"Oh no, it's not THAT much of an ocean view" *GASP* - An Aulani TR!
Had so much fun <3 Hopefully this is a TR that I finish! Aulani is just beautiful, so this report will be pretty picture heavy after a quick introduction:
For our 2nd anniversary, DH and I wanted to go somewhere that we hadn't been before. We had points to use, but had just gone on a cruise in September (http://vimeo.com/53341169) and weren't feeling like flying over to the East Coast again. We're at DL quite frequently as well, so we wanted to do something different…Aulani was the perfect choice.
As we put together all the details for our trip, I was very excited, but quite nervous as well. I'm originally from Maui, but moved to the Mainland in 2006. Going to Hawaii without going home felt difficult. However, 4 of my best girlfriends currently live on O'ahu, and my parents agreed to come over for a visit as well. In a lot of ways, even though I wasn't on my island, I was home :cool1:
In the end, there were 16 people involved in the trip- myself, DH, DSIL, DFriend1 (DF1), Mom, Dad, my 4 friends, and 2 of their boyfriends. DH's coworker, his fiancé, and their two friends also came over (they are DVC though, and had their own villa)
With so many friends and family, we decided to go for a Grand Villa. It was a short trip, so we had the points… and really, how could we resist? It's an amazing villa. :beach:
Sunday Pt. 1
Sunday Pt. 2
Sunday Pt. 3
Sunday Pt. 4
Sounds like a great time...please post away!
I can't wait to read more.
Took the first flight out of SFO, which meant an early 4am wakeup. Took Hawaiian, and upgraded to 1st class for an anniversary treat for DH! Lots of POG mimosas were had :goodvibes
Had a great flight, but there was a good amount of turbulence due to a cold front passing over the islands. Since we left so early, they served brunch. Smoked salmon omelet, fried rice, fruit, and some sort of very tasty muffin.
Landed safely and met up with our DF1 (too many people to keep track of, so have to use numbers!). Got the bags together and headed over to the Hertz rental terminal. I had gotten a great deal on Priceline by naming my own price- we got an SUV for $250 for the 6 days. Originally they had wanted $450, so I was pretty happy, as it was my first time trying Priceline. Finally got everything in the trunk (well, barely) and set off to Kahala.
My good friends live out there, so we went to see their new place before heading to a late lunch at one of my local favorites- Zippy's. It's a bit like Hawaii's version of a diner, and they can be found all over O'ahu. I had my favorite, their beanless chilli with rice. Not exactly high cuisine, but it tastes like home! :rotfl2:
Had a hilarious lunch for the 9 of us with lots of great catching up. We decided that DF1, DH, and I would head over to Kahala mall, and that our friends would meet us over at Aulani a bit later. Went over to the mall and saw some of DH's coworkers who he had trained. During lunch, I realized that I was starting to feel unwell- something like a minor ear infection. Scott hit up the nearby longs drugs and was able to locate an antiseptic wash (thank goodness! This totally saved me)
We then headed over to Aulani. Traffic was a little bit noticeable due to rain, 2 accidents, and the pro bowl. Clearly not the best arrival plan... I hadn't even remembered that the Pro Bowl had moved to O'ahu. Despite all that, the drive went by quickly and before we knew it, we saw the resort in the distance. :cool1:
Check in was exquisite! We pulled up and were helped in seconds. We received our lei greeting and were escorted to the front desk by some of the sweetest cast members. Check in was a little long, but that was because I hadn't added the names of the rest of our party, and we had quite a few questions about the resort. They took great care of us though, and were able to get us set up with everything that we needed. Could not have dreamed of a better experience, and we had only been at the resort for 10 minutes!
Since I had been far too busy to do online check in (and the names issue), I knew I was taking a small gamble with our room location. However, with the construction situation at the resort, I knew we'd be in one section- it was just a matter of what floor we'd be on. We had booked an ocean view grand villa, so there wasn't too much choice of what section we'd be in. My heart almost stopped when he wrote down our room number - 1189.
I couldn't believe our luck! The highest grand villa in the Ewa tower - wow. I don't know who made it happen for us, but we really appreciated it! We left the desk and headed towards the room. I hadn't told DF1 where the room was - I just told him that it had "kind of" an ocean view... :rotfl2: We were all stunned walking in the door- the view was just spectacular. I had seen pictures of the room online, but they really don't do it justice. It's really hard to show just how gigantic the room is. We took some time to explore and then called for the bags.
