Universal Studios in Orlando Florida is a great place for families to visit, especially families who enjoy Hollywood movies. As avid theme park goers, our family decided to stay at the Loews Portofino Bay Luxury Resort on our latest visit to Universal, and it did not disappoint! Not only did we enjoy our stay fun but even got a peak at their uniquely designed Despicable Me suite.
The Portofino Bay hotel, located on 5601 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, boasts 750 rooms and suites. As a courtesy to guests, the property offers complimentary water taxi shuttle to the nearby Universal City Walk and Studios which families will find very helpful.
Inspired by the quaint towns of Portofino Italy, this luxurious hotel transported its guests to the Mediterranean beaches. The thought and attention to details included; like the narrow stone alleys beautifully arched windows and scattered Vespas and Fiat cars were impressive. The public spaces, set in marble and natural stone with beautifully painted frescos and Italian artifacts gave us the feeling that we were away on a relaxing European vacation.
Like its sister properties, the Hard Rock Cafe and the Royal Pacific Resort, this hotel mostly hosts families and couples visiting the Universal Studios theme park. We had previously called to ask for a feather free and quiet room to accommodate our son with autism special needs and were assured the requests were noted on our reservation. Upon arrival, a smiling front desk staff member greeted us and made certain check-in process was a breeze. But the best surprise for our kids was a delicious chocolate confection with macaroons that was delivered to our room by the thoughtful manager.
We stayed in room 2419, decorated in shades of cream and tan except for one of the walls, painted a bright aqua. The Italian theme was carried into the room with touches such as the small shuttered window and sculpted wood headboards.
The room featured two queen beds and a large nightstand between them, topped with a phone, an alarm clock, and some writing supplies. A mirror and two lamps hung above the nightstand. The large closet in the room had hangers, bathrobes, several luggage racks, and even extra folding chairs. We were surprised to discover a sizable safe, which was ideal for storing our laptops and other valuables.
There was a large flat screen television that featured a lot of family friendly channels, always useful to occupy antsy kids. The cabinet housing the TV also contained the minibar. This minibar sold universal electric adapters along with the usual assortment of snack foods and beverages. We counted a total of twelve power outlets in the room. We were subsequently delighted our family of four could easily charge all our electronics.
Next, we noticed a sitting area with a large leather chair, standing lamp, and an unusually shaped footrest. The granite topped table across from the sitting area where guests could sit and enjoy a meal or work on their computers completed the look.
As mentioned before our room had a set of wooden shutters that opened up into the bathroom area. We thought this feature was particularly helpful for parents wanting to keep an eye on their kids.
The bathroom itself featured white woodwork, tiled floors and a double sink with a large storage area underneath. It also had separate shower and tub areas, neither of which had grab bars. Toiletry products provided included soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion.
The ‘Despicable Me’ Suite
We got a chance to look around the Despicable Me suite, designed for families traveling with small kids. The suite had two separate rooms, one for kids and one for parents. The parents’ area was decorated in soft white shades, with blue and green accent pieces to help brighten things up. The room boasted a king sized bed, a desk and sitting area along with a balcony facing the lake. The bathroom attached looked pretty much the same as the one in the room in which we stayed.
Meanwhile, the kids’ suite, featuring a bright color scheme, had the lovable minions from the Despicable Me series emblazoned on every available surface. The entrance door to the room looked like the vault door in the actual movie. In the room, we noted the two specially shaped pod beds. The suite additionally featured a desk area where youngsters could set up their computers to play games or talk on Skype with friends. There was also a stylish lounge looked like it was taken from the ‘Despicable Me’ movie set.
The Executive Lounge.
This property has one of the best lounges we’ve seen so far. Apart from a beautiful locale overlooking the peaceful lake it had attentive staff members that did everything to ensure our son with autism was enjoying himself. The lounge served a scrumptious display of breakfast items in the morning and a plethora of appetizers and beverages for Happy Hour.
This hotel offered several resort amenities including a gym, a well-appointed spa, multiple pools, a kids’ club and various onsite dining options.
We found the hotel pools to be particularly noteworthy. This establishment had a special water playground area for children too young to be in an actual swimming pool. This playground was located close to the regular sized swimming pool, which had water slides that older kids were sure to love.
Also, we saw a heated pool lined with real powdered sand, perfect for the younger ones to construct sandcastles while their parents relaxed on nearby lounge chairs. Worth mentioning was the fact this resort had lifeguards patrolling. We thought this was an excellent way to keep kids safe.
But it was the property’s tranquil ambiance that captivated us most. We enjoyed strolling around listening to evening performers and sampling authentc Italian dishes from Bice Ristorante and Mama Dela’s Ristorante as well as the Trattoria del Porto. Our kids still remember the peperroni pizza from Sal’s and the vanilla gelato from their gelateria.
Autism Travel Tips:
- The property offers a kid’s camp program of all kids, including those with autism. Parents wanting their kids to participate should talk to the counselors and advise on any accommodations needed for their child.
- Lifeguards patrol the pools, an unusual but welcome feature.
- There didn’t seem to be any grab bars in the bathroom. This could make it difficult for people with limited mobility to get in and out of the bath.
- We didn’t see any bathmats in our suite, so travelers that need them should bring their own.
- The child beds in the Despicable Me suite are slightly enclosed, which might bother some kids.