During our recent visit to Universal Orlando, we stayed at their newest hotel, Sapphire Falls Resort. The resort is a bright yet modern take on a Caribbean-themed resort.
The resort opened in 2016, and is classified as a Preferred hotel by Universal Orlando’s hotel classifications (Premier, Preferred, Prime Value). This puts it in the same class as Royal Pacific Resort, though unlike Royal Pacific, Sapphire Falls does not offer complimentary Unlimited Express Pass. It does offer all of the other benefits associated with staying at one of Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels, such as early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the CityWalk Party Pass, and complimentary transportation to the theme parks.
The rooms at Sapphire Falls continue the clean white and soft blue color scheme with small touches that evoke the Caribbean without being over the top. Standard rooms include 2 queen beds, a mini-fridge, a Keurig coffee maker, and a safe. The bathroom was a nice size with a large glass-walled shower in lieu of a bathtub. Our standard-view room looked across Sapphire Falls’ entrance way to where the new Aventura Hotel is being built, though we didn’t recall hearing any construction noise during our stay.
Sapphire Falls has an on-site table-service restaurant, Amatista Cookhouse, that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Many of the items on the menu are Caribbean-inspired, though there are more standard American options as well. We ate there for lunch one day and enjoyed it. Guests can also get quick-service sandwiches, pastries, specialty coffee drinks, and even ice cream and milkshakes at the New Dutch Trading Co. Guests can also grab a drink and try some ceviche at the Strongwater Tavern.
Sapphire Falls has a zero-entry pool with a water slide, a couple of hot tubs, a fire pit area, pool bar, and areas for games. There are also private cabanas guests can rent.
The resort is about a 15-minute walk from CityWalk and the theme parks, though we mainly took the water taxi during our stay. The water taxi takes about 5 minutes to get to CityWalk, and is easily accessible from Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. We found that we rarely waited more than 5 minutes, if at all, for a water taxi. For Volcano Bay, there is a shuttle bus available that leaves from the resort’s main entrance.
We enjoyed our stay at Sapphire Falls. The proximity to the theme parks is wonderful, the theming is bright and sophisticated, and it had a deluxe feel to it for what would probably be considered a ‘moderate’ resort. It doesn’t include the complimentary Unlimited Express Pass, but price-wise Sapphire Falls sometimes falls closer to the pricing of Cabana Bay Beach Resort than to Royal Pacific. In the end I think I prefer the quirky and colorful theming of Cabana Bay over Sapphire Falls. Not everyone wants an over-the-top theme in their accommodations, though, and Sapphire Falls includes a few more options for adults such as the table-service restaurant and Strongwater Tavern.
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