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“What a difference a week makes...”

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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Kapolei
Certificate of Excellence
Redding, Connecticut
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“What a difference a week makes...”
Reviewed April 26, 2012

One adult, one child (age 12.5)
April 14-22

En route to the hotel, I read a bunch of reviews from people who had just stayed the week before we got there and I was concerned reading about the crowds and long waits to eat. Well, apparently, that was Spring Break for the West Coast and Hawaii is a big destination for folks on that side of the country! I'm from the East Coast and most folks here go to Florida for Spring Break. So, the crowds were gone and we were able to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Aulani and not have to fight over a lounge chair!

The Disney touch was apparent the moment we arrived. We have stayed in many Disney hotels from the budget (Pop Century) to the Deluxe (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge) As traveled Disneyites know, all Disney employees are called "Cast Members" and they are playing roles. They are taught to be extra nice and helpful. Well, the employees at Aulani went above and beyond. The spirit of Aloha enveloped everything and I felt that all of the people we were met were honestly glad we were there and were truly interested in us and wanted to share their stories and culture with us.

We were greeted at the entrance by a host who presented me with a tuberose lei (heavenly smell!) and my son with a "Menehune" necklace. Menehune are mythical and mischevious creatures who enhabit the resort. Men receive a kukui nut necklace for enlightenment (I think women don't get them because we are already enlightened!) We were given a tour of the lobby and brought out to the balcony to view the grounds and given an overview. Then we were escorted to the reception desk. After we were checked in, I liked that the receptionist stepped from behind the desk to give us our keys and welcome us.

We are DVC members. We stayed in a Deluxe Studio with an ocean view. It was a lovely room. Perfect for 2. Although 4 can sleep there, I think it would be a little tight. We had a small fridge, microwave and sink. There was a coffee maker and a toaster.I asked for a sharp knife and a cutting board and they arrived promptly. I highly recommending paying the upcharge for the better view because otherwise you could be looking at the parking lot.

The bathrobes in the room were so cozy. We loved the beds! It was almost like a Westin Heavenly Bed.

We didn't feel like venturing out too far the first night so we just went to the ABC market across the road for a few supplies. It is an upscale ABC market. There is also an ice cream shop and a couple of small restaurants there.

Aulani is in a private enclave along with a Marriott time share and a golf course/ time share. Paradise Cove luau is also walking distance from the hotel. There is a Roy's restaurant at the Golf Club. There is a gatehouse at the entrance and you give your name when you arrive to receive a parking pass.

I recommend renting a car at the airport. I paid $141 for the entire time I was there from Alamo. We were chatting with a family who paid that for a car they rented from the Alamo desk at the hotel for just 2 days!

Five minutes drive from the hotel is the town of Kapolei. They have Costco, Target, KMart, Walmart, Home Depot, many fast food places, Safeway and Longwood drugs. We ate a few times at the Hapa Grill which is a local restaurant. We also enjoyed the Kapolei Chinese restaurant. It was more of a "chinatown" style place rather than a local Chinese restaurant. We bought supplies at Costco and I also found nice Hawaiian shorts, macadamia nut chocolates and other souvenirs there. I also bought Hawaiian pinepapple for $2.99

Parkling at the hotel is $35/ day unless you are DVC. Then it is free.

Aulani was just lovely. We didn't want to leave! The lazy river was never crowded and my son enjoyed the slide many times without long lines. The body slide was unfortunately closed. The other pools were never crowded and we could always find a chair in the area of our choosing.
The infinity hot tub was just opened on our last day. It was lovely, but I wish they didn't allow kids in there. They were all crowded in and were using it like a swimming pool.

I was concerned about the jackhammering I read about but it was mostly over. There was construction but it didn't bother us at all.

The beach was a man made lagoon. No waves, but perfect for swimming and paddle boarding. Paddleboards are $30/ hour. There is a charge for umbrellas on the beach, but not for chairs.
If you walk past the end of the path past the Marriott, there are interesting tidal pools with fish and turtles and crabs. It is a beautiful spot.

My son didn't use Painted Sky, the tween/ teen area that often but he did enjoy all of the ukelele lessons. We ended up buying a ukelele!

