View Full Version : Aulani Spring Break Trip Report

04-09-2012, 11:55 AM
I put together a trip report from our trip to Aulani March 24 - March 30. We have taken our kids, ds8 and dd7, on trips every year for the past several years, including WVL last February, so we decided to take this trip by ourselves.

We were contacted a few weeks before our trip by Disney Research. They contacted 16 random families traveling to Aulani the week we were there, some DVC members and some hotel guests. We met with them for about 15 -30 minutes each day. It was very interesting because we got a little information about the other participants and the resort. Also, they sent us a list of questions in advance and one of those questions was how much time we planned on spending at the resort compared to other parts of the island. We said about 50/50. However, the resort is so amazing that we spent a lot more time at the resort than we planned.

March 24: We had a very long travel day. It took us about 18 hours between layovers and the fact that the airline had to change part of an engine at LAX. By the time we got to Aulani it was 9:00 at night, which would have been 2:00 in the morning our time. We were exhausted. The entrance to the resort is a little hard to find, especially late at night. You actually go through a gate to get into Ko Olina, which is the town where Aulani is located. Even the person at the gate was really nice. When we arrived at the resort it was just amazing. The bell hop immediately took our luggage, gave us leis, and took us to the reception desk. The reception desk clerk must have seen how exhausted we were because she came around the desk gave us both hugs and said "Welcome Home". It was great way to start our vacation. We went to our room and went right to sleep.

March 25: We spent the majority of the day right at the resort. I can't say enough how unbelievably kind and accommodating every cast member at Aulani was during our entire stay. I also have to say how clean everything was. It seemed like they were constantly cleaning. We were up early because we were still on central time. We went to breakfast at KOA Pancake House, which was excellent. We rented a car and used it almost every day. Then we went for a walk along the lagoons. There are 4 lagoons in Ko Olina and they are all connected by a boardwalk. Aulani and Marriot Beach Club resort are on the last one, which is the largest of the four. Then we were at the beach at about 8:30 that morning. We grabbed a couple of chairs and spent most of the day there. I generally don't like to sit at the beach all day, but this resort is so relaxing that we spent most of the day at the beach. I spent a lot of time in the lagoon. There are ropes set up as a guide for swimmers and paddle boarders, but you can swim or snorkel past those ropes. I snorkeled past the ropes and I saw about 3 dozen different types of fish and hundreds of them. I couldn't believe how many fish I saw right there at the resort. We were going to go to Hanauma Bay later in the week and go snorkeling, but we skipped it because I saw so many fish right at the resort. We also drove to the North Shore, which is a short drive, for a couple of hours late in the day top watch the surfers. Then we walked to Longboards, which is 2 lagoons down at another Marriot property, for drinks and dinner. They had a local band and we watched the sunset, which was amazing. When we met with the Disney Research department that night they asked, among other things, if there was anything that we would change, and the only thing we said was that they needed more chairs at the beach because by mid-morning all of the chairs were taken and that more signs around the resort would be nice because it can be a little confusing until you really learn where everything is at. The next day they had twice as many chairs at the beach. For the rest of our trip there were always many empty and available chairs at the beach. We asked the Disney Research department about this the next day and they said that they had met with the general manager and he told them that they had a shipment of chairs arrive that day.

March 26: I forgot to mention our room above. We had an island view studio on the 7th floor. It was a great room. Our balcony was just above the spa and faced the Marriot Beach Club Resort. We could see the ocean to the right side of the Marriot and to the left side of that resort so that was nice. The rooms and beds are really comfortable. I generally have a hard time for the first couple of nights sleeping in a different bed. However, I slept great the entire trip. The bathroom is great and has a rainforest showerhead. My dw took very long showers because of the showerhead. We went to Target yesterday and bought a bunch of groceries. Other than the first day, we ate breakfast in our room every day and lunch in our room most other days. Based on the reviews on this board we planned on not eating much at the resort. We went scuba diving through Hawaii Nautical which is only a few miles from the resort and they picked us up at Aulani. They also have snorkeling trips and whale watching and dolphins trips as well. That was a lot of fun and the crew was great. They even took us to see the ship used for the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean. After diving we spent most of the day at the resort on the beach. We went to dinner at an Italian place in town, which was okay, but not great. We also went to the Starlit Hui. It was a lot of fun. They had some of the more traditional luau type dancing, some more modern and disneyfied dancing, an amazing singer, and some really fun ukulele players. Just like every other night we spent the last part of our night in the infinity hot tub. This is a two level huge hot tub that looks like you are in the ocean. The water is really warm so it was nice at night.

March 27: This day we spent the entire day at the resort. In the morning we went to the beach and did some snorkeling and went around the lazy river. The lifeguards were very attentive and friendly. We had lunch at the Oelo room on this day and I had the BBQ pork. It was very good. Then we spent the entire afternoon at the spa. We have been to a number of spas around the country and this was the nicest spa where we have gone. This resort is great for couples, as well as families who have their kids with them. Then we went to Royís for dinner, which is across the street at the golf course. I made this reservation the day before we went and we had no trouble getting in. This was the best meal we had the entire trip. We went to the Uncle storytelling this evening and it was a lot of fun. One thing that I should mention is that if you have your kids with you they will have a lot of opportunities to interact with the characters and there were no long lines to see the characters like at WDW. Mickey and Goofy even played with the kids right at the pool. I should also mention that the Shave Ice is really good, its only $3.75, and it is big enough for two.

