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Old 04-28-2013, 03:02 PM   #1
ddoconnell
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Aulani....a Spring break adventure!!

This is my first real attempt at a trip report so here goes...we spent April 7 through April 13 at the beautiful Aulani! Here are my impressions of our stay:


Arrival: the resort is away from the more touristy resorts. The drive up to the lobby had my family saying: "Now that looks like Disney!" We didn't mean that it looked like Magic Kingdom....just that the attention to detail was so evident. We were greeted by the valets who called up the front desk to let them know that we were there. Then we were taken to a greeter who gave us beautiful leis (flowers for the girls and nuts for the guys), and they led us into the lobby. While walking thru the lobby, she pointed out the murals, architecture and the meaning of many of the items found there. The front doors are directly across from the beautiful view of the water park and on to the ocean. More on the water park later! Check in was a breeze (and no I didn't do online check in....kinda like the old fashioned way of just walking up to the desk....I am on vacation, so no need to get stressed out!) Our room was ready, and was absolutely or gorgeous! A dedicated two bedroom with a garden view....amazing!

Water park: loved the water park! The slides, lazy river, pools and hot tubs were all amazing! I will agree with others that an adults only hot tub would be nice. My DH did say that when he was in a hot tub, a woman came into the tub with two hands full of food! She proceeded to drop some in the tub, left it there to float around and continued to eat. DH said that he got up and left....along with some kids that had been there when he arrived. Guess maybe it's not just the kids that can be a problem! But heads up on getting the colored bands for each day....there are two locations, one just at the entrance to the kids area, and another one on the back side of the kids area. The second one is never crowded! We never had a problem finding chairs. You didn't always find it in the area you wanted, but you could always find one. As a side note, this is a salt water park....no chlorine!

Room: like I said before, we had a dedicated two bedroom villa. Gotta say it was amazing! It was so quiet that we didn't hear the water park unless we opened the doors to the balcony. The kitchen had everything we needed and was a great size for the four of us. We cooked most meals in the villa so that we could maximize our resort time. Ample seating for down time and the table had plenty of elbow room when we were eating.

Dining: we did eat at Off the Hook a couple of times as well as trying the shaved ice stand. Both were fantastic! Expect resort/Hawaii prices for the food. For those unaware, prices are very expensive in Hawaii for everything, so keep that in mind when you plan your trip. Back to the food....the sandwiches and salads we had were fresh and delicious. We did not try the "fancy" restaurants since we had not heard anything good about them. Sorry that I can't update you on those.

Shopping: they were constructing a new store while we were there. They told us it was an expansion of the mercantile and it will add a few more food options. If you want to stock the cabinets in your villa, I would head to Food Land...as it had the best buys. We went to Costco and Target and found that Food Land had the best stuff for us. The kitchen had a coffee maker and a rice cooker as well as all the pots, pans and dishes needed for your stay. The mercantile had very few items and all were priced high even for Hawaii. Hopefully the new store will have an expanded grocery section. The nicknacks at the store were great with some distinctly Aulani items available.

The Spa: Cue the amazing music you hear when something wonderful is about to be revealed. My DD and I enjoyed a wonderful spa day. We were there the week before they closed the outside relaxation garden due to the pool area construction. The outside area was amazing, with two heated tubs, a hot tub, plunge pool and a reflexology walk. You could enjoy any of these of just sit and relax. Inside the spa was a sauna, steam room and relaxation rooms. We tried all of these except the sauna....didn't want to try that as dry air makes DD get nose bleeds! We enjoyed a "couples" massage so we could be in the same room. The massages were amazing! I highly recommend making time to enjoy this amazing spa!

The Kua loa Ranch: DH and DS enjoyed an adventure at the Ranch. They did the ATV tour, jungle tour, ocean adventure and a tour of the movie and TV locations used there. They loved it and would have loved for the ATV tour to have been longer since riding thru the jungle on ATVs is amazing! The scenery there was beautiful and it is what we all think of when we think of Hawaii. They got a lesson on how old the ranch is and how property lines were marked out during the time of the Hawaiian kings. Lots of history lessons during our trip!

