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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
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Reviewed 13 December 2011

We spent 4 days at the Aulani resort in Dec 2011. The resort is brand new perhaps 2 months old when we visited, and it showed. Everything from the carpet, to the Mickey desk lamps are in mint condition. You pay for it, $400 a night for a ground floor, no view room.

Having said that the rooms are extremely well designed, a nice size, queen beds, quality furniture and a very good bathroom, support the $. The building, foyer and public areas are first class, possibly the best in Oahu. Equally the pool area, kids water play area, water slides, tube 'river' ride and your own beach (shared) are hard to beat.
Disney fans, we attended a character breakfast which was as good as any in Disneyland (from experience), with plenty of access to Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. Also they have a good programme of characters out by the pools, Chip n Dale, Stitch, Donald etc. and a well loved kids club.
I agree that food in general here is expensive, but there are several options for eating within 10 min drive or less. For those who are interested the shop has some nice souvenirs, merchandise. The money does quickly add up with $35 parking per day, and a few ice creams around the pool charged to your room, the bill may be a shock.

It's somewhat in the middle of nowhere, which is nice after Waikiki. Att shoppers, it is however 15min to the Premium Outlets.

If you want an all in one location, on site entertainment (Theme park worthy water-slides, pools, your own beach etc) + some Disney characters and good service, the $ probably equal the excellent experience.

Room Tip: Don't expect a free room or view upgrade. They enforce the $ here.
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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1  Thank TmanSydney_Australia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 December 2011

My husband and I stayed in a 1 bedroom timeshare villa at this resort the week before Thanksgiving 2011. Overall we had a nice time and would bring our children back here in the future.

If you are looking for a Disney experience with Mickey everywhere, this is NOT the place to be. If you have been to any of the other high-end Disney hotels before (i.e. the Grand Californian or Animal Kingdom Lodge), Aulani feels just like those hotels, except that it is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is luxurious, nicely Hawaiian themed, clean, spacious, and the staff are super friendly. The lobby has a wonderful connection with the outdoors because of the high ceilings and fold away glass doors; you really get a sense of being outside, and the views are magnificant.

Our 1 bedroom villa was nicely laid out and very clean. The slanted balconies are a bit awkward and not very large at all, but the we never felt closed in. We had been "upgraded" from a standard view to an island view, and that gave us a 5th floor location with an upclose view of the parking structure of the JW Marriott next door. I was quite disappointed with the island view. We later moved to an ocean view room, which was exactly the same but on the 10th floor. Still not particularly appealing, but we were able to see the ocean from that floor. The Grand Villas and the pool view side rooms have the best views, so be sure to request one of those if view is important to you.

The pool area is not well shaded, so the seats under the few umbrellas filled up quickly. Even though part of the hotel was not yet finished, we arrived at the pool right when it opened in order to secure the spots we wanted, and we did hear about folks getting their seats taken when they left, even if they had beach towels saving them. So be aware that prime pool seats are going to be a premium in the hotter summer months (we were there in November after all) and when the hotel is at full capacity.

There are two sets of cabanas, one by the main pool, and one by the little kid water park area. If you rent one of these, you may want to consider requesting a specific location since you may be expecting an ocean view only to be stuck next to screaming little ones.

The hotel is quite far from EVERYTHING to do on Oahu, and the only outside food within walking distance was the ABC store across the street, or the restaurants at the nearby hotels. These retaurants included Roy's, so budget friendly food is really nowhere to be found within walking distance.

One "poor" family I spoke with had taken a cab from the airport to the resort in order to avoid the $35/night parking fee (this is waived for villa guests), but breakfast for their family of 4 was close to $200, for ONE DAY. If you don't have a kitchen, you definitely need a car unless you plan on only eating Disney food the whole time, because even the little sundry store had little chose from.

If you do have a car, there is a Target and a Costco, and also a small organic grocery store, about 1.5 miles away. My husband and I went to Costco on the first night and picked up prime steaks, lobster, bread, passion fruit juice, pork jerky, seaweed salad, a big bottle of rum, and a few other snackies and such for food for the week, and it cost us about $350. We only ate out 3 times the rest of the trip, one was a shrimp truck, one was sushi on the way to the airport, and one was a luau that was part of a tour we had booked. We did not buy any food at any of the restaurants at the hotel. I heard from other guests that the food was good, but overpriced. So those of you who chose to stay in the hotel, I hope you like eating out alot and don't mind paying for it.

