Sure, it’s winter but when you’re on vacation in Florida, you hit the water. Whether it’s the beach or a pool, a waterside view is basically mandatory and when we visited Universal Orlando Resort in January this year, we made good on this unofficial commitment to our water-baby selves.
We stayed for a few days at Universal’s Aventura Hotel (check out our full-look pictorial at this hotel) and learned upon check-in that a little-publicized perk of staying on property is that hotel guests can pool hop to any of the official Universal hotel pools! Try as we might, we couldn’t hit them all up in a single day but we can show you what we did see and that included FOUR total pools.
Pools That We Saw:
- Universal’s Aventura Hotel
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- Hard Rock Hotel
That means we didn’t get to see the pools at either Loews Portofino Bay Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The four pools we explored all had different vibes and all had features for every member of the family but some certainly leaned in one direction or the other, younger and louder vs older and quieter.
In full disclosure, we paid for the entire length of our booking but did receive a media rate discount on the overall price of the room in exchange for posting about our honest experience.
Universal’s Aventura Hotel
- TARGET: Adults
- VIBE: Relaxation
This was our home base and it’s the first pool we experienced in the Universal on-site hotel lineup. The vibe is decidedly adult here. Grab a book and read it poolside. The hot-tub almost seems to wave a SHH finger at you. We loved the zen feeling of this pool and the splash kid’s zone and nearby outdoor game area ensure that this is also a space for the whole family. Plus, you can walk right to Volcano Bay water park straight from the pool!
OFFICIAL SITE: Universal’s Aventura Hotel
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
- TARGET: Families
- VIBE: Energetic
Cabana Bay is a large space and actually has two pools; one that is more basic and the other that is the feature pool. The latter is a huge expansive space that is absolutely focused on family fun. A quiet(ish) hot-tub area, a relaxing lazy river, and a massive pool make for a create-your-own-adventure type of pool experience. Teens can find a bit of autonomy from the family in this wide open space which allows the whole family to spread. Lots and lots of loungers so the space has some major capacity.
OFFICIAL SITE: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- TARGET: Adults / Families
- VIBE: Upbeat
Decidedly the most upscale of the four Universal pools that we experienced, the Sapphire Falls pool area is certainly suitable for the family but it seems to battle in its identity as to whether it’s courting them or adults. The end result is a space that probably leans more towards the former. The hot-tub is located in the middle of all the action so quiet relaxation will not be happening here as it’s near the splashdown of the pool slide, the pool bar, and a fire pit. The pool has a natural split down the middle with a zero-entry connector between the “quiet” and “action” sides.
OFFICIAL SITE: Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Hard Rock Hotel
- TARGET: Adults / Families
- VIBE: Loud
It’s quite literally the opposite of Universal’s Aventura Hotel pool which is actually neither a good or bad thing. Hard Rock definitely has the most fun vibe of the four hotel pools we got to see. While Cabana Bay was a favorite of ours with a great energetic vibe, the Hard Rock has a decidedly *louder* energy that is hard to resist. Sand volleyball, a family hot-tub and adults-only hot-tub, and massive pool with a big stage where live entertainment is performed are highlights. Loungers are packed in tight so things can get busy. The music selection blasting in the whole area is great and encourages singing-along all day long.
OFFICIAL SITE: Hard Rock Hotel
If you plan a day centered around pool hopping you’ll want to strategize your day since it might be easier to walk, shuttle, or boat ride over to your destination. We had a blast dedicating an entire day to pool hopping but even while sticking to a schedule we were only able to fit four pools into the day before losing sunlight.
See it for Yourself
You can visit the Universal Orlando Resort official site to learn more about all 6 (soon-to-be 8) hotel properties.