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Reservations Now Available for Universal Orlando's Sapphire Falls Resort

July 21, 2015, 1:56 PM · Universal Orlando Resort today began taking reservations for its new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, which will open next summer.

Pool rendering
Concept rendering of the hotel's pool area. All images courtesy Universal Orlando.

Rooms rates will start between $119-176 per night, depending upon season, placing the Sapphire Falls between the Royal Pacific and Cabana Bay Beach Resorts on price. Like the Royal Pacific, the Sapphire Falls will be connected to the Universal Orlando theme parks by water taxi, however, like the Cabana Bay, a stay at the hotel will not include complimentary Universal Express Unlimited passes.

Model room
A model room at the Sapphire Falls

The addition of the 1,000-room Caribbean-themed hotel brings Universal Orlando's on-site room inventory to 5,200, across five hotels. Reservations are available via Universal Orlando's website. Here's a promotional video about the hotel that the resort released today:

Replies (23)

July 21, 2015 at 8:43 PM · No Express Pass, no sale.
July 21, 2015 at 9:11 PM · I'm sure it will be very nice, especially at that price point, but I find the theming underwhelming. It looks like a nice Hilton. I know Universal is trying to be known for a higher level of detail these days, but this just seems like a hastily thrown-together grab for more hotel capacity (Unlike Cabana Bay, which was clever and original).
July 21, 2015 at 9:58 PM · I saw some tweets that said the hotels will be grouped into Premier for Hard Rock & Portofino, Preferred for Royal Pacific & Sapphire, and Value(?) for Cabana Bay. I don't know if this is accurate but it kind of indicates that Royal Pacific may lose complementary Express Pass. That would be a significant change.
July 21, 2015 at 10:54 PM · In order for Royal Pacific to lose Unlimited Express, they would have to change the rates to match the value hotels. There is speculation that the Wet N Wild property will become the sixth hotel once the attractions are removed.
July 22, 2015 at 12:05 AM · Maybe they can make Hard Rock and Portifino unlimited Express, Royal Pacific and Sapphire Falls limited Express (1 use per attraction), and retain early entry for Cabana Bay. Of course, like NB said, Royal Pacific would have to lower rates, but then you could at least get the best of both worlds.
July 22, 2015 at 4:31 AM · I agree with an earlier comment, the theme and execution of the hotel is not as great as the ones of the other four residences. The themes of the other hotels are either more original (Hard Rock, Cabana Bay) or a lot more detailed (Portofino,Royal Pacific). I hope that Universal has some surprises in store for this new development.
July 22, 2015 at 5:13 AM · Am I the only one who thinks the name Sapphire Falls sounds like a bad romance novel? UO wanted a hotel in the price points between Cabana Bay and the other premium hotels. Hopefully there is enough demand in the market to fill it. My family had no problem booking at Cabana Bay for great rate. Orlando is becoming a saturated market, without Express there isn't a compelling reason to stay at either Sapphire or Cabana.
July 22, 2015 at 8:26 AM · Universal are getting really lazy with their naming of hotels/parks. I know Sapphire Falls is pretty unique, but the other stuff...why does everything end in "...Bay"?

We already had Portofino Bay, so we don't need Cabana BAY or Volcano BAY. It's lazy and not very good marketing.

July 22, 2015 at 9:50 AM · Mr. Yevir raises a good point about the saturation of hotel rooms in Orlando. Currently on highway 429 about a quarter of a mile from the west entrance to Walt Disney World two economy chain properties are about 75% complete. They are located (literally) five to ten minutes from the DAK and EPCOT parking lots. The land around these hotels is also going to quickly develop with restaurants, shopping and two more hotels. These moderate priced, brand new rooms are going to sell-out due to location and competitive pricing (no cost for amenities like pool fees, fitness center fees or parking).

Meanwhile Disney seems to be taking a different tack -- choosing to renovate its existing properties. Over the past two or three years Disney has renovated thousands of its guestroom and amenities rather than invest hundreds of millions to build new a single new resort (although I've heard some talk about a new hotel in the parking lot behind House of Blues at Disney Springs. But that could very well be a development spearheaded by a Hilton or Marriott.

As for the Wet & Wild property, there's some space, but not a whole bunch. From what I understand the lake at the center of the property does not belong to Universal but is owned and managed by Orlando as part of the areas water management program. I am pretty sure it is a flood control body that carries run-off from I-drive -- although I could be wrong about those specifics.

July 22, 2015 at 10:59 AM · The last two times I've visited Orlando (October 2014, May 2015) I've stayed at Cabana Bay. It is priced competitively with the hotels that are in my budget that surround Universal. With the amenities available there and its proximity to the parks via shuttle, it just made sense to start staying on site.

Maybe the new hotel should have been named Ripsaw Falls? We could have had a neat Canadian- Dudley Do Right theme.

