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Cabana Bay Beach Resort: Splash back to the 1950s & 60s

Welcome to the OI coverage of Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando.

For over a decade Universal has been home to three deluxe hotels: Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Royal Pacific Resort. In 2014, that mix changes as Universal adds a new resort complex, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, with 1,800 moderate & value priced guest rooms and a vintage look pulled right from the blockbuster TV show Mad Men (with a splash of Old Florida).

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

 

UPDATE – April 2, 2014

We’re back home from our stay at Universal’s new Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and what an experience it was! Overall, we are extremely impressed with the new property. From its colorful, beach-inspired, retro theme to the shear magnitude of its size and amenities, there’s much to love.

It will take us a few days to get all our coverage published here on the main site – to see the latest right now, visit our forums for Cabana Bay FAQs, photos & videos.

Was March 31 the grand opening of Cabana Bay?

The hotel invited its first guests on property March 31, when the main public spaces and the North Courtyard guest buildings opened – but this was not the official grand opening of the hotel. That should happen in June, when the South Courtyard guest buildings and pool area opens.

 

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – general information

Splash back to the 1950’s and 60’s for endless family fun at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, opening throughout 2014. From the moment you arrive, you will be taken back to the iconic beach resorts of the era. With a hip, vintage look, the resort will offer 1800 on-site rooms – including 900 family suites and 900 standard guest rooms – adding high-quality, high-value options for families wanting an affordable on-site experience.

  • Located on the south end of Universal’s property, near I-4 and between Turkey Lake Road, Hollywood Way, and Adventure Way.
  • Direct phone number: (407) 503-4000.
  • Official Loews website: http://www.loewshotels.com/en/Cabana-Bay.
  • Official Universal Orlando website: https://www.universalorlando.com/Hotels/Cabana-Bay-Beach-Resort.aspx.
  • View the hotel construction site using the OI custom-made Google map.
  • Property consists of three separate areas: North Courtyard; Front Desk, lobby, food court and recreation building; and the South Courtyard.
  • 1,800 rooms.
    • 315 Courtyard family suites (North Courtyard)
    • 285 Courtyard family suites poolside (North Courtyard)
    • 176 Tower family suites (South Courtyard)
    • 124 Tower family suites poolside (South Courtyard)
    • 528 standard rooms (South Courtyard)
    • 372 standard rooms poolside (South Courtyard)
    • 50% of standard rooms are connecting
  • Preview opening March 31 (North Courtyard family suites only); full opening July 1.
  • Standard rooms are 300 sq ft; family suites are 430 sq ft.
  • Standard rooms sleep up to four guests; family suites sleep six up to six guests; no rollaways are available.
  • Prices: Standard rooms range between $119 and $149 per night; family suites range between $174 and $209 per night.
  • Guest rooms feature bold design, period colors and a neon and retro feel.
  • No club level or concierge lounge.
  • Recreation:
    • Galaxy Bowl, 10-lane bowling alley: Offering everything needed for a boisterous bowling experience for children and adults. Features include food and beverage options (soda, beer, wine, hot dogs, churros), pool tables, and music and video screens. Lanes can be rented for $45 per hour or per game at $7.50 per person. Shoe rental is available for $4.00 per pair.
    • North Courtyard: 10,000 sq ft pool featuring zero-entry, a sand beach, 4,000 sq ft iconic dive tower water feature, and 100 ft waterslide.
    • South Courtyard: 6,000 sq ft pool featuring  zero-entry, a sand beach, and Universal’s first lazy river.
    • Poolside activities: Hula hoop contests, bingo, dive-in movies, ping pong, volleyball, pool tables.
    • Universal Orlando Resort Store: Offering sundries, guest necessities, newspapers, magazines, etc., as well as Universal and Cabana Bay Beach Resort logo merchandise.
    • Complimentary Fitness Studio: offering cardiovascular equipment, and an open area with mats, medicine balls, Bosu Balls, and rubber dumbbells, and locker rooms.
    • Game-O-Rama game room.
  • Dining options
    • Bayliner Diner food court: Guests can dine-in or “grab and go” at the 600-seat food court which features a variety of food stations including burgers and milk shakes, pizza and pasta, a bakery, sandwiches and more.
    • Additional options: Starbucks coffee shop, lobby and pool bars offering signature frozen drinks and smoothies, plus snacks in the bowling alley. In addition, guests can have pizza delivered right to their rooms.

