View Full Version : Aulani 1wk Hotel stay

12-06-2011, 12:07 AM
My wife (the Mel in Travlrmel) had to use a week of vacation before the end of the year or loose it. We talked about going to Hawaii, but all our DVC points are used up for upcoming trips. We saw a Aulani package on AA.com so we went for it. Thought it would be a good idea to at least check it out in case we wanted to add-on points to make it a home resort.

Day1: We had an early flight so we thought it would be best to just stay up the night. The flight from Denver to Dallas was uneventful. The flight from Dallas to Honolulu felt like it would never end. It was a long flight to begin with (8.5hrs), but we were delayed in Dallas by an additional 2.5hrs because the plane was broken. The itinerary said that a meal was served, but we found out that only 1st class got a meal. They had sandwiches and salads for sale, but by the time the cart got to us, it was sold out.

Rented a car, which was surprisingly cheap, and drove out to the property. We stopped at Wendy's and finally got dinner. One thing we noticed was that Wendy's there sells Chili and Rice, I love Chili and rice.

When we got to the Ko Olina guard house, they had our name and directed us to the resort. We were greeted with a Lei, flower for my wife and kukui nut for me. I brought tabu to put on the chief's grave but never found it. It didn't give me any bad luck though. Since we stayed on the hotel side we were supposed to pay the ridiculous $35/day for parking even though we were DVC members. We managed to get it waived though.

Didn't see much of the resort since we arrived so late.

We did find a few hidden Mickeys on the way to our room




*Travel tips learned on the first day
Grab a sandwich for the long plane ride, regardless of what the ticket says
Try to get the parking fee waived if possible

12-06-2011, 12:59 AM
Day 2:

Another early day, but it wasn't too bad since we were still on mainland time. We had a tour scheduled with Ocean Adventure for a snorkel trip. The trip is most likely the same one listed on the "Adventures by Disney Explorer Package" as the description is exactly the same as ours. We paid extra and tried Snuba, a cross between snorkel and scuba, no certification needed. The price we paid was about $40/person less than the Disney package. We bought from http://koolinaoceanadventures.com






After the snorkel trip, we had a couple hours before we headed next door to Paradise Cove for a Luau. We made an appointment with the DVC rep to tour the model. The hotel room differs from the DVC rooms. In the end, we went ahead and added on some points. Didn't get too many pics of the room, but they are well documented in spleen's TR http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2842173





We bought a Snorkel/luau package which dropped the price of the luau. It was at Paradise Cove which is just down the street from Aulani. We walked since it wasn't far. It was a bit touristy, but this being our first trip, a luau was definitely on the agenda. There is Deluxe upgrade but it didn't seem like it was worth the extra expense. It looked like the only difference was better seating for the show, better leis, and full food service instead of self-serve buffet.



*Travel tips from day 2
If you are interested in an excursion, drill down to find out who is actually giving the tour. Cutting out the middle man will make it more affordable.
Paradise Cove is close to the property, no need to drive.
Don't bother with the deluxe package at the luau

12-06-2011, 01:11 AM
We stopped at Wendy's and finally got dinner. One thing we noticed was that Wendy's there sells Chili and Rice, I love Chili and rice.
McDonalds has Portuguese Sausage Rice and Eggs :love:

Try to get the parking fee waived if possible
How do you manage that?

12-06-2011, 01:29 AM
McDonalds has Portuguese Sausage Rice and Eggs :love:

I'll get to that, we got some on day 6. I actually preferred the Spam. We were there when they changed over from breakfast to lunch so we managed to get a Banana pie also.

12-06-2011, 01:49 AM
Beautiful pictures!

12-06-2011, 03:51 AM
Day 3:

Nothing planned for this day, it was a slack day to relax. We went off property to get some breakfast. Found the Koa Pancake House not too far away. Got a local favorite, the Loco Moco. For those that don't know what it is, it is a hamburger patty over rice, with a fried egg and brown gravy on top. I loved it.


Spent some time in the lazy river and hot tubs, hung out at the pool area mostly. There was some construction going on in the pool area. I had a theory about what it was and it was confirmed by one of the lifeguards. There was a slight berm bordering the landscaping with rocks embedded in it. We were told that people would trip on them and get hurt daily. They were removing them and installing a decorative border. They should be finished in about 2 weeks. You have to make sure to bring your room key to a cabana to get a wrist band. The wrist band is how they can tell the guests from intruders. You have to get a new one every day, I saw folks with a whole arm full.



