Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Family-friendly, Pacific-island-themed resort right next to Universal Studios theme park
Like the other two Universal Studios resorts, the Royal Pacific is managed by the upscale, family-focused hotel group, Loews. Like its nighboring sister resorts, Hard Rock Hotel and Portofino Bay, it has comfortable, up-to-date guest rooms, a wide variety of on-site kids' features, and special privileges at the Universal Studios theme park, like skipping the regular lines for rides and preferential treatment at the park's restaurants.
The main differences between the three Universal properties lies in the hotel's atmosphere and a few choice features. Whereas the more expensive Portofino Bay creates a more romantic, Italian-esque setting (and has the only spa of the three resorts) and the Hard Rock Hotel has a louder, more energetic atmosphere and an impressive pool complex to rival that at Portofino, the Royal Pacific is a bit mellower and more relaxing.
The resort strives to re-create the spirit of Hawaii (or, at least rival the charisma of Disney's Polynesian Resort). Its giant statues of exotic, human-like frogs, lap-steel guitar music in the enormous lobby (which looks like the great room in the world's largest beach house), guest rooms with dark woods and wicker design accents, and friendly "Alohas" from staffers all work to capture that easy-going vibe on the islands.
But, of course, the Royal Pacific is less expensive than the two other Universal Resorts. That's because it has the smallest standard rooms and its features fall a hair short of those at the other two resorts. Its pool, though large and outfitted with a giant steamboat-themed play area, doesn't have a waterslide (compared to the huge slides at Hard Rock and Portofino), and the kiddie pool isn't quite as exciting as the one over at the Hard Rock. Still, the Royal Pacific's positive vibe, along with a solid variety of dining options (it's all Italian food over at Portofino Bay), tends to make up for what it lacks.
Diligent staff and special privileges at Universal theme parks
Staying at a hotel in Universal Studios has its perks. Guests get special privileges at Universal's parks, and a free water taxi makes the commute from theme park to hotel scenic and hassle free. As with the other two Universal Resorts, service at the Royal Pacific is fine overall, but not outstanding. The staff greets guests with an "Aloha" and ends conversations with "Mahalo." Although the entrance and lobby are adequately staffed with valets and bellmen, guests shouldn't expect the same initiative and personal attention found at higher-end Orlando resorts like the Ritz-Carlton or the Ginn Reunion.
Inside Universal Studios Resort, a 10-minute walk or five-minute water taxi ride from the theme park
The Royal Pacific Resort is one of three hotels located inside the Universal Studios Resort complex in Orlando -- the other two are Portofino Bay and the Hard Rock. Universal is the second-largest resort in Orlando, next to Walt Disney World, with two theme parks -- Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure -- and a shopping and dining strip called City Walk. The Royal Pacific's proximity to the gigantic Orange County Convention Center also makes it a solid choice for conventioneers.
Average in size and comfortable, with up-to-date amenities
With the dark woods and wicker furniture of a Hawaiian resort, the rooms at the Royal Pacific fit seemlessly into the Pacific-island theme.
Excellent array of facilities, but there's no spa and the pool is only so-so (compared to the incredible water parks at other Orlando resorts, that is)
There's more than enough to keep any family entertained at the Royal Pacific, but the hotel falls short in a couple areas, at least when it's compared to the other Universal Resorts, Portofino Bay and the Hard Rock. There's no spa here, as there is at the Portofino, and the Royal Pacific has the least impressive pool of all three hotels.
Because all three Universal hotels have very similar features and services, families will do fine at any one of them; picking is really a question of priorities. Portofino Bay has the classiest, most grown-up atmosphere, which may not be a great fit for small children. The Hard Rock's rock-and-roll theme suits teens better. The Royal Pacific, meanwhile, has an easygoing atmosphere suitable for guests with youngsters in tow.
Pets are allowed, with restrictions and requirements, including a recent health certificate and a one-time cleaning fee.
As at any Loews Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel welcomes pets, so long as guests comply with some very specific rules, listed below. Two pets of any size are allowed per room, and there is a one-time cleaning fee. Each pet receives a pet tag, a bowl, and a treat upon arrival. Cats and dogs have their own menu, and it includes dry food (Iams Chunky or Feline) and hot entrees (Bow Wow Tenderloin and the Kitty Salmon Supreme). Dogs can even cap off the meal with a baked dessert, the Power Bark nutritional snack bar.
Overall, very clean
The hotel is clean, no doubt, but a few very minor details in the rooms could use some improvement, such as some soap stains on the soap dish.
As is normal at resort hotels, even the least expensive dining options at the Royal Pacific are around $12. Still, there's a solid variety, from standard poolside snacks to a sushi bar in the lobby and a pan-Asian restaurant franchised by celebrity-chef Emeril Lagasse. For other options, guests can take the short water-taxi ride to Universal's City Walk, which has 31 places to eat, including fast food like KFC and sit-down family chains like Bubba Gump and Buca di Beppo.
Like all Universal resorts, the 1,000-room Royal Pacific has solid service, great dining, and modern, very comfortable rooms. While it lacks the spa of Portofino Bay (though guests have access to it) and the incredible waterslides at Hard Rock and Portofino, its more relaxing, Hawaiian style (including thrice-weekly luaus) and diverse dining options make it a very attractive hotel for the price.