STAYING AT THE LOEWS ROYAL PACIFIC RESORT, ORLANDO.

Imagine traveling abroad on a (nearly) 9-hour flight, navigating your way around a sort of familiar airport, relaxing for 20 minutes in a luxurious airport transfer and stepping out to a hotel lobby that sparks the simple words “wow.” Well, I did that, along with my 3, 13 and 17-year-old sons and the hotel I’m talking about was the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Resort.

Staff at the front, helping you unload your luggage and giving you that typical American warm welcome was a hint of things to come and if I’m honest, being on site on the Universal Resorts, I was kinda expecting a more well, gimicky, kid theme. Oh, how wrong was I!


It soon became apparent that not only was I to experience a taste of Floridian life, I also got a sampler of a South Seas Pacific holiday. think palm trees, elephant statues, colorful Balinese umbrellas and reflection pools, along with a distinct floral scent filled the air. All senses were in overdrive!


Checking into the vast, dark wood reception area, while the boys tucked into the complimentary lemon water, we were given with our room keys (which also acted as fast pass and early entry to Universal theme parks) as well as our flower lei leis. For a moment my fuzzy, jet-lagged brain toyed with the thought we’d ended up at the wrong hotel, maybe even the wrong country. But I liked what I saw so was in no need to question it!


Plus, it soon became apparent that this was just what we would need to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy theme parks nearby.

Facilities at The Royal Pacific

It depends on what your expectations are for a holiday, but for 2 teenagers and a 3-year-old, high light of the whole stay was and always is, the swimming pool. With free use of towels and chair covers, we set up base here as soon as we’d unpacked. I liked that the whole swimming pool area is gated off too, no chance of my lively little one darting off for an unexpected swim!


Once we found our spot, my favourite being in the sanded area where there was a very gentle slope into the pool, the boys were off! It’s safe to say that some of my best and happiest moments on this holiday were watching my 3 play together here. The younger 2 often went straight to the Royal Bali Sea interactive water play area, while the eldest chilled in the hot tub,(jealous me? Yep, big time!) but they regularly regrouped to mess about in the pool, watch movies or play water polo and with the Despicable Me beach balls provided. moments like these were priceless. It’s not often the 4 of us get to relax and have fun like this, I had total proud mum moments every time!

When I needed some chill time, the kid’s pool was the perfect spot. Gated off from the main area, it was shallow enough for my 3-year-old to play on his own while I read a book on the (very nearby) lounger especially with the bonus of a sandy area complete with toys. As a single parent holidaying without back up childcare, it was just what I needed, and while the thought of escaping off to the gym or the spa would have been my ideal time out, this was a much welcome 2nd choice.

There are several restaurants onsite too, we had pizzas at Jake’s American Bar and nachos poolside. Staff comes round regularly while you’re chilling by the pool, checking if you need anything. Being waited on hand and foot was simply divine and the food portion sizes were something else. Considering I have 2 teenagers with very big appetites, 1 nachos snack dish was enough for us all, with leftovers.

Being part of the Universal Resort, you also get complimentary water taxis to Universal City Walk which is where you access the theme parks. It’s a very gentle 5-minute ride, just what you need after a busy day, saying that, I really liked the walk to and from the hotel to City Walk. Either way, you go through security every time, there was never a moment I didn’t feel safe here.

 

There is also a small beach style area away from the swimming pool, using the same waterway that the water taxis travel. We never made it here on our stay, in an ideal world, we’d have had a couple more days to chill at the hotel and break our theme park days up a little. But the real beauty of staying on site, at a Universal Resort hotel, is that you can come and go as you please. When we’d burnt out at the theme parks, we simply headed back to recharge at the hotel. It was total escapism.

 

To stay on site at The Royal Pacific Hotel or not?

Not having to worry about parking was a huge plus, considering the type of holiday it was, with the thrills and spills of Islands of Adventure and all the experiences at Universal Studios, 10 minutes after leaving City Walk, you were on a quiet, relaxing stroll or ride back to your hotel. I can’t tell you enough just how much easier this was. It’s not the first time I’ve been to Orlando, my first visit we stayed offsite in Lake Beuna Vista and did car hire. This was by far much more convenient and although we didn’t have time on this break to get out and about, not having the stress of parking, and driving in another country meant it was a total stress-free break.

In a nutshell…..

Beds you can sink into after a long day, complimentary water delivered to your door every evening, quality restaurants on site, a gym, spa, arcade, kids club (sadly my 3-year-old was just too young to try.) evening outdoor movies played by the pool you can even bob away in the water while watching, or simply stretch out on a lounger. There was everything we needed for a luxurious break, without having to sacrifice a thing simply because it was a family holiday.