We also checked out the beach area but didn't go in. You can rent kayaks, paddleboards, etc. It was really nice and the water was very calm because it was a protected cove. We left our room key on the chaise lounge and couldn't get back in. Make sure you have it or you'll have to wait for somebody to exit the gate in order to get back in.


We had a late lunch, walked around the resort and took more pics.




Went to the gift shop and my wife got a mug. They reduced the price! I saw a pic where they were charging $32 for a mug! The price is now a somewhat reasonable (for Disney) $19

*Travel Tips from day 3
Get your wrist band for the pool
Have your room key on you if you go out to the beach area

Update from Melody (the "mel" in travlrmel) -
I got up early this morning at joined the yoga class. The daily "Iwa" provided a schedule of the activities. The schedule was also on the tv - on the local DVC channel. Yoga was held outside under the beautiful sky and breeze. The instructor was very good, and demonstrated various levels for the moves, so anyone could follow along, regardless of yoga skill level.

12-06-2011, 04:30 AM
Day 4:

Another early day, we had a full day tour booked at the Kualoa Ranch. The full day adventure includes 4 excursions, we managed to squeeze in an extra one (for an additional fee). We chose the Jungle Adventure, Ancient Fishpond and Garden Tour, Movie Site Tour, Ocean Voyage, and the ATV Tour. A detailed description of each tour can be found here: http://www.kualoa.com/tours/ Several movies and TV shows were filmed at the ranch including Lost, Jurassic Park, and 50 First Dates to name a few. This is another tour in the Adventures by Disney Explorer Package. I'm sure that (or hope) the the Disney tour is different, but it is at the same place. We also learned that you don't have to do the full day or half day adventure. You can just show up and buy a tour ala carte. Don't know about the half day, but you get a buffet lunch with the full day. Both of us enjoyed the ATV tour the best.






Afterwards we went to the North shore, the pipeline was going on so it was a bit crowded when we got to that area. We went to Matsumoto's and got shave ice. I got coconut with ice cream and azuki beans. I had been craving one since we decided on going to Hawaii.


The plan was to go to the Hukilau cafe, but they were closed by the time we got there, they close at 3:00. I went to plan B which was Helena's close to the Bishop museum. A small hole in the wall, but the food was great. I got Kalua pork (again) to compare it to the pork from the luau. Both were good, but this was better.


*Travel tips from day 4
The Adventure by Disney is at the same place, booking directly with Kualoa Ranch is less expensive.
You don't have to buy a package at Kualoa Ranch, you can buy them ala carte.
Plan at least an hour travel time from Aulani to Kualoa ranch. Traffic gets pretty heavy in the morning.
Hukilau Cafe Closes at 3:00
Eat your shave ice at Matsumoto's out front, the benches on the side have lots of flies.

12-06-2011, 04:49 AM
Day 5:

We had a food tour scheduled, this morning, booked it with http://www.hawaiifoodtours.com It took us to a couple bakeries for treats, and Chinatown for some unusual eats. It didn't focus on Hawiian food, more so on food you don't normally see (nothing gross though). One of the stops was a Chinese noodle factory were the noodles were made by hand everyday. We both enjoyed the tour.










For dinner, we ate at the buffet at the resort, one of the few times we actually ate there. They had an "Asian Spiced Brisket" I asked the server if she knew what the spices were, she asked the chef for me. I plan on trying to reproduce it at home. <--that was wrong I had my days mixed up, we ate there the next evening. On this day, we just went for a quick meal. Even though we resigned ourselves to fast food, we still tried to keep it local. We ended up going to Zippy's, the one nearby has dine in as well as take out. They are known for their chili, I wanted it on my burger, but the waitress didn't make the connection and kept wanting to put it on the fires. We came to a compromise to just put it on the side.

