Every photo has a story.
By Julie Ann.
When most people think of Hawaii, they think Oahu and that most famous stretch of beach – Waikiki. While the area has been a main stay for tourists for decades, there’s a new player on the island – Disney’s Aulani Resort – and the town of Ko’Olina is quickly becoming a sought after vacation hot spot. Set in a tranquil location, this brand new resort has everything you or your family could ever need. Here’s three fabulous reasons you’ll want to skip Waikiki and head straight to Disney’s new Aulani Resort.
1) Hawaiian Architecture and Art
Now, I have been to numerous hotels throughout the world, many of them Disney Deluxe properties. Honestly, none of them can hold a candle to Aulani. Once you turn into Ko’Olina, which is a somewhat gated area, the first thing you see are the canoe shaped towers of Aulani, along with dense Hawaiian foliage and tranquil waterfall formations. We were also greeted by tiki torches everywhere, creating a warm and inviting glow. You will be provided with Koa Nut necklaces and lemon water, and you then walk through the open air lobby – which in itself was a true sight to behold. Flanked with indigenous colorful paintings, local wood carved into meticulously intricate patterns, and the sounds of original recordings by Hawaiian artist Keali’I Reichel, you are transported to another world.
Cast members are eager to teach you about the Hawaiian culture through daily tours. Throughout the property, you will find plaques with Hawaiian facts, and a bar/breakfast area called Olelo that teaches you Hawaiian words. Disney really played to their strength in storytelling at Aulani, making it more of a mixture of a Disney Deluxe Resort and an Epcot Showcase combined, rather than just a simple resort.
2. Incredible Water Paradise
Aulani’s “waterpark,” the Waikolohe Valley, which overlooks the ocean, is a imcredible sight to behold. For the ultimate location, try to secure a comfy lounge chair near the Rainbow Reef. The Rainbow Reef is Aulani’s on-site snorkeling reef. You don’t have to snorkel to see the fish, as there are viewing windows with seating available. Fish are fed twice a day. The pool area was top-notch. Resort guests enjoy a lazy river with surprises along the way, two water slides, a volcano in the middle with subtly carved Hawaiian animal life and smoke eruptions, two infinity hot tubs, two regular hot tubs, a zero entry pool, and a Menehue water activity area for kids.
Even with so much going on, the pool area still proved to be relaxing and tranquil. Hawaiian music is piped into the area through speakers, and watching the lagoon area from the pool deck was especially nice. While the pool wasn’t too crazy with noise or children, there is a quiet adult pool option as well. Do take the time to swim in the lagoon in front of the resort– you can also snorkel here, and since it is protected, it is a nice and calm swim. There weren’t too many fish, but it was still worth it. You can bring your own snorkel gear and water shoes, which definitely came in handy, since the area is a bit rocky. You can rent snorkel sets for the day from the beach side stand. A great suggestion is to take a walk around the area past the Aulani resort too, especially past the J W Marriott and onto the beach path.
3) Activities Galore
Each day, Aulani delivers a copy of the day’s ”EWA” to your room. The EWA is a listing of all the activities they have for the day. Let me tell you – you could spend weeks here and not be able to participate in all the activities, which are conveniently broken down in terms of audience – i.e. adults, ohana (family), teens, or keiki (kids). While some activities require an additional cost, such as the Rainbow Reef Snorkeling and the Makai Stingray reserve – where you can swim with stingrays, most of the activities that run all day are free. There is an interactive Menehue trail similar to that of a Kim Possible Adventure at Epcot, guided walking tours of the art and architecture of the resort, nature walks, fitness classes, fire pit storytelling and plenty for kids to do at Aunty’s Beach house.
It is only held on select nights, so you should find out what night they are performing when you check in.
You’ll want to get to this show at least a half an hour before it begins to get a good seat. There are on mats on the floor, so dress appropriately.
What could be holding you back?
Be prepared, because a stay at Aluani is pricey. You are looking at a nightly price tag of about $459.
Airfare is not included in your resort cost, so that will need to be factored in, as will food.
Let’s go back to price. With that nightly price tag of $459, at that rate, is it really worth the stay? Absolutely. But the reality is, because of this high cost, this resort may be unattainable for a lot of Disney lovers. This may be changing however, as Disney opens the final installment of the resort, leaving room for DVC members to rent out the weeks that they are not using.
Also, while being isolated in Ko’Olina is kind of nice, if this is your only stop on your Hawaii trip, you will most likely want to rent a car to experience the rest of the island. That’s an additional expense. At present, there are a few excursions at Aulani to help you see the island, but they are very expensive.
So what do you think? Is Aulani next on your list of Disney experiences? Or will paying less for a hotel in Waikiki do the trick? Leave us some comments and let us know what you think.
Thanks for coming along for a photographical ride, and hopefully we’ll see you in Ko’Olina!
Julie Ann lives in Connecticut with her boyfriend and her two dogs. When she isn’t working her day job, she is planning for her next Disney trip and writing for her blog, To A T Travel. She has been to Walt Disney World countless times over the past 30 years and looks forward to a Dole Whip each time. Her favorite park is EPCOT and her newest favorite location is Aulani.
Be sure to stop by To A T Travel and see some more fabulous Aulani photography. The resort looks simply amazing!
See ya soon!
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