From the outside, Universal Orlando Resort’s newly opened Aventura Hotel is sleek, glitzy, and looks like it just walked in from Las Vegas. Inside, the 600-room modern-contemporary resort features all the touches you’ve come to expect at Universal Orlando.
Aventura is the sixth hotel at Universal Orlando and the second to fall into the prime value category (Cabana Bay is the other prime value hotel and located right across the street; read a review of Cabana Bay here) and one of the most budget-friendly properties at the resort.
But budget-friendly doesn’t mean spartan! The floor-to-ceiling windows are impressive – with views from the higher floors – and space that is well laid out. The standard rooms have two queen beds and are fairly typical room. The deluxe rooms, my personal favorite, are a bit larger and allow for the placement of two queen beds so that they are not on top of one another. These also have the best views. The kids’ suite, perfect if you’re traveling with a family, has a queen bed in the main portion of the room, two twin beds in a separate area, and a sofa bed in a separate television area. You can get everyone in the same room without feeling packed in.
Each category of rooms comes with an in-room iPad that controls the lighting and room temperature, lets you communicate with the front desk, order room service, and get general resort information. It’s pretty slick! And while many guests will prefer to pick up the phone to get their questions answered, this trend is in keeping with the trend for tech-savvy rooms. Oh yeah, wi-fi is complimentary in rooms and throughout the resort.
When you’re ready to leave your room, you can hit up the pool located on the first floor just off the lobby. It’s not sprawling, like at some of the other resorts, but it’s comfortably sized with a sitting area of tables and lounge chairs, a hot tub, kids’ splash area, and a fire pit. Continuing the tech-savvy theme, many of the tables in the pool area have built-in wireless charging pads for phones and tablets (note: not all devices are equipped for wireless charging). A pool bar offers the usual assortment of beverages and also features frozen slushy-like cocktails.
On-site food venues, in addition to the pool bar, include Starbucks and Urban Pantry, both located on the main floor, and Bar 17, as its name suggests, is on the 17th floor.
Urban Pantry is a fast casual food hall, with stations laid out to minimize waiting in lines and to maximize efficient crowd control. Stations include burgers, sushi, noodles, pizza, and more. If you have adventurous eating kids, they’ll have a field day here, some of the combinations are pretty exotic (salmon pizza anyone?).
Bar 17 is billed and a Bar & Grill, but I find this a bit of a stretch. The menu features small bites, and after tasting a few, I think most just missed the mark. The pork belly bao was tasty, and the cheese board is a solid choice, but mostly I was unimpressed. Bar 17 has lots of space for hanging out and for conversation, and there was a bit of a cool breeze on a hot night. Choose your spot carefully and you’ll get a view of the theme parks.
I think the food at Aventura is its weakest link, compared to so many great choices at Universal’s other hotels. It’s not that the food is bad – it’s not – it’s just that it’s lackluster. I’d appreciate a restaurant with traditional table service, or somewhere to get something other than fast food. Foodies, or families with picky eaters, will want to head to CityWalk for more diverse choices.
Guests staying at Aventura get complimentary transportation throughout Universal Resort, including the three theme parks, CityWalk, and the other hotels. Other exclusive theme park benefits include:
- Early Park Admission (one hour) to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and select attractions at Volcano Bay water theme park (read a review of Volcano Bay here). Valid theme park admission required. Take advantage of this extra hour to get ahead of the crowds and knock of a few attractions before lines form.
- Resort-wide charging privileges with your room key card. Be sure to set your daily charging limit with the front desk. I didn’t and found out in an embarrassing way that the default limit is $10, despite having a credit card on file.
- Complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to your hotel. And if you miss out on shopping opportunities, you’ll find a gift shop in the hotel lobby.
- Wake up calls from your choice of several Universal characters (I usually opt for Spiderman).
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While I prefer the more luxurious Universal Orlando properties – the Hard Rock Hotel and Portofino Bay, or even the moderate Sapphire Falls – if I was traveling with kids, I’d give the rooms at Aventura serious consideration.
Universal’s Aventura Hotel is located at 6725 Adventure Way, Orlando, Florida. In this competitive city with hundreds of hotels to choose from, deals start at $97 based on a seven-night stay. There are lots of value-added packages currently available. You can also check for deals on Expedia or Travelocity.
If you’re looking for an even more budget-friendly option at Universal Orlando Resort, check out the newer Endless Summer Resort instead and get the same theme park perks.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary trip to Orlando for the Aventura grand opening.