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“Best Resort hotel in Hawaii-if you have kids”

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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Kapolei
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 5, 2011

This is a resort just for family. For couple, it would be boo noisy.
They have one large pool, gizzy river pool, quiet pool, infinity edge two tier jacuzzi pool and coral reef pool. They also has water tree house with 2 shorter water slider for younger kids. Has big volcano in the center and comes with long water slide for older kids or adults.

Auntie's beach house was great. Probably best kids activity room in the whole US. Has Uncle side with uncle's garage for activities, game room, theater room. Auntie side has costume room and younger kids game room, activity room. My daughter happened to have chance to take science clas with stich to make space gooey spit which was so fun! we didn't expect to have stich character to be on it so it was a big suprised.

Standard bedding comes with 2 queen. We had connecting room with King with pull out sofa bed couch. Has thick pillow top bed and great beddings.

Has laundry facilities as other Disney hotel does, room is larger than other Disney resorts. Beautiful protected reef beach right in front, definately best resorts for family.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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9  Thank Miracosta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,516 - 4,522 of 5,391 reviews

Reviewed September 4, 2011

I recently stayed a night at Aulani with my family. I stayed there the first night it opened and i have to say it was the most absolutely amazing experience in the history of the world. I have to say there wasn't a single thing I could complain about. The food was amazing, the pool area might as well be called a water park, and it was the perfect Hawaiian experience with the magical Disney touch.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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15  Thank shawaii101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2011

Our family of four really enjoyed our stay at Aulani. We had a king room with a sleeper sofa which is made just for Disney. It had a particularly thick mattress and seemed like it would be perfectly comfortable even for an adult. I love that they keep a Pack-n-Play in the closet of every room so you don't have to ask for a crib to be sent up. Unfortunately when you have the sleeper sofa and Pack-n-Play assembled there's not much room to walk around. We liked the rain shower head and the handheld one (makes rinsing kids after their bath much easier). It's nice that the hotel has recycle bins in the rooms and all around the property, but I wish they were labeled to let you know what items are recyclable there.

Our kids loved the Menehune Bridge water playground. The lazy river was neat and this is usually a favorite attraction of mine, but this one is unbearably slow. I noticed that not many people used it, and those who did could be seen swimming or if riding on tubes constantly pushing themselves along. There were always a ridiculous amount of leaves in the river. Hopefully once the newly-planted trees get settled in they will stop dropping so many leaves. It's cool that the two water slides don't have a height restriction and the tube one accepts double tubes so you can go down with your child. I was surprised that the Menehune Bridge had a 48" height restriction (for my tall kids that means they can only use it until they turn 6) although I never saw anyone around to enforce the rule. We were surprised to see so many lifeguards watching every inch of the lazy river and the main pool. FYI none of the pools there are over four feet deep so it's more of a wading pool than actual swimming. Our favorite thing was the dual level waterfall spa overlooking the beach. You're supposed to get a wristband every day when you pick up your towels for the pool. This allows you to use the water slides and if you pay for their man-made lagoon snorkeling ($15-20) they will punch the wristband so you can come back and snorkel again later in the day. The way the hotel is shaped makes the pool area like the bottom of a canyon and the wind really whips through there. We noticed a lot of plastic cups, napkins, lettuce, etc. strewn all around from the wind when people were eating poolside. The poolside dining staff never seemed to be around when we needed them. Once they offered my son a refill of lemonade and just never came back with it. After that I gave up on the service and just went over to the bar anytime I wanted to order something.

We were a little annoyed that the buffet restaurant didn't open until 7 AM. Coming from California that felt like 10 AM and we were starving. On our last day there we had an early flight and had to leave before the restaurant opened. The only other place that serves food in the morning is at the bar outside the buffet restaurant. They call it "continental breakfast" but you actually pay for each item (e.g. yogurt parfait, croissant). We found the food at the buffet to be pretty good but the price was outrageous. It is $43 per adult for dinner and $27 for breakfast. The portions are tiny, which is good in a way because it enables you to try a lot of things without getting stuffed or wasting food, but also annoying if you just want a regular sized serving of one thing. We really wished we could just go to a regular restaurant and get an egg white omelet or pancakes for our kids without spending over $100. One morning we walked over to the JW Marriott Ihilani next door and did just that. Their buffet, which has a much larger selection than Aulani, was much cheaper (can't remember adult price but kids were $9 and they charged only $3 for my picky son who only wanted scrambled eggs). At the Aulani sit-down restaurant 'Ama-'Ama, we enjoyed the gazpacho soup and grilled veggie sandwich on ciabatta bread (although some would say they were both a little oily). I wanted to try the goat cheese ravioli but couldn't get a reservation to come back. My husband was annoyed that his red wine was served too cold. The waiter explained that they keep all of their wine refrigerated since it's too hot there to leave it out at room temperature. We've never encountered this elsewhere in Hawaii and didn't see why they couldn't have taken it out of the fridge for a couple of hours before serving it. Aulani's restaurants seemed great for people who enjoy local, organic, gourmet food but they didn't have much regular American food. We heard a lot of people complain that they couldn't get their kid a hot dog or a turkey sandwich. We had an issue with the kids club when they wouldn't allow my son who is allergic to dairy products to bring in his own food. They insisted that the only food that can be served there is from the "private dining" room service menu. There was nothing on that menu that my son could eat so we had to order a turkey wrap asking for no cheese. We found out later from my son that it was served to him with cheese and he had to try to pick it off by himself. The shave ice stand charges $5 and doesn't offer ice cream. The poolside menu is very limited and the items are great for dieters but not filling enough for a normal person who is swimming and working up an appetite all day. People couldn't believe that there weren't more restaurants. It was hard to get reservations at the two restaurants and we all wondered how they would feed people when the hotel is fully open (I believe only 2-3 of the 7 towers were open the first week). We were quite relieved to find that the hotel gift shop had a decent select of grocery items and the prices weren't much higher than local markets. We bought bread, sliced turkey, mayo, mustard, bagels and peanut butter. They also had a lot of frozen dinners but we weren't sure where to find a microwave since our room didn't have one. There's also an Island Market ABC Store just across the street from the entrance of the resort which sells groceries and produce (don't miss the yummy apple bananas!). There is a mexican grill and an ice cream shop over there, too.