The Pau Hana Community room was a nice area. Here you can make a video postcard to send to friends. We participated in many of the craft classes, both complementary and paid. They also offered hula lessons. They have a "Menehune Adventure" that is similar to the KimPossible activity at Disney World. You can take out an iPad like device and "Aunty" sends you on explorations and adventures around the resort. It is fn for all ages!

The spa was heavenly! Service and treatments were wonderful. The relaxation area was unique. Several soaking pools and a garden of showers made it so interesting and yes, relaxing! I didn't want to leave!

The only sour note was the food! We had heard from past reviews and people we spoke to on our trip that the buffet was horrible. And, for $43/ person it was way overpriced. The pool menu was uninspired and overpriced. Tuna sandwich on taro roll, chicken strips, burger, grilled veggie sandwich. No salads. And, the kids tuna was exactly the same as the adult version for half the price! A middle type restaurant is needed.

We did eat at Ama Ama. The view is just lovely. Our dinners were very nice, but overpriced. I had the paella and my son had the Striploin. We had no drinks and shared a dessert (the Hawaiian chocolate cake is delicious!) and it was $120! After that, we had lunch there twice and for 2 entrees (Fish Tacos were very good and my son enjoyed the pork buns) and a shared chocolate cake and the bill was $60! So glad we had a car and could eat out! Hapa Grill was $25 for both of us!

Shaved ice was a nice treat but we usually went to Costco for $1.35 frozen yogurt!!!

My son took 2 surf lessons with Hawaiian Fire (arranged through hotel) That was a big hit!
We drove up to the north shore one day and had shrimp at Giovanni's shrimp truck and dessert at Teds.

Parking in Waikiki was very expensive!! It is very built up with all of the "chic" stores. We brought home cookies from Honolulu Cookie Company and they were delicious!

Don't miss the swap meet at Aloha Stadium for all of your souvenirs. Best prices anywhere! And, you can bargain.

Overall, we had a wonderful and relaxing time and look forward to coming back to Aulani again! The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was for the food. I'm glad we had a car. I think next time we might go for a bigger room with a full kitchen so we can avoid the hotel restaurants totally.

Room Tip: go for the Ocean View!
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
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9 Thank LoveBoatDream
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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San Diego
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed April 25, 2012

The hotel rooms are big and comfortable. There is less in your face Disney and more cultural Hawaii throughout the resort. The food was decent, but good luck getting into any of the restaurant's without a reservation. The pool area was great, but on the weekends the seating around the pool goes fast. The staff is good at marking chairs each hour to ensure you're using the lounge chairs and moving your stuffing if your not. I don't know how this pool area will handle all the people, I would guess only 60 to 70 percent of the rooms are able to be occupied and the pool area was packed. My family split our visit to Oahu by staying at Aulani for half and in Waikiki for the other half, I truly wished I stayed at Aulani for my entire stay. My pocket book on the other hand thanked me for the break. Just like all Disney resorts, it is expensive from the room rate to the food prices to the $35 a night parking charge (valet and self parking) get ready to dish out the cash. My family had a great time and we will be back.

Room Tip: Do the Menehune Trail Adventure, it was fun for all ages.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank polaris4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
san francisco
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 25, 2012

Standard Room: clean
Service: Requested king size but provided 2 double beds
Dining: Expect to pay $40-$50 per head. Food quality is average (it's disney afterall)
Convenience: ABC store across the street for relatively cheaper drinks and snacks
Facility: good for kids and whole family
Beach: man-made lagoon. calm water and not very crowded. some fish can be seen in water
Tips: Paid $5 for bell boy for two luggages, $2 for rental car ( don't expect staff to install car seat)
Shuttle: commercial shuttle $65 for 3 people with one car seat
Car rental: ~$80 per day with one car seat
Brings: bring your own snorkel gear, beach mat, snacks.
Buy: Purchase plastic bottle for free refill at disney store through out stay

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank gordon c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed April 25, 2012

This hotel was pretty much similar to any other Disney hotel. Rooms are fine though, we had two double beds but don't expect anything extra like slippers, cotton wool etc. The basics are provided for with one of everything despite the number of guests in the room.

