One adult, one child (age 12.5)
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.
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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