The best thing about this hotel is that the kids club "Aunty's Beach House" provides free childcare for kids age 3-12. I could not find any other hotel in Hawaii that offers childcare for 3-4 year olds. It opens at 8 or 9 AM and closes between 8 and 11 PM. It is enormous and very clean. They require everyone (including parents coming to pick up kids) to wash their hands before entering. Upon their first visit, the kids are issued a wristband to wear for the duration of your stay. This is used to check them in and out of the computer system. My only complaint is that my kids ages 3 and 7 played video games the entire time. I wish there was a way to set a time limit for that or have that room separate so parents could decide whether or not to allow their kids in.

I enjoyed the beautiful 1.5 mile walk on the paved path along the four lagoons of Ko Olina. There is also a magnificent beach if you walk north just past the JW Marriott. The lagoons are roped off so that you cannot exit them to get to the waves. There doesn't seem to be a beach with waves within walking distance, so don't plan on boogie boarding or surfing here. You can rent kayaks (a double was $30/hr) or stand-up paddle boards but the lagoon is pretty small and we got bored after the first 10 minutes.

We were quite surprised that the property was not "more Disney." If we hadn't noticed the name Disney on the sign we probably wouldn't have known it was a Disney property. You will not see Disney characters in the decor (except for a brown wooden lamp base shaped like Mickey in the room) and only a few times a day are their character visits down by the buffet restaurant. The only time we saw Mickey was at the very end of the nightly entertainment (it was hula and ukelele the night we went) but unfortunately by 8 PM Hawaii time our kids were so tired they didn't care to stay up and see the characters so we took them up to bed instead. There is a wooden statue of Stitch over by the kids club that could be easily missed. They did a wonderful job designing the decor of the hotel and the landscaping outside in keeping with the vintage Hawaiiana theme.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
14  Thank Kim K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 2, 2011

I am writing this review on day 2 of our stay at Disney's newly opened Aulani. Overall the stay has been great, but could've been out-of-the-world if it weren't for the kinks of a newly opened hotel. We are traveling with 2 adults, 2 kids 6 and 4 years old.

