Loews Pacific Resort at Universal Studios is a Good Choice
Aug 10, 2011 (Updated Aug 10, 2011)
Review by Thomas Wikman
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Universal VIP Express Passes, location, luxurious, amenities, pool, water taxi, and friendly staff.
Cons:Expensive, breakfast, divided bathroom, room a little small, wireless not free.
The Bottom Line:
Staying at Universal Resort hotel is much better than staying at a hotel outside Universal property. The VIP Express Passes are gold. Loews Pacific Resort is a nice luxurious hotel.
Two weeks ago we visited Universal Studios in Orlando Florida went together with friends from Ohio. Before I continue I should mention that Universal Studios is smaller than Disney World, but it is still pretty big. Universal Studios consist of two theme parks, Islands of Adventure, and the Universal Studios Theme Park, as well as a City Walk right outside the entrance of both parks.
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We stayed at Loews Pacific Resort, which is a "luxury" hotel located on Universal Studios property (Universal Studios Resort hotel). Last summer we also visited Universal Studios. However, that time we stayed at the Hyatt Place hotel, which is located just outside of Universal Studios property.
There were primarily two reasons why we chose to stay at a Universal Studios Resort hotel this time. First of all, the hotels that are outside of Universal Studios are a lot further away from the park entrance(s) than you might expect. Last year we were told by the management of the Hyatt Place that Hyatt Place was a five minute walk from the Universal Studios entrance. Well, this turned out to be a lie. It is a half hour walk and you are running the risk of getting killed on the huge roads on the way there if you try to walk. It is definitely not child safe. Naturally they had a shuttle. However, you should be aware that there are no hotels outside of Universal Studios property that are close to the park(s), even though those hotels may insist that they are close by. Trust me it is a lie.
The on-property hotels on the other hand are fairly close to the parks and essentially part of the City Walk. They also offer transportation, but they are truly a five/ten minute safe walk from the parks. The difference is huge.
The second reason was the Universal VIP Express Passes, which are included for all guests with your room if you stay at the Universal Resort hotel. VIP Express Passes allows you to bypass the line at all the rides that accept the VIP Express Passes, which is most of them. The Universal VIP Express Pass can be used at any time as many times as you wish. This is in stark contrast to Disney World's Fast Passes, which are extremely restrictive and require that you first show up at the ride that you want a fast pass for as early as possible (they run out). Fast Passes will complicate your planning but VIP Express Passes will simplify your planning and give you freedom. Other perks with the Universal VIP Express Passes is that they allow you to enter the park earlier (7AM), which gives you a better chance to see crowded places like "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" before anyone else.
So, in comparison Disney World's Fast Passes are total crud, whilst Universal Studios VIP Express Passes are gold, and you get that gold if you stay at a Universal Studios Resort hotel (well you can also buy them in the park).
Overview of Loews Pacific Resort at Universal Studios
Loews Pacific Resort at Universal Studios is a fairly large hotel located just south of the City Walk across from the Islands of Adventure. Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Portofino bay hotel is located on the other side of the City Walk. You can walk to the parks from the hotel but they also have a water taxi that takes guests across a lake and to the parks. This boat begins operating at 6AM and continues operating to 2AM and it goes back and forth every 10 or 15 minutes. The water taxi boat is cozy and very convenient. They also have a shuttle service.
The hotel is large and consists of multi story buildings. The hotel has 1,000 rooms. However, it is not so spread out that walking between the buildings, the boat, and breakfast is a problem, as it is, for example, at Disney World's "Coronado Springs" hotel. It is fairly compact "area-wise", which in my opinion is a good thing unless the hotel itself is your destination (it is not).
The hotel has a long white sand beach and a quite nice lagoon style pool with water slides for the kids. The extravagant lobby, the garden outside, and the art and the decorations definitely tell you this is a luxury hotel. The hotel has six restaurants, 24-hour room service, a 5,000 feet fitness center, a Mariners club activity center, access to golf courses, a game arcade, business center, meeting rooms, and more. We did not use most of that since we spent most of our day at the parks.
As mentioned the Universal VIP Express Passes are included with the hotel for all guests. If you are five people in the room you get five Universal VIP Express Passes. Your hotel key is your VIP Express Passes. If you lose your hotel key/ Universal VIP Express Pass you can simply get a new one at the hotel at no cost. This is another advantage the Universal VIP Express Passes have over Disney World's fast passes, at least if you get them via the hotel.
This is the contact information for Loews Pacific Resort at Universal Studios
6300 Hollywood Way
Orlando, Florida, 32819
Phone: (888) 430-4999
Loews Pacific Resort; Lobby and Front Desk
When we arrived at the front desk there were no lines. In fact during our entire stay I never so a longer line than one or two families. The front desk was very long and staffed by several people ready for customers. This should be contrasted to most Disney World hotels I've stayed at, which sometimes had lines with several dozen people in them. The staff was friendly and while my wife checked us in and bought the Universal Studios park tickets. As mentioned the lobby was large and featured sofas and other places to sit. Next to the lobby was a restaurant where we ate breakfast.
Loews Pacific Resort; the Room
Since we were two families we had two connecting rooms on the fourth floor. Our rooms were a little bit more than $200 per night. Yeah that is expensive but what do you expect? The rooms were not very big but that is often the case with resort hotels.
The room was nice looking, it had two comfortable Queen Beds, and all the typical amenities were included, a desk, two chairs, a sofa chair, a refreshment pantry, and a modern 32 inch flat screen TV. The room also had a safe. You used a code you created yourself to open and close the safe. The clock radios had iPod docking stations.
The bathrooms were good enough. They had a separated washing area and a bathroom with a shower. Some people like it that way, but it means that they did not have a washing area in the bathroom, and the washing area was not particularly private. I don't really like this setup so this was a slight negative for me.
Loews Pacific Resort; Wireless Connection
They had wireless access in the rooms, which seemed to be working well, and it was fairly fast, at least in our room. However, it was not free. It cost $9.99 per day or $24.95 per three days.
Loews Pacific Resort; Breakfast
Another thing that was not free was the breakfast. They did not have a buffet, and it was not sit down service. You bought your items from a counter and then you sat down. There was not a lot of selection and prices were not great. The lounge like seating areas was very nice and comfortable though. However, I should mention that we ate at the restaurant by the lobby, which is where they told us to go. Perhaps one of the other five restaurants also had breakfast? Next we'll stay here I'll ask.
Loews Pacific Resort; Transportation
Unlike Disney World, which has the Disney's Magical Express, Universal Studios do not have their own transportation to and from the airport. You have to take a taxi, or in our case a taxi van. However, it does not appear to me that it is much more expensive. The lobby staff and the staff at the front door are very quick to get you a taxi when you need.
As mentioned the hotel has a shuttle service for the parks, but the Water Taxi is definitely the most fun. You walk down to the lake shore and wait and the barge and the water taxi comes pretty soon. They do not check your hotel room key or anything, it is just to board, and the water taxi will take you across the lake to a barge located by the City Walk facing the entrances to the two parks.
The hotel is luxurious, the personal friendly, the water taxi fun, the pool and the environment great, the room nice, the location great, and best of all you get free VIP Express Passes for all guests. However, the hotel also has a few drawbacks in my opinion; the breakfast, the price, the fairly small size of the room, and I was not too found of the bathroom outlay.
However, I can still highly recommend Loews Pacific Resort at Universal Studios even though I won't give it a five star rating.
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