Overview

You may be tempted, as we were initially, to write off Lowes Royal Pacific Hotel as an imitation of Disney's verdant Polynesian Resort. While there are similarities, the Royal Pacific is attractive enough, and has enough strengths of its own, to recommend a separate stay to do your own comparison.

Opened in 2002, the Royal Pacific's Southeast Asia-inspired theming is both relaxing and structured. Guests enter the lobby from a walkway set two stories above a man-made stream which surrounds the resort. Once inside, the lobby's dark teak wood accents contrast nicely against the enormous amount of light coming in from the windows and three-story A-frame roof. Various species of palm line the walkway through the lobby, and through these you see that entire lobby area surrounds a large outdoor fountain.

The Rooms

The Royal Pacific's 1,000 guest rooms are located in three separate Y-shaped wings attached to the resort's main building. Standard rooms are 335 square feet about the size of a room at Disney's moderate resorts and feature one king or two queen beds. King rooms sleep up to 3 people with an optional rollaway bed, and queen rooms sleep 5 with that rollaway bed. The beds are fitted with 300-thread count sheets and are very comfortable. Rooms are decorated in neutral beige tones with dark wood and paint accents and forest-colored carpet, and include a 32-inch flat panel LCD television, refrigerator, coffee machine, and an alarm clock with a 30-pin iPhone docking port. Other amenities include a small desk with two chairs, a comfortable reading chair, chest of drawers and large closet. Wireless internet is available for $10 per day in guest rooms, free in the lobby.

As with the Hard Rock, rooms at the Royal Pacific have a dressing area with sink, and the dressing area is separated from the rest of the room by a wall. Adjacent to the dressing area is the bathroom, with a tub, shower and toilet. Unlike the Hard Rock, the shower area is not large enough for dressing except in a pinch. Water pressure in the shower is good. While they're acceptable, the bathroom and dressing areas at the Royal Pacific are our least favorite of the Universal resorts.

Some standard-view rooms look out over the Royal Pacific's green landscape, others see the parking lot or nearby roads. Water-view rooms facing the pool or lagoon are also available, most of which have a great look at Hogwart's castle.

The Royal Pacific is a Pet Friendly hotel. Two pets can stay in each room. A $50 cleaning fee is added to each room with pets, but it is capped at three nights. So, for example, if you stay 7 nights you only pay $150. There is a very elaborately themed area for pets to walk around and play in on the side of the resort.

Pool, Gym and Recreation

Like the Hard Rock, the Royal Pacific's zero-entry pool includes a sand beach, volleyball court, play area for kids, hot tub and rental cabanas, plus a poolside bar and grill. Designed to look like a cross between a tropical island and cruise ship pool (complete with faux exhaust tower and observation deck,the swimming complex pool is huge. Lounge chairs line most of the walkway around the pool, and portable folding umbrellas provide shade where the palm trees and lush green plants can't. The Royal Pacific offers free "pool concierge" where they will set up your lounge chairs and provide plenty of towels. While there are servers from the Bali Bar & Grille taking food and drink orders, there is also free water that is usually mixed with lemon, oranges or strawberries.

The Royal Pacific includes a 5,000 square-foot fitness facility ($10 per day, free with club-level rooms), with free weights and machines, treadmills, stair-climbers, ellipticals, and exercise bikes, plus separate lockers, dressing areas and sauna rooms for men and women.

A business center and video arcade round out the on-site amenities.

On-Site Dining

On-site dining includes two full-service restaurants, three bars and a luau. Of the table-service restaurants, only the Islands Dining Room is open for breakfast. Its buffet is stocked with the usual eggs, bacon, pancakes and French toast. Other breakfast options include a grab and go continental style breakfast in the Orchid Court Lounge located near the hotel lobby while outdoors by the water taxi launch is the Bula Bar & Grille Coffee Express which offers coffee, pastries, whole fruit and other healthy options. Coffee Express is open 7am-10am seven days a week.

Several casual bar areas are located in the resort including Jake's American Bar, the Orchid Court Sushi Bar and, our favorite, the Bula Bar & Grille which has the insanely great Shipwrecked Loaded Nachos. These nachos are one of the rare appetizers that the entire family can share and since there are plenty of tables in the shade its a great place for the adults to relax with a drink as the kids play in the pool just a couple steps away.

Dinner is from an Asian-inspired menu, with seared ahi tuna, duck soup and various stir-fries. Emeril Lagasse's Tchoup Chop is the other table-service option, serves Asian-inspired food too, and is open for lunch and dinner (reservations recommended through Open Table).

2013 Rack Rates and Resort Fees

Rack rates for 2013 run from a low of $224 per night on weeknights in January to $369 per night during December's holidays, excluding tax. Guests with cars will pay an additional $18 per day for self-parking, and in-room internet access is another $10 per day. The rooms alone aren't worth those rates, but adding in unlimited Universal Express, one hour early access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a short walk to the parks makes it more palatable. Loews hotels do run a great loyalty program called YouFirst in which benefits include free in-room wifi starting with your second visit, free room upgrades and late check-out.

Hotel Photos

Good (and Not-So-Good) Rooms at Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Guests in north- and west-facing rooms in Tower 1 (the Windward wing) are closest to the attractions at Islands of Adventure and can hear the roar from IOA Incredible Hulk Coaster throughout the day and night. East-facing rooms in Towers 1 and 2 are exposed to traffic noise from Universal Boulevard and (more distantly) Interstate 4. Quietest are south-facing pool-view rooms in Tower 1, and south-facing rooms in Tower 3.

The Royal Pacific was one of the first Orlando hotels to offer themed rooms for kids with their Jurassic Park Kid's Suite. These two room suites have a door connecting the kid's room to the main hotel room, but only the main room has a door out to the hallway. The kid's room has two twin beds with light-up raptor slash marks on the head boards while the rest of the room is fully themed to the Jurassic Park film, including on-set photos.

Strengths: Theming; pool; variety of on-site dining; pet friendly, character dining, close to IOA

Weaknesses: Guest room soundproofing; bathroom size; extra charges for self-parking and internet

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