The first day we spent all day at the pool. The pool is amazing. We have stayed at many Hawaii resorts with great pools, but the Aulani pools are the best by far. They are also super-family friendly. They provide life vests for free for all kids, and there are life guards at almost every 20 yards. They are also always standing, and ready to help, and always smiling. They have 2 incredible slides built into the mountain structure in the middle, and they don't have a height or age restriction - which is very rare in this litigious times - so our 37 inch tall 4 yr old daughter was able to enjoy the slides like her brother. There is a body slide and a tube slide, and both are fun, even for adults. There is a life guard at the bottom to help, but the life vests keep the little ones afloat even if they cannot swim. There is also a lazy river all around the property and an adult pool. There are swim tanks (for extra fee) where you can swim and snorkel with tropical fishes in super clear water, although there is a perfect natural lagoon right outside the property as well.
The room - which literally are brand new - are also great. Good size and if you get a king + sofa sleeper, perfect for a family of 4. The sofa sleeper is better for the kids if they roll around and may fall. The regular beds are raised quite a bit off the ground, so its a good 3 feet if you fall. The showers have rain shower heads and the tub is big enough for a good soak. Decor throughout the property is understated elegance in a tropical style with a touch of Disney. It really is well thought out, and full of surprises for the kids - like hidden wooden statues throughout the property.
As wonderful as this stay has been so far, I have also never had to complain so many times during a resort stay. The service and overall operation still needs a lot of kinks worked out. The staff have apologized numerous times with the excuse that they are still new at this. But its not like the customers get a discount for it being "new", so I am really sick of hearing that excuse.
First negative experience was at the famed Character Breakfast - when you pay over $100 for breakfast, you expect "Characters" like Mickey and Minnie to make a round to talk to your kids at the table. There were only 2 characters Minnie and Goofy, making the rounds for approx 40 tables, and with the staff being "new" they kept of missing our table. After 45 min I finally went up to ask them to come to our table, but got brushed off by the staff. Then after 90 min, I had to call the manager of the restaurant, who then said it was not the restaurant, but the DPI Manager who was in charge of the characters. Finally after the righteous parent with 2 disappointed kids act, I got Minnie & Goofy to come to the table, but we could not enjoy the breakfast given that we were stressed out about the characters the whole time. Then they charged $32 for the photos with Mickey at the entrance, and you had to decide while the photographer was standing over your shoulder.
Overall, I feel that given that there are all these kids who are here because of the Disney magic, it would be better if they hired more characters and rotated them in the facility more often. Right now to get a picture with the characters, you have to line up for 30 min on the walkway at specific times of the day with other harried parents. And there is a handler who is always hurrying things along because the characters are on a tight schedule! There are a lot of teenagers in Oahu, who I'm sure will want to work in a costume. Hire them. It would truly be magical if Minnie and Stitch were casually strolling along in the lobby, or if they were floating in the lazy river next to the guests. The property has done a great job of not pushing Disney in your face, but the characters really need to make more of a showing here.
The second negative experience was poolside dining service. The staff seems to be a mixture of great employees who go out of their way to help, and newly hired people who are a little clueless. I had to walk over to the bar numerous times because our waiter would just disappear and not be around for a long time. But the guy at the bar was very nice, and offered me a complimentary beverage for my troubles.
Getting a room was also a problem. We arrived early so it was expected that we did not get our rooms right away, but even after the regular checkin time our rooms were still "not prepared". When I went to ask the front desk, they had to send someone to housekeeping to see if they had finished. Then the guy came back to say that he couldn't find the housekeeping staff. Do they not have phones? Or is this a whole ancient Hawaii theme of having "runners" and smoke signals for communication between floors in the buildings?
Finally, we tried to get reservations at the 2 restaurants on the property, and both of them had no available tables until late in the night. Then when we went there at 6pm, about half of the tables were free and we were seated right away. I understand they have to keep some tables open for walk-ins, but I think they can do a little better with managing that since we were about to leave the property for dinner given that there aren't other dining options.
Overall - we've had an incredible time here, and the facilities are among the best in Hawaii, especially for the kids. And once the kinks are worked out, I'm sure the service would be top notch as well.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
20  Thank penguinorama1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 2, 2011

Disney is, well, Disney! They do things top notch. This resort is no different. The resort is gorgeous, the pool area is a paradise for kids with water slides, lazy river & a large water feature for kids to climb on. We attended the character breakfast, and the kids just loved every minute. Mickey, MInnie & Goofy were there, as well as "Aunty" who sang, danced, and entertained us the entire time. It was fun for the entire family. By far, best character breakfast we have attended (compared to Disneyland & Disney World).

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank Family0fTravelers_5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 29, 2011

The hotel opened today so I decided to take a walk thought the property as I was unable to get a reservation for this week.
The hotel has 3 of 7 towers open right now and scheduled to be fully open by next March – it’s a combination of hotel and vacation club.
I did not stay the night at the property and it was the grand opening so staff was probably 120% of normal, but here are my observations.

The lobby is very nice and very well done in wood throughout, with a nice open air view of the ocean and pool complex. They had musicians and bands thoughout, although I think the only standard one will be at the bar on the ground floor.

The one thing that will stand out is the pool complex – amazing. They have slides, many pools / hot tubs, a huge kids water area, lazy river, shade, and tons or chairs (we will see if they have enough come March). I know that the Hawaii purest are not going to like the pool being the focal point and not the ocean / beach, but it is very nice.

They share a lagoon with the JW Marriott next door – it was pretty calm and nice, but all the Disney folks were at the pool.

I counted 4 restaurants on my walk – all of the prices were “resort” prices and nothing seemed too crazy high given all the factors (Hawaii+ Ko Olina + Disney + Resort). There were only a few maintenance crews out doing repairs which I thought was pretty low given opening day. The biggest surprise was that I didn’t see many Mickey’s everywhere – now that I am writing this I will have to go look again because I can’t believe it – maybe they really stuck to the Hawaiian theme.

Next time I’m on business the family will come and we can check it out for real.

Stayed: August 2011, traveled on business
11  Thank RTW_Aggie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 days ago via mobile
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Stayed: January 2017, traveled with family
Thank Lucas N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Address: 92-1185 Ali'inui Drive, Kapolei, Oahu, HI 96707-4434
Location: United States > Hawaii > Oahu > Kapolei
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Kapolei
Price Range: $433 - $852 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa 4.5*
Number of rooms: 819
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Also Known As:
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa In Hawai`i Hotel Kapolei
Aulani, a Disney Resort And Spa In Hawai`i
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