There are now 5 on site hotels you can stay in at Universal Orlando Resort. The newest of these is Loews Sapphire Falls that opened in 2016. That is the place I stayed at most recently (last time I stayed at The Royal Pacific). I have long been a supporter of staying on site at Universal Orlando Resort and the Sapphire Falls has its place as a hotel for families and business people who aren’t looking for a expensive experience or a ritzy theme.
The Loews Sapphire Falls hotel fills the gap in cost and services that exists between the Cabana Bay and the Pacific Royal. The Cabana Bay is the least expensive hotel on site but lacks many luxury services that you would expect in a resort hotel (but you get the savings so it’s a solid trade). Sapphire Falls adds several of those services back to your hotel without bringing the price up to the level of the Royal Pacific, Portofino Bay or Hard Rock.
Let’s talk express pass. You see Sapphire Falls is a hotel that doesn’t give you the automatic express pass. Is this a bad thing? Depends on when you go, what parks you go to and who you are with. Going during the off season, express pass isn’t necessary so wy pay the hotel upcharge if you don’t have to. Going for the Volcano Bay Water Park, there is no express pass so again why pay the upcharge. If you are traveling with a grandma that can wait with the littles or take them to the Suess Landing while you wait in a line than by all means skip the express pass. If you aren’t pressed for time to get through the parks (like one day only) than the express pass isn’t a must have for you. With the myriad of price changes in the express pass and the number of hotel prices you can match up wit it, I am not going to do a mix and match comparison for you. Cause to soem a suite is more important than a shorter line. To others a shorter line is more important than a luxury hotel. So you are gonna have to decide what you want. I have given you my recommendations for when to consider Sapphire Falls as a good value option.
There are so many other onsite hotel benefits besides express pass and Sapphire Falls has those. And we will start with my favorite, Early Park Admissions. This is a huge advantage, especially for the Volcano Bay. That one hour before hand time is key to enjoying rides without a crowd. And since Volcano Bay has NO express pass, you want that less crowded time in the day in the summer months. WIthout going an hour early my family probably would never have ridden the Krakatau.
As with any onsite hotel you have closer access to the parks, water park and Universal Citywalk. There is a 15 minute walking path to the City Walk from Sapphire Falls. But you can also take the water taxi to it. Cabana Bay does not have water taxi access, so this is one of those luxury features you get for just a little more money.
A few other features that Sapphire Falls has that put it a step up from Cabana Bay are a business center, concierge service, resort wide charging privileges and individual suites. Depending on your travel these may be deal breakers for you if you don’t have. I for one need a business center often while traveling. But I find I enjoy concierge services when staying at large resorts, because I just don’t have the knowledge of the area and seraching it out is time consuming. And Sapphire Falls has conference services making is a business destination.
But for me the feature I loved most of my stay at the Sapphire Falls was the text-
with-the-front-desk feature. We lost a room key at the park, got it canceled quickly with the test the front desk. The pool closed momentarily for weather an rather than continuously walk back to check we could text the desk for an update. When we wanted to schedule a shuttle to the airport the front desk coordinated with the concierege services and it was all taken care of. The front text texting is by far a feature I hope to use at more Loews Hotels. Wonderfully simple, quick to respond. Loved It!
Sapphire Falls is the destination for people looking to save a little money but still enjoy many luxury features and advantages of hotels onsite at Universal Orlando Resort. It’s best during the slow season and when you have a business conference. I would enjoy staying there again for any of those reasons.
If you are interested in booking a vacation at Universal Studios Orlando, use our recommended travel agent Autumn Barnes at Pirate and Mermaid Vacations. She is a certified travel planner for Disney and Unviersal (the combo is more rare than you would think). We trust her knowledge and know you will love her. Tell her FaveMom sent you.