The Brand New, Family-Friendly Rustic, Modern Resort in Orlando We LUV Big Time

Being from Central Florida is kind of like being on a permanent vacation. Here in Tampa, we live only about a half hour from the beach and only about an hour and fifteen minutes from Orlando and all of the big theme parks. We also lived in Orlando prior to having children, so we’ve spent a lot of time at the local resorts. Having experienced so many of the Disney and Universal Orlando resorts, we’ve really had a chance to figure out what we like/don’t like, what’s best with kids and the best ways to accommodate your budget.

We recently had learned that Loews Hotels had just opened a brand new resort as one of their Universal Orlando properties. If you don’t know already know this, just like Disney has on-site resort hotels, so does Universal. And having spent some time in the hospitality industry in Orlando, I know very well that Loews properties have an exceptional standard of luxury, while still being affordable and very kid-friendly. I’d previously spent time at some of their other properties like Portofino Bay, the Hard Rock Hotel & the Royal Pacific Hotel, but had seen that Loews had recently opened 2 new resorts, including Cabana Bay Beach Resort and the one I had my eye on… Sapphire Falls Resort.

My daughter’s birthday was coming up, and she’s suggested a weekend in Orlando, in lieu of a birthday party. (Uhhh… yes, please!)  Let me think… a bunch of kids and a stinky bounce house, or cocktails by the pool and family time away… no brainer. And let’s get real, at the cost of birthday parties these days, we could have a little weekend away for almost the same price. Since my birthday is only a week after my daughter’s, we enlisted the company of our best friends (mine and my daughter’s happen to be in the same family) and we hopped online to pick our resort destination…

(*Let’s pause for a personal admission: So… I was torn with whether to bring my nice DSLR camera or not. I typically take my photos for the blog with my camera, but I really wanted you guys to get an organic look at the resort, as we were seeing it, and sometimes the camera can “spruce” things up a bit. When my friend and I started researching online which resort we wanted to stay at, we went straight to Google Image to find REAL pictures people had posted at the resort. You can find plenty of stock photos on the resort’s website, but since the resort is so new, I wanted you guys to get a real feel of our experience with quick photos I snapped throughout our trip. I hope these photos do just that for you, but feel free to check out the Sapphire Falls website to see a beautiful array of photos. This is a great video of the resort as well, as posted by the Orlando Sentinel.)

Sapphire Falls is a brand new Loews Hotel property that opened last July. From the moment you enter the hotel, it’s obvious how brand-spankin’ new the resort is because it even smells fresh and new! The sheets still feel extra crisp, and everything just feels exceptionally clean and shiny. (That’s obviously the clean freak in me talking.)

The check-in process was seamless, and our kids enjoyed the oversized lobby with fun seating and “beach balls” (as they called them) on the ceiling. I just admired the gorgeous mix of rustic and modern decor, the beautiful use of marble with reclaimed wood and midcentury modern furniture mixed with farmhouse style. I mean- whoever designed this space hit the nail on the head with the perfect blend of styles. I can DEFINITELY see why they said the decor of this resort would speak to me!


Near the elevators, there are these huge bay windows with a panoramic view of the pool. The kids could not WAIT to get down there and check out the scenery. We had dinner reservations our first night off-property, so we had a couple hours to chill and check out what the resort had to offer. So, we went down by the pool so my friend Val and I could have a margarita (duh!) and the kids could take down some ice cream and french fries (parenting at it’s finest).

There’s an area of tables and chairs by the pool (you can see behind the kids in the photo above), where you can order food and there are several things for the kids to do. So Val & I enjoyed a few moments without kids yelling “Mom”, which was FABULOUS. They were occupied, we could see them, and we actually felt like we were on vacation. (Winning.) There is an adorable firepit area with sand, so the kids built sandcastles, and then they’d splash around in the little splash area (the kids LOVED this), coming back intermittently for bites of french fries and ice cream the amazing staff brought by. Truth of the story… an amazing staff member named Christian heard the boys fighting with the girls over a broken sandcastle and noticed that us Moms were so enjoying our “break”. So he brought ice cream over to the kids (with our permission) making them promise they’d get along. They took the bait, and we enjoyed a few more moments of quiet before heading up to get ready for dinner.

