The evidence is everywhere at Universal Orlando Resort that families and meeting groups, including delegates accompanied by family members, are target markets whose repeat guest loyalty is being cultivated now and for generations to come by the resort’s development partners at NBCUniversal and Loews Hotels & Resorts. Loews broke ground this past summer on its fourth on-site hotel at Universal Orlando, the 1,800-room Loews Cabana Bay Resort Hotel scheduled to open on a yet to be specified date in 2014.
Based on a recent media weekend tour at Universal Orlando Resort that included Travel Agent, the new Cabana Bay Resort’s opening can’t come too soon to help accommodate the hordes of families and youthful groups seen rushing through the resort’s two theme parks to experience the variety of new 2012 attractions. Whether immersing themselves in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the Islands of Adventure theme park, enjoying waiting-line character entertainment while awaiting the riotous new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem 3-D ride in Universal Studios, lining the streets of little old New York to view the Universal Superstar Parade, or surrounding the park’s lagoon at sundown to watch “100 Years of Movie Memories" on cinematic waterfall screens beneath a fireworks sky, the family crowds were ubiquitous at Universal Orlando.
Loews Cabana Bay Vacation Theme
According to Universal Orlando’s Vice President of Resort Sales Vincent LaRuffa, the 900 planned suites and 900 standard rooms within the Cabana Bay are being created specifically for families whose budgets have previously not allowed them to enjoy the on-site experience delivered by Loews’ three luxury hotels on the Universal Orlando Resort campus. The 1,800 new rooms are the first to open on site at Universal Orlando Resort since the Loews Royal Pacific opened in 2002. The Cabana Bay features accommodations that will offer moderate and value pricing compared to the luxury guest experience delivered in the 2,400 accommodations at Universal Orlando’s existing properties that include the 750-room Loews Portofino Bay Resort, the 650-room Loews Hard Rock Hotel and the 1,000-room Royal Pacific. A Universal spokesperson described the resort’s general hotel pricing as variable based on seasonal and other market factors.
“The [Loews Cabana Bay] will take people back to the throwback vacations of the late 1950s and early 60s, to the Miami Beach of that era,” said LaRuffa. Universal materials describe the property as a recreation of the expansive motor court hotels near the highway “where families relaxed and played after a long day’s drive.” Resort officials, however, declined comment on whether the hotel is primarily targeted to the Florida drive-in family vacation market as opposed to families who fly to Orlando.
The hotel’s value proposition for family guests is found in its suite floor plan accommodating up to six guests. This mini-apartment space includes a divided room bisected by a privacy screen, a bathroom with closed-door toilet room separated from a tub and shower with two sinks, and a living space with a wet bar fronted by two stools, two flatscreen TVs, microwave, fridge, microwave, pullout couch and two queen beds. In the hotel’s public spaces, families will enjoy a convenience store and two themed pool play areas.
The Loews Cabana Bay complements a total renovation of the 750 luxury rooms at the Loews Portofino Bay now in the final stage of completion. Our new harbor-facing room at Loews Portofino Bay featured arched windows providing a panoramic view of the “port” side of the resort. It had a roomy entertainment credenza topped by a flat screen TV, a minibar fridge, two rows of dresser drawers and a wide closet with sliding louvers. The beige and green colors in the space were accented by three framed color photos of Portofino, Italy, twin gold-framed mirrors with wall sconce lights, a marble-topped desk, a roomy armchair and hassock and stylish silver floor lamp. The spacious bathroom had two marble top sinks, a separate toilet area, colorful floral tiles framing the bath mirror, terra cotta floor tiles, and a rain shower and tub. A special feature was a Keurig coffee maker in the entry foyer on a wide counter placed beneath a large silver-framed oval mirror.
Meeting Space Renovations
Meeting groups at the on-site Universal Orlando Resort hotels are enjoying newly-reburbished conference space in all three of the existing hotels. The Loews Hard Rock Hotel’s Director of Conference Management and Catering Thryag Satgoor showed the visiting media a newly-renovated Avalon Ballroom and adjacent breakout rooms. New fabrics have been created in dramatic colors of black, gray, red and white accented by designs of musical notes in the floor carpets. Guests are able to download their own play list onto their personal mobile device to enjoy “the sound of their stay,” or rent a guitar in their room to learn how to play from an in-room video tutor. As with the Loews Portofino Bay, Keurig coffee makers have been installed in every room. The hotel’s lively Beach Club Bar & Grill adjoining the Hard Rock Hotel’s sand beach swimming pool is considered a central area of the hotel.
The 80,000 square feet of meeting space in the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel have also seen a complete refurbishment this year. The Pacifica Ballroom, which opens to 45,000 square feet and can be divided into more than a dozen smaller breakout rooms, has striking new aquamarine and tangerine floral carpets throughout. The hotel has an additional 42,000-square-foot pavilion tent adjacent to a lush garden area where outside receptions are organized in good weather. The Royal Pacific’s new conference space has color patterns similar to the ocean blue and earth tone décor found in the hotel’s Asian fusion restaurant, Tchoup Chop, the first and only Asian restaurant created by chef Emeril LaGasse.
Travel agents can call for vacation package quotes by contacting their Universal representative at Universal Orlando Resort (1-800-224-3838), or by contacting their preferred wholesaler selling Universal Orlando vacations, or through the VAX VacationAccess booking program (www.vaxvacationaccess.com). Universal Orlando Resort has preferred partnerships with several agency networks and consortiums including AAA South, Ensemble, Vacation.com, Virtuoso, and Travelsavers. Additionally, said Quinn, the resort company works with all the major U.S. wholesalers selling Orlando vacations.
The opening of Loews Cabana Bay Resort will enhance the already strong partnership between Universal and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. According to Quinn, guests will be able to combine three, four and seven-night cruises on Royal Caribbean with a three-or four-night guest stay at the Loews Cabana Bay. Transfers between Orlando International Airport, Port Canaveral and Universal Orlando Resort are included in these cruise and resort packages.