Pearl Harbor: no trip to Oahu is complete without a trip to Pearl. Very moving! We booked the tour through the concierge and I highly recommend it. We had an amazing guide in Rocky (yes, his name was Rocky and he jokes about it when he Introduces himself!). He was wonderful at giving us a lot of Hawaiian history that you don't see in the history books. He was also great at making sure that we could actually get to the Arizona memorial as the tours book up fast, and the tickets get scarce! You have to take this tour even if you aren't a history buff. To see the Missouri where the surrender agreement was signed and to look at the oil (or tears as they call it) still bubbling up for the Arizona is something everyone should see. The names of all those people lost on that day. It starts with the viewing of an amazing movie and then a boat ride to the Arizona. You feel a reverent air about the memorial and everyone speaks in hushed tones....no loud talking or laughing. Just remember that this is on an active military base, and when they say no bags, they mean no bags! You will also see the memorial for the Oklahoma which is quite moving. All in all this was a great excursion.

Surf lessons: My DD took surf lessons from the Hawaii Fire group. They were fantastic and had her up in the board in no time! She took a group lesson, and everyone got up on the board at least once. The beach where she took her lessons was part of a state park and all but deserted. It was beautiful and great fun to watch everyone try to hang ten! If you want to try your hand at surfing, let the concierge set this up for you! They have someone taking pictures with a long lens....buy the thumb drive, it is worth it to get those shots of your family up on the board!

Kayaking: my DS tried his hand at kayaking from the beach at Aulani. He rented one of the kayaks from the resort and enjoyed paddling around. He saw sea turtles and other sea life while he was outside the lagoon. They also have paddle boarding in the lagoon and snorkeling at the reef just off the pool. We just ran out of time and couldn't get to everything they had to do there.

So the take away from all of this is that we highly recommend that everyone go to Aulani at least once....just research, research, research the area and the resort and set realistic expectations for the trip. Remember to take some time and just slow down to island time. We saw a bumper sticker that read: "Slow down....you're not on the mainland!" That is the best advice I can give....slow down, relax and take in the beauty and serenity that is Hawaii. We will definitely going back!!
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Many times before but first time on property:
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:20 PM   #2
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We love Hawaii and look forward to trying out Aulani. Thanks for the report
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:16 PM   #3
MissMet
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Thanks for the great review! We're headed to Aulani in 5 days. So excited! Just disappointed about the spa! We're going for a couple's massage on our 1st Anniversary & while the massage I'm sure will be heavenly we were really looking forward to the outside area beforehand.
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:33 PM   #4
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MissMet, the outer area may be reopened. But, if it isn't not to worry. The massage will more than make up for it. We did the lomi lomi massage and it was amazing! My DD said that she would be happy to do that all the time! Enjoy your trip....so jealous that you are headed there!
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Many times before but first time on property:
1996 - Port Orleans; 2001 - CBR (bought DVC); 2003 - OKW; 2004 - WL; 2005 - OKW; 2007 - SSR; 2009 - OKW ; 2010 - SSR & YC; 2011 - AKV & YC; 2012 - SST, VWL
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddoconnell View Post
MissMet, the outer area may be reopened. But, if it isn't not to worry. The massage will more than make up for it. We did the lomi lomi massage and it was amazing! My DD said that she would be happy to do that all the time! Enjoy your trip....so jealous that you are headed there!
I heard it's reopening at the end of May.