I had originally booked a spa pass for one day, but was told that there were no in-out priviledges...once you leave, that's it. So I cancelled that. The spa pass would have been $45. May be worth it in the future if you want privacy and to get away from the crowds at the resort, but now the trip we were there.

The resort was very relaxing, but it was quite far from Honolulu, Waikiki, and the North Shore. Traffic is HORRIBLE. Even though it is approx. 17 miles away, it took us nearly 1.5 hours to get from the resort to Waikiki for the catamaran tour we had booked. It will also take you 1.5 hours to get back to the resort after 5pm. By the 3rd day, we decided to just stay at the resort, drink rum and passion fruit, and lay out by the pool so we could avoid the traffic. But if you want to do any activities outside the resort, be mentally prepared for a long commute even if the distance is short.

All in all, I enjoyed the resort, but found it remote and highly inconvenient (and expensive!) if you don't have a car. Since we didn't go very many places and had a car, this didn't bother us too much, but did discourage us from exploring more of the island. The Ko 'Olina area shuts down after dark, so if you want night life, you'll have to brave going into Waikiki, and the only things really open there are bars and restaurants.

That being said, we had a nice time and would return with our little ones in the future.

Room Tip: Be aware that rooms on the bottom floors don't have enclosed patios. Island view probably not worth the extra cost (unless you like seeing parking structures). If you can afford it, get a room with a kitchen to save $$$ on food.
  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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16  Thank Raivyn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 December 2011

Thank you to my company for treating its employees to a stay at this fabulous new resort. We experienced the Menehune interactive Trail, met all of the characters Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Stitch, meandered down the lazy river, raced down the water slides (the Volcano Vertical is a completely enclosed, dark, super fast slide!) - loads of picture taking opportunities and (mostly) handsome young lifeguards! The rooms were spacious and very well appointed, housekeeping brought me a microwave with serving utensils and plates (we brought food in, the reason why in a bit), and turn down service included a washcloth folded in the shape of an orchid, my house slippers and robe laid out for me. All rooms have an ocean view on some level. The details down to a consciousness for energy sustainability (eg ADA accessibility and Electric Vehicle parking stalls and charging stations), original Kealii Reichel music for Aulani greeting you upon entry, orchid or Kukui nut lei, are all noticed and appreciated. (Reichel's CD of the new Aulani music is not available for sale at their gift shop). Ok the food - in a word - substandard, for a resort like this. I had 3 meals - a breakfast, lunch, and dinner - none in my opinion were satisfactory. Service was exemplary, food was tasteless and forgettable.

I have to review the Spa...Yesterday (12/10/11) I had the pleasure of indulging in the state's only outdoor hydrotherapy garden at Laniwai Spa at Aulani, A Disney Resort.  As a guest of the hotel my cost was $45 to enjoy the facility without a treatment (for non-hotel guests I believe the day pass is more than $100). I was told I could spend as long as I wanted there for the day, but I could not have in and out privileges. I stayed for about four hours.

I was shown a tour of this amazing facility by Becka. She described the essence of Laniwai and its central theme of water and the importance of water in our bodies and of our land. I selected a rock with the word "Listen" which was my word for the day. Throughout my journey of the day, Listening proved to me the best advice to help me savor and appreciate the sounds that surrounded me. 

The hydrotherapy garden consisted of a cool bubble tub that can double as an aromatherapy bath, and it had adjustable temperatures that cold be warmed to almost a room temperature so I could relax in there for a long time. The eucalyptus tub contained warm water (102 degrees) with herbs beneficial for relaxing sore muscles or relieving jet lag.  The herbs in another warm tub contained herbs for detoxification.  Drink lots of water, Becka advised, or I would wonder in three days why I am so thirsty...There was a reflexology foot path, a cold plunge pool set to a bone chilling 52 degrees, and jacuzzi that was about 104 degrees, and six experience showers that were sensitive to motion. There was one shower that try as I might, despite numerous gyrations, could not be activated. I'm sure the woman lounging on a nearby chair witnessed some bonus entertainment while I danced around trying to get the one defective shower to start its cycle.

