Lakefront sips and bites
See inside Harbor Nights Primavera, Universal Orlando hotel's spring food-and-wine event
By Anjali Fluker
There's nothing quite like delectable eats, fine wine, live entertainment and a gorgeous view to make people want to celebrate being out and about.
That was the scene during a recent weekend special event at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, as the resort hosted Harbor Nights Primavera. Portofino Bay hosts four to five of these seasonal events each year, and the Primavera edition was the second Harbor Nights of 2022.
The event on April 8 featured al fresco tapas-style dining and wine with live entertainment on Portofino Bay's picturesque Harbor Piazza. The resort is one of Central Florida's largest convention hotels and resorts, with a total of 42,000 square feet, based on Orlando Business Journal research.
The highlight of Harbor Nights, of course, was the unlimited bites and wine samples from various stations manned by the hotel's restaurants, each featuring a special dish. Additionally, guests had unlimited pours of their choice of rosé, red, white and sparkling wines. See the photo gallery above for more.
Two types of admission passes were available for the event: a "standing ticket" for $69 plus tax, and an upgraded VIP ticket for $99 plus tax. Both provided full access to the unlimited food and wine samples; the upgraded ticket included assigned seating in a special VIP area, giving guests beautiful views of the piazza, and servers brought a special charcuterie plate to each table.
Food-and-wine festivals and events like Harbor Nights help draw more visitors to Orlando, providing a boost to the region's dominant tourism industry. It's also another way to bring visitors to the theme parks' resorts. Live events like these mark an important point in the region's recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
Food and spirit festivals had been growing in popularity for several years, as visitors turned to foodie events to determine their travel destinations — until the pandemic. Concerns about the virus' spread resulted in these types of events being canceled and/or modified to accommodate masks and social distancing.
Harbor Nights, however, returned in 2021, and the first event for this year — Harbor Nights Romantico — was held in February. Each seasonal event features different decor, music and food items created by the resort's restaurants, along with Italian-based wines.
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