March 28: This was our second day of scuba diving. We saw a lot of fish, dolphins, a whale, coral, turtles, and even a couple of reef sharks. After scuba diving we went to Waimea Falls. We also drove onto the North Shore and the Dole Plantation. I would recommend using the concierge as much as possible. They are extremely helpful in giving you ideas, as well as directions. Waimea Falls was the only disappointment. This was a recommendation from the concierge when we asked about hiking and seeing waterfalls. The hike was really nice and beautiful, but the waterfall was disappointing. I would recommend skipping this attraction. We spent the rest of the day at Aulani on the beach and at the pools. We had appetizers and cocktails at the Oleo room that night for dinner. We had Kobe beef sliders and homemade fresh potato and taro chips. It was really good. They also had a band right at the Oleo room, as well as at Ama Ama every night. It was so much fun. We have been married for 11 years and one of the musicians came up to us and asked if we were newlyweds. This just shows how relaxing Aulani was for us.

March 29: This day was our day to explore more of the island. We drove to Diamondhead and hiked all the way to the top. It is definitely worth it. The views are breathtaking. Then we went to Waikiki had lunch and went down to the beach. We had planned on spending the afternoon at the beach in Waikiki. However, it was completely insane. The beach, as well as the water, was wall to wall people. I can see why people don't think Oahu is relaxing. If we had gone to Waikiki I would never go back to Oahu. It was completely different that Ko Olina, where Aulani is located. We walked on the beach for about ten minutes and decided to get in the car and come back to the resort because the beach at the resort was so much nicer, the water was so much clearer, and it wasn't crowded. We were told Aulani was at capacity, but it never felt busy at all and, once they added the chairs on our second day, they were always tons of empty chairs available on the beach. We ordered a pizza that night from a place in town and it was good. One thing that was really nice is that you can get as many towels from the pool area as you want and they are large beach towels. We used them every time we took a trip away from the resort and then just returned them when we got back.

March 30: Unfortunately, this was our last day at Aulani. Just as a reference, when we travel we are always ready to come home by the end of the trip. However, both me and dw said we wished that we had a few more days at Aulani. This resort is completely relaxing and breathtaking. It looks completely different at night and we loved walking around at night at the resort and along the lagoons. We spent our entire last day at the resort and did not want to leave. We did some shopping for souvenirs and gifts for our kids. The rest of the time we just hung out at the beach and the pools. We had a late night flight. Check-out is at 11:00, but they have a great lounge with a couple of comfortable seating areas, with couches, chairs and TVs, as well as locker rooms with larger lockers and showers and a computer to print boarding passes for free. We stored our stuff for the day in the lockers and were able to use all of the facilities for the entire day. This was our best vacation ever and we plan on returning in a couple of years with our kids.

Resort Tips: I would strongly recommend renting a car. I would also recommend taking some time your first day and really learning where everything is at in the resort. It took us a few days because we didn't do that. I would recommend going to Longboards one night and watching the sunset and going to dinner a different night at Roys. When we were there they were adding a new quick service restaurant right next to the shave ice stand. The food choices are pretty limited and I think it will be nice to have more food choices.

DVC News: When we spoke with the Disney Research department they said that DVC is rolling out, as a test, family meals in some resorts. They had them at Aulani. We didnít use it because it was just the two of us. But, basically it is a family meal for about $75 - $90 for four people, depending on what you order. If you have more people you can add more food for 2 people at a time. I think there were three or four choices. For example, one choice was a pasta dinner with salad, pasta, bread and a dessert ( I canít remember if it included drinks). You would order it a day in advance and they would deliver it to your room so your family could eat in your room. I donít know how many DVC resorts will have this option. It sounded like this was a test to see how popular the dinner was.

04-09-2012, 04:03 PM
Wow! This was a great review to read now that I've done our on-line check in for our trip in nine days. :yay:

Thank you so much for sharing this information with us. I'm going to do a search for Hawaii Nautical as soon as I hit the "Submit Reply" button on this reply. :woohoo:

04-09-2012, 04:43 PM
Thanks for posting your trip report. It is interesting to hear that Disney is actively sampling guests to see how Aulani can be improved.

Do you remember the room number for your Island View Studio?

If you get a chance, it would be nice if you can post a photo of the view from your villa on this thread and Aulani Villas and Views: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2907389

04-09-2012, 06:08 PM
How was the construction area where they're building the new quick service place? Did it get in the way too much? We'll be there May 1-8 and they sent us a letter of apology about the construction! It made me really worried about how extensive the work might be.

04-10-2012, 12:59 AM
705. I will see if my dw took any pictures of the view.

04-10-2012, 01:03 AM
Other than a small walled off area you won't even notice the construction. There wasn't any dust or noise.

04-10-2012, 03:18 AM
Would also love to see a picture of the view from your room.
We have 2BR IV Lockoff booked for the week of June 15 and, after looking at wdrl's view locations I was thinking of requesting a room near yours..

That's interesting about the DVC Family meals. I assume they will add a service charge and tip like they do for room service? At that price, we'll opt to get our own groceries and cook a few simple meals.

04-10-2012, 04:28 PM
Thanks for your great trip report. We are so excited about our trip next month, and finding good info has been a bit difficult. Also thanks for your assessment of Hawaii Nautical. Just called and booked with Doug. This scuba trip is a surprise for DD and DH. I think they will love it.

04-10-2012, 04:41 PM
Thank you so much for your report.

Did you happen to notice if anyone took lifejackets down to the beach for their kids or just at the pool?

04-10-2012, 06:55 PM
Thanks for the info:thumbsup2 We also have an IV room booked and would like to know what tower you were in? Ewa/Wainane? I always get confused which tower is on which side. As soon as I figure the towers out, time passes and I forget. I'll make sure to write it down this time:upsidedow

04-12-2012, 09:44 AM
Thanks so much for your review - wow, what a ton of great information! You mentioned having breakfast in your room. What appliances were available for cooking? toaster, microwave, etc? Just curious about what kind of groceries to buy for breakfast in our room! Thanks!!!