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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
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Reviewed 17 April 2012

Just got back from a five night stay at Aulani. We had a great time. We have had several Disney vacations in the past and enjoy Disney resorts. Some of our past favorites have been: Grand Californian, Animal Kingdom Villas, and Beach Club Villas. The villas were not available at the Aulani (we are not Disney Vacation Club members) so we booked 2 ocean view rooms. Overall, the rooms were large and clean. The showers were larger than most disney properties but may be difficult to access if you are a senior citizen. Housekeeping did a good job keeping the room in order. Check in was a breeze (we were in our rooms by 3 pm). The resort is very fun and beautiful. The pool and both slides were spectacular. Make sure you enjoy both slides, they were really very fun! Make sure to try the scavenger hunt game -The Menehune Trail. It was very clever and had some great special effects.

The Painted Sky was fun for my 2 tweens but they only have one Kinect game which was a bit of a bummer for my boy. He wanted to try it out - but there was always a line.

The beach was lovely and very calm (but no life guards). My tweens enjoyed the Stand Up Paddle Boarding for $30 per hour. An umbrella also cost $20 per day.

Rainbow reef was also $30 per day but you could get an everyday pass for $59. It was fun, especially during fish feeding at 1:30. If you want to snorkel in the ocean, it also costs $30 but there are less fish. The beach was very crowded and if you wanted something to eat, you have to walk up to the pool. It would be nice if Disney offered service on the beach.

The food was OK with 2 exceptions: 1. The dinner buffet was terrible (weird food- catfish in Hawaii? and expensive $40 for a 10 yo?). And 2. The Shaved Ices were incredible!!! Yum yum! Don't miss those!

I would recommend the breakfast buffet at the JW Marriot next door! Kids are 12 and under there (not 9 and under) and the food is better!

Overall, we had a great time but I probably won't be back. I just like my trips to Hawaii to be more laid back and less busy. The mood of the resort as quite frentic and the place still isn't fully open.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
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6  Thank LaneyCAL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 April 2012

My husband and I took our daughter, her husband and our two grand children aged nine and six to Aulani for a week the middle of March, 2012. Typical Disney. Meticulous attention to every detail in the resort from the design and architecture of the buildings to the smallest details of the landscaping and art work. The two bedroom two and a half bath "vacation home" was more than adequate with a full kitchen, large LR, washer/dryer, two balconies. In order to have a view over the pool area which has a "volcano water slide" in the middle, you need to be on the 6th floor or above. Rooms offering a "mountain view" actually look out to a parking garage and the back of the JW Marriott next door. All of the pools and water activities will keep any age kid happy and busy all day(including 60 something's). Our kids loved the lazy river and tube slide. The water slide is steep, fast and in the dark. After one slide, only our son in law went back. Lifeguards were EVERYWHERE and standing, patrolling all water features around the pools. The ocean lagoon and beach are beautiful and allowed the kids to snorkel and swim safely. Lots of rental equipment. Expensive. We brought our own snorkel equipment. All beaches in Hawaii are public and there were no lifeguards but the cabana staff was there if there had been a problem. My husband and I rented two person cabanas facing the beach($35 1/2 day and $45 full day). Our grandchildren are great swimmers and enjoyed the lagoon for swimming and the pool areas for water activities. We tried "Aunty's Beach House" one day. They did not stay and we felt it was for very small children and parents needing babysitting services. The kids did take the interactive hand held computers ( like an iPad) on a tour of the pool area called The Waikolohe Valley hunting for hidden Hawaiian Menehunes. They loved this and it was a good break from the water. Interacting with the sting rays and going into the fish tank was expensive and not a great experience. The ladies learned how to make fresh flower leis at the Hawaiian Crafts Class. Movie night under the stars and evening fire pit story telling were great endings to busy days in the sun.
Now for the NEGATIVES: when all the rooms are completed there will be over 3000 guests and they have 800 lounge chairs by the pools. They have staff patrolling the chairs and if you are away from your chair for more than an hour, they remove ALL of your belongings. When you have kids off in the pool areas, beach etc , it is difficult to time your absence from your chair! Very poor planning by "the Mouse" and stressful for hotel guests. ...DINING: Very Expensive for mediocre quality. The Makahiki Buffet Restaurant was the worst. There were flies and swarms of small bugs all over the food stations. I complained about this and they admitted they were having a problem and had not been able to find a solution. They also said they had spoken to the JW Marriott next door which did not have this issue. The food selection was poor. At $43.00 per person, not worth it. The AMA AMA Restaurant overlooking the Ocean had a good menu and no bugs. Better for adults and older kids. There is a pool side casual cafe and another "Shrimp Shack" under construction. Be prepared for pricey meals. We enjoyed Roy's and the Marriott restaurants more than the Disney property restaurants. Walk down the beach pathway to the Marriott Time Share Resort for a great restaurant on the water with a terrific kid's menu, decent prices, no reservations. If you have a car, there is a Costco on your way to the resort from the airport. Better than shopping for breakfast/lunch items in the resort area.
If you are interested in attending a Luau, there is a very good one within walking distance called Paradise Cove. Go early to get a good table seating. There is an intra resort shuttle connecting all the properties and golf communities along KoOlina. Unless you want to visit other Oahu attractions, you do not need a car. There is a car rental agency on the Disney property. Our kids spent one day climbing Diamond Head and snorkeling on the North Shore. It was an $80.00 cab ride from the airport to the resort. We did not use any of the Spa facilities. Walking the 2 1/2 mile paved walkway connecting all of the resort lagoons was a great morning walk.
We had a wonderful vacation with our children and grand kids. My husband has one opinion when it comes to any Disney Resort Experience. You can always expect three things from "The Mouse": spectacular attention to everything about the resort; masterful entertainment for kids of all ages ; superior ability to separate parents and grandparents from their money. It is a long way to travel from the East Coast of the USA but we like taking Hawaiian vacations, and it was worth the travel to have our family together in such a beautiful spot.