Update from Melody (the "mel" in travlrmel)
Today was Thursday - and I was hoping to catch the yoga class in the morning. However, we had to leave for the food tour excursion. So, I needed an alternate (hey - I knew I was going to be eating all day long....) I woke up early, and went for a walk/jog along the water. The sun was not up yet when I started. There is a well paved path along the lagoons of Ko Olina. I headed east, and the marina was one mile away. By the time I got to the marina, the sun was started to come up - see photos below. Other interesting sights along the way - stray cats under palm trees, the beach comber machine that cleans the beaches before people use them, and the various chapels along Ko Olina (in case anyone is interested in getting married.)



12-06-2011, 04:52 AM
Great TR so far! Love the pictures!! You must be a local in spirit - you're hitting all the food spots that I would go to if I was coming home after being away for a while and craving local-style foods! :thumbsup2 And I agree with you, I prefer the spam breakfast at McDonalds to the Portuguese sausage breakfast.

12-06-2011, 12:32 PM
Great TR so far! Love the pictures!! You must be a local in spirit - you're hitting all the food spots that I would go to if I was coming home after being away for a while and craving local-style foods! :thumbsup2 And I agree with you, I prefer the spam breakfast at McDonalds to the Portuguese sausage breakfast.

Thanks! I'm glad that the pics are showing up. I have them hosted on my Facebook account so I wasn't sure if it would work. I'm Filipino, so I guess I have the same palate as the locals. I just loved all the local food that I had a chance to try. Much of it was similar to the food my mom made when I was growing up. Unfortunately, I think the food loved me too and decided to hang around.

12-06-2011, 12:36 PM
I'll pause my TR for now, Day 6 was where we parted ways. My wife had her "Spa day" and I drove around on my own. I'll have to get my wife to write a report on the spa since I wasn't there.

12-07-2011, 10:35 PM
I'm enjoying your trip report! We stayed at the JW Marriott in Ko Olina a couple of years ago and discovered the Koa Pancake House also. Went there twice for breakfast- yummy and CHEAP! Also did Leonard's and Matsumoto's, enjoyed both. We're hoping to take the kids to Aulani in 2013, and will definitely have to remember to bring food on the plane. That must have been tough!

12-07-2011, 11:23 PM
Great trip report and tips! The pictures of the ranch are gorgeous!

12-08-2011, 02:19 AM
Hopefully Mel will be able to pick up from here and write about her spa day!

12-08-2011, 11:59 PM
Your photos are crystal clear. What type of camera did you use?

12-09-2011, 01:45 PM
Wonderful photos....

I love that "In the end, we went ahead and added on some points." buried in the middle of your TR. Talk about underplaying the add on.

12-09-2011, 05:18 PM
Nice TR. We are here at Aulani now as well. This is our "relax while hubby works on his computer" trip, so no excursions. We come back in April and plan to do more than soak up the sun!

As I just had disc replacement surgery, I am unable to do the slides, but my husband said they are good!

Enjoy the rest of your stay!:goodvibes

12-10-2011, 03:02 AM
Thanks for your excellent Trip Report. I am a sucker for food tours. The malasadas looked delicious. Where did you pick up the spam musubi? What was the condiment in the middle of the plate? I am thoroughly enjoying the read. Thanks for the pictures.

12-10-2011, 10:58 AM
Great trip report!!! I just booked a 3 nighter today for July before our week stay at our timeshare in Maui. Your tours tips are going to make it difficult to pick just one. I was planning on one day touring and one day hang out at the resort.

Can't wait to read more!

12-10-2011, 11:04 AM
We also like Cinnamon's Restaurant in Kailua but they close early as they only serve breakfast and lunch they have these mango guava pancakes that are amazing... http://www.cinnamonsrestaurant.com/

We should have a tip board for Oahu somewhere. I love your tips and definitely will use them.

12-10-2011, 11:08 AM
Thanks for your excellent Trip Report. I am a sucker for food tours. The malasadas looked delicious. Where did you pick up the spam musubi? What was the condiment in the middle of the plate? I am thoroughly enjoying the read. Thanks for the pictures.

The food tour was really fun, and the guides were great. They pickup in the Honolulu/Waikiki area, but Aulani is a bit too far for a pickup.

I'm unsure where the spam musubi came from. When we were on one of the squares in Chinatown one of the guides was giving the talk, while the other was running around gathering and preparing the samples. The dish with the musubi was ahi poke, kinda like a tuna ceviche. Our guide said that most local grocery stores sell a variety of different poke. You can sample them there before buying.

