What’s the one thing you look forward to on vacation? Is it thrills and adventure? Maybe trying something new, or spending time with family you haven’t seen in awhile? For me lately, it’s relaxation. A way to slow down from the everyday routine, not worry about the usual stresses of life, and just savor every moment spent with my family.
This is the essence of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites. Dockside Inn and Suites invites you to kick back, relax, and take it easy during your vacation at Universal Orlando Resort. This hotel, alongside Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites, brings a new value option to Universal Orlando. It’s the perfect place for families wanting to stay connected to the action of Universal’s three theme parks, while enjoying the comfort and ease of a resort that meets their vacation budget. Dockside Inn and Suites’ coastal vibes make you feel as if you’re just feet away from the ocean, which extends into your dining experience with the all-American Pier 8 Market, Sunset Lounge, and The Oasis Beach Bar.
I spent a lovely Tuesday morning learning about and trying the new food and drinks from Dockside Inn and Suites with Phil Klinkenberg, director of food and beverage for Dockside Inn and Suites. Phil led the creation and execution of Dockside’s dining in collaboration with the chefs and managers of the new resort. Here’s what he shared with me and what you can look forward to during your upcoming stay.
Kick start your morning before a day in Universal’s theme parks with breakfast from Pier 8 Market. You can enjoy a lighter option like fresh baked goods prepared daily, or indulge in a heartier meal like chicken and waffles.
- Chicken and Waffles (served with maple syrup and butter)
- Pier 8 Egg Muffin (bacon, egg, cheddar, onions, peppers and a side of hash browns)
- Baja Burrito (chorizo, egg and cheese with salsa)
My Favorite: Avocado Toast – crushed avocados, pico de gallo, vegan cheese, walnuts, and raisin vegan toast. It’s so good and Phil surprised me with the fact that it’s all vegan, including the cheese.
“With all Universal Orlando hotels, we accommodate guests’ dietary needs,” says Phil. “We pride ourselves on being able to customize and provide options like our Beyond Burger and this vegan avocado toast.”
Take a break from the pool and fuel up with refreshing options at Pier 8 Market (or grab your food and head back for a poolside meal!). One of the great perks about Pier 8 Market is that it’s themed to be an open-air market with easy-to-grab items, similar to what you would find down by the docks of a coastal town.
“Pier 8 Market is meant to feel like an actual market where you walk through the various food stalls and are able to select the items for your meal,” says Phil. “Whether it be our chicken and waffles, pizza or a burger, it’s all meant to be self-serve, grab and go.”
- Hook & Batter (fish and chips)
- Garden Pizza (you guessed it, a veggie pizza!)
- Gulf to Shore (grilled market fish on a toasted bun)
My Favorite: The Dockworker Wrap – pastrami with swiss cheese, coleslaw and french fries. Not only is it delicious, but there’s a fun story behind the inspiration for the wrap that Phil told me.
“Our Dockworker Wrap is inspired by a dish that dockworkers actually put together,” Phil says. “They get a deli sandwich, a side of fries, and a drink. They would take the fries and put it directly on their sandwich to hold with one hand, and then the drink in the other hand, so they could eat and drink easily during their lunch break. We took that concept and made our Dockworker Wrap.”
There’s no better way to end the day during a vacation than coming together as a family and having dinner. There are great options for families at Pier 8 Market with a variety of dishes that any member of the family can enjoy, as well as meals that meet bigger family needs like pizza.
- BBQCB (burger with smoked bacon, cheddar, onion rings and bourbon bbq sauce)
- The Joey Sandwich (hoagie with salami, capicola, soppressata, provolone cheese, roasted red pepper and toppings)
- Stuffed Shells (I recommend a side of Deck Hand Garlic Knots too!)
My Favorite: Chicken and Waffles – 8 piece bucket of chicken, side of mashed potatoes, side of coleslaw, Belgian waffles and choice of sauce. And let me tell you, the sauce choices are on point with the Sloping Sticky Sauce (bourbon bacon maple sauce), Rocket Man (spicy bbq), and Southern Hot (buffalo with a hint of honey).