Nonetheless, it will still be a great experience. We are also doing the couples lomi lomi with the DVC upgrade. It will be my hubby's first spa experience so I guess it's maybe a good thing...his standards would end up being WAY too high for spas if we got to enjoy the outside area too.
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:47 PM   #6
ddoconnell
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We did the DVC upgrade too....you will absolutely love it!!!!
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Many times before but first time on property:
1996 - Port Orleans; 2001 - CBR (bought DVC); 2003 - OKW; 2004 - WL; 2005 - OKW; 2007 - SSR; 2009 - OKW ; 2010 - SSR & YC; 2011 - AKV & YC; 2012 - SST, VWL
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:34 AM   #7
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Thank you for your trip report. We are interested in the Pearl Harbor tour and were thinking of taking the one arranged at the resort. Glad you had a great time during your stay at Aulani.
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Old 04-30-2013, 08:44 PM   #8
ddoconnell
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MinnieInMI, definitely do the tour thru the resort. It was so easy and no fighting traffic! I hope you get Rocky because he is fantastic!! Have a wonderful trip!!
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Many times before but first time on property:
1996 - Port Orleans; 2001 - CBR (bought DVC); 2003 - OKW; 2004 - WL; 2005 - OKW; 2007 - SSR; 2009 - OKW ; 2010 - SSR & YC; 2011 - AKV & YC; 2012 - SST, VWL
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:18 AM   #9
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ddoconnell - then Rocky it will be! Can't beat not fighting traffic and having a great experience right at the resort. Mahalo
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:45 AM   #10
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So the take away from all of this is that we highly recommend that everyone go to Aulani at least once....just research, research, research the area and the resort and set realistic expectations for the trip.
Thanks so much for the information! Do you have any specific recommendations in terms of research -- sites, books, etc.? I'm so accustomed to Walt Disney World vacations that planning this one has me feeling all out of sorts! In a good way, of course.
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Old 05-26-2013, 10:36 PM   #11
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I enjoyed reading your report and I too just returned from a visit at Aulani from May 19 to May 24. I enjoyed the resort very much and the staff was amazing. I like to think I am a laid back person who doesn't like to complain or get upset about things but I have to say that my first dining experience at Aulani was a let down. I had read from other reviews about some bad dining experiences but I wanted to form my own opinion. My first day I had a late lunch reservation at Ama Ama at 3PM and my table was the perfect location. Ama Ama was not crowded at all and my server only had time to introduce herself and said she would be back. After 15 minutes she never returned and the hostess stopped by to take my order. My server did drop off my food but that's it. She never stopped by to asks how my meal was going or if I needed a refill on my tea (my steak burger was not very good but I ate it all). I sat with an empty plate in front of me for 20 minutes before I flagged down someone else to get my check. I complained about the service and this other server apologized but I told him it was not his fault. I should have asked for a manager but I just wanted to get out.
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddoconnell View Post
Room: like I said before, we had a dedicated two bedroom villa. Gotta say it was amazing! It was so quiet that we didn't hear the water park unless we opened the doors to the balcony. The kitchen had everything we needed and was a great size for the four of us. We cooked most meals in the villa so that we could maximize our resort time. Ample seating for down time and the table had plenty of elbow room when we were eating.
This is a great report. Thank you for sharing.

Would anyone have any idea on the possibility of getting a room booked via DVC at the 7 month window? We’ll need two studios for June 2015. Standard, garden, pool, or ocean view, the room type is not a concern. After all we will be in Hawaii and not spending much time in the room.
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddoconnell View Post
We did the DVC upgrade too....you will absolutely love it!!!!
What's the DVC upgrade? And can you direct me to stuff about spa pricing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bonrea View Post
This is a great report. Thank you for sharing.

Would anyone have any idea on the possibility of getting a room booked via DVC at the 7 month window? We’ll need two studios for June 2015. Standard, garden, pool, or ocean view, the room type is not a concern. After all we will be in Hawaii and not spending much time in the room.
We booked at the 7 month mark for June 29th-July 3rd.... We knew that was the ballpark of when we wanted to travel bc of hubby's work, so I called that 7month day, and took the only four-nights in a 2 bedroom I could get, and then we built the rest of our trip (the Kahala resort and a stop at Disneyland) around the Aulani dates.
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:54 PM   #14
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We did the DVC upgrade too....you will absolutely love it!!!!
What is the DVC upgrade?

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Old 06-16-2013, 08:23 AM   #15
ddoconnell
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For those that have asked, the DVC upgrade is a step up in the massage that you get for no additional cost. My DD and I loved it! We had the lomi lomi massage with the hot stones. We booked the couples massage and they upgraded us to the hot stone lomi lomi. We did the couples massage so she wasn't by herself. SE highly recommends the massage package!! 😀
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Many times before but first time on property:
1996 - Port Orleans; 2001 - CBR (bought DVC); 2003 - OKW; 2004 - WL; 2005 - OKW; 2007 - SSR; 2009 - OKW ; 2010 - SSR & YC; 2011 - AKV & YC; 2012 - SST, VWL
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