30-Something Couple w/ Quirky Tastes and Not Fancy, Can't Decide Hotel! HALP!

Ok, got a fun conundrum! My girlfriend and I are coming down for our usual HHN trip at the end of October and are going to stay on-site for the first time but we can’t decide on hotel! While we are both rock musicians the Hard Rock doesn’t appeal to us (we’re more punk and metal, not “rock star glam”, lol), and Portofino Bay just seems a little too… boring/staid for us. And cost isn’t the biggest concern in the choice, but can be factored.

So here’s our dilemma:

  1. We absolutely LOVE the design and vibe of Cabana Bay, it’s handily our favorite theme and motif and it looks like an absolute blast to stay at in general, and we don’t mind walking distances to the parks, BUT we aren’t overly fond of being surrounded constantly by children (genuinely no offense meant to families, it’s just not our fave) and this resort seems to be the favorite of most families who stay on property, plus the lack of Express Pass is unfortunate since we’ll intend to buy it even if it doesn’t come with the hotel. On top of that we might not do Volcano Bay this visit.

  2. Sapphire Falls looks to be the most gorgeous and relaxing which is important to us as we will be staying a minimum of 3 nights and the walkability/hangoutability (that’s a word now) of the hotel is more important than ib a briefer stay, plus it seems to have the most interesting bars and dining on site. I’m all about the Caribbean vibe almost as much as the retro-kitsch of Cabana Bay. And the water taxi option is great along with being closer. But again the lack of Express Pass is a blow since I’ll buy it anyway and a Cabana Bay stay would save more money, though not a whole lot and again cost is less a factor than appeal. But it looks like the most relaxing/scenic/laid back hotel and ideal for a couple looking to be at least a little romantic on our Horror Nights excursion.

  3. Royal Pacific is pretty impressive in amenities and theming but seems a bit more on the staid side, which isn’t as fun, and isn’t as overall appealing and relaxing looking as the Caribbean theme of Sapphire. In fact Sapphire Falls looks visually and amenities-wise far more appealing than Royal Pacific by some distance. But that included Express Pass is almost too much to pass up.

So, how does the community feel? Is Cabana Bay’s amazingly fun theme and vibe enough to make up for the louder/larger crowds and lack of included Express Pass? Is Sapphire Falls relaxing and beautiful enough to make up for the lack of EP AND the slightly higher prices? Is the Express Pass inclusion enough to make our least favorite of the three but still appealing Royal Pacific the obvious first choice to go with?

I know, tl/dr, but we need input! Cheers!

I’ve stayed at Cabana Bay and it was cute but I didn’t care for the location. I’ve never stayed at Sapphire Falls so no input for you there. I have stayed at Royal Pacific and loved it. It definitely didn’t scream kid resort. It was peaceful and beautiful and we loved the easy walk. The express passes are amazing especially depending on crowd level. I would pick Royal just for those passed alone but lucky me I really love the theming as well. Have fun on your trip!

I have stayed at Cabana Bay, Hard Rock, Portofino Bay and Royal Pacific. If you want to go with fun, CB is the way to go. However, I am a person who spends limited time at the hotel and is all about the parks, so the lack of EP for me negates the fun vibe. If you are looking for less children, I would go with PB. It was my favorite hotel, possibly anywhere, ever. Big rooms, EP, nicely themed (though not “fun”) and less kids, though there were still children around. They have several pools, so if it gets too rowdy at one, you can hop to another one. It is further away from the parks than HRH and RP, but I found it to be a beautiful walk and the water taxis were always fun as well. RP is pretty, but because it is usually the cheapest rate that includes EP, it tends to have more children and be more chaotic, in my opinion.

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I’ve stayed at HRH, PB and RP. RP was my least favorite. My kids love HRH so we end up there the most. PB is my favorite and agree with @rebeecky that if you are looking for less children it would be the best choice. I think it would be worth it staying at one that offers EP since you would otherwise buy it. I think PB is beautiful and elegant.

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I have stayed at RP, HRH, and PB. I won’t even consider the others despite their theming due to location, and the lack of express pass… RP was my least favorite, PB is my favorite. It is a beautiful hotel. HRH is also great, the location is the best of all of them. I get that it isn’t your style, but it really has a cool vibe. I would pick from one of those 3 personally.


Which ever hotel I’d book sooner rather than later as price will increase the closer it gets to HHN. I booked RPR for $197 per night in Dec. Much higher now for the same dates in late Sept. Good luck and enjoy the frights!

I really appreciate all the input so far! Because of it I was looking back into PB and HRH. HRH is definitely higher up for us than PB, have to say. But then I started watching some Vlog resort tours (Tim Tracker is a personal fave, check his channel out if you don’t know him, super posi and engaging guy) and… the tours are only selling me harder on Sapphire Falls, LOL!!! They all look fun and gorgeous but SF looks… just next level beautiful. THIS IS GOING TO BE SUCH A HARD CHOICE, hahaha

Are you just going to HHN? The Express Pass included at RP, PB and HRH is NOT valid for HHN. It is valid during the daytime park hours only. You will need to purchase a separate Express Pass for HHN whether or not your hotel includes Express.

I am a 30-something year old too, but I’m a nerdy Harry Potter fan. I went to UOR ~2 years ago with my partner (same age as me), 60 year-old parents and 24 year-old sister (my sister and father are big Potter fans as well). Consider this Trip # 1. My partner and I are not fancy people at all; my sister is sort of a film noire Disney princess and my parents are somewhere in between. We all appreciate quiet and a reprieve from the parks. We stayed at PB and everyone loved it. Classy, elegant, but also very comfortable and quiet. The pool is fantastic (and not too crowded). We actually had one member of our party buy an AP for the AP discount at PB (we saved about $100/night which more than offset the added cost of the pass; any AP or seasonal pass would qualify for the room discount). The Express Pass was helpful on this trip particularly since my family can’t keep to a schedule (crowd levels in at USF and IOA were moderate on this trip).

Trip #2 - My sister and her friends decided to go to UOR in fall of 2018 (2nd week of Sept) and really wanted to stay at PB. I ended up getting invited on this trip. Their trip also aligned with HHN which my sister was maybe-sorta interested in and she just happened to buy a Premier Pass that included a free admission ticket to HHN :face_with_raised_eyebrow:. We ended up attending the first 2 nights of HHN 2018 (which we had a total blast). Anyway, everyone enjoyed PB again; however, this time around, the complimentary hotel EPs were completely unnecessary. The theme park were very uncrowded during the day; ride lines were short. We opted to get Rush of Fear HHN passes and tour HHN over 2 nights using different early access areas on the different nights. This was considerably cheaper than purchasing HHN Express and worked out really well for us (my sister and her friends are an early to rise. early to bed crew so around 11 pm ).