“I love Rock n’ Roll” might as well be the refrain at this elegant Orlando outpost of the Hard Rock dining and hotel empire. Its rockstar and kid appeal begins with reflective columns in the lobby and an Instagrammable white marble staircase which leads to framed gold records, photo murals of pop stars, a hipster kids club lounge and guitars to play in the gaming arcade. Glass cases enclose memorabilia of rockers from Elvis to Jeff Beck and many newer musicians, and comfy seating areas make it possible to just chill and celebrity watch. The balcony view from this third floor entry is of a pretty 12,000 square-foot lagoon pool with its own underwater music system and waterslide, a surrounding sand beach, cabanas, hot tubs, sand volleyball court, gardens and beyond… the Universal Orlando themepark resort.
And in the elevator and restaurants, you can’t stop the music… and that’s what makes this place rock. The Guest Services Directory in each room is riddled with classic rock lyrics that harmonize with services ranging from in-room dining to the self-serve laundromat.
Loews Has Kids Amenities for Ages 6-months to teen
The fantasy world they create, combined with the perks provided at the Universal Orlando themepark, make the Hard Rock and other Loews managed hotels such as the Portofino Bay, Royal Pacific and the three newest properties (Cabana Bay Beach, Loews Sapphire Falls and Loews Aventura), a good choice for families. Hard Rock, however, is a special treat for music lovers and also provides facilities for business travelers and conventioneers who bring their families along.
All three hotels participate in Loews family-friendly programs such as Loews Loves Kids, which means under-10s are eligible for welcome gifts, special menus, loaner toys and books. Babies get cribs and crib sheets, child-proofing kits, and even night-lights; teens have exclusive snack bars, a library of board games, and WiFi. All ages will enjoy the character breakfasts with favorite Universal figures.
Loews’ Convenience & Perk Package
The Hard Rock — always in demand — may be the most popular of the Universal Orlando on-site hotels for families. Display cases of instruments, rhinestone footwear and other memorabilia from the great and not-so-great are only part of the show-biz glamor the Hard Rock attracts and delivers. Although it costs more than chain hotels in the nearby International Drive corridor, the extra perks you get make it worth the premium, and walking around all day humming… well, that’s priceless.
The perk package includes convenient access to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay and CityWalk. (Especially important if you ‘ve come for a major concert at the enormous Hard Rock live theater within the complex.) Active families will enjoy the 15-minute walk around the landscaped lake front, but there’s also a free water taxi and shuttle bus among all the resorts and the theme parks. Shuttle transportation for a fee is also available throughout the day and evening to other Orlando destinations, with advance reservation. Special Universal Orlando theme park benefits include one-hour early admission (essential if you are going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or the Volcano Bay waterpark) and a free pass to use the Universal Express ride system for first in line access — even on checkout day it remains valid.
Hard Rock guests can also take advantage of facilities at the other Loews resorts. That means a variety of fun restaurants — Tahitian Luau at the Royal Pacific or fresh pizza at Portofino anyone? — a dive-in movie by the pool during summer and nightly kids clubs (open 5pm-11:30pm for movies and dinner; hourly fee).
Backstage at the Hard Rock Universal
The Hard Rock’s outgoing staff make guests feel like they’re always on. The seven-story hotel’s 650 rooms (including 29 suites) wrap around the pool and overlook the garden or pool. (Lucky ones get a view of the ghostly towers of Hogwarts at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.) Guest rooms are very spacious, with varied decor depending on theme. You might have a rock n’roll portrait, a colorful contemporary look, or autographed photos from legends in various genres. All rooms offer WiFi, a work station, minibar, TV and plenty of entertainment systems. There are also many gestures that reinforce the Hard Rock’s ca. 1968 motto, “Save The Planet.”
The Kids Suites are the most popular crash pad; their 800-square-feet capacity sleeps five very graciously, with room for a crib. Themed to the ever-present music, the two-room suites have a large king master bedroom and a twin bedroom, with plenty of play space for acoustic musicians.
What’s Happening at the Hard Rock
On-site dining is plentiful. There’s the rap-star-rich Palm Restaurant for those who love a perfect steak. However, mostly you’ll find young couples and boisterous kids at Emack & Boglio’s buying Starbuck’s and muffins, ice cream and other snacks to munch in the shade of the poolside palms. The Kitchen, the hotel’s more casual foodie restaurant that focuses on sustainable cuisine, features celebrity chefs from the music world who come to prepare meals at kids’ cooking lessons. The Kitchen is also the venue for character dining a few evenings per week, when kids can pose with popular Universal characters.
When parents want to dine in any of the restaurants or visit CityWalk on their own, Camp Lil’ Rock has supervised evening activities for ages 5-12. Private babysitting is available with advance notice. Tweens and teens can be seen chatting in the lobby, working on their tans, or cruising the rock-abilia shops on the lower level.
The don’t-miss here is the Gift Shop, a treasure trove of music memorabilia whose clerks are straight out of “High Fidelity.” They can tell you the date that Katy Perry wore her pink tutu, or which show Cat Stevens played with the guitar on display. Although the grandparents may be too old to remember the bands, and the kids may be too young to know the music, the enthusiasm for all genres is infectious and lots of fun.
Trip Planning Details for a Hard Rocking Orlando Getaway
The Loews Hard Rock Hotel At Universal Orlando (407/503-ROCK) is located at 5800 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819. Seasonal rates vary widely and often include good theme park admission offers; book ahead. Best perk ever: Parents are welcome to wallow in nostalgia while kids discover new tunes.
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