We are DVC members since it first started 20-years ago. We booked 7-months in advance and I suggest you do the same if you want to stay here. As it gets more popular that might not even guarantee you get the dates you want. Also keep in mind that this resort is still very new (opened Aug. 2011) and kinks are being worked out, plus there is the “Hawaiian attitude” which is much more laid back than Silicon Valley. We were able to stay here only because we are DVC members; it’s way too expensive otherwise.
While we (2 adults, 2 older teenagers) definitely enjoyed the resort, it was teaming with adolescent children and infants because the resort definitely caters to families. I can see it being very busy come peak times so if you don’t want to be surrounded by children, many of whom are not watched closely by adults, then I suggest you pick a time other than peak times of summer and holidays.
Check out all the particulars including accommodations, services, etc. on-line at http://resorts.disney.go.com/aulani-hawaii-resort/
Wonderful accommodations as one would expect from Disney. Large resort with (6) connected buildings with about (12) floors of rooms/suites/villas. We stayed in a one-bedroom villa (sleeps 5) which included a full living room, kitchen, eating area, washer/dryer. Reminiscent of the villas at Disney’s Grand Californian.
Because the resort is accessible to non-guests (who would love to enjoy all that Aulani has to offer without paying the cost of staying there), those who are guests are given daily color-coded wristbands to wear in order to use the various facilities and activities. From some of the reviews I’ve read, some guests were unhappy with this policy but it’s non-intrusive and I think it’s necessary.
– There is a lazy river, water slides, double-decker infinity spa overlooking the beach, several pool/wading areas, a couple additional Jacuzzis. Pathways meander throughout all these areas. At night, the lighting is very reminiscent of Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom in Florida.
– There is an adjoining beach area surrounding a lagoon that is shared with the other timeshare hotels on either side of Aulani. Lounge chairs, umbrellas, sand toys and games are free and first-come, first-served.
– For additional fees there is kayak and paddle board rentals ($20+/hr) , feeding the stingrays ($50 pp – a lot of fun), a small lagoon for snorkeling ($40 adult) (they also have glass viewing areas along one of the sides)
Activities and Entertainment
– There is something going on for everyone throughout the entire day. You could easily not leave the resort and still enjoy yourself with something to do other than lay in the sun.
– Disney characters’ breakfast and photo ops during the day with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Stitch, Chip & Dale
– Outdoor Disney movies, storytelling, musical duets and trios, live shows, exercise facilities and classes, and fee-based activities like stargazing ($39 pp)
– On-site Tour agency for booking excursions (can also be done on-line) but expect to pay more than if you did it on your own before arriving. I researched and booked our activities about (3) weeks before we arrived. (Lori Jay at Tom Barefoot’s Tours – firstname.lastname@example.org)
As expected there were options (simple to fancy) to eat on-site but also as expected, it’s expensive and not necessarily worth the cost. There are also multiple bar locations. I think we only ate (3) meals on-site (one of which resulted in stomach problems for my daughter). We shopped at the local stores and ate several meals “at home” as well as at nearby restaurants.
The resort is located on the West coast of Oahu about 40min drive NW of Honolulu airport. The area looks more like desert than the typical image of a lush, tropical Hawaiian island. Driving around the island is easy but there is definitely traffic during the week and it can be congested getting into Honolulu and Waikiki. Be ready to slow down with not only driving, but your attitude. Freeways are 50-55mph with a minimum speed posting.
There are a couple large shopping centers just a 5-min drive south of Ko’Olina resort area including Target, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Longs, and lots of food places like Chili’s, Pizza Hut, Subway, etc. There is also a new area across the street from Aulani still in growing stages with Joe’s Tacos (nice Mexican restaurant and bar with 300 tequila offerings), a Hawaiian BBQ/Asian food and an ice cream parlor, plus a small market.
Must do’s …
– Try to get an ocean view room – it is amazing and can be enjoyed from the balcony
– Enjoy the pools, spas, slides and especially the warm ocean water and clean beach
– Stingray experience, watch an outdoor movie, sit and listen to live music
– Outside excursions including Pearl Harbor/USS Arizona and Battleship Missouri, Dolphin Excursions, Hawaii Surf School, Hawaiian Parasailing, rent a car and explore on your own ‘cuz it’s pretty easy to get around
Maybe . . .
– Germaine’s Luau (or any other luau’s) … show pretty good but food sucked and it’s expensive
Would we go again?
Possibly, because it is a beautiful resort. We enjoyed everything we did on-site including doing nothing. Everyone should go at least once.
Will we go again?
Not for awhile because there are other vacations we would like to do first before we redo this one