July 22, 2015 at 11:57 AM · By the way Cabana Bay is friggin' AWESOME!
July 22, 2015 at 12:04 PM · "Over the past two or three years Disney has renovated thousands of its guestroom and amenities rather than invest hundreds of millions to build new a single new resort"

That's not a different tack. This is maintenance and it is done every ten years.

The different tack should be adding more DVC wings to existing hotel properties and they done this to Contemporary with Bay Tower, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian. Soon it will be Wilderness Lodge. These expensive DVC rooms are also sold as premium rooms on a nightly basis.

It seems like Disney on-site properties have reached saturation because Disney is constantly offering special deals on the off-season. It's as if they won't sell without a discount or the free dining plan.

Whether there is actual saturation in the Orlando market depends upon new attractions opening up. Star Wars will be the new catalyst for breaking new milestones. Could this happen in ten years? Then they will have to open a new Star Wars wing at any existing property sitting between DHS and Epcot.

July 22, 2015 at 12:56 PM · I think this is a big failure without the express pass. The deeply discounted room rates apply to 7-night stays. Most weekend rates are $225+, which is similar to what you can get RPR. You've added a nicer CBBR that's more expensive and the upgraded benefit is water taxi service. Personally, I would rather spend more money for HRH, PBH, or RPR because the express pass is a huge benefit for me.
July 22, 2015 at 1:00 PM · Speaking of special deals, I just received, for the first time ever, a PIN Code offer from Universal Orlando. 35% off an on-site hotel stay... awesome deal... too bad I can't take advantage of it this year (it is good through December).

At first I thought it was a Disney PIN code offer because it was remarkably similar. The two "rivals" must be using the same print vendor.

July 22, 2015 at 2:42 PM · I described it as a different tack because Disney has not pursued development of new hotels. While UO decided to build Sapphire Falls (new hotel) Disney chose to shelve the River Run (new hotel) and pursued a massive commitment to expanding and renovating the existing properties.
July 22, 2015 at 3:18 PM · I'm sorry, but, why does Universal have to take away Wet n Wild instead of "plussing" it? Disney has two water parks, so why not Universal?
July 22, 2015 at 7:25 PM · Universal was substantially under represented with their own hotel rooms. They really needed to build. The profit from guest hotel spending is substantial and Disney's done an excellent job of tapping that over the years. There's a huge advantage to staying at a hotel that's within walking distance of a theme park. And more on site hotel rooms help to keep attendance steady. Sapphire, combined with RP, is also tapping into the substantial Orlando conventions market. That said, I like what I see in Sapphire but I think I prefer Cabana Bay. Last vacation we split hotels staying at CBBR for 5 nights & Royal Pacific for 8 nights. It helped keep down costs and we had a suite at CBBR to boot. Cabana Bay Beach Resort far exceeded our expectations. And it's apparently sold out most weekends by most accounts. As TH said, Cabana Bay is "friggin Awesome".
July 22, 2015 at 10:26 PM · I've never stayed at either a Disney hotel or Universal. The convenience and themeing never justified the large premium for me. However with both Cabana bay and Sapphire falls being so competitively priced I will definitely consider them in the future. I also am a huge fan of Cabana's 50s googie theme.
July 22, 2015 at 11:32 PM · For true road warriors, there is little benefit through Disney hotels. They offer no loyalty programs and horrendous rates. Why anyone would ever stay there is beyond me.
July 23, 2015 at 2:47 AM · Matt Reed on the Disney Resorts: "Why anyone would ever stay there is beyond me."

I Respond: Proximity to the parks, quality accommodations (renovated guestrooms and public areas), extraordinary atmosphere (see Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary resorts) exceptional amenities and world class guest service.

July 23, 2015 at 7:03 AM · TH Creative - I can stay at the Waldorf for nearly half the price of the Grand Floridian. I lose quick access via monorail, but the hotel is not worthy of Ritz Carlton prices. You can pay $100 to stay the All-Star resort, or spend the same money to stay at the Hilton by Downtown Disney, which just so happens to offer extended theme park hours.
July 23, 2015 at 10:02 AM · I like the aesthetics of Sapphire Falls.
It's not overly kitch but classy and I like that.
There is excessive convention space beeing build at the hotel and I bet it's the main focus. Business people can take their family with them who can enjoy the parks.
July 23, 2015 at 10:23 AM · OT: I think you're right on that assumption.....Daniel: If you like that theme you will love Cabana Bay. We got there in the evening first day and walked through the lobby to the main pool and were absolutely blown away by the beauty of the pool area and the striking colors produced by the night lighting. The only drawback to the resort is that they do not have a full service sit down restaurant. But, then again, it's only a five to 10 minute walk to the excellent sit down restaurants at Royal Pacific & soon to be Sapphire Falls. But Cabana does have a huge retro 50's, 60's Food Court, and the menu is large & reasonably priced.

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