Loews Sapphire Falls is a Universal Orlando Resort hotel offering a Caribbean escape in Central Florida with relatively easy access to CityWalk and the theme parks. The resort is about a 20 minute drive from Orlando International Airport (MCO) and roughly an hour drive to the Disney Cruise Line terminal at Port Canaveral.
Sapphire Falls opened in 2016 making it one of Universal’s newer resorts options in the area. From the rooftop bar at the neighboring Aventura Hotel, the entire Sapphire Resort can be seen with Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure in the background.
Upon arrival, guests enter the grand lobby where you will begin the transition from Orlando to the Caribbean.
At the check-in desk, there was a QR code which linked to a website with additional information about Sapphire Falls.
During our time at Sapphire Falls, we stayed in Kids Suite which featured a nautical motif; perfect since we were originally booked on the Magic for a Greek Isles cruise during this time. The Sapphire Falls Kids Suites feature two rooms with a king size bed in the main room and two twin beds in the other.
The main room of the kids suite compares to other rooms at Sapphire Falls with two queen beds, with the notable difference of an arm chair instead of a couch.
The king size bed has distinctly tropical vibe going with the aqua headboard.
The door the the kids side of the kids suite is reminiscent of a cruise ship stateroom door. Clearly the designers of these rooms were hoping to appeal to my affinity for nautical and Caribbean decorating.
This kids room is where the suite shines. The two twin beads sit along a wall with a fantastic octopus mural. Our particular room had a unique triangular layout due to the area of the building. In the middle of the room by the window, there was a round table with a compass design. Opposite the beds was a lounge chair next to the dresser and HDTV which was on a mount allowing it to be angled towards the beds.
The Kids Suite shares a single bathroom near the entry door. The sink is open while the shower area is partitioned off with a sliding barn-like door which in turn makes the area feel more spacious.
The room includes a number of amenities from the standard hotel room items like a luggage rack and ironing board in the closet, bedside iPhone clock radio, a refrigerator, and a Keurig coffee maker.
The dresser triples as a kitchen counter, and entertainment stand. Opposite the dresser drawers is a mini-refrigerator. Next to the HDTV there is a Keurig coffee maker with a few k-cups and condiments included. I’m a big fan of these coffee makers in hotel rooms, it is just so easy to bring a stash of k-cups with you for that first cup of coffee without having to fiddle with a small hotel brewer or some other proprietary coffee making contraption.
The kids suite offered a lovely view of the pool as well as Cabana Bay and Aventura Hotel. It is almost like waking up with a porthole or a verandah view on a cruise.
The pool! The pool area is spacious with multiple areas to sit and relax the day away.
There are two sides to the pool separated by what can best be described as a sandbar walkway eliminating the need to walk all the way around the pool, plus it offers zero entry from both sides.
Along the far end of the pool is a waterslide that is enjoyable for all ages.
Next to the waterslide is a spacious hot tub complete with a lift chair.
Cabanas are sprinkled around the pool featuring a semi-private spot to camp out for the day. Each cabana features a seating area cooled by a ceiling fan and even has a HDTV. Now this may sound crazy, but I love this setup. I spend many weekends poolside streaming football games on an iPad.
It took a bit, but I finally found the location where you can pick up pool towels. There are a number of bins to return towels, but this is the only location to pick them up. A rack of life jackets are also available for use in the pool.
A little poolside alcove featured a fire pit which was utilized in the evenings for making s’mores.
A ping pong table and pool table were tucked away under an overhang just outside the arcade and workout facility.
Looking for a poolside drink, then set a course to the sugar mill ruin turned into a bar. The Sapphire Falls poolside bar is called the Drhum Club Kantine.
We arrived at the pool the first day well after lunchtime, but we saw a number of guests ordering food and immediately knew what we were having for lunch the following day. The menu was impressive for a poolside bar. The food was delicious and the portions were beyond filling. We were unable to finish our lunch and thank goodness for friends to share with. All signature cocktails are served in a souvenir glass for $15 with $10 refills. A 32oz. souvenir draft beer glass is is $15 with $12 refills – this is not a typo. A 45 oz. super bowl souvenir glass is also available for the cocktails at $35 with $30 refills, however I can only store so much liquid at a time. We are saving that for our next stay.
Amastista Cookhouse offers more tradition dining option at the resort serving a Caribbean cuisine. The venue features an open kitchen with floor to ceiling window.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Amastista Cookhouse offers a variety of options. We did not visit for breakfast or lunch but here is look at the menus.
We did however visit Amatista’s for dinner one evening. The food was flavorful and the service was excellent. Even on a warm summer day in Florida, the Jerk Chicken Pot Pie is a delight.
Sapphire Falls also features a quick service area, the New Dutch Trading Company, for anyone looking for grab and go food, beverages, and treats.
Inside the Dutch Trading Company, you can stock up on snacks to take to the theme parks, grab a cold beer or a shot of espresso, and cap it off with some ice cream.
The Universal Studios Store offers more than just theme park merchandise; this is where you will find Sapphire Falls specific merchandise.
We noticed a sign referencing resort wide merchandise was available upon request. Emily was looking for specific item that she saw previously across the street at the Universal Store at Cabana Bay. She inquired and they called across the street to Cabana Bay. They no longer had it in stock, but they did locate the item at the CityWalk location which a team member pulled from the shelf and held it for us. Normally, they would be able to have the item sent to the hotel location for purchase, but not all departments were back at full staff following the spring shutdown of 2020. We were just happy they were open and holding the item, which was an awesome option.
I mentioned the overall tropical, Caribbean theme of Sapphire Falls earlier. Sugar mills are features all over the property from photos in the hallways to the Drhum Club Kantine poolside. Well, just off the lobby is a huge sugar mill built to house a spiral staircase.
The sugar mills took me right back to the Caribbean. In fact, I excited when I saw a few of the photos in the hallway of ones I’ve visited in real life.
Strong Water Tavern is more than just a lobby bar as it offers a wide select of rum and serves up a selection of tapas. During our stay, the venue was not open, but we have visited when it was open prior to the shutdown and absolutely look forward to returning. Seems like a great time to bring back the Bellhop Bar during the venue’s shutdown.
There are a few ways to get to Universal’s CityWalk from Sapphire Falls (such as a walking path), but my preferred method is via a boat. The boat launch is right outside near Amatista Cookhouse. To add to the convenience, you go through a security screening on the dock prior to boarding so once you arrive at CityWalk you are free to walk around and head into the theme parks. It also doesn’t hurt the boat launch at CityWalk is directly in front of Voodoo Doughnuts!
All in all, we had a great weekend staycation at Sapphire Falls, and look forward to a return visit! No, this resort does not include the Universal Express Pass like Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort, however, we did a staycation, and this resort is beautiful and perfect for that purpose. Of note, Universal Orlando Resort Annual Passholders, as well as Florida residents, can take advantage of some terrific discounts.