Staying and Playing… At Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Florida

IMG_2916A huge highlight of our recent trip to Florida was our stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort, over at Universal Studios. Ever since the hotel opened just over a year ago, I’d been drooling over its bright mid-century design and retro Palm Springs-inspired pool area – and often catch myself 52 weeks-deep their Instagram feed!

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We knew that we couldn’t go to Orlando without booking a relaxing mini-break at this awesome resort, and today I’d love to share some more details with you about our stay. So grab yourself a cherry cola, get comfortable and let’s step back in time…

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Cabana Bay Beach Resort has been designed to recreate the style, sights and sounds of the 1950s and 60s – and from the moment we hopped out of our Uber and took in the stunning exterior of the hotel, we felt like we’d just walked onto the set of an Elvis movie. We couldn’t get enough of the bold building design, classic cars sitting outside and (of course!) rows of palm trees.

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We arrived a little early for check-in (what can I say, I was excited!) so we headed over to the hotel’s restaurant – the Bayliner Diner – for a snack while we waited. Every inch, down to the pattern of the carpets, at Cabana Bay has been carefully curated to fit in with the style of the era, and the Bayliner Diner was no exception. Even the frozen yoghurt machine had a cool, atomic look. And, yes, I DID try the frozen yoghurt (it was cake batter flavour and it was delicious!).

This was the only restaurant in the hotel (there’s also a Starbucks for coffee and small snacks) and it was counter-service with a small, but varied selection of freshly-made meals and packaged foods.

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Tip: We opted for a souvenir cup, which was ‘activated’ for the full duration of our stay. This meant that we paid a fixed price on arrival and had unlimited drinks refills until it was time to leave – I found this really handy (and inexpensive!) and we brought our cups everywhere with us since there were multiple drinks dispensers all over the resort.

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After we explored the hotel and public areas a little bit (I don’t think I’ve ooh-ed and ahh-ed so much at a building interior in a LONG time!), it was time to check into our room!

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We stayed in a poolside suite which, as you’d expect, was a little bigger and had a glorious view of the pool and lazy river area. More space in the room meant more gorgeous interiors for me to squeal over. “GARY, THIS SOFA! GARY, THIS SHOWER CURTAIN!”…you can imagine, right?

Aside from the amount of space and the to-die-for decor, the room was very clean and comfortable – making it a little bit tough to actually leave and go out for the afternoon…

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Even the in-room toiletries had a cute throwback design, the attention to detail all over the resort was truly 10/10 perfect! The outdoor areas (there are two pool areas at opposite ends of the resort) host Movies On The Lawn in the evening – complete with s’mores roasting pits for that authentic experience. We would have absolutely loved to have snuggled up under the stars with a blanket and a movie that night – but sadly due to rain the outdoor events had to be called off. Boo!

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Luckily, there are other fun activities inside the resort, so after we had dinner we decided to go bowling at Galaxy Bowl on the first floor. I really loved the bowling alley, which when lit up in the evening looked even more kitsch and colourful. I even won a game of bowling (which NEVER happens, I might add!). I think I invoked the spirit of The Fonz!

After a good night’s sleep, the next morning we slipped into our swimsuits and enjoyed the pool area for a few hours. We headed past the restaurant which was super busy with guests fuelling up for a day at the theme parks – this meant that the pool areas were wonderfully quiet! We floated round the lazy river and relaxed in the pool until we were prune-like with wrinkles.

Tip: Along with the small number of guests, the morning temperature and gentle sun made it the perfect time to go for a dip.

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Bearing in mind that Cabana Bay Beach Resort is considered to be one of Universal’s more budget-friendly options, I would say that you get a lot of bang for your buck. As well as an amazing themed experience (which if you know me by now, is what I practically LIVE for), the hotel felt well-maintained and looked immaculate. An additional table-service restaurant would have been a nice touch, but the overall atmosphere of the hotel is so laid-back and comfortable that the casual dining option worked well.

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We ended our stay with one last wander around the resort, taking in the retro architecture and landscaping one last time before it was time to say goodbye (for now)!

Needless to say we had a ton of fun during our visit, and I couldn’t recommend booking a stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort more. If you are a fellow lover of mid-century pop culture and design, I’d put this high on your list if you’re planning a trip to Orlando. Hop to it, daddy-o!

Have you ever stayed at Cabana Bay Beach Resort? Are you a better bowler than me (most likely!)?

With palm trees, swizzle sticks and poolside glamour,

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