12-11-2011, 02:50 AM
So far, my husband has been writing the TR. This day - Friday - was my spa day. So he asked me to add my thoughts. This is Melody - the "mel" in travlrmel.

I did not want to leave Aulani without going to the spa. Plus - I did not want to leave Hawaii without getting a Lomi Lomi massage. (Lomi Lomi is my favorite massage style, but difficult to find anyone trained in this style in Colorado.)

I learned from the yoga instructor (on Tuesday) that spa tours are offered daily at 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. I scheduled massage on Wednesday - two days prior. Scheduling was very easy - and I was able to schedule multiple treatments.

We visited the spa on Tuesday. They were out of brochures, so I struggled to decide what I wanted to do. Luckily, I was able to refer to the DISboards. I selected my services from this site: http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-resorts/aulani-hawaii-resort/spa-services.htm.

There has already been some TRs about the spa. I won't have any photos that are as good as the one already posted. http://photopost.wdwinfo.com/g1350-aulani-spa-and-fitness-center.html
However, one element you can't get from the photos is the sense of calm the environment evokes. Going down the hallway creates a sense of tranquility. The stone I selected was "balance" or "pono" in Hawaiian.

I started with a Laniwai White Bath soak. This soak was outdoors (see stolen pic): http://photopost.wdwinfo.com/aulani-spa-and-fitness-center/p69085-laniwai-spa-37.html

I was left alone to enjoy the soak by myself. I had a pitcher of cold water, two muffins, and two guava jellies to munch on while I had the time alone. If going down the hallway started the movement to relaxation, the soak only continued the journey.

My second treatment was Nature's Magical Niu, which was a coconut scrub. The scents were amazing. The scrub was very enjoyable and I don't have any complaints. However, I will just point out in the the description, it states, "You are then wrapped in hydrating Ti leaves." I had a total of six Ti leaves -- and this was far from being "wrapped." The wrapping comes from the sheets and towels that you cocooned in after the scrub. My treatment was indoors - most likely because I had the scrub. (You might have seen pictures of massages outdoors.) After the scrub, I was able to take a shower in the room. My skin was so soft and smooth after the scrub. I felt like I was glowing - even though the room was dimmed. Once I dried off, I laid back down on the massage table for my third and final treatment -- the Signature Lomi Lomi.

For DVC members, I was able to upgrade to the signature Lomi Lomi (from the normal Lomi Lomi) at no extra cost. The difference is the use of hot stones with this massage technique. If you are not familiar with this style, think of a massage in waves. The therapist uses the heels of their hands or forearms to move across the body in waves.

I wish I could have added a few more services so that I could have spent the whole day there. The staff is very professional and you feel comfortable at all times.

While she was at the spa, I drove to the Northwest. We'd take the road into Ko Olina and get off the exit, never seeing the other side of the exit. I drove out there to see what was there. It was definitely less crowded, there were several beaches that were fairly empty. I stopped at a small independent grocery store and picked a couple bags of Lion coffee and pink Hawaiian sea salt. Had lunch at a hole in the wall restaurant and got a Korean Kalbi (beef short ribs) plate lunch with a choice of 4veg.

When I got back to the hotel, Mel was back from the spa. We went to Costco and did out Christmas shopping, it is only 3 or 4 miles away. We got some more coffee and chocolate covered macadamia nuts. We also had to go to Target to buy luggage to bring it all home. Since I had my lunch, Mel grabbed a quick bite of pizza while we were at Costco it's the same price as the mainland. The counter was very crowded, lots of folks getting whole pies. I figure that pizza joints that cheap aren't too common there (just a guess though).

We ate at the resort for dinner, for the second time during our stay. We ate downstairs at Makahiki, it's a buffet style restaurant. The food was good, mostly Hawaiian type food, they had an Asian spiced brisket. I asked the waitress if she could find out what the spices were. She wrote them down for me, I am BBQ fan so I'm going to try to reproduce it. The laulau pork was very good also.

We tried to get a quick breakfast there earlier in the day, but since the character was going on, we couldn't get in and out quick enough, we ended up going to McDonald's. I got the Spam and Portuguese sausage plate. I liked the Spam better than the sausage.

