In the hospitality industry, the word “resort” refers to a hotel that offers not just a high standard of luxury and extra amenities, but special recreational opportunities, either natural or man-made. Well, two world-class theme parks surely qualify as a recreational opportunity.
Of course, if the visionaries at Universal had done nothing more than add Islands of Adventure and CityWalk to the existing Universal Studios Florida they would have had a vacation destination that could challenge Disney World in appeal and popularity. Fortunately for us they set their sights much higher than that, seeking to turn Universal Orlando into a true resort destination with five distinctively themed hotels surrounding the theme parks. To accomplish that they have partnered with Loews Hotels to provide the hotel part of the equation.
If you’ve never heard of Loews Hotels, you’re forgiven. Loews has forgone the current craze of hotel consolidation, with big chains devouring small chains to create ever larger chains, to concentrate on operating a small portfolio of one-of-a-kind hotels of the four-diamond variety that seek to become the dominant hotels in their marketplace.
The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel (a separate brand managed here by Loews), and the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, described in this chapter, are the first of the five planned hotels but the fourth and fifth hotels have been in “development” forever. From now on, the hotels will be referred to by their shorter, “unofficial” names and nicknames.
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