 

Original news release

Universal Parks & Resorts and Loews Hotels & Resorts will build a new hotel development at Universal Orlando that will add high-quality, high-value options for families wanting an affordable on-site experience.

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort will offer two distinct experiences within the development’s multiple buildings: 900 family suites, capable of sleeping six, that include kitchen areas and 900 standard guest rooms — offering both moderate- and value-priced accommodations. It will be operated by Loews Hotels & Resorts and is scheduled to open in 2014.

The hotel will be themed differently than anything else currently available at Universal Orlando. It will evoke the driving vacations so many Americans grew up enjoying with their families — spending time at sweeping motor courts just off the highway, where families relaxed and played after a long day’s drive. The new hotel’s hip, vintage look will be accented with bold design, dramatic, clean lines, bright, period colors and touches of neon. Inside areas including the lobby, dining areas and large, comfortable rooms will follow suit. The hotel will have two themed pool areas.

Universal Orlando Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

Universal Orlando Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

Universal Orlando Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

Universal Orlando Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

“Our new hotel will give guests an affordable, incredibly themed on-site hotel experience unlike anything else at our resort,” said Tom Williams, chairman and chief executive officer, Universal Parks & Resorts. “Our new family suites and family-value pricing will give our guests on-site options they’ve never had before.”

The hotel will be built on a 37-acre site within Universal Orlando Resort and adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure – just off Hollywood Way and Turkey Lake Road. Site work will begin soon. Pricing information, opening timeframes and room on-sale dates will be released over time.

The new hotel will allow families to choose between value pricing or the higher level of benefits and service that come with staying at other on-site Universal Orlando hotels — Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel and Royal Pacific Resort. It will provide early park admission, proximity to Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios and resort-wide charging privileges — but will not offer complimentary Universal Express Unlimited Access.

“The Cabana Bay Beach Resort furthers our goal of operating special and distinct properties in important markets,” said Paul Whetsell, Loews Hotels & Resorts president and CEO. “This is another important step in our plan to expand the Loews system in major markets across the United States.”

 

So what does all this mean for planning your Universal vacation?

Staying at Cabana Bay will help save your family money versus Universal’s other on-site hotels — especially if you have six people in your party and can now occupy one family suite instead of two standard rooms — but there are trade-offs. First, and perhaps most importantly, guests staying on-site at Cabana Bay will not receive unlimited Express Pass access. This is widely regarded as the single best benefit of staying at Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, or Royal Pacific (not to mention that complimentary Express Passes hold a value of up to $80 per person per day compared to buying them separately).

Second, Cabana Bay will not be connected to Universal via their waterway. This means guests at Cabana Bay will not have the option of using Universal’s water taxis to get to and from the parks. Instead, guests will have the option of  (1) using shuttle buses or (2) walking by way of a new bridge connecting Cabana Bay to the Garden Walkway near Royal Pacific Resort. We estimate it will take 20 to 35 minutes to walk from Cabana Bay to the theme parks, depending on exactly where your room is located on the Cabana Bay property. As a visual aid, open our interactive map and use the legend to find the walking path from Cabana Bay to the parks.

Third, guests staying at Cabana Bay Beach Resort will not receive the benefit of priority seating at the full-service restaurants inside Universal’s theme parks or at CityWalk.

Finally, Cabana Bay Beach Resort will not allow pets.

These are the four drawbacks. The advantages to staying at Cabana Bay Beach Resort include all the other standard on-site benefits for Universal Orlando guests:

  • Early Park Admission.
  • Complimentary package delivery.
  • Resort-wide charging privileges with your room key.
  • Complimentary scheduled transportation to Wet ‘n Wild, SeaWorld and Aquatica.
  • Access to the other amenities at Universal’s deluxe on-site hotels, including the pool areas.
  • Universal Orlando character appearances.