We were supposed to be staying in a garden view room, though this turns out to be a car park view room as all outside rooms point outwards over the general public car park or valet parking.

The hotel itself is nice and relaxing with plenty of comfy seating in the lobby area. The huge pool area was great for kids with differing zones of play. The pool recliners were good with plenty of towels available. If you venture to bath in the sheltered cove area, there is a charge for use of their recliners and beds.

The cove was lovely and linked to other coves around the bay. Very picturesque in the evenings as the sun set.

Restaurants were fine though not extensive menu pool side but you do have a choice of two others. AmaAma was located beach front and was very pleasant. The chefs know what they are talking about with allergies. The buffet is well a buffet! You get the norm. Watch out for the character breakfasts as they are fun though costly.

All in all we had a nice time and the odd Disney character wandering around made it an enjoyable stay. A hotel not just for disney lovers.

Room Tip: If you are staying in a garden room, don't be surprised if it over look the car park!
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank TeamMiller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed April 24, 2012

Although its expensive, we enjoyed our stay at this hotel. The staff were great- what a warm welcome we received.Just the right balance of Disney, as well as an authentic Hawaiin feel. The hotel is clean and well maintained. Unfortunately one waterslide was not in operation, but the other proved lots of fun for adults and children alike. Aunty's beach-house ( child's supervised room) excellent in terms of providing a safe and stimulating environment.Shops across the road if you wish to opt a cheaper snack. Overall the food at Aulani was good, if not a bit expensive- but it is Disney. It would be good if Disney could organise free transfers from Honolulu, as the $35 per day parking fee is steep. good to combine with a stay in Waikiki.We will be back!

Room Tip: Dont bother paying more for a view.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Flyby111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
27 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 135 helpful votes
Reviewed April 24, 2012

My husband two children (ages 3 and 6) and I stayed at Aulani April 12-21, and had a great time overall. We “rented” DVC points from a DVC member and had a 2 bedroom 2.5 bath “villa,” which came with a kitchen, plus living area and stackable washer/dryer in the unit, which was great. This also entitled us to free parking and 10% off certain activities. Despite the fact that we paid for an ocean view and requested an even numbered room (i.e., interior), they didn’t have any available and ended up with the dreaded “Marriott view,” which is really ocean view obstructed and not a pure ocean view. But we could still see the ocean and mountains and didn’t worry too much about it.

Because of the time change, our kids were up early and it was never a problem getting a couple of chairs in an area we wanted. We did leave personal items (such as a scarf or hat) on the chairs so people didn’t move them and tried to be considerate if we weren’t going to be using the chairs. One day we rented a cabana, which was nice but $$$. They bring you fresh fruit and the service is great, but it was expensive and we didn’t do it again. Plus, the best cabanas were reserved months ago and so we were left with options further away from the main pool.

In your list of things to reserve early: character breakfast, cabana, Makai preserve, and Ama Ama (on the weekends).

The pools were great. As was the little lagoon, perfect for young kids and adults. The water is cool, but when it’s warm they feel great. There also are three hot tubs if you need to warm up.

Aunties Beachouse was great. My daughter did the extra cost “premium” programs, Surf’s Up with Chip and Dale (she loved), Fish are Friends (she loved) and Making Magic, which sounds like a treasure hunt, but isn’t and she didn’t like. The Makai reserve was very neat for her, but I felt bad for the small ray enclosure (and knowing one ray was wild caught). We did the length of stay pass for Rainbow Reef, which was a good value if you have a young child whole is getting used to snorkeling. If not--its a small area--and the ocean offers much better snorkeling.

The food: not great but not horrible (with the exception of the dinner buffet which was horrible and overpriced—avoid it). The character breakfast was typical buffet fare. Ama Ama was good. The poolside food was pretty good in my opinion (for pool food, good turkey wrap) and the room service was pretty good (except the pasta marinara which was tasteless). Because we had a villa with a kitchen we stocked up at the ABC store (which is really a little high end market across the street), Costco and Target—both of which are a 5-minute drive away. Make sure you rent a car or you will be pretty land locked. Across the street, we ate at Just Tacos (pretty good, get a reservation on the weekend), and the Hawaiian BBQ—which was bad. Food is expensive in Hawaii and we knew that going in. The snow cones poolside are great and the little resort market has enough to get you by for a few days.

