The Portofino Bay Hotel is part of the Universal Orlando complex that includes: the Islands of Adventure theme park (with Wizarding World of Harry Potter) and the Universal Studios Florida theme park; the CityWalk entertainment area that links the two parks; and two other hotels, the Hard Rock Hotel and the Royal Pacific Resort. All three properties are Loews Hotels.
The Portofino Bay Hotel is modeled on the town of Portofino in the Italian Riviera. The Orlando Portofino has a lovely harbor, photogenic architecture, and some cute Italian details; 750 rooms (including suites) ; multiple restaurants and lounges; and three themed swimming pools.
--See photos of the Portofino Bay Hotel
What's Special, for Families:
- The Portofino is conveniently close to Universal Orlando theme parks: guests can take a free watertaxi shuttle, or walk along a garden walkway (-about ten minutes to Universal Studios Florida.)
- guests get front-of-the-line access to theme park rides! This in itself is a major reason to stay at a Universal Orlando hotel, especially during peak periods when wait times can be two hours for popular rides.
- The Portofino Bay Hotel has a large freeform pool that's a hit with kids, with waterslide, and a sand beach along one side. The pool is mainly shallow, and is life-guarded.
- The Campo Portofino supervised children's activity center is open in the evenings for ages 4 to 14.*
- each Universal Orlando hotel has a character meal on select evenings, with personalities such as Shrek or Scooby Doo.*
- Kids Suites have standard king bedroom for the adults, plus a separate room for kids with child-sized beds, small table and chair, and TV, VCR, and play area. Portofino Bay also has Seuss-themed suites.
- guests can visit Loews' sister resorts at Universal: the Hard Rock Hotel (with large Beach Pool and waterslide) and the Royal Pacific Resort (large Beach Pool and play zone with water squirters etc.)
- Loews hotels have a Loews Loves Kids (and a Loews Loves Pets) policy, with various services including lending game libraries, children's menus, welcome gifts, and more. Kids under 18 are free, and cribs are available, as are roll-away beds.*
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.