Let me briefly talk about the insane room we stayed in… (Thank you Loews Hotels!) We arrived to a suite, which was INCREDIBLE having 5 kids with us. The decor was amazing! (Can I just say I’m OBSESSED with the lighting throughout this entire property?!) The beds were comfy, and we LOVED that we had a separate bathroom the kids could use, a living and dining space the kids could play in while we could relax and get ready in our own room, and the wet bar and fridge to stock our wine {cough}… I mean… food and juice boxes. 😉 The kids favorite part… we had a doorbell. Kids are easily entertained.

Our master bathroom had a barn door, which I know you’d all agree with me was just the cutest thing ever. Even cooler… the kids had a separate tub/shower than our large walk-in shower. I’m a little spoiled after our bathroom renovation, so I still LUV to have a really large shower when we’re away from home.

Plus,the view from our room of the river to City Walk was gorgeous!

Which brings me to my next point… You can actually take the riverboat to all of the Universal theme parks and the City Walk area. On the last day there, we actually took the boat to lunch before checking out, and it was so convenient! Not having to fight (or pay) for parking was an added perk, but the fact that the kids also enjoyed the ride was an added bonus.

When you’re ready to go back, you just look for the sign to Loews Sapphire Falls, and jump back on…

Day two brought a lot of fun! We hung by the pool and actually rented a cabana to decorate for my daughter’s birthday and have a place we could set up the pack and play for the baby. We had the space for the whole day, with our own waiter and chairs. I would say if you have a big group, it’s worth every penny, if your vacation budget allows it. When you (or your kids) need a break from the sun, you can lounge and watch TV (or in our husbands’ cases- sports). Whether or not you have a cabana, the pool is HUGE and has tons of seating all around! I highly recommend the Grapefruit margarita and the fish tacos. 🙂

Lastly, I HAVE to tell y’all about the amazing dinner experience we had on property. The resort has a few charming restaurants including The New Dutch Trading Company that is a grab-and-go type foodery that has the most AMAZING farmhouse decor. Can we talk about this black and white patterned tile?! Again.. the lighting!

There’s also Strong Water Tavern (which we didn’t get a chance to try), but again, the decor is fabulous and it looks like it would be a great place to check out sans-kids for a relaxing date night. Apparently they serve up vintage rums (by your own rum specialist) a ceviche bar and a patio overlooking the lagoon. Sounds amazing.

We had the pleasure of dining at the Amatista Cookhouse on property our last evening at the resort. Let me just say, I may not be a “foodie” per se, but I consider myself a connoisseur of restaurant decor and ambiance, and I can spot a winner when I see one. From the food, to the service (thank you to our server Michael for the friendly and wonderful service) to the ridiculously amazing decor (think your favorite beach restaurant meets Restoration Hardware), everything was top notch. I HIGHLY recommend the sofrito and my husband said I should make sure to mention the crab cakes. (I can’t speak for them though, because he didn’t share. I’m not kidding.)

We finished our night by the firepit I mentioned. The staff sold little s’mores kits, so the kids enjoyed making s’mores and playing in the sand, while us “grown-ups” enjoyed sitting around the fire over a glass of wine.

My only complaint I have about our trip, was that it had to end. I can assure you we will be back. Luckily, we’re close enough we can make this a recurring event. So the only question is… when shall we go back? 🙂

If you have any questions at all about the resort or my suggestions for things you should do while in Orlando, don’t hesitate to comment below! I’d also LUV to know what your favorite things to do in Orlando are, or where you might like us to explore next… We’re ready for another adventure! 🙂 Thanks for everything Loews Hotels! You have a friend in me. #LuvBecTravels

*Disclosure: This blog post was sponsored by Loews Hotels and Sapphire Falls Resort. That means that I made arrangements with the resort prior to our stay. I hope you trust that I would never let that get in the way of sharing my very own opinions and would never convey feelings that were not 100% my own. Thank you again for reading and hope you enjoy!

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6 Comments

  1. This place looks amazing!! We’ve only stayed on property st Disney but we have always said we wanted to try Universal and a place like this could convince us!

    1. We’ve spent a lot of time at Disney and in Orlando, so we’ve tried both. Loews properties are always amazing, and this resort is ABSOLUTELY no exception. You should check it out next time! 🙂 xxoo

  2. Bec this looks absolutely incredible! Such a gorgeous resort! I’m so happy you had a wonderful time with your beautiful family and friends! Thanks for sharing!

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