We did surf lessons (with my six year old), through Girls Who Surf, which is just about a 15-minute drive and had a great experience (Susie was awesome!). Drove to the North Shore (good tide pools at Sharks Cove, but generally a better trip for older kids or adults).

The beds are very comfortable, but the pillows were really think. We ended up buying a cheap pillow at target for our youngest child who otherwise really couldn't use the hotel pillows. The room was very nice and well appointed. Not a Four Seasons, but one of the nicer "family" hotels we have stayed at. One of the other things I found good was the room noise insulation--very quiet.

It was magical having Mickey, Minnie and the Disney gang at the hotel and we would go back (we just might need to save a few years to do it). Every single “cast member” was cheery and helpful—consistently, I was very impressed with that. Overall it was a really great trip and very nice resort (the architecture and detail were amazing).

Room Tip: Request an even numbered, higher floor room.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank llwcl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Burlington, Vermont
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 24, 2012

The hotel was really nice. the staff was amazing. I went in the month of April 14, 2012 thru 21, 2012. I pre cheked in thru there website so when I got the there the room was ready and the staff was ready to receive us. The staff was very helpful and accomadating. For people with children be prepare for the food Disney Aulani Hotel want's to keep the hawaiin culture alive, so the food is very local and they do not cater to American food. They have 4 restaraunts on site one off them is a buffet they serve hawaiin food and japanese also like sushi, they have some pizza and chicken finger for the kids at night. In the morning for breakfast again hawaiin food like sausages bacon, eggs, rice, also sushi, and for the children mickey pancakes and bacon. The 2 other quick service restaurants called of the hook and 2 paddle one paddle is burger, chicken finger and fries. The last restaurant AMA is only local hawaiin food. The restaurants in the resort are very expensive they cheapest thing starts from 14 up to 56 dollars drinks start about 9 dollars. If u are just staying at the resort highly recomment the meal plan.

The resort is located outside Honolulu like 30min its very remote area the resort is in Ko Alina. If you want to go around to see hawaii recommend to rent a car, but parking cost 35 dollars a day. They are some little restaurants located outside the resort but they are not that good one is called taco loco and the other was hawaiin food not that great. they have a little grocery store outside the resort which is super expensive, we rented a car and went to a grocery store called saver and we saved a lot money. If you it at the resorts restaurants make sure u arrive 20 min early because they get packed really fast it doesnt matter if you have a reservation.

The staff was very nice and friendly they are a brand new hotel so the staff was a little new they looked like they were adjusting. they didn't know to much information about some of the places, like good restaurants to eat outside the hotel. I highly recommend Roys restaurant located at the golf course near the hotel, is very expensive but the food was amazing the chef is very famous in hawaii and the golf course near the hotel is were they have the famous competitions that tiger woods goes to and michell wii was there when we went to have dinner. If you decide to go there dinner is around 100 bucks per person.

also if you want to avoid the parking fee, rent a car for the day and return it each day. we rented the car from monday to friday and it was 300 dollars also if they ask you the option of returning the vehicle empty for 65 dollars more take it, we didnt and the day we reuturn the vehicle we had to go look for a gas station and it was 15 min away and then we got lost, and when we filled it up it was like 75 bucks. We used a whole tank of gas and we got to see the whole island on that so u wont need to fill it up. When you rent a car you must go to the north shore, going into the north shore there is the Dole plantation for pineapple,you must also go to benzai beach and the botanicle gardens. Also go to sharks cove you can snorkle for free. Also go all the way from honolulu to Kailua its very beautiful for seightseing an beautiful beaches.

Also if you have the chance do the spa it was amazing.....Ill leave that to your imagination lol

hope this help you out and enjoy yor stay at Aulani :)

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank crisempe
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa Hawaii/Oahu

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