the world’s best rides that see you fly on broomsticks with Harry Potter, escape dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and swing through the skies with Spiderman. Access to the parks is via either a ten minute walk through lush gardens which provide surprising tranquility in the heart of a bustling and vibrant tourist area, or by the elegant and stylish water taxi – a freebie exclusive to hotel guests.

loews sapphire

Loews Sapphire Fall Resort at Universal Orlando review

ROOMS & FACILITIES

This is a big resort with 1000 rooms and suites spread around its tropical setting. Fear not though, it never feels over crowded or hectic, the huge acreage and beautiful landscaping absorbs the number of guest with ease.

loews sapphire

Rooms are clean and simple in their design – think Ikea’s minimal scandi vibe with a Caribbean twist of colour. Most come with just a shower (though rooms with tubs are available on request) and all come with the usual hotel amenities – fridge, safe, iron and board, hair dryer, a clock-radio with iPod docking, Keurig coffee-maker and big TVs. Depending on your party size, the room will feature either a king-sized or two queen beds.

Suites offer separate sitting rooms, bedrooms or even dining rooms depending on size – and the depth of your pockets. In whichever room you choose to lay your head, you will be near the huge main pool (with water slide for the young and young at heart), fitness centre, arcade, gift shop and main lobby.

FOOD & DRINK

It’s hard to pick a stand-out from the resort’s restaurants – they are all great, while each offering something different. For a sit down meal, head to the Amatista Cookhouse (pictured below) – which specializes in Caribbean inspired cuisine prepared in an open exhibition kitchen. It’s available for breakfast, lunch and dinner with both buffet and a la carte options, and with seating indoors (in the blessed air con) or out (in the beautiful landscaped gardens), you’re spoilt for choice. We particularly enjoyed the rotisserie chicken, which was especially flavourful, but there’s a multitude of curries, flatbreads and burgers on offer.

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Off the main lobby is the Strong Water Tavern – regularly voted one of the best bars at any theme park, and with over 70 rums, a great cocktail list and local craft beers its easy to see why – but it also serves excellent tapas-style food with ceviches, curries and other Caribbean inspired dishes.

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There is also a pool bar and grill – the Drhum Club Kantine – with the usual fayre of burgers and pizzas which can be delivered to your sun lounger for the ultimate in holiday relaxation. And finally there is the grab and go offerings of sandwiches, ice creams, snacks and drinks at The New Dutch Trading Co., perfect for those early starts in the park.

HOTEL HIGHLIGHTS

While many guests choose to stay here because of its close proximity to the Universal parks – and the added benefit of being able to steal a march on the crowds by getting access to them an hour ahead of everyone else – there is much to enjoy on a day off.

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Take a dip in the largest pool in any of the Universal resorts – which boasts a children’s play area with pop-up jets, hot tub, and sandy beaches. There is also a complimentary fitness centre, an arcade for all your button bashing needs, and the Mandara spa – situated at the sister resort of Portofino Bay and reached by complimentary shuttle – for those feeling a little less energetic and more in need of a spot of pampering.

BEST FOR

A fun, serene Caribbean style family resort where you can recharge your batteries with great food (and lots of rum!) before mounting another assault on the world-class Universal theme parks.

14 nights in Orlando from £4609 for a family of four

14 nights in Orlando, with Virgin Atlantic Holidays, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic Economy flights direct from London Heathrow to Orlando. Accommodation at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Price is based on a family of four (two adults, two children) travelling and sharing a Standard 2 Queen Room and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on 2nd January 2023. For £5785 you can include Universal Orlando 3 Park Explorer Tickets. Virgin Atlantic Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk or call 0344 557 3859.