“Dockside Inn and Suites is a family destination,” says Phil. “So, what the market does is provide something for everybody. In each of the areas in our market we’ll have options for the younger guests in our hotel. So, mom and dad can have what they want and kids can have what they want.”
A meal isn’t complete without a sweet ending. Each food station in Pier 8 Market will have a signature dessert, as well as a variety of other classic treats you can grab. There will also be yogurt and smoothie machines that are perfect for those hot summer days.
- Key Lime Pie (a Florida classic)
- Cinnamon & Sugar Zeppoles (an italian treat consisting of fried fritter)
My Favorite: S’mores – hot off the panini press with all the fixings, ginger-flavored bread with milk chocolate, and marshmallow. It’s ooey and gooey, perfect for the kids to split or the ‘big’ kids like me. I could’ve eaten a whole one myself!
Now, onto a really fun part of Dockside Inn and Suites — the signature drinks.
“The Sunset Lounge is going to be a fantastic little area for you to break away after a day in the theme parks,” says Phil. “We also have The Oasis Beach Bar. Both are a place for people to just kick back, relax, and have an excellently crafted cocktail or a craft beer.”
I found the theming of the drinks to be just as fun as the cocktails themselves. Phil let me know that some of them are even named after slides you may recognize from a certain water park that used to be where Endless Summer Resort is now…
“The drinks at the Oasis Beach pool bar are named after the Wet n’ Wild rides like the Bubba Tub and the Mach Five,” he says. “We had a great time putting it together. We actually wrote the drink names before we came up with what the drinks would be.”
You’ll find cocktails themed to the hotel, as well as a craft beer that will be brewed for the resort.
- Endless Summer Lemonade (vodka with lemon; this is the resort’s signature cocktail)
- Sunset Blonde (mango blonde ale; this is the resort’s craft beer)
- Red Sky at Night (Tequila cocktail with orange and lime flavors)
- Drop Anchor (rum drink with orgeat and matcha)
- Shore Thing (grapefruit vodka with lime and ginger beer)
- Bubba Tub (signature 32oz Dockside bucket that all cocktails from The Oasis Beach Bar can be upgraded to)
My Favorite: Disco H20 – I’ve been known to have a bit of a sweet tooth, especially when it comes to drinks. Disco H20 not only tastes great but the candy tube makes it double the fun!
Deep Dive Into the Inspiration
There was a common thread I picked up on while chatting with Phil about the Dockside Inn and Suites dining experience: casual comfort. From the ease of selecting your food to the focus on comfort food options, the overall concept is to give a relaxing environment and experience for your family during your vacation.
“I’ve always said we offer people a vacation from the vacation that they’re on, so when they come back to their hotel they’re home,” says Phil. “I think Dockside Inn and Suites will give you that feeling of pure relaxation, no worries and no cares.”
So, what goes into developing the food and drinks for a new hotel? Phil walked me through it.
“It really started with the original concept,” he explains. “Universal Creative and Loews Hotels partnered and came up with the idea for Endless Summer Resort. At the very beginning it was decided that Pier 8 Market was going to happen at Dockside Inn and Suites.”
They knew they were going to have family-friendly options like pizza and burgers, but there was brainstorming along the way on how to add some unique twists.
“When I came on board, I just wrote down my wish list and what I thought would be fun,” says Phil. “Brainstorming is next with the managing director and chefs, brainstorming with other people that were inspired by talking to friends or reading other venue menus. Inspiration comes from so many different places. Some of it’s memory, some of it’s sensory. So, we take all of those ideas and kind of do a mashup of them. It’s all about collaboration.”
With Dockside Inn and Suites being his third hotel opening with Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando Resort, he is eager for guests to experience all the hotel will offer.
“You know what keeps me going is that experience you have when you bump into a guest in a hallway, or in the restaurant, and you have a conversation with them and realize the things your team did, or that you did personally, made a difference,” he says. “It’s hard to describe that feeling, but when you have it, you know it, and it’s a great feeling.”
Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.