This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Universal’s SURFSIDE INN AND SUITES! This summer Universal opened its seventh onsite hotel, joining Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay, Royal Pacific Resort, Sapphire Falls, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and Aventura Hotel. With 750 guest rooms, Surfside is part of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, with the neighboring Dockside Inn and Suites opening next year.
Surfside Inn and Suites is the first Universal hotel to be classified in the “Value” category, with a competitive price point being a key selling point of the resort. Guests get early park admission into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Volcano Bay, which makes staying at Surfside an attractive proposition for families on vacation, but is also a great value to us theme park bloggers looking to maximize our stays during Halloween Horror Nights season. Today we are going to look at our favorite parts of this new hotel, starting with…
# 6 – The Lobby
Surfside continues the trend started by Sapphire Falls and Aventura by having a wide open lobby. Themed to the ocean, there is plenty of seating available, along with plenty of outlets to charge phones, tablets, and laptops. The lobby is where you’ll find self service kiosks that allow guests to print airline boarding passes and park tickets bought in advance. Similar to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the check-in experience doesn’t have guests waiting in an interminable line next to a long desk. Instead there are several smaller check-in desks that allow the Team Members to come out and greet each guest, providing a much more satisfying interaction which allows people to feel more like “guests” rather than the next person in line at the deli.
# 5 – The Merch!
When I grew up and vacationed with my family, we loved getting a souvenir from the hotel’s gift shop as a memento of our stay. Whether a coffee mug or magnet that we put on the fridge, just seeing the souvenir would bring up memories of our stay and would spark conversations when friends or family were over. When I started booking trips at Disney’s Value resorts, including the All-Stars and Pop Century, I was shocked that they had less hotel-specific merchandise than any of the other hotels at Disney. In my naivety I assumed they would have more than the other hotels, because they had more guests coming through the doors. For those guests like me and my family, Surfside has you covered when it comes to souvenirs with a ton of options in the gift shop. Not only will you find Surfside (and Endless Summer) related coffee cups, keychains, and even towels, but you’ll also find the gift shop a convenient place for Universal Orlando items including selections from the Wizarding World, Jurassic Park, and Marvel Superhero Island.
While there is fun artwork throughout the hotel, one of my favorite pieces hangs in the gift shop and is this overhead shot of a day at the beach.
# 4 – Beach Break Cafe
The traditional “food court” of Surfside is the Beach Break Cafe. It’s pleasant looking with a lot of seating, broken up into several sections rather than one large room. For the most part the food selection is grab-and-go, with drinks, salads, sandwiches, and even burgers ready and available for guests. There are some selections to order along with limited sides. The Beach Break Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you’ll find everything from donuts and croissants to paninis, roasted chicken, and pizza. Personally, I’m a sucker for the cake pops. We were also glad to discover that the chefs at Beach Break are on par with Disney when it comes to customizing dishes in regards to dietary restrictions and food allergies.
One last thing that is pretty important. For those who have stayed on site at theme park hotels, prepare for a sticker shock of the good kind, as the pricing is actually affordable. In fact nothing on the menu is over $12.
Another thing I miss from Disney is the good ol’ days when each hotel had its own themed refillable mug. Thankfully Universal is keeping the tradition alive and has some incredible cups exclusive to the resorts including Sapphire Falls, Cabana Bay, and Aventura. Surfside also has Coke Freestyle machines, which is one of mankind’s greatest inventions right up there with the automobile, television, and the personal computer.
# 3 – The Rooms
Surfside has 750 guest rooms, 390 of which are suites. The standard guest room has two queen beds, and at 313 square feet are slightly larger than the standard rooms at Cabana Bay. The vanity and bathroom are separated, and include a combination bathtub/shower. One of my favorite “little things” that I absolutely love about Cabana Bay is that it has retro-themed Zest soap and VO5 shampoo. Surfside also has exclusive bathroom products with the “Surf and Sand” collection.
No shock that the overall theme of the room is surf related, but there were some surprises, including the amount of hooks that were available. This is also something we saw recently at the new Bigfire restaurant in CityWalk, and these hooks allow you to maximize some space and keep bags off the floor. The rooms are also loaded with power outlets, but these are more than just the standard outlets with USB slots and include USB-C slots. Now if you’re like me, that doesn’t mean much, but my millennial friends tell me that is an important feature for some devices, and could become even more valuable in the future.
The two-bedroom suites are 440 square feet and have a small kitchenette/dining area along with a second bedroom. The main room has two queen beds while the second bedroom offers one queen bed. Like the standard room, the vanity and bathroom areas are separated.
# 2 – The Amenities
Despite the ridiculously low price point, Surfside Inn and Suites is still jam packed with amenities including an onsite Starbucks, an arcade, and an actual gym (good luck finding one of those at any of the Disney Value resorts). The centerpiece of the resort is Surfside’s large pool area. The pool itself is shaped like a surfboard and has plenty of lounge chairs to lay back and relax on. The Sand Bar pool bar has a wide variety of mixed drinks, draft beer, and canned beer.
Worth noting that the Sand Bar is the only Universal Orlando pool bar that operates during inclement weather. This is because the bar is split in half, with part of it located inside the fenced in pool area and half of it located outside the fence.
# 1 – Location and Price!
As Universal’s first “Value” resort, the price of the standard rooms and suites at Surfside have a lot of value, especially when you consider the amount of amenities included. The suites can sleep up to six guests, and are priced at under $175 per night (with the price dropping even lower for longer stays.) Standard rooms are under $120. While not directly connected to the rest of the the Universal Orlando Resort, Surfside is as far away from the CityWalk hub as Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
Surfside is also positioned nicely in relation to the upcoming Epic Universe park that was just officially announced by Universal.
Hard to believe that Surfside sits on the former home of Wet ‘N Wild water park, with Dockside being constructed in the Wet ‘N Wild parking lot.
One of the things I loved about my recent stay at Disney’s Gran Destino was the views out onto Disney property. Being so close to the Universal Orlando Resort gives Surfside some great views as well.
You can even see a part of Orlando that many theme park visitors never get to see, downtown.
HONORABLE MENTION – Seating
One of my favorite parts of Universal’s Aventura Hotel was the next level bonkers lighting fixtures found throughout the hotel. Surfside brings its A-game in the area of seating, with a wild amount of different options!
So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love Universal’s SURFSIDE INN AND SUITES! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Mr. ‘Ohana Tim Grassey, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.
FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2019 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? That’s right, ANOTHER NEW ONE EXCLUSIVE TO THIS EDITION! Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now!