If you want to vacation in Hawaii completely immersed in the sights and sounds of the island, Universal’s Royal Pacific Hotel probably isn’t for you. It’s a deluxe hotel with a Pacific island theme; but if judging it against other themed hotels – the kinds that appear around Orlando parks more than anywhere else – the theming falls a bit short.
That’s not a criticism. In fact, it’s a selling point for anyone who wants a luxury resort that’s a little bit different. A theme – any theme – can get old after the first three days. At Disney’s Old Key West Resort, you’ll hear Jimmy Buffet songs and steel drums 24/7, for example.
While the architecture, ceilings and walls beyond the main lobby are not particularly Polynesian or Hawaiian, the décor is, including a wooden frog theme that runs throughout the public areas and convention center. The massive swimming pool mimics a tropical lagoon, with a kids’ splash playground at one end. (No slide, however – ideal for younger kids that parents still watch; not so good for teenagers who consider slides a must-have.)
One of the Royal Pacific’s restaurants has a famous name attached: Emeril Lagasse’s Tchoup Chop. And while most other restaurants have a Pacific theme, one restaurant is a double fake: Jake’s American Bar is themed to be an American restaurant themed to be on a Pacific island. (You may have to read that twice.)
Lowe’s runs the Royal Pacific’s day-to-day operations, as it does with all Universal Resorts. A water taxi shuttles guests between the Royal Pacific and Universal CityWalk, with connections to the other resorts. At Universal, all parks and hotels have sidewalks, but it’s a hefty walk in the heat, and a stroll to the other hotels is too much for all but the heartiest visitors.
Who should stay here
Because it has a Polynesian/Hawaiian theme, the Grand Pacific feels
like the most laid-back hotel at Universal. It’s also ideal for travelers who want a hotel “because it’s a bit different” on vacation, but who are not willing to buy into a full-fledged pretend-you’re-somewhere-else resort. Many people can tap into frequent flyer/hotel points.
Who shouldn’t stay here
The flip side of “who should stay here”: Anyone who wants a fully themed resort should look elsewhere.
All Universal resort guests have free boat service (water taxi) from their hotel to CityWalk. From CityWalk, they can connect to another water taxi. Sidewalks also allow guests to walk to all hotels and parks, but it’s a hefty hike, especially in a steamy Central Florida summer
Questions to ask when booking
Most rooms have a view of the pool or green space, though the higher rooms in the hotel see lots of other stuff. On the one side, guests can see Islands of Adventure and Dr. Doom’s Fearfall across the road. Guests on the other side see mainly highway beyond the trees. The pool and boat launch are on the southwest end; rooms to the northeast demand a bit more walking to services. Convention facilities stand apart from guest rooms and pool, but ask about any meetings scheduled during your visit.
Royal Pacific website: http://www.loewshotels.com/en/Hotels/Royal-Pacific-Resort/Overview.aspx