Day 6 tips and reminders:
- Bring a bathing suit to the spa (you may want to spend time in their outdoor spa area that is co-ed.)
- Tip (at 20%) was automatically included when paying the bill
- Get reservations if the character breakfast is going on
- Pick up Hawaiian souvenirs at Costco and Target
- Fill up your gas tank at Costco it was about $0.30/gal cheaper than Honolulu

12-11-2011, 04:25 AM
Your photos are crystal clear. What type of camera did you use?

For this trip, I used point-n-shoot type cameras (actually 3 of them). I have amassed a collection of them, each has a strength but none of them do everything. I didn't bring the DSLR due to all the wet areas we were visiting. It even rained on us during the food tour.

For this trip I used an old Canon S70 (7.2mp) because I have an underwater housing for it that is good down to 130ft. I used it during the snuba because it was good to a deeper depth. The housing makes it a bit bulky to use for anything else. Since this is an older camera, it is larger than the other 2.

I also bought an Olympus Stylus 9000 because it has a 12X optical zoom (12mp).

Just for this trip, I bought a refurb'd Olympus Tough-8010 (14mp). It is ruggedized and is waterproof down to 33ft. Used it during the snorkel and general picture taking. The 2 Olympus cameras use the same battery so I ended up swapping them and using this camera.

12-11-2011, 03:25 PM
Love your trip report!! And good job eating local!! :) I LOVE spam musabi and you hit the good bakeries for cream puffs and malasadas!

12-11-2011, 06:02 PM
Day 7

Woke up early again even though we had a late flight. We asked for express checkout and were supposed to get our final bill under the door. We didn't get one so we stopped by the desk after dropping our bags off in the car. We wanted to get the bill to see if there were any charges to dispute. Sure enough, the $35/day parking fee was on the bill. We told them that they said that it would be waived since we were DVC members (even though we were hotel guests). We had a feeling that this would be overlooked so we saved the voicemail saying that it would be. She took it off with no problem.

We headed out to Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial. We got there around 9:00 in the morning. Traffic and parking wasn't that bad, we managed to navigate our way there OK even though GPS was a bit hard to follow. When you get to the memorial park, no bags, purses, or backpacks are allowed inside. There is a manned locker room to store you stuff. Cost is $3.00

When you get inside, go to the tour desk (straight ahead) and get your tour ticket as soon as you can, it's free for the memorial but you have to pay for the Bowfin and Missouri. They issue the tickets on a first come basis. Our ticket was for 11:30 so we had a while to wait. The bars we had for breakfast weren't cutting it so we grabbed a sandwich at the shop. Browsed the museums which are also free and basically killed time till our tour. Boarded the boat and sat on the Right (starboard) right of the boat. I'd say gives you good pictures as you approach the memorial.

It was an overcast day and the water was murky so we couldn't see a whole lot when we got inside. Still a moving tribute after all these years.


Had lunch at Big Kahuna pizza near the rental car dropoff place. I got the Sumo, pretty interesting pizza, it had your typical Hawaiian meats on it (except for Spam).


Arrived at the airport with lots of time to spare. The main terminal is not airconditioned so I was dying after dragging our bags around. Luckily the gate terminal is airconditioned. We were hanging out at our gate when a camera crew showed up. One of them, a producer I guess announced that 8 Pearl Harbor survivors were on the incoming flight. They were all greeted with applause when they came off the jetway. At the adjoining gate, 5 more came off that flight. People were coming up to them shaking their hands and asking for autographs like they were rockstars. They must have been doing something for the 70th anniversary.

The flight was overnight, leaving HNL at 6:00PM arriving at DFW at 5:00AM hopped on our connecting flight and slept some more. When we got back to Colorado, I had to put on some jeans and a jacket at the terminal. Started shoveling snow when we got to the house (sigh).

Travel tips from day 7

- get to airport early (no brainer)
- check you bill before you leave
- Don't carry any bags into the memorial park
- Go to the Pearl memorial EARLY anything after 10:00AM is too late
- go directly to the ticket desk and get your tickets ASAP

12-11-2011, 06:20 PM
- Don't carry any bags into the memorial park
- Go to the Pearl memorial EARLY anything after 10:00AM is too late
- go directly to the ticket desk and get your tickets ASAP

Thanks for the Peal Harbor tips, were heading there Jan. 7th so it sounds like if we leave Aulani by 9AM we should be fine.