Room Tip: To face the pools and ocean be sure your room is either at the ends of the buildings or above the sixth floor. Below this floor and you will see the "volcano" tube slide. Rooms facing "the mountains" look more at the parking garage and back side of the JW Marriott Hotel.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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3  Thank JMac28046
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 April 2012

Well, I finally got there. After several months of reading reviews (Good and Bad), I finally got to see it for myself. This is the first hotel I stayed at where the option of visitors can reach both side of extreme. From very good to very bad. So I was very intrigue to experience it for myself. All in all, I LIKE IT and I would go back again if given the chance. My kids (two girls) loved the place and at the end that is what I wanted, and what I got.
It is not perfect but it was close to it. This is my personal experience and yes, it is different from other visitors.

Parking:
$35.00 a day, cost more to park the car then the rental of the car :)
I think all hotels in HI charge a parking fee of about $10.00 a day so I am not sure why Aulani needed to charge more. (about the only negative point)

The room
I had a room in the 9th floor with two queen size bed, it was a standard room with an ocean view. We only use the room to take showers and sleep. We would leave around 8:00 am and not get back until 6 or 7 PM so for a place to crash at night, it was not bad at all. There was a cafe maker in the room and the cafe was not bad at all. There is a small refrigerator that we used to store food we bought across the street. Internet access was free :) about the only thing that was free.

The pool area (The towels & chair wars)
Every hotel now suffers from the same symptom, no chair available to sit if you show up around 12:00 PM, so most people will get up early to reserve all the chair they need and then some. Aulani had the same problem, however, each section is patrol by a towel person checking to see if anyone had reserve chairs and did not used them. If after 1 hour you were not back at your chair, they would remove the towels, store your personal belonging and give the chair to some else. Not sure how I feel about this policy. I think is good and bad, if you get up early to get a good spot while others sleep in and then get your stuff remove because you were too busy enjoying yourself, I am sure you will not be a happy camper. At the same time, if you are going on a tour and will not be there for several hours, it is not fair to others. I did not have a problem as I got to know the towel person and let them know I was there. Most people did the same thing however I did see her remove towels from chairs and people showing up wondering where their stuff was, they were not too happy about it.

There were a lot of people on Sunday, yet, I never felt crowed as there are lot of pools and of course the wonderful beach area. As many have mention, 1/3 of the hotel area still not open so I wonder how crowed is going to get once it is open. Can't wait to get a report, once they open. We did get the letter about the closing of a pool and water slide yet, they were open while we were still there. I am sure eventually they closed them and I agree they should have waited until spring break was over to do any work.

The Food & Restaurant.
I still wonder, if you are a member of this site and read all the reviews and know that if you want to dine or have breakfast at any of their restaurants, you need to make reservation before you leave for your trip, why there still people who complain when they can't get a table when they try to make a last minute reservation?
Tip: Go to their website and make reservations if you want to eat there before you leave. You can make as many reservations as you like.