And of course, guests staying at Cabana Bay will have the opportunity to relax at what will most certainly be Orlando’s swankiest resort!

Oh, are you wondering about parking? Yes, Cabana Bay guests will have to deal with the biggest complaint about all of Universal’s on-site hotels: the per night self-parking fee. At Cabana Bay it will cost you $10 per night to park a car (paid at time of check-in).

 

Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels – 2014 seasonal rates

Compare these numbers with our crowd level predictions (that link will open in a new window) to find the best time to stay on-site:

Universal Orlando on-site hotels: 2014 rates.

 

Cabana Bay’s location at Universal Orlando

A while back Rich from the Orlando Business Journey tweeted a photo of the actual Cabana Bay Beach Resort model in use by the folks at Universal.

Although I am certainly no Photoshop expert, I decided to take the photo and plug it into an aerial shot of the area, so we all could get a better look at how Cabana Bay will fit into the puzzle. Here is the composite map I created:

Cabana Bay Beach Resort composite map.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort composite map.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort composite map.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort composite map.

These images show how the new property fits into the roads around Universal, with the main entrance coming off of Adventure Way. It also shows the size of the complex compared to Royal Pacific Resort, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk.

Impressive, no? It’s really the thing that stands out most about Cabana Bay — just how large the complex is compared to Universal’s other on-site hotels. Although, in all fairness, Portofino Bay Resort has an impressive footprint too.

 

Universal’s Cabana Bay vs. Disney’s Pop Century

I found this analysis written by MarkTwain on WDWMagic.com and wanted to share it with our readers:

The thing that simultaneously impresses/saddens me the most about Universal’s new hotel is how classy and well-themed it manages to be, while still being the “value” option. At Disney’s value resorts, you detect a very dramatic difference in the quality of “theming” (if you can call it that) and immersiveness between the value and moderate options. You can quite visibly sense the monetary difference in what you saved by opting for the cheaper option, and frustratingly, can also sense that Disney is talking down to its more budget-eering guests with a louder, dare I say tackier theme.

Meanwhile, Universal provides several excellent amenities that would make them desirable hotels regardless of price point, and all wrapped up in a true and genuine theme that is all at once stylish, fun, and even lightly lightly sophisticated. There is nothing at all tacky about Universal’s value hotel; I would go as far to say it reinforces Universal’s presence as a leader in thematic design. I wish Disney’s value resorts were equally capable of both maintaining a sense of classiness and fun, while being (necessarily) more gently themed than their more deluxe counterparts.

 

News update – February 26, 2013

Reservations now available!

On February 26, 2013 Universal announced that the very first rooms at Cabana Bay will be ready for occupancy on March 31, 2014. Reservations for these rooms — the family suites in the North Courtyard — can be made right now either online or by calling 1-888-464-3617.

Orlando Informer's reservation for opening night.

Orlando Informer’s reservation for opening night.

The South Courtyard, featuring the value-priced standard rooms as well as family suites, is scheduled to be available for occupancy on July 1, 2014. Reservations for these rooms can also be made right now either online or by calling 1-888-464-3617.

Keep in mind that the amenities in the the South Courtyard, including the 6,000 sq ft pool and lazy river, will also not be available for use until July 1, 2014.

 

News update – November 12, 2013

Cabana Bay Beach Resort is celebrating its 2014 opening with a new preview offer. For a limited time, the new family suites can be booked at rates starting as low as $104 per night (for a 7-night stay) to $134 per night (for a 3-night stay). This introductory offer is available for booking now through January 31 for stays from March 31 to June 14. To check specific dates, call 1-888-273-1311 or visit the online reservations page.

As noted in the previous news update, these preview rates are being offered partially because the amenities in the the South Courtyard, including the 6,000 sq ft pool and lazy river, will not be available for use until July 1, 2014.

(Those of you who are paying close attention may wonder why the reservation seen in the image above was made for $285 when the preview rates are a lot less. This is so because I made the reservation in February 2013, before the preview rates were announced. The good news is that I was able to call and get the reduced rate of $189.00 with no problem at all.)

