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We booked a stay here for nothing more than its perks of early admission to the parks as well as Universal Express Passes. We arrived with no expectations nor having looked at what the hotel had to offer.
So it was nice to be greeted on arrival with this spectacular hotel and its large water fountain and array of vespers. Feeling quite annoyed with ourselves that we had took its perks for granted and not envisioned taking in and enjoying everything this beautiful place had to offer.
As we arrived very early that morning we dropped our bags, got our express passes and headed out. We had changed plans completely once we saw the place so we now hoped to have the morning enjoying the parks and rides and then spend the rest of the day exploring the hotel and its fabulous grounds.
Portofino Bay really takes you away from Orlando and makes you feel like you have stepped in to an Italian village. It really has to be the best themed hotels on Universal property.
It comes with incredible perks. As well as what we stayed for it offers free transportation to the parks. We chose to access them by the water taxi but they also have a shuttle bus or you can choose to walk their beautifully laid out walk ways.
It gives you early access to Harry Potter and now Volcano bay.
Your room key card allows you to pay for things in resort and gives you access to live entertainment venues on city walk. Staying there also gives you the opportunity to make purchases and have them delivered to your hotel to save you walking round with them all day.
The hotel is so widely spread out. There is so much to see and do. We spent an afternoon really exploring the grounds and then went out to the back courtyard which overlooks the bay and had a few hours exploring their shops and restaurants.
There are so many restaurants within this hotel that will cater for everyone in your party at any time of the day.
Mama Della’s Ristorante – Hearty home-cooked Italian food is served here with strolling musicians setting the mood.
Bice Ristorante – Fine dining of northern Italian cuisine. This place has exquisite dishes and mouth watering crafted desserts.
Trattoria Del Porto – We loved this family friendly restaurant and how they cater for the kids. Something for everyone at this casual full service restaurant. You also have the option to dine inside or outside overlooking the bay.
Sal’s Market Deli – This is more of a delicatessen than a restaurant but it serves so much. Home-made pizzas, sandwiches, salads, meats, cheeses, fresh fruits and beers and wines. We used this place to grab lunch and headed outside to eat around the harbour.
The thirsty fish – Serving small plates overlooking the harbour it also serves champagne, beers, wines and cocktails.
Bar American – Situated in doors this posh evening lobby bar serves beer, wine, champagne, cocktails and more.
Splendido Bar and Grill – This poolside bar serves everything that is needed for a day around the pool. Pizza’s, burgers, sandwiches and salads as well as novelty ice cream and alcoholic beverages. You can choose to eat on the seats provided or take advantage of their pool side delivery service.
Gelateria – This place was heaven for our sweet toothed family. A large selection of gelato left us spoilt for choice as well as milkshakes and smoothies.
There is also an on-site Starbucks located at the harbour.
It also must be mentioned the unique feature to the hotel which is that of Musica Della Notte. Situated in the harbour high up on the buildings entertaining everyone each evening with beautiful opera music as the sunsets. Its so lovely to sit and watch with a cold beverage.
This hotel is so relaxed and is perfect for families. Our room was bigger than you would expect of a typical American hotel room. The bathroom itself was huge and came with enough toiletries and towels to cater for us all. It came with a balcony and beautiful views. Its comfort and high standards made our stay even more enjoyable and really spoilt us.
On our second day there we decided to make full use of the pool and its facilities. There are 3 pools to choose from. The beach pool, The villa pool and The hillside pool. We chose to use the beach pool as we felt this had more to offer to us as a family.
My children loved the water slide and sandy beach as well as the children’s pool. It has two jacuzzi’s at this pool and the availability for a cabana. We didn’t invest in using one of them but after seeing what they provide it would be something I would look to hire the next time we stay.
Around the pool there are many activities which you can take part in. Hula-hoop contests, ping pong and basketball to name a few. There really is a lot to keep everyone entertained.
The thing we liked most about the pools at this hotel was its security. You can only access the pool by using a hotel key card. We also liked the use of free towels which saved us from carrying ours down from the room and also the free lemon infused water as well as free swim diapers for young kids. We felt they thought of everything here and really took stresses away.
Once it got too hot and the kids wanted to cool down we headed to the arcade room which is right near by the pool. It got us out of the heat for a while and let the kids still have some fun.
Portofino bay also has kids camps which is supervised entertainment and fun. This has to be paid for per child per hour but it allows the adults to go off and dine alone or spend some time together. We didn’t use this facility but did notice the room where it is held and my kids looked very intrigued by it.
Anyone who decides to stay here will be blown away by its relaxed atmosphere, its Italian charm and beautiful grounds. Our favourite part was most definitely the harbour. Its unique shops and beautiful restaurants and cafe’s. You will feel like you’ve entered Italy without even leaving Orlando.
Book your Portofino Bay hotel stay directly with Loews. We found they provided the best rates around while still offering all the great exclusive theme park benefits.