So did we enjoy our stay?

I don’t want to go home

– Ky age 13

I want to go back to our holiday home

– Ronnie age 3 ( every day since we got back)

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Part 1 of our holiday – Visiting Universal Resorts with a Preschooler is here if you’d like to read more 

Disclaimer

This was part of a collaboration between Mumsnet Bloggers Network  and Universal Orlando Resort

 

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Experiencing Universal Orlando Resorts With A Preschooler

If you’ve been watching my social media channels you’ll know the boys and I spent October half term enjoying the thrills and spills of the Universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida. Which, in a nutshell, was total amazeballs. My aim for this holiday wasn’t an opportunity to showcase some bragging rights though, I know how lucky we were but I also didn’t want to say ‘wow, look at how amazing our life is’ quite the opposite. My motivation was to show you all that a Universal Orlando Resort Holiday can be enjoyed by all, be that a preschooler, a teenager or a single parent.

You see, despite being a warrior mum with nerves of steel. I try to lead my kids at the helm, often fuelled with a dose of guts and determination so they can experience anything they would’ve if their parents were together. Yet every now and then, the reality of not having a co-pilot in parenting takes stock. Especially when we have to tackle a ‘first. If I’m honest, I nearly bottled it, I wasn’t entirely sure I could pull out the big guns to go through with taking my guys on a long haul holiday on my own.

The 2 teenagers were the easy ones, my biggest concern though, was making sure my 3-year-old preschooler got as much out of the holiday as he could. Could I do that on my own and make sure my teens had an amazing time? Spreading yourself equally among 3 kids is hard enough, my mum is amazing and helps make that possible but I would have zero help on holiday.

Starting with the flight, I packed my little man’s Trunki (which you can take on a hold luggage) with some essentials – books, change of clothes, small Connect 4 game, colouring pads, crayons, and iPad. Along with a backpack of small snacks and toys. Turns out we didn’t really need much if these as he was so engrossed by the novelty of the TV and films on our Virgin Atlantic flight along with the contents of his complimentary bag with goodies, so only a few of my prepared bits and bobs got an airing. I will say that pulling him through baggage collection on a Trunki really helped my panic at losing him too!

Kiddie pool and sand play area at The Royal Pacific Hotel
We stayed at Royal Pacific Resort Hotel which was part of the Universal Orlando Resort group and only a short complimentary water taxi or walk from the theme parks and Universal City Walk. I’m planning a separate post on the hotel so I won’t elaborate too much on the accommodation but one thing I will say is, staying on site is absolutely the way to go when planning a Florida theme park holiday, especially when you have a hotel with so much to do.

The water taxi
Theme park days can be exhausting for any age, there’s so much going on mentally and physically that having some time out in the hotel is a must if you’re going to make the most of your break. I’d say this was even more important when having a youngster with you. It meant we could pop back and chill by the pool or in our room whenever we (or he) needed. It also meant we could do things ad hoc and weren’t pinned down too much by a schedule.

Saying that, a schedule does help when holidaying here with young children, and while you typically think of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure as being perfect for older kids and teenagers (which it is, my 13 and 17-year-old went on every ride and needed time at the pool for chilling as much as their little brother did) there are areas of the parks which are perfect for younger children. The time difference meant we were up early so getting to the parks first, coming back to the hotel in the afternoon and then back out to City Walk early evening seemed the perfect plan for us all.

We started our holiday in the newest part – Volcano Bay. A water park where everything is thought of, right down to reducing queuing time in a cossie with the TapTap – a watch-style device which saves your space in the queue. This meant my boy and I didn’t waste a minute. We chilled on the beach, wandered around the park, played in the waves and spent most of our time in the fantastic kiddies play area with its smaller slides and varying watery activities. Life jackets are available for the lazy river ride which he was able to go on too.

 

All the Universal restaurants we went to cater for kids with gumption! Be it the guitar-shaped plates in The Hard Rock Cafe to the CowFish sushi burger bar with their hand sized mini burgers & mock sushi rice crispy pudding, complete with fish-shaped sweetie topping. Then there’s my favourite; the new Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savoury Feast Kitchen which gives a whole new meaning to a milkshake, and pudding sizes…Wow! (Worth noting that food here exceeded all my expectations.)

