We’re going 9/14-9/18 (after spending 9/9-9/14 at WDW) with an early flight on the 18th. For whatever reason the hotels are booked solid. The only thing that’s available for the entire trip is Cabana Bay, and while I normally love it as a resort, we’re doing Halloween Horror Nights and my niece (who’s 9) is going to be tapped out at the end of the night so I’d prefer not to deal with the busses (and the long walk through CityWalk and over the parking structure).
My only two options to avoid busses are:
9/14-9/17 @ Hard Rock in club level
9/17-9/18 @ Aventura (skyline) OR
9/14-9/16 @ Portofino Bay
9/16-9/18 @ Sapphire Falls (both in standard rooms)
The first option costs $$385 more, but does include the club lounge benefits and express on Saturday (which is the one day we’d really even need it). The second option (aside from being cheaper) has the benefit of direct boat transportation the entire trip and the better pools.
The boat access at Aventura is why it’s an option, but it’s not quite direct. We’re actually staying there for the November Orlando Informer event for that reason.
As of right now there will only be 2 of us (me and one child) to make the club lounge “worth it”… I’m sure we will eat breakfast every day and get snacks most days, but we’ll miss dinner and probably desserts all but maybe the first day since we’ll be doing HHN. If my older niece, sister, or nephew end up joining then it will definitely be worth the cost, especially with the extra express Saturday valued at over $100/person.
This is where I admit that I’m really not a fan of Hard Rock, as a concept. It’s weird because I’m a big music nerd and a music cruise called The Rock Boat has been kind of a defining thing in my life for a decade and a half, but I find Hard Rock cafes to be kind of obnoxious.
How Hard Rock-ish is the hotel? Is the only one other than Endless Summers that I’ve never stayed in.
I would go with option 1 because if you really don’t want to walk, you’ve got to go to HRH. It’s the only one where the walk doesn’t feel like forever, other than RPR. You’ll want to bus or boat to the other hotels, though walking is an option for those who don’t whine.
That said, if cost is more of a concern, I’d go for Cabana Bay. I’ve never stayed there, but have a room booked for next year in case I can’t get AP rates at HRH, and it looks amazing. I’m almost tempted to forego EP regardless of whether I get AP rates and stay at CBR. I understand the bus system is super reliable and fast, with buses coming almost immediately. NOT like WDW.
Cabana Bay really is a fun resort. I’ve had mixed results with the busses, but the big thing for me is the walk to get there. Even if it’s not actually 1000 miles, it feels like it at the end of the night on an HHN or Informer night, especially when you’re walking past the boat dock!
I really think it’s obnoxious that they make you walk all the way over all the walkways. I will say the first time we stayed there we were worried about the main security at CityWalk being a disaster on the way in too, but it’s really not that bad.
So I booked #1, but since we’re not doing a package it’s cancelable until labor day. I’ve noticed that Universal’s hotel inventory changes all the time, so I’ll keep checking for RPR, which would be my preference. I’m also going to keep checking Costco, because they sometimes have good package deals at Portofino… last time we stayed there we only paid $110 more (total for the whole trip) for CL.
I was going to recommend checking often. I’m on the hunt for AP rates for that same weekend so I check a few times a day. Early am, between 6-7a east coast time there are often premier rooms available (regular rate, not AP rate). I saw some HRH for $490, RPR for $404-433 and Portofino for $514 the past few days that come and go if you don’t want to spring for club level
Does anyone know if the CL rooms at HRH and RPR are in a specific location? That’s the thing we didn’t like about Portofino… the CL rooms are just randomly spread out, and it seems like the lounge isn’t really convenient to many of them. I know our room was quite a hike.
I can tell you that RPR CL rooms are in one tower, but not always on the lounge floor. My last stay I booked my CL stay 8 months in advance and was not on the lounge floor. I know the Universal Informer people will say the rooms are assigned to the lounge floor in order of booking, obviously that is not true.
HRH club level rooms are all on the same floor as the lounge (7th?) which is right off of the elevator. Like you walk straight into the complimentary beverages when they are set up so you cannot miss it.
AAAARRRRGH! Portofino (standard) is now available for the 14-17, but it’s only $205 cheaper. I think that’s worth it (I figure we’d spend $25 per day on breakfast, and maybe we’d get another $25/day in snacks and drinks, so only $150). I’m booking it… my credit card company is going to think I’m some sort of scammer with all of these deposit charges and refunds.