Monday, October 17, 2011

Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa, sounds amazing right. Disney building a hotel in Hawaii the perfect match. I can not even begin to tell you all the beauty of this place. Disney has outdone themselves by far with this property. George and I had pretty high expectation, as we usually do, and Aulani exceeded every single one of them. It is amazing, beautiful, breathtaking, fun, way more than either of us could have ever imagined. I will start from the very beginning..

The drive over to Ko'Olina from the airport was very easy, the roads are marked well and the directions are very easy to follow. For my DVC friends there is a Target, Costco, Denny's,Outback Steakhouse, McDonalds along with some other stores that I don't recall at the exit just before Ko'Olina so you can stop and get your grocery shopping done before heading over to the hotel. As you come off the highway into Ko'Olina it is simply beautiful. They have a security guard at the entrance that will ask which resort you are checking into and then he will check the list and give you directions, this was really the "call ahead" that we were on the way in. As we pulled up the Valets opened the car doors with "Aloha Mr. and Mrs. Raub".... Ooooooo nice touch. You are then greeted by a Cast Member that gives you Leis and a small tour of the lobby area, with a little history as they walk you to the front desk (yea don't know how but George and I missed them and they came running up to the front desk to give us our Leis as we were checking in apologizing profusely that we managed to slip passed them).

The hotel itself is stunning. Much like everything else in Hawaii it is Open Air. They have huge glass doors that fold away as if they were never even there. When you are standing out front in the valet loop you can look straight through to the back of the hotel and the breeze that comes through is amazing. There are no words for the lobby, it is breathtaking, the breeze is amazing, there is a lot of history brought into it and lots of separate seating areas for lounging. Take some time to just relax and enjoy the lobby atmosphere it is really awesome.

We had a 1 bedroom Villa on the 14th (ok well 13th but...) floor 1458 and it was beyond words. We had gone to Disney's Saratoga Springs and seen the "rooms" so we knew what to expect but you just can't "know what to expect" when you add in the amazing views. The 1 bedrooms are set up to sleep 5 but the 5th bed is ingenious... You have the typical King in the bedroom; Pull out sleeper sofa in the living room BUT... the hidden bed, that was very well thought out. The Entertainment Unit in the living room has 2 handles on it and a single bed foldsout from it, Didn't see that coming! The rooms are set up slightly different than the 1 bedrooms at WDW and are a little larger, the kitchen cabinetry is beautiful and George and I liked that the dining table was a wrap around bench with 2 extra pull out seats rather than having a bar top. In keeping with the Hawaii open air theme, the sliding glass doors have screens on them, nice touch!!!! Our view was AMAZING. We looked out over the pool and the ocean and had a great view of sunset.

Oh the pool... Move over Yacht and Beach Club your baby sister Aulani is giving you a run for the money. The pool is unbelievable. There is a lazy river with a plethora of tubes, single or double that you can float around. They have 2 slides, one you ride on the tube (again double or single) and one that you don't. There are several spas through out but the coolest on is an infinity spa at the back of the resort that over looks the ocean. There is also an actual pool behind the lazy river and an adult pool completely separate from it all. As for the kids section, what can I's Disney... awesome!! It was so cool looking George kept saying we needed to bring Wade back with us cause he was his "ticket" into the kids section... LOL... Also in the pool area is the Sting Ray area where you can go and feed them as well as Rainbow Reef where you can snorkel with the tropical fish *Rainbow Reef is an additional fee but was a pretty good deal for the length of stay pass* My only complaint about the pool was, it is for Aulani guests only so you have to show your room ID and get a wristband everyday. I like this BUT the location to get the wristbands is not a central location and kind of a pain in the butt. You have to go through the pool area and around to the back where they give out the towels to get the wristband, it was just kind of annoying having to walk past the pool and back around to get them but hey, if that's my only complaint we are doing good. Also behind the pool is a shared lagoon which was really nice too if you like the swimming in the ocean.

Food... hmmmmm... We were a little, ok a lot, disappointed with the Buffet. Not the food but the price. The food was REALLY good, but the cost per person was a little outrageous for a buffet. The restaurants were all really good and the quick service (while not so "quick") was exceptional. And don't forget to get Shave Ice... The station is by the pool by where you get the wristbands, they are huge and super Yummy! Across the street from the hotel is a new shopping area that has food too, Ko'Olina Station. It just opened so there were only a few shops open right now but here they are, "Just Tacos Mexican Grill" , "Hawaiian BBQ", "Island Country Market Deli" and "Two Scoops Ice Cream". We ate at the BBQ and I will say you can pretty much order one meal and share it they are HUGE. And we saw the menu at the Deli and it looks really good. Also the Island Country Market is just that a little Market. They have a nice little store with the basics, bread, milk, cold cuts, some meats, sodas, Cereal, etc. The prices were the same as Target so something to keep in mind if you don't feel like going to Target or you realize you need something and don't want to go out for "just that one little thing" you can run across the street and get it. this web page has all the restaurants in Ko'Olina in case you want to check out the other hotel options too!

Disney has done amazing things here in Hawaii. You know you have exceeded expectations when it is someone’s first trip to Hawaii and they never want to leave the hotel. Every day they have "the daily 'IWA" which is like a cruise ship navigator. It tells you everything that is going on at the hotel that day, along with sunrise and sunset times. There are Character Greetings (Mickey, Minnie, Stitch, Goofy), Pool parties (with Chip and Dale), Hawaiian Crafts, Nature and Wildlife Tours, Evening Star Gazing, Firepit Storytelling, they have a bus that will take you across the island to go shopping on Tues, Thurs and Sat (reservations are required). They do outdoor Movie night, while we were there they showed "Finding Nemo" and their signature evening event Aulani Starlit Hui (Monday and Thursday) it's hard to explain but it’s really fun. There really was SO much going on ALL day long. There was lots for the Kids too! Oh and be sure to do the Menehune Adventure Trail I thought George was being silly when he suggested it but we had a lot of fun and learned new things about the History and meaning behind some of the things in the hotel!

So what can I say, I think I used all the good adjectives... Amazing, Breathtaking, Stunning, Georgeous, Beyond words, exceeded our expectation... THE BEST PURCHASE WE HAVE EVER MADE! I can not say enough about Aulani. The Cast Members were top notch. Hawaiian culture is amazing and they are all very eager to share it with you. Rod at the Shave Ice told us the best place to go and check out "where the locals go" just in general conversation while getting a Shave Ice... Aina at the Concierge became a friend in 5 short days, he was so awesome, and Hi'Ilani what can I say she is AMAZING. Hi'Ilani is one of the greeters she stands out among the rest by far. She is very tall, has a great smile and is so very personable. We pretty much attacked her on the first day because she had a beautiful flower arrangement (it wasn't "just a flower") in her hair, which we found out later Aina made for her! She shared so much with us, about the Iwa Bird, the Taro Patches in front of the hotel, The Totem Poles... little stories about Hawaii and the culture! One thing she said was that "Sometimes we are put into people's lives for a reason" ... I could not agree more! I can not wait to go back to Aulani to see my new Friends... WELCOME HOME!

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in. ~Robert Orben

1 comment:

  1. oh Amy! That sounds so amazing!! Just from your description alone we are sold! We must go and take the kids in the future. I am so happy you got to experience that.