While outside I was offered cold water by Margo and a cold towel by a gentleman. 

Inside, I warmed up in the dry cedar sauna, grabbed a cold cloth from the chiller, and sat in the wet eucalyptus steam room.  The temperature here was perfect. 

Then on to the co-ed relaxation room which was most impressive and proved to enhance the peaceful end to my journey. I refreshed with some pineapple iced water, fruits, chocolates and gummi bears, then settled in under a soft downy comforter blanket, booster pillow for me knees, and my snacks.  The staff is top notch and very attentive, always inviting me to let them know if there is anything I need.  Becka and Margo were especially attentive during my visit, offering three kinds of teas and - this is the best part - a heated neck cushion and heated eye pillow.  After putting those on, I drifted in to a deep state of relaxation and nirvana....

They do a tour every morning and another at 6pm at night that includes a tour of the relaxation room I was in, but Margo let me know ahead of time and I was about to leave.  Also, the relaxation room can get a bit noisy as therapists come in and out calling out last names of clients waiting for their appointment. The doors kind of slam and people from the hydrotherapy garden also use a different entrance that can create another source of disruption. 

With a cleansing shower I felt so renewed and rejuvenated.  It was a wondrous experience. 

Next time, I will have a treatment too, as the hydrotherapy garden and other amenities are all included with a treatment! The prices for the treatments are on the high side, and there are no Kamaaina discounts, but Disney Vacation Club members I believe are entitled to receive a free service upgrade. 

All in all a nice experience at Aulani. Good job, Disney!

  • Stayed: December 2011
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3  Thank keagirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 December 2011

As soon as you drive up, it takes your breath away. You walk in and you greeted with fresh flower lei, the entrance is astonishing, breathtaking and just heavenly. We were guide to check in desk, and walked to our room. Every where we went we were greeted; the staff was friendly, courteous and catering at all time. Even the clean up crew would stop polishing lamp post, just to greet us. The housekeeper check in on us twice a day, brought us fresh towels, and left us towel with orchid on our bed. We decided not to dine in, due to bad reviews, overbooked reservation. We stocked our kitchen, with local food from Food land groceries; and eat out at local lunch truck. (Which were delicious and cheap for family of four.) Play in beautiful beach during the day, rode the lazy river, watch the stars and listen to local Hawaiian and xmas live music from the Makahiki, played with Mickey, Goofy, and Donald on their daily appearance, listen to sunrise/ sundown chant, story of Hawaii were told night by Uncle, (He was charismatic.), The whole Aulani experience was a beautiful dream.

Room Tip: Views are beautiful regardless where you stay, it's Hawaii.
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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3  Thank chatyo01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 December 2011

We booked 5 nights here through American Airline Vacations for a reasonable deal including air fare and car hire. First - what's good about the place. The staff were numerous and very friendly, welcoming and helpful. The room was spacious, comfortable and well furnished.

Now to the bad part. Immediately on arrival we were told that we would be charged $35/night for parking our rental car. No advance warning or negotiation - the staff just smiled at us and said the parking spaces were expensive! (it was only $5/day to park at our home airport)

Next, the prices charged for food are exorbitant. The buffet breakfast was poor in quality and cost $27. If you happen to want to eat there when the 'characters' are around, the price goes up to $35. The a la carte continental breakfast is just as bad pricewise - $4 for a muffin or a croissant. Take a tip - just up the road is a McDonalds which will sell you a nourishing 'local' breakfast meal for less than $6.

Finally, the noise. This was a bad choice for we retired folks. We had visited the island to see our friends in Honolulu and had picked this hotel to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. What we hadn't expected was the massive water park in the centre. What with the constant sound of falling water and hoards of screaming kids, coupled with the constant sound of a machine cutting stone, (construction is ongoing) we stayed way from the place as long as possible. I suppose it was our fault for picking a Disney resort - we should have known!

The price scalping is another thing though and I advise people to look elsewhere.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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15  Thank Martin C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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