Aulani First Timer! Trip Report June 21-25, 2018

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by Almondmilktea, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Almondmilktea

    Almondmilktea Earning My Ears

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    Returned from my first visit to Aulani in June. Pretty much fell in :love: with the place during our 4 night stay and already plan to return June 2020 with relatives. Finally found some time to sit down and write a report…

    Background/Booking

    So one of my buddies bought into DVC back in 2014, and after hearing about it for a few years, finally decided to look into it June 2017. Ended up making a bid for an Aulani contract on the resale market, and it was accepted near the end of July 2017. We received our membership number and points near beginning of October and booked a 1br island garden room from June 21-25, 2018 for myself, my girlfriend, sister, and 8-year old niece. :dogdance:

    My buddy and his family (dad, brother, sister, 12-yr old niece, brother-in-law) decided to stay the entire week and booked two separate reservations:

    2br lock-off on June 18-21 that was booked using MY Aulani contract points
    2br dedicated on June 21-25 that was booked using HIS Saratoga Springs points

    I sent in a request to be in the Ewa Building on the highest floor possible with a room number ending in ’77 or ’83. My buddy sent in a similar request for his 2br’s.

    (I’m bringing all this up as it will come up later on)

    We started looking for flights in January 2018, but it was pretty expensive (IMO) during the month of June. We live in the Bay Area, CA and I recall that they were around $550-650/pp based on the Hopper app. Prices didn’t really move much so by early April, my sister and I went to plan B and each applied for an Alaska Airlines credit card with the free companion fare certificate after spending $1000. Met the spending and got our companion certificates by the 3rd week of May