Yet, as others have stated, it is extremely expensive to eat there. A party of 4, two adult, two children for dinner at any of their restaurant is more than $120.00 easily. I had dinner at both restaurant and the food was okay for me but at that price, I would expect more.
There are other choice near by and if you have a car, which you need just to get to the hotel, you can drive a few miles (about 3) to the near town. You will have many choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well at much lower prices. We ate at an the Italian restaurant, good food, cost $70.00, not bad.
Costco runs, you will probably hear this term a lot. It is a common thing for people to go to Costco to load up on anything they may need, including alcoholic drink, The hotel has no problems or restriction on bringing food into their property, so take the time to make a "Costco run".
If you don't want to drive, there a grocery store called "ABC" across the street. It has everything you may need, from personal stuff, food and gifts to bring home :)

The place is expensive, even for HI prices, but it is Disney resort after all. Once they attached the name to the place, you can expect to pay more but is it worth it....
Many people, including me, think so.
All in all, I am just glad I had a great time, my kids had a super great time and at the end that is all the matter :)

tour tip: If you plan a trip to Pearl Harbor, you can drive yourself there. There is plenty of parking space and you can spend as much time as you need. If you want to see all, you will probably need about 8 hours. Also reserve your tickets in advance by going to their website.
http://www.recreation.gov
You need to create an account but I think it will save you a lot of time.
We got reservation for 11:00 AM, got there at 9:00 am and they were selling ticket for the 3:00 PM tour.

Have fun :)

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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3  Thank gut73raf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 April 2012

My husband, son and I visitied the Aulani resort a few weeks ago and would rate it highly overall. Here are the hits and misses in my opinion. Hits: Auntie's Beach House, Pool Area, Spa, Service (excluding restaurant service), Cleanliness, and resort amenities/activities. Misses: Restaurant Service, Food and Options. Disney does a great job entertaining all guests. There's a little something for everyone. This is certainly a great place for families (as it is geared toward such) since parents can check in young ones into Auntie's Beach House for as much as is wanted (included in resort price) where children may be fed lunch and/or dinner for an additional fee. My son loved the place and if you spend a few minutes witnessing the staff interacting with the children as well as all of the options available to them you would understand why. The Pool area is like a mini waterpark. Now the bad news: we had very poor experiences with the waitstaff at the restaurants, which as a Disney Vacation Member I found shocking. Disney is known for their excellent service. Also, the restaurant options are slim: Buffet or Fancy sit down. Recently, Disney announced they will open another restaurant serving quick food near the pool. Perhaps this will help. Also, I'm sure that as I type this, they are trying to improve the customer service of the waitstaff. Essentially, you pay very expensive food prices to be somewhat ignored. In each of the three meals we had at the resort, we had a hard time finding our server. We aren't picky people...but at least two times it felt like our server left for the day or went on break. Oh...and the spa is super pricey, but worth every penny.

Room Tip: If you can splurge, it is worth booking a resort room (from a disney member) so that you are able to get a kitchen to cook some meals in. You could save a lot of money that way and Costco, Target, Walmart are in the adjacent towns.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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1  Thank Frances C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 April 2012

We just returned from Aulani for spring break 4-7-12 to 4-14-12.I have been looking at all of the reviews of this hotel since it opened.Anyboy that complains about this hotel should just chill out and enjoy,for gods sake you are in Hawaii! We had a room on the 14th floor ocean view,from our room you could see the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other,we did stay in a Vacation Club 1 bedroom which was fine for my wife and my two 8 and 9 year old daughters,they really liked the drop down bed from the entertainment center.We had flat screens in both of the rooms.I saw complaints about the food,we tried all of the restarants once including the breakfast with Mickey,Minnie and Goofey,yes the food is expensive but again people you are in Hawaii! The food was pretty good but nothing to bragg about.I also saw people complain about the music,it stops at 10:00 and again you are on vacation enjoy! we really enjoyed the pool,slides,lazy river and hot tubs,the only down side was the main hot tub and one of the slides closed in the middle of the week,but if have been to Disney these things happen and you just go on and enjoy.The shaved ice was really refreshing,if you go there be sure to order in the left line then pick them up in the second line,there are no signs showing this but the girls behind the counter let you know.As for the people that work there,from the day we walked in to the end everyone was so kind and helpfull.There are alot of things for the kids to do besides the pool for all ages(make sure you get reservatons if the kids want to swim with the stingrays,we missed out on that but were able to swi with the fish).I can see what some peole said about alot of kids but hey it is a Disney hotel! All in all go and have a great time as we did.

Room Tip: High floors are a must if you want the view
  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank scott h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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