We were not sure what to except when we first arrived to Aulani, which is situated in the Ko Olina section of Oahu. We knew it was going to be beautiful but did not realize the magnitude of how amazing this property truly is. Ko Olina itself is my new favorite place in the world to visit. The area is committed to the land, the sea and their rich history of cultural traditions in this part of Oahu and is truly where heaven meets the earth. Ko Olina is a gated community comprised of four hotels along with a few expensive homes and shopping. It is a very peaceful area, so if you are looking for rest and relaxation this is the place to visit. It is about 40 minutes away from the Honolulu airport.
When you first see the resort as you are driving up it takes your breath away. The architecture blows the other three hotels in the area away. When you actually enter the lobby it gives you a somewhat similar feel to Polynesian Village in Orlando, on a much grander scale. The Lobby is open air with an overlook to the property, pool area, and beach. The ceiling is reminiscent to a canoe used in the Hawaiian culture along with many stories told along the walls. For instance there are two towers for their guest rooms and villas in Aulani. The one pictured above is the Waianae tower which represents the masculine side. This towers shape, art work and vibe portrays the story of the men of Hawaii where as the Ewa tower represents the feminine side. The storytelling, details and artwork in this resort encompasses everything that true Hawaiian culture is about.
For the majority of our stay we had a partial oceanview room in the Waianae tower on the 11th floor. The room, also similar to the Polynesian Village theming in Orlando, had a great view of the pool and a portion of the beach. They had two very comfortable robes, two pairs of slippers and some really great toiletries.
The last night we stayed in a one bedroom grand villa that is a great option for families. We enjoyed being able to do all of our laundry before making the trip home. This villa is perfect for those who are staying longer and would like to have all the comforts of home. There is a full kitchen to take advantage of and a market right across the street you can walk to for groceries.
At Aulani you will have so much to do that you may not know where to start. Aulani is home to incredible pools (including an adults only pool area), a children's splash area, lazy river and a few really fun water slides. You wont find characters all over the resort like you would in the parks back home so you will need to check the daily activity list to see where you can find them if you want to steal a picture.
They also offer a special area called Aunty's Beach House where kids can explore Hawaiian culture, art and music with a dash of Disney magic. This supervised activities club is for guests ages 3 to 12. Most activities are complimentary however there are select experiences that are also available at a fee. They do conduct an open house every morning for parents who would like to check this neat area out before leaving their children.
In the Pau Hana Room- Community Hall, you can connect with friends and family over games, crafts, movies in this game room. They have things like Ukulele lessons, Tee shirt painting, and more. You can also rent out a tablet and go on an adventure choosing either the Lobby trail or the Menehune Adventure Trail that takes you on a high-tech immersive scavenger hunt that helps you discover enchanting surprises throughout Aulani.
Laniwai, Aulani's spa, offers top notch spa treatments for men, women and families. Once you have a spa treatment booked, you can actually take advantage of the spa for as long as you would like for the day. Once you leave the spa however you can not re-enter. They also offer a salon for children ages 3-12 years old called Painted Sky. They offer many different salon options including something similar to the parks Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where your child can be transformed into their favorite character.
The dining at Aulani is nothing short of spectacular. They have many different options for whatever type of atmosphere or food you are looking for. From a poolside lounge called Off the Hook that serves light fare and cocktails, to their signature dining at Ama'Ama' (which also has a whole entire story about how it was constructed) that serves all three meals, to little snack shops located along the resort property serving thing like Hawaii's famous shaved ice or Disney's popular Dole Whip and of course their Ulu Cafe serving anything from Ahi Tuna Bowls to bagels. If you are staying for a long time and looking for something new and different you can also consider walking right across the street to the Ko Olina market area and dine at one of their yummy restaurants. We actually ate at a place called Just Tacos one night while we were visiting. If you are a fan of fish tacos, this place is a must!
While you are here you can book many different adventures to take part in. We took advantage of the Hawaiian Ocean Adventures canoe ride (yes, they call this boat a canoe). The guides were so full of Hawaiian education and stories that between that and the view of the area, we never wanted it to end. We also visited the Kualoa Ranch and did a movie site tour that was one of my favorite things I have done in my travels to date.
We were lucky enough to attend KA WA‘A – A Lū‘au at Aulani that is so well done that I would have paid twice to attend again. When you are a VIP guest all cocktails and food are included and you also get to enter a half hour before the general public guests. There are many pre Lu'au activities such as Ukulele lessons, tattoos, and lei making so having the extra half hour with less crowds is a huge added bonus.
We walked away from this trip to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, a little changed. Learning all about the Hawaiian culture, seeing the beauty Aulani has to offer, and feeling the true love of the island the people have for it has taught us more about the world and how we want to travel. I personally can not wait to return with the rest of my family and we are so excited to create memories for our clients to share with their families for many years to come.
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