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savoury Feast Kitchen
In Islands of Adventure, The Dr Suess area is the perfect area for any child and after watching his brothers scream their way around the roller coasters. Tthe play areas here, with train style rides, carousels, story style rides as well as wet (great when they need to cool off) and dry play areas were where he got to experience Universal at his own pace. There’s free WiFi throughout Universal so while the little one and I were busy, the older 2 could sit and catch up with friends back home. Should probably add that they were able to go on the rides but opted not to!

I also found that this part of the park, along with the Woody Woodpecker area were some of the quietest areas so there were no long wait times, although I would recommend upgrading your pass to an Express to avoid any queue times, it does make a huge difference.


Over to Universal Studios, we all loved the Animal actors show, mainly for the chance to sit down for 30 minutes. It was just long enough to keep my youngest’s attention before he wanted to go off for more fun. AND we got to see THE Marley from Marley and Me. Never thought I’d be star struck by a dog.

We all went on the Despicable Me ride, younger riders are confined to the stationary seats at the front, but still get to experience the 3D adventure, I did hold him very close explaining that the tense bits were funny and not scary, he was then captivated by the characters he’d just watched on the ride, dancing in the parade. (I’ll leave talking about the Awesome Harry Potter themed areas to another post, my preschooler has never seen the films, he still gawped at the fire-breathing dragon and snow-topped houses mind.)

visiting Universal resorts with a preschooler

The highlight of the whole holiday, however, had to be meeting Spiderman. It was on par to seeing your child visiting Santa, only my boy embraced the experience with both hands and not an ounce of nerves. In his world, Spiderman is THE ONLY man who saves the day, it is firmly set in his mind that he’s real. End Of. I can’t quite explain what was going through his mind as he watched all the Marvel superheroes who grace his clothing, books and toy box right walk through the park, right there in real life form (Although he wasn’t impressed to see his mum posing with Doctor Doom and the Green Goblin.)

Here's our experience of visiting all three Universal Resorts theme parks with a 3 year old preschooler, with hints & tips
Those guys were so realistic (I’m a mum of 3 boys, I’ve seen ALL the films) even I got a little star struck.

Which I guess, is what Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure do so well. You all get to experience a little of what you see in the movies, the books and all the paraphernalia which goes along with it, with no expense spared. It is quite breathtaking and stirs so many emotions. It’s also a holiday where you can ensure every age group is catered for.

And for that single mum, holidaying on her own with a 3, 13 and 17-year-old. It was one of the easiest, most stress-free holidays I have ever been on.

<insert relief face>

Here's our experience of visiting all three Universal Resorts theme parks with a 3 year old preschooler, with hints & tips

Disclosure

This post is in collaboration with Mumsnet Bloggers Network and Universal. 

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Reviewing A FUÜM Memory Foam Mattress

For me, a good night’s sleep is paramount to anything I can achieve the following day. Bad nights sleep = me walking round forgetting what I’ve walked into a room for and loosing track what mid sentence, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. It’s safe to say I love my sleep, or my bed if I’m really narrowing it down, and a decent mattress (along with pillows) can help make that magic sleep thing happen. So deciding that my sleep sanctuary was looking a little tired (see what I did there?) I decided it was time to give my bedroom a makeover, complete with new bed and mattress;

My once lush superking size one, which dominated my room, no longer served a purpose.  With no kids jumping into bed in the morning (bar one little 3 year old who quite often trudges in in the wee small hours) there’s simply no need for one as huge. So I’ve downsized giving me the opportunity to test out a lovely new squishy memory foam mattress from FUÜM.

A little more delving into the concept of a FUÜM mattress, and after accidentally spending 2 nights sleeping on it upside down (doh!) I found out that it’s made from a solid, foam base layer which creates a high-density base  for the other layers. (I wondered why it was so hard!) There’s a lot more to it that just being a foam mattress.

I'm a big fan of a memory foam mattress, my FUÜM mattress is both supportive and unbelievably comfortable

At the centre of the mattress is an  Airflow gel layer with unique cooling properties that keeps you cool in summer ( I can vouch for that) while warm in winter ( it’s lived up to a few colder summer nights so I guess that’s true.

The lack of springs is the first thing you notice, along with not waking up with aches and pains as instead, your body’s been gently supported by the memory foam. The second plus  was having it delivered, rolled up in a box. This made storing it while I decorated the room and waited for my bed to get delivered so much easier.

Watching it uncurl and take its shape is quite fascinating too! There is a slight chemical type smell which lingers for a couple of days but nothing I couldn’t handle, just worth noting its normal and will go. I’ve had to the  chance to compare a FUÜM mattress to see what the difference is as my son has a cheap and cheerful memory foam mattress and you can really notice the difference, a FUÜM one is much more supportive with loosing its soft, melt into bed feel, if you’re wondering.

