Bucking the family-first attitude that's common in almost every hospitality offering in Orlando, Universal’s Aventura Hotel opened in August 2018 as the city’s first millennial-centric resort. Chic, contemporary, and counter to everything that's made Orlando America’s prime family destination, this property stands out with its sleek tech-savvy rooms, water slide-free pool, and sexy rooftop deck. Here’s our take on the city’s newest (and most unique) digs.
Budget Level: Upscale ($150 to $250 per night)
Lodging Type: Large (600 guest rooms)
What You Need to Know
Distinct with its minimalistic style, Aventura welcomes its guests with a surprisingly stark lobby, where extra-high ceilings add a sense of grandeur to your arrival. Clean lines, expansive glass windows, and curved LED light art serve as a reminder that this is not your typical Orlando property. The lobby bar, aptly called barVentura, is the first of many highlights in the hotel. Its breezy, open ambiance (and great cocktails) offer the perfect antidote after a day of overstimulation. What's more, the post-modern furniture here is fun to look at, but is perhaps too chic for real comfort, as it requires a bit of a trust fall to reach its floor-hugging levels. The guest rooms themselves are high-tech and sleek; almost everything in the room is controlled by an iPad located on the nightstand. All in all, the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, hardwood floors, and art-centric lighting fixtures provide each room with a cosmopolitan vibe that’s rare in Orlando.
You'll find lots of couples in their 20s and 30s (without kids) around the property, hanging out on the rooftop deck to the lounge, and everywhere in between. Additionally, a come-as-you-are attitude pervades the property, since everyone is too wiped from a busy day in Universal’s parks to care about appearances.
Who Will Love It
The hotel excels at catering to the millennial crowd, who has come to expect design-forward innovation; smart rooms that can be controlled with a tablet; and food and drink options that are on-trend (think more vegan options, as well as late-night food that reaches beyond pretzels and nachos).
Who Might Not
While Aventura does have 13 kid-friendly suites, the property is not optimized for the typical Orlando thrill-seeking family. The hotel smartly shies away from Universal theme integration, and instead opts for a cosmopolitan feel that doesn’t match well with the aesthetic of kids racing down hallways. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it's possible that older and less tech-savvy guests will find the iPad-controlled rooms frustrating.
The iPad integration in each room is among the best execution of a smart room concept we’ve seen yet. For example, the device allows for guests to control the room temperature, change the channel on the TV, order room service, and chat live with a hotel associate — and we're hoping that more properties will hop on board the (high-tech) bandwagon.
A stay at the hotel includes access to amenities offered at nearby sister properties, including Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel®, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, and Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Guests at all Universal Orlando on-site hotels also receive additional, value-packed perks. Most notably, guests can gain early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, along with select attractions at Volcano Bay water park one hour before the parks open (valid admission is still required). Additionally, guests should take advantage of the complimentary water taxis and shuttle buses, which provide easy access to the parks, as well as the bustling CityWalk. Resort-wide charging privileges with a simplified room key card payment system are also available.
Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About
If you plan on driving or renting a car, it's important to note that there is a self-park fee here (as with all Universal on-site properties). Overnight self-parking is $14 per night, plus tax, while daytime guests with cars will have to pay $45 per day, plus tax.
How to Get a Deal
As typical with Orlando, hotel rates fluctuate based on the standard U.S. school schedule. You’ll find that rates drop considerably during the shoulder seasons of January and February, along with September and October.
In the Neighborhood
The hotel connects to Universal’s newest park, Volcano Bay, through a discreet back passageway. Additionally, getting to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and the popular CityWalk is easy, thanks to the free shuttle that runs frequently throughout the day. While the free water taxi may be more scenic, it’s not as fast as the shuttle.
Orlando International Airport is about a 20-minute drive from the hotel. There’s a shuttle service available to hotel guests arriving at the airport, which is operated by Mears Transportation, a third-party company (fees apply). If you're looking for a no-frills, more affordable option, consider taking an Uber or Lyft, which hovers around $20.
The Bottom Line
The first design-forward, cosmopolitan hotel that caters to tech lovers and millennials is a sign of good things to come.