Just as a note: the pictures of the room are from different points in our trip - I promise that upon check in, the room was pristine!
Bedroom 1 (or 2? They look the same):
View looking straight down. The garden in the center is the herb garden for Ama Ama! Of course, some construction as well. Surprisingly, once the doors were closed, it was hard to hear the noise - thank goodness!
View to the left side:
View to the right side (yes, more construction... but who cares when you can see the ocean? ):
To the right at sunset (construction? what construction?) :
Of course, at the end of the day, it's all about the money shot:
On Sunday night, the sunset wasn't all that great - it was overcast and right about to rain. The view was still spectacular though.
5 of our friends arrived at the resort just as we were getting settled in. After some relaxing, we headed down to get a little dinner. We decided to try out the Olelo room.
Just as we opened the pool level door to walk over to the lounge, we realized that a downpour had started while we were in the room. We rushed over, getting a little wet- and then realized that there was an indoor path we could have taken! The lounge was busy when we arrived, since everyone was crowded into the indoor seating, including the band. A group left shortly after we arrived though, so we were able to snag their table. We didn't have quite enough chairs for our party of 8 - however, I did a total double take and realized that sitting at the next table was some of our mutual friend's family members! We caught up with them for a bit,and they offered us their extra chairs. Now that we were finally settled in, we were able to order some pupus and drinks. DH and DF1 ate quickly and had to run over to the airport to get DSIL. The rest of us stayed and chatted for quite awhile before heading back to the room for a very silly game of Cards against humanity. DH, DF1, and DSIL finally got back from the airport (the rain had caused a baggage delay along with some traffic issues) and we were all up late- just having too much fun. A great day to start off our vacation!
Great TR so far ... :thumbsup2
We're planning a trip to Aulani for 2015 (gotta plan ahead how to use those DVC points! :lmao: )
Looking forward to any more "local" tips you may have ...
"Zippy's" sounds like a good, reliable place to eat when we're out and about on the island ... Although my DW doesn't like to "do diners" (and she's a Jersey Girl - I thought eating at diners came with our Jersey genes!! :) ), I think I could get her to eat at Zippy's as a result of some "expert" recommendation!! ::yes::
Since we won't be staying in a GV (probably an Oceanview Studio), I'm lovin' the pictures ...
Zippy's is tasty, but I'd only recommend it maybe once while your in the islands - there are so many other great places to eat :thumbsup2 Their menu is online as well, so you can check it out before you arrive.
Glad you like the pics! Lots more to come with that :yay:
Monday pt. 1
The girls were all up early the next morning - 3 of them had to work. It may be paradise, but real life continues on :crazy2: DH and I were also up early- we wanted to check out the member mingle. We didn't have chance to register for it in advance (it says that tickets are required) but they must not have been that busy since they took us as a walkup. Had some coffee, listened to an update about Aulani, and then played some trivia. I actually got called on!!! I was so shocked. DH and I never win anything at those events... Anyway, I was lucky enough to win a set of DVC luggage tags! Super cool. :cool1:
Since it was still early and we had some time, we went to check out Aunties Beach House. It's open from 8am - 10am for unsecured programming, so this was going to be one of our only chances to check it out. It was so neat! I was already in love with all of the Hawaii specific touches, but it felt like around every new corner there was something to see- even in the kids club.
Kid free pictures are hard to come by, but we managed some through the windows after hours.
After checking that out, we went back up to the room to see who was awake. Our friends were still out dropping off the girls, and DF1 and DSIL were up. We decided to go down for breakfast, and settled on Ama Ama after checking out the menus.
Thank goodness we went for it! The food was so so delicious. I was a little nervous about all the reviews that I had seen on the DIS, but it was better than I expected. DSIL and DH both had the chocolate milk dipped haupia french toast with bananas.
The french toast was so fantastic. I had the corned beef hash- mm. It came with fried rice and perfectly poached eggs.
Scott had the catch of the day (Mahi Mahi) with scrambled eggs.
We got an interesting view of the construction during breakfast as well. It was a bit noisy, but we were mostly distracted with trying to figure out what they were doing, since it looked like it was some sort of cement pump crane? Pretty cool, actually. DSIL and DF1 got a better view of it when they went back to the room after breakfast.