 

Construction update – November 25, 2013

We took a few months off from construction updates for Cabana Bay because they was so much happening inside Universal’s parks, including Transformers, Diagon Alley, and Hogsmeade Station for the Hogwarts Express.

But finally we got our cameras back to Cabana Bay at the end of last week. The biggest change at the construction site is the rise of the South Courtyard towers. Here is the concept artwork followed by a photo from June, then followed by three photos from last week. Keep in mind that the perspective changes a bit because our photos are taken from the outside looking in, whereas the concept art is inside looking out.

Cabana Bay South Courtyard.

Cabana Bay South Courtyard.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort - June 15, 2013.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – June 15, 2013.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort - November 21, 2013.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – November 21, 2013.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort - November 21, 2013.c

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – November 21, 2013.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort - November 21, 2013 (viewed from Royal Pacific Resort).

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – November 21, 2013 (viewed from Royal Pacific Resort).

As more color gets added to the buildings, the retro scheme is really starting to grow on me. I can envision how playful yet nostalgic the atmosphere will be.

The other significant changes since our last update in June: We now have the center portion of the resort well underway, which will be home to the lobby, food court, and other amenities (first image below), and a considerable amount of landscaping has been added to the North Courtyard (second image below).

Cabana Bay Beach Resort - November 21, 2013 (as viewed from Royal Pacific Resort).

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – November 21, 2013 (as viewed from Royal Pacific Resort).

Cabana Bay Beach Resort - November 21, 2013.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – November 21, 2013.

There hasn’t been any big news about Cabana Bay over the summer, but we can give you a quick recap. Reservations are now available for stays starting on March 31, 2014. The period from March 31 through the end of June will be the hotel’s “preview” period — guests will be able to stay in the South Courtyard and enjoy the amenities there, but the North Courtyard (the tower section) will not be completed yet. Then the grand opening is on the books for July 1, when the entire hotel and all its amenities will be become available to guests.

Finally, here is a video showing the Cabana Bay construction site. Note that midway through the video our location switches from Turkey Lake Road to the sixth floor of Royal Pacific Resort (which is on the opposite side of Cabana Bay from Turkey Lake Road).

That’s it for this update!

Keep scrolling down to check out our 27 new construction images and our interactive map. Then, use the navigation links at the bottom of the page to keep learning more about Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

 

News update – November 26, 2013

Jonathan Tisch, the Chairman of Loews Hotels, was interviewed this morning on CNBC. The first part of the interview discussed the possible complications with the winter weather during Thanksgiving. Then the panel spoke a bit about Loews’ new feature that let’s guests book reservations via Twitter (excludes Universal’s on-site hotels).

Jonathan Tisch - Loews Hotels Chairman.

Then Tisch proceeded to drop two beautiful nuggets of information. First, Tisch stated that Cabana Bay Beach Resort, with its 1,800 rooms, is the largest hotel currently under construction in the world outside of China. Next, when explaining how Cabana Bay will open in phases, Tisch said that the the first phase will open in April and the rest of the hotel will open in June “when Harry Potter 2 opens.”

So there ya go: further confirmation that Universal is doing incredible things — building the largest hotel outside of China! — and that we can expect the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley to open in June. (We have so, so much more info about “Harry Potter 2″ on our Diagon Alley page.)

To see the interview and transcript, click here. And a special thanks to our Twitter fan @JeremyLawrence for sending us this scoop!



Cabana Bay Beach Resort – photo gallery

Click any image to view it full-screen. When the full-screen image is open, click to the right or use the right arrow on your keyboard to advance through the gallery.

Note: When viewing these photos, keep in mind that the street-level shots are taken from Turkey Lake Road, which is on the west side of the property. The overhead shots are taken from Royal Pacific Resort, which is much further off on the east side of the property.


November 21, 2013


June 15, 2013


March 9, 2013


February 2, 2013


Cabana Bay Beach Resort – map

Click any marker to display the attraction or venue name. To scroll or zoom, use the controls on the top-left of the map. You may also switch to different map views by using the buttons on the top-right of the map.


View OI’s Universal Orlando Resort map in a larger map

 

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