What a nice greeting for the veterans!

12-11-2011, 07:24 PM
Thanks for the Peal Harbor tips, were heading there Jan. 7th so it sounds like if we leave Aulani by 9AM we should be fine.

What a nice greeting for the veterans!

I generally recommend that people heading to Pearl Harbor should go EARLY - early as possible. The visitors center opens at 7 AM and the tours to the Arizona start at 8 AM. Getting there early means waiting less for the ferry ride out to the Arizona. Also, if you get there too late in the day, it's always possible for them to run out of the ferry tickets. To make more efficient use of your time, I'd recommend going earlier than later.

Also remember that the trip towards PH also is the same route for the majority of the morning commute going into town on weekdays - as a result, the trip from Aulani to PH can be as short as 20 minutes and as long as an hour plus. Please take this into account when planning travel times.

travlrmel - congrats on finding Big Kahuna's - and it looks like you ordered the Big Kahuna's Balls on top of the sumo pizza. I LOVE the balls! :rotfl2:

12-11-2011, 07:30 PM
Also remember that the trip towards PH also is the same route for the majority of the morning commute going into town on weekdays - as a result, the trip from Aulani to PH can be as short as 20 minutes and as long as an hour plus. Please take this into account when planning travel times.

We're going on the weekend so can I assume the traffic might not be as bad as weekdays? Right now it looks like we'll go to PH on Sat, Jan 7th.

12-11-2011, 08:20 PM
We're going on the weekend so can I assume the traffic might not be as bad as weekdays? Right now it looks like we'll go to PH on Sat, Jan 7th.

Saturday morning should be no problem with traffic. :thumbsup2

12-12-2011, 04:48 AM
Yes, it was a Saturday morning when we went, and the traffic wasn't as bad as Wed. We planned for an hour to get from Aulani to PH. We got there around 9:00 and had 11:30 tickets for the boat. Around 9:45, I heard people saying that they had 1:30 tickets. The earlier you get there, the shorter your wait.

12-14-2011, 12:50 PM
Put our Hawaiian gift baskets together. Stuff we picked up from various locations. Hopefully I can get them sent out today. Clockwise from Left
Hurricane Popcorn
Pink Sea Salt
SPAM flavored macadamia nuts
Hawaiian coffee (Don't know if it's Kona)
Li Hing powder (dried plum)
Kona Coffee flavored candy
Chocolate covered Macadamia nuts

01-21-2012, 05:56 PM
This is an excellent TR! May I ask where you got all of the information about excursions before you left for Aulani? We ware going in August and I hate being a slave to organized excursions. We want to do different things and want to use our rental car.


01-22-2012, 11:23 PM

I started with this page:

Then I opened the page for the tour I was interested in. If you look at the bottom, it says "Operated by Pleasant Activities".

Then I went to their page:

Pleasant Activities kinda looks like a booking company. On some tours, you can drill down further to see who actually gives the tour. I'm guessing that the official Disney excursions are slightly different, but I don't know for certain since We didn't take any.

06-26-2013, 01:34 AM
Haven't been back here in quite awhile. Was surprised at the number of views this TR had. Felt like it was my duty to fix all the dead photo links. I linked them to my Facebook account, they had an update which changed all the addresses of them. Hopefully everyone can see all the pictures now.

07-07-2013, 03:22 AM
Travlrmel, thank so much for a great TR!!! I really enjoyed reading it and learned so much from it. We will be traveling there this summer and are looking forward to it now more than before. I am so glad you had a great time!
As far as the gifts, you mentioned they were purchased Costco and Target. I know there is a Costco nearby, but where is the Target that you shopped at? I mean, since the same chain of stores carry different items.

08-03-2013, 11:22 AM
Sorry for the delayed response, the Target is near the Costco in Kapolei.

10-06-2013, 02:30 AM
We went for a visit from on Sept 20-29 this year. There were a few changes made to the resort since our last visit (when this thread was originally started.)

The stingray pool has been removed and a new pool with a grotto and infinity edge has been added.



Ulu, a new Quick serve cafe was also added in the area:




We were also able to catch the Starlit Hui this time. We thought of it as a Luau without the food. Lots of fun too.