The weather had cleared up as well, so the view of the ocean was very distracting from the construction. Service was quick! Which was great because we didn't actually have much time. Will and I both headed out to HNL to get my parents from the airport. On our way back, we did a quick Costco/Safeway run. We didn't have much time to spare, since we had a date that afternoon... with the Laniwai spa!
Absolutely gorgeous!!! The GV, the view, the sunset....
We ate all three meals at AMA AMA- B,L,D- we thought it was wonderful every time. :thumbsup2
Thanks for posting so many photos- really, really nice.
And Happy Anniversary! :goodvibes
A very sweet bellman helped us to the room with all of the food- there was no way we could have gotten everything upstairs. We were going to be doing a big family dinner for 14 on Tuesday, and we picked up some groceries for the rest of our time there - needless to say, there was a lot to carry! *We got up to the room and put the groceries away and then gave another room tour :rotfl: DH, mom, dad and I changed into our bathing suits for the spa and headed down just in time. They recommend that you arrive about an hour before your treatments, and we were there about 30 minutes in advance... but it all seemed to work out.
The spa is one of the best that I've ever been to. Just like the rest of the resort, everything is so thoughtfully designed. When you start your tour of the spa, they have you choose a thought stone. All four of us closed our eyes and reached in. When we opened them, we were shocked- both my mom and I had chosen 'dream' and DH and dad had both chosen 'harmony'. Considering they had a ton of different words in the bowl, we were all really surprised- even the spa girl was speechless! We then continued the tour and went off to our separate treatments. My dad had the kulawai, mom had a facial and a reflexology massage, and DH and I did an aromatherapy bath and then a couples massage. All of the treatments also included the use of the outdoor hydrotherapy garden. We all loved our treatments. The aromatherapy bath was quite neat- we actually got to use it again after our massage which was a great treat since it was bonus time. There are two private baths- one located just outside of each of the locker rooms. The entire hydrotherapy garden and private baths are shaded with trees, so although there are rooms overlooking the spa, you don't really notice them.
Mom and dad had longer treatments, so DH and I let them know that we were heading out to check out the pool. There, we met up with DSIL, DF1, E and A. We did the dark waterslide (the tube slide was down for maintenance) at least 3 times? And then did a few laps around the lazy river.
When we got out, we found mom and dad having drinks at off the hook. We hung out for a bit to dry off, then walked over to the edge of the pool area to watch the sunset.
It was great! Much better than the previous night when the rain clouds had blocked most of the view. Afterwards, E and A headed out and the rest of us headed upstairs to get ready for dinner- we had reservations at Ama Ama!
We were right on time for our 7:45 reservation. They had our allergy requests on file, and we were seated after just a minute or two. The restaurant wasn't crowded (actually, the whole resort wasn't crowded at all- they were maybe at 50% occupancy? Good bonus for us) and we had a table just next to where we had eaten breakfast. Our adorable server was right over and took great care of us. DH and I did the dinner for two, with the addition of a French onion soup to share. It was a good value, considering how expensive the restaurant is. We got a lot of food! DF1 and DSIL also did the dinner for two, and also added some soups to start.
Appetizer sampler that came with the dinner for two - ahhh, looking at these photos makes me want to eat there again!
Not the best picture of the food, but everything on this plate was outstanding :cloud9:
Dad started with the chopped salad, and mom started with the soup. Dad had the fish curry for his entree, and mom went for the rib eye. We ate everything! It was all so good. For dessert, DH and I stuck with the chocolate cake included with the meal- it was fantastic.
A molten center, chocolate moouse in the middle, a cake bottom, and a crunchy top. The whole thing had a ribbon of white chocolate wrapped around it. *Prolly not the best explanation, but if you are there and like chocolate, you NEED to eat this cake. It is just that fantastic. DF1 and DSIL switched their dessert to the bread pudding I believe? It also looked delicious, but I was in some sort of chocolate high by that point :rotfl2:
After our excellent meal, we headed back up to the room and got some shut eye- we had a big day coming up!
Great TR. I am soooo green with envy. :rolleyes1
Love the TR and your pictures. Only a few more years until DH and I plan on going....:beach:
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