Here is the breakdown of the hotel's 1,000 guest rooms:
Room prices have not been released. Rooms will include a 49-inch flat-panel HD TV, a mini-fridge, coffee maker, and in-room Internet access. Rollaways are $25 per day, plus tax. Parking rates will be the same as for the other Universal Orlando deluxe resorts: $20 a night for guests, but $22 a day for people not staying at the hotel. There will be water taxi, shuttle and walking access from the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort to the theme parks and CityWalk. However, complimentary Universal Express access is not listed as a guest amenity in the information we received.
The Loews Sapphire Falls Resort's restaurants will be:
The pool with be 15,600 square feet, with two sand areas totalling 3,500 square feet, though the sand will not touch the pool. The pool will have a large hot tub, a water slide, a children's play area, and a zero entry feature.
The Loews Sapphire Falls Resort opens in summer 2016.
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For fans who like more than just Potter (or for the tens of people planning vacations because of the new Kong attraction) you have to choose when to stay at this hotel wisely since it does not have the included Express Pass. However, this "problem" can be mitigated because unlike Disney World, Universal still has slow periods of the year and slow days, meaning a well timed tripped can still be somewhat line-free. Somewhat.
Finally, presuming the cost is about half as much as Royal Pacific, you could stay here (or at Cabana Bay) on the day you check out from one of the Express Pass hotels since your Express Pass will still be valid. I would likely use this hotel in such a fashion.
So, ultimately Sapphire Falls is either a Potter-ite Hotel, a hotel you visit when Universal is not busy, or a checkout day hotel for those who also stayed at one of the three Express Pass hotels. Or, I guess, you could just stop in for a meal.
At the end of the day, how long do you think it will be before Universal gets rid of free Express Passes at the Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, and Portfino? And will they ever give hotel guests a bigger break on the parking fee? Seems like for the hotels that don't offer Express Pass Universal could offset the disparity by providing free parking....
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Last time I was at Royal Pacific, they indicated that the parking lot and temporary building just outside their convention space would be torn up, and new structures would connect to the Sapphire Falls convention space, kind of creating a super-convention space between the two properties. But I'm not clear on whether or not it went the way I imagined.