I'm a big fan of a memory foam mattress, my FUÜM mattress is both supportive and unbelievably comfortable

So my little bedroom makeovers complete accompanied by good nights’ sleep in abundance!

*******       To get £150 off a FUÜM mattress use the code FUUM150     *******

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Introducing Glitzbox Jewellery Subscription

Exciting times bling lovers!  Jewellery rental subscription has arrived in the UK, as GLITZBOX launches, I’ve tested out this brand new service and am sitting here in a stunning pair of silver earrings and beautiful gold necklace as I type.

And it feels good!

I’m quite a creature of habit when it comes to jewellery, wearing the same earrings and necklace until they break or more often than not, I loose it. So I love the idea of being sent a different set each month to try, this way I get to see what looks good, to step out of my comfort zone and more importantly wear pieces which, if I’m totally honest, I would probably leave in a box for ‘best.’

But the great thing with only having them temporarily, (unless you decide to buy and not return, is that saving for best idea goes out of the window. So for the next month I will be sporting a while new me when it comes to jewels!

glitzbox is the UK's first subscription based jewellery service and I'm loving having the chance to trail some new pieces.

If you wondering how it works, read on;

GLITZBOXis a jewellery subscription service, with a monthly fee

Members receive a curated set of designer jewellery to wear on loan

They have the option to buy or return

They receive different pieces the following month

glitzbox is the UK's first subscription based jewellery service and I'm loving having the chance to trail some new pieces.

It was quite exciting getting my first box through the post this week, wondering what would be inside. I’d filled in an online questionnaire which helped determine what style of jewellery I preferred, so I had an inkling I’d like what was inside.

Just being able to step away from the diamond studs and silver necklace for the next few weeks wearing a few pieces (with a combined value of £300 which trumps my cheapies!) you don’t half feel the bees knees.

And despite being quite nonchalant about being swayed by bling, it seems I’ve completely fallen for the gold necklace, so am saving the pennies in the hope I can keep it. The £30 credit you get with your box should help sway it and anyway, I’ll be 41 1/2 next month.

A little bi yearly birthday treat to myself, me thinks!

So would you?

glitzbox is the UK's first subscription based jewellery service and I'm loving having the chance to trail some new pieces.

***   If you would like to trail GLITZBOX too, I have a few unique discount codes to share, please email Ali@muminanutshel.com ***

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Introducing JewelStreet Feat Anchor & Crew

Who doesn’t love a bit of bling? Even a delicate pair of studs can lift an outfit and make you feel a little teeny bit special. I personally never leave the house without my earrings, especially now my fingers are looking a little bare!

But for me, a piece of jewelery needs to have a story. Be it from the person who gave it to you or the designer who created it which leads me seamlessly into an introduction into JewelStreet,  home to over 500 independent jewellery designers each with an amazing story to tell which results in unique jewellery which is crafted with passion, patience and attention to detail. So while I have a few pieces of sentiment, I can now treat myself to something which fits the other bill.

A word of warning, if you’re even slightly indecisive, put aside a good hour or so before heading over to browse. I’ve got so much on my want and needs list now, and being able to really get to know the designers behind each piece makes that back story I crave so much easier and appealing. Unfortunately, it now appears I have more expensive tastes than I realised #goals.

So to tempt my wandering eye away from the stunning diamond rings and pendant necklaces (knowing there’s a few one off’s in those collections doesn’t help either!) I’m toning a down with a more practical look at British brand Anchor & Crew; the perfect nod towards a coastal living lady like yours truly.

They combine Great British naval heritage with contemporary styles with inspiration from anchors and nautical objects. Anchor & Crew are handmade, exclusive durable designs which not only look good, they’ll last!  Created using GB-Marine certified rope, natural leather and precious and semi-precious metals into jewellery suitable for both men and women. I’ve picked out a couple of pieces to show you exactly what they’re all about…

I love this contemporary and unisex jewellery from Jewel Street

Red Dash Admiral Silver and Rope Bracelet

The Red Dash Admiral silver and rope bracelet is a one size fits all and suitable for ladies or gents. As an everyday piece, looking great as a summer accessory, it’s perfect for anyone with a love of the sea or find memories of happy holidays on the coast.

………….Or maybe the more subtle Grey Dash Tyne Silver And Rope Bracelet is more your style.

 

 Disclaimer
This is a collaborative post 

 

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