One of the greatest aspects of a themed hotel is that, if done properly, you will feel like you’re completely immersed. Stepping into the Portofino Bay Hotel, you immediately feel like you’re in Italy despite being in Florida. At Cabana Bay Beach Resort, you feel like you’ve actually been sent back in time with the exception of some modern amenities placed all around the hotel. At Royal Pacific Resort, you genuinely feel as if you’ve been transported to a South Pacific Island making Royal Pacific perhaps the most immersive of the Universal Orlando Loews Hotels.
Royal Pacific Resort is a deluxe hotel themed after not one but multiple Pacific Ocean islands including Fiji, Bali and Hawaii. Instead of trying to match other Polynesian-style hotels in Orlando, Royal Pacific feels like it is the South Pacific from the 1940s and 1950s, yet it ditches tiki aspects (for the most part) and instead uses Asian influences in the architecture and decor. Bamboo and lush green landscapes flow throughout the entire resort area adding to the feeling that you escaped to a remote island.
The beauty of Royal Pacific Resort makes the hotel an attractive choice and the Loews staff solidifies the experience by being friendly, outgoing and incredibly professional. The service at all of the Universal Orlando Loews Hotels is first rate and you won’t notice any differences here. Some staff we encountered thrived more than others, but the ones who were good went so far above and beyond in their duties that it made up for any shortcomings and set a benchmark for the other hotels on property.
Note: Royal Pacific Resort is currently going through room refurbishments and the room we were given for our stay is the older style of room. When the refurbishments for the resort are complete, we will be reviewing the new rooms.
There are 1,000 guest rooms at Royal Pacific including 51 suites. The standard rooms are 335 square feet and a bit tight considering the other two deluxe hotels at Universal Orlando are 425 and 375 square feet. Standard rooms come with either two queen beds or one king bed and offer either a standard view or water view. You won’t find any deluxe rooms here like the other two deluxe hotels, but Club Level rooms are available and a diverse selection of suites including the HUGELY popular Jurassic Park kid suites.
The best way to describe the standard rooms is comfort. Anyone who has ever traveled to Hawaii or another Pacific Island knows it is hard to beat a sunset on the beach followed by a great night’s sleep and while you don’t get the breathtaking sunsets of the Pacific in Orlando, you do get the great night’s sleep in these rooms. The theme of the hotel travels over extremely well into the guest rooms. Brown wood and bamboo dominate the furniture and the color scheme is heavy on beige, browns and greens. A 1940s Pacific travel poster hangs on the wall and fits in with the rest of the room perfectly.
I mentioned that the rooms are comfortable and I can’t state it enough. The large beds are easy to sink into at the end of the day and make you feel like you’re being hugged by a cloud. A wooden-slit window separates the bedroom from the split bathroom and makes the room feel larger because of the openness adding to the overall comfort. Amenities like the in-room Keurig coffee maker make it hard to leave the room in the morning, especially when you want to just lay in bed and have a cup of coffee.
The room was extraordinarily clean as well. There was hardly any dust or dirt around the room and all of the furniture seemed like it was maintained extremely well, which is a sign of a great housekeeping staff. It was so clean and comfortable in the room that I almost felt guilty setting my personal belongings out and messing up the room.
Dining at Royal Pacific is slightly diverse, but depending on where you eat you could have a mixed experience. Let’s start with the standout restaurant of Royal Pacific – Jake’s American Bar. Jake’s is named after Royal Pacific Airways’ beloved pilot, Captain Jake McNally and features a World War II/Post-War Americana theme, but blends it with the South Pacific culture. Jake’s is open for lunch and dinner and is usually never busy with the exception of peak season and when a big convention is at the hotel. The food here is best described as elegant bar food. Prices are a bit steep at Jake’s, but the food is very good, the staff is friendly and energetic, and Jake’s has a great craft beer selection as well as some tiki drinks.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop is the signature restaurant of Royal Pacific, but the lesser of Emeril’s two Universal Orlando restaurants. Instead of his classic New Orleans style cooking, Tchoup Chop is influenced by Asian and Polynesian cuisine. Tchoup Chop is open for lunch and dinner and during our stay we dined here for lunch. The restaurant is certainly beautiful and the tiki cocktails served here are excellent, but that is all the praise it deserves. All the dishes ordered at our table were bland despite Emeril being known for taking flavors and kicking them up a notch. At a glance, the menu appears to be eclectic and unique, which makes it a shame that the food comes out so flavorless. The slow and stiff service did not help make the experience any more enjoyable.
Islands Dining Room is a massive restaurant open for breakfast and dinner and is probably one of the best options for families with younger kids. The menu offers a lot of Americanized Asian dishes that you would expect to see in a Chinese restaurant and on select nights Islands offers an all-you-care-to-eat WOK stir-fry station experience. Kids will be happy with their unique buffet and play area right in the restaurant and parents will be happy that they have a few moments of peace and quiet. Islands also offers a character breakfast every Sunday and a character dinner on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. A Hula Dancer and Ukulele Player get thrown into the mix on Friday nights.
Orchid Court Lounge offers a continental breakfast each morning and then opens at night as a bar with Asian-inspired cocktails as well as sushi. The sushi here is diverse and definitely worth checking out. Bula Bar & Grille is the pool bar that actually offers a pretty interesting menu despite it being a pool bar, but the service here is miserably slow. During our stay, we relaxed at Bula Bar and experienced some of the most atrocious servers on Universal property who essentially ignored our table and then disappeared for nearly a half hour at one point.
So, if you’re in love with Asian-inspired cuisine then Royal Pacific is definitely going to peak your interests as it did for me, but there definitely needs to be some tweaks and adjustments made to the dining options.
Pool & Entertainment
The pool at Royal Pacific is definitely one of the highlights of the resort. The large pool features the Royal Bali Sea massive kids play area, which arguably makes this the most family-friendly pool on property. That being said, this area can get incredibly loud throughout the day, like any pool can, and loses that relaxed atmosphere that permeates throughout the rest of the resort. Free wifi around the pool area is a great amenity, especially for those who hate being away from their phones even a second while on vacation. Surrounding the pool are private cabanas available to rent as well as a beach volleyball court and hot tubs.
On select evenings, a torch-lighting ceremony happens poolside and features a fire dancer and more. Make sure to find out which nights the torch-lighting ceremony is happening from the front desk, because this should not be missed when staying at Royal Pacific.
Royal Pacific offers a complimentary gym for those who feel like they aren’t getting enough walking done to and from the theme parks or are choosing to use the complimentary water taxi service to CityWalk.
Another highlight of Royal Pacific is the Saturday night Wantilan Luau, which includes music, fire dancers, hula dancers and the most important part: an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet featuring pit-roasted suckling pig. Throughout the year, Jake’s American Bar will offer a beer dinner or beer festival that is extremely popular and definitely something worth checking out if it occurs during your stay. The beer dinner pairs up different beers from a select craft brewery with a unique pre-fixe menu to make a delicious and intoxicating experience.
Fees and Amenities
One of the downsides to Royal Pacific and all of the Universal Orlando hotels is the disgusting parking fee 0f $20 per day plus tax, so if you can avoid having a car on property then it is highly recommended that you don’t bring one. Universal is so compact and friendly for walkers that having a car on property isn’t a must like it is over at Walt Disney World.
Despite having to pay for minuscule things like parking, Royal Pacific has some awesome amenities because of its status as a deluxe resort. Included with your stay are free unlimited Express Passes for their theme parks, which are extremely valuable no matter how busy the parks are during your trip. Also, you get into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour before day guests are admitted into the park. Depending on the season, you’ll be able to experience Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade or both Wizarding Worlds first!
It is hard to say anything terrible about Royal Pacific Resort, but there are two areas in particular that need to be improved in the hotel. The first is activities. Like the Hard Rock Hotel, it seems like Royal Pacific’s daily activities are heavily influenced by the pool. For pool lovers, this isn’t an issue, but for people like me who prefer less laying around and more on-the-go activities there aren’t any real options except the theme parks and exploring the other hotels.
Second is the dining. The dining isn’t extremely bad and I don’t want to give that impression, but with the exception of Jake’s and the Sushi Bar, I would say that you are better off eating at CityWalk or one of the other hotels. The pricing on the food at CityWalk is going to be a lot cheaper and the food quality is definitely better.
That being said, the rooms are heavenly and I cannot praise them enough, the staff is friendly and welcoming, and the theming throughout the resort is top-notch. Royal Pacific is definitely the cheapest option of the three deluxe hotels on property, but it is still a deluxe hotel in every way, shape and form. I would highly recommend staying at Royal Pacific to anyone I know and will even stay there again in the future. It is not my favorite hotel on property, but it also isn’t at the bottom of the list and if anything the experience I had there put it in second place for me.