The Cabana Bay Beach Resort has a 50’s America theme to it inside and out – I loved the retro feel of it all and how well they carried the theme out everywhere. There were even some really cool looking old cars parked outside, some of which had been used in actual movies!
When you walk in through the main doors of the hotel, the palm trees growing right in the middle of the massive reception area certainly have the wow factor. There’s a huge desk over by the colourful wall where you go to check in or to ask anything if you need to – although you can also ring through from the phone in your room/suite.
Check-in was really quick and the staff were really happy, efficient and friendly. Just what you want after a long flight. As I mentioned in my last post about Universal Orlando, I had cause to test out just how good their customer service was not long after arriving.
Stupidly I lost my phone and wasn’t sure if I had left it at the Universal Studios desk at the airport – which we popped to for help when we couldn’t find our driver for our transfer to the hotel, they were amazingly helpful too. Or if I had left it in the actual transfer car. I’ll admit I was in a bit of a panic, but the reception staff were amazing ringing the car service for me and the Universal desk at the hotel rang the Universal desk at the airport for me.
Considering what a pain in the bum I was asking them to ring for me, they were all so helpful and hurrah my phone was with the driver who then drove for about 40 minutes to bring it back to me. The whole time that we were at the hotel and indeed in all of the parks, I was so impressed by how friendly and helpful everyone was who worked there.
The huge reception building doesn’t just hold the reception, it also has lots of seating areas, the Universal Studios desk where you can pick up or buy tickets to the parks and more, a car hire desk and a desk especially to go and check your luggage in to be looked after on your day of departure or if you arrive way before check-in time – such a handy service.
There’s also the Swizzle bar where you can grab a drink throughout the day and evening. On weekend nights they had live music as well.
TIP: The big gift shop on site may be full of Universal Orlando goodies but, there is also a stand with all the essentials that you may have forgotten to take with you over near the till!
The building we were staying in although part of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, wasn’t connected to the main building. There was a huge swimming pool in between us and the reception building. We stayed in Thunderbird and it was very peaceful there, we didn’t hear any noise from anywhere.
We were actually given two family suites to stay in – reviewer’s perks and all that, which had an interconnecting door between them. This would be perfect if you wanted to go away with friends or you have an especially big family.
Each suite sleeps 6, 2 people in each of the two double beds in the bedrooms and an additional 2 on the pullout sofa bed. You do need to have someone over the age of 21 listed as staying in each room though, which is something to bear in mind.
The suites were really colourful and most importantly the beds were very comfortable. The handy thing about having a family suite rather than a room is that if you have younger children who go to bed before you, there’s a door that you can pull across which blocks sound out pretty well. No sitting in the bathroom waiting for the children to go to sleep at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
In the bedrooms there was an ensuite toilet in a separate room along with a separate shower and sink. And then there was a second sink in the middle between the shower and toilet rooms. It was so well laid out and meant that I could shower for once, without anyone suddenly being desperate for the toilet and banging on the door.
We also never ran out of towels as housekeeping were really efficient in cleaning our suites and replenishing the towels and complimentary toiletries.
There was a big tv on the bedroom wall and an additional large television in the lounge area. The suite was all styled in a retro style like the rest of the resort. There’s also a mini kitchen area with a microwave, coffee machine and fridge. In theory you could make some food in the room if you’re a dab hand with a microwave, but we weren’t at the hotel enough to consider it.
We ate a few times in the Bayliner Diner at the resort, which was themed like a traditional American diner with booths and the screens you can see in the photo below were showing retro videos and music. Before you actually went to the seating area of the diner there was a big area to choose and then buy your food.
There were lots of different stations with different meals on offer and you could choose from any station plus the huge salad bar and drinks/snacks selections and then pay altogether at the end. This was so handy as it was rare that the boys wanted food from the same station as us.
The diner was so huge that we never had a problem finding somewhere to sit once we’d bought our food. We saved money by buying refillable drinks containers to re-use for our entire stay at the resort. There were machines for filling these in the dining area and next to the pools too.
You could also eat in Galaxy Bowl, The Hideaway Bar and Grill next to one of the swimming pools, Starbucks close to the reception area or you could even order a pizza to be delivered to you. I’m planning another post about where to eat at Universal Studios, so keep an eye out for that!
There are loads of places to eat at City Walk, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure too. Plus if you fancied eating at one of the restaurants in one of the other hotels in Universal Orlando Resort, there is a special shuttle service going between the hotels for this purpose. Basically you are spoilt for choice.
There is also a shuttle service between the hotel and Citywalk where you can access Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, this comes so frequently there were sometimes three shuttle queued up to take us there or back.
One of my favourite meals every day was breakfast, honestly the Americans do breakfast so well! Their sausages and bacon were a little ‘spicy’ and full of flavour. Even the scrambled eggs were the best I’ve ever tasted and I could get used to having American ‘biscuits’ for breakfast.
We didn’t just eat whilst we were there, although we certainly did do plenty of that! Aside from spending a huge amount of our time at the three parks, the resort had more to offer too.
The Cabana Bay has two huge swimming pools which are open until around 11pm at night, which the boys LOVED as they could swim when we got back from going out to dinner or from the parks. The one next to our hotel building had a retro looking diving board (a fake one) that had a slide coming through the bottom of it, which was a lot of fun for the Tween and Teenager.
The boys can both swim and so Si and I sat out on sun loungers around the pool and took advantage of the handy pool bar instead. It was such a lovely way to end the day and very relaxing. The pools at the resort are heated so can be used whatever the temperature outside or time of day!
Close to the pool there are also games to play like connect four, chess, pool and more. Plus a fire pit, sand pit and other areas with sand.
There were nightly films being shown beside the pool as well on a huge screen. In addition to the pool near to our suites, there is also a hot tub, children’s splash pad and a whole other pool plus a lazy river rapids area. The boys loved both pools and made friends to play with on one of the nights that they swam with.
On our last day we tried out the ten pin bowling centre Galaxy Bowl. It was really nice in there and it never seemed to be hugely busy either when we were going past – I think visiting during October half term is perfect really, as it’s still warm in Orlando but a lot quieter than in some of the other school holidays.
The random Lego Bart Simpson figure above came on holiday with us, because my eldest needed to take him around with him for photography homework, Bart has his whole own set of holiday snaps!
Volcano Bay the new water park is really close to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, so close that you can see it as you walk around the resort. It only takes five minutes to walk to Volcano Bay through a special gate just for those staying on resort.
I’ll cover the parks more in another post, since this one is ridiculously long already. When you stay at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel though you get early entry by a whole hour to Universal Studios and Volcano Bay. We definitely enjoyed taking advantage of that!
Our verdict on The Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando Resort
We all loved the resort and it really was the perfect place for us to stay. Child friendly and even teenager friendly, it felt like a safe place and we were happy to send the boys off to refill drinks without us and not worry if we couldn’t see them in the pool as there were so many lifeguards around at every hour of the day.
The family suites were a good base to return to and the beds were really comfortable. The only single vaguely negative thing that I can think to say is that when anyone in our building flushed their toilet we could hear the rushing water in our room, which did disturb us on the first night but, you soon get used to it and don’t notice it any more. Even that feels petty to say but I only do 100% honesty in my reviews.
Other than that, the whole place was clean, the staff were friendly and so helpful and if we were to go to Universal Orlando Resort again, I would more than happily stay there again. Honestly I want to go back right now!