A few months ago, we reported that Universal Orlando was looking to add potentially three new Loews hotels in an effort to increase the capacity at the resort. The obvious space for a new hotel was the plot of land between Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Loews Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Rumors circulated around a brand new water park named WonderSea Island featuring a ride or section called Volcano Bay. There still may be room somewhere on property for a water park to complement the offsite Wet ‘n Wild, but this section is filling up fast with the previous announcement of a Loews Royal Pacific Resort meeting space expansion and now the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort opening in Summer 2016, which will also feature 131,000 square feet of meeting space.
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will be a “colorful Caribbean hideaway built around a lush, tropical lagoon and towering waterfall.” So far, Loews has four other hotels at Universal Orlando – Portofino Bay Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort and the newest, Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Each hotel has an unique theme, whether it’s a California mission style, an Italian city or even a roadside motel from the 1960s. Putting the new Caribbean-themed hotel right next to the South Pacific-themed Royal Pacific Resort makes the most sense, blending the islands of the Pacific Ocean with the islands of the Atlantic Ocean.
The 1,000 room Loews Sapphire Falls, including 77 suites, will have an island vibe with modern amenities heavily inspired by the “picturesque rivers and waterfalls of the Caribbean.” The pool will be a huge draw featuring a water slide, a children’s play area, sand beach and fire pit. Dining options will include a full-service restaurant with scenic views and outdoor dining, a themed lobby lounge, a poolside bar and grill, and a quick-service marketplace. Other amenities include Early Park Admission to Universal’s theme parks, water taxi and shuttle access to CityWalk, a fitness center and valet parking.
So, far no opening date has been set beyond Summer 2016 and no pricing has been made available, but all signs are pointing towards Sapphire Falls becoming the first “moderate” resort at Universal Orlando. The reason for this is based solely on amenities. Earlier in 2014, Cabana Bay Beach Resort opened as the first value resort option at Universal featuring 900 family suites and 900 standard rooms, two resort-style pools, a water slide, a lazy river, a sand beach, a children’s play area, quick-service dining, poolside bars, and a lobby lounge. Cabana Bay Beach Resort has no water taxi service to CityWalk, but does offer shuttle buses and soon the walking path to CityWalk will be complete.
Sapphire Falls is set to be more similar to the deluxe hotels with the amount of rooms offered, but Universal Express was not mentioned as an amenity for the brand new resort making it similar to Cabana Bay. Sapphire Falls is arguably closer to Cabana Bay in terms of amenities except for the addition of a full-service restaurant, valet parking, and water taxi service. If Sapphire Falls does turn out to be a moderate resort, it would be the perfect addition to the hotel lineup providing an option to those who can’t quite afford the deluxe resorts, but are looking for a few more amenities than Cabana Bay Beach resort offers. Check back for more details in the future about the brand new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort coming to Universal Orlando in Summer 2016.