When you enter the property it is lush with beautiful trees. The friendly Aloha spirit is felt the minute you step out of your car. Women and men are given beautiful Lei. Children have their own welcoming gift of a Menehune necklace (Menehune are shy mischievous people of Hawaiian Islands that are gifted and magical).
What really opens your eyes and makes you say “wow” is the lobby. It is a tall entry way with Polynesian style of architecture. Your eyes look at the pictures telling a story of the people and the land. Then you are drawn to the ocean in the distance while looking at the Waikolohe Valley (the name of the recreation area) in the foreground.
The resort has 351 guest rooms including 16 suites and 481 multi-bedroom suites. My family and I stayed in an Island Garden View with two queen-size beds. We had a beautiful view of the garden, mountains and a partial view of the ocean. The resort is large, but it is easy to navigate. Every evening the daily ‘IWA (schedule) is available for the next day. It lists activities for the ‘Ohana (family), Keiki (children) and ‘Opio (youth 13-17years old).
We started our morning with a 6:30am stretch class by the ocean. It was a perfect way to start the day and the classes change each day. We had breakfast at ‘Ama’Ama which is an oceanfront restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was fantastic! It is one of two restaurants on property that reservations are highly recommended. The other restaurant is called Makahiki named after the annual Hawaiian festival celebrating the season of bounty. The service is buffet style and they are opened for breakfast with Disney characters and dinner.
The ‘Olelo Room a lounge open for bar fare in the evening. I thought the concept for the lounge was brilliant. Everything has a word on it. For example the word ‘Noho’ was written on the top of the chairs; since it is the Hawaiian word for ‘chair’. The whole lounge is meant to be interactive for the guests to speak with the cast and to learn about the Hawaiian language and culture.
Truly the greatest kids club is the wonderful Aunty’s Beach House. Throughout the day they have activities for children. Some require sign up because space is limited. You can arrange to have your children eat lunch or dinner based on availability and for an additional fee. Aunty’s Beach House has something for every child's interest. Plenty of rooms with different crafts, a movie room that looks dark and stormy so you want to sit and watch the movie, and a big jungle gym in the backyard to run around.
There is even more to do in the Waikolohe Valley. There are two water slides, one of them is called Tubestone Curl. It empties out into the lazy river so you can relax and let the river move you. The resort also has three pools. One is an infinitely pool that looks out to the stunning ocean. If you swim underwater you can hear whale sounds. There is a larger pool where they do activities as well as an adult only pool. Another unique aspect of the resort is the Rainbow Reef. This is a live reef with incredible aquatic life. The cast makes sure it is kept pristine and have you follow special guidelines when entering.
The beach is wonderful, complimentary boogie boards and snorkels are available. Since it is a lagoon it is easy for young children to play in the water. Paddleboards are available for an additional fee. I have been wanting to paddleboard for awhile and it was fantastic! Quite the workout. The lagoon is shared with the neighboring Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko Olina. The Luau called KA WA’A is definitely a must see. It is right on property and as of now performed twice a week. They offer pre-show activities and the buffet highlights Hawaiian cuisine.
The Laniwai Spa is stunning. It is the only spa on O’ahu to offer Kula Wai an outdoor hydrotherapy garden. This is another example of bringing Hawaiian rituals and beliefs into the setting. The signature treatment is the traditional Hawaiian Lomilomi. This massage technique is passed down from generation to generation. The Laniwai offers many different spa treatments. My family and I were having such a wonderful time at the resort, we only left one night for dinner to a restaurant across the street at Ko’Olina Station.
I really enjoyed being at Aulani for several reasons. Here are my top five:
1. The Aloha spirit of warmth and inclusion is felt the minute you arrive till you depart.
2. The Hawaiian stories and history are woven into the fabric of the resort.
3. Aunty’s Beach House was fantastic place for the children. They kept asking to go back!
4. The resort has many activities. Golf at the top rated Ko Olina Golf Club can be arranged.
5. It is a wonderful place for a family, multi-generational as well as couples to vacation.
I could go on for pages about all the fantastic activities and feel about the resort. Our
experience did exactly what we wanted which was much needed relaxation, new experiences
and fun. I look forward to our next vacation to Aulani - A Disney Resort and Spa. Next time will
explore all the wonder O’ahu has to offer.
Dana has more travel advice to share and recently completed the
Hawaii Destination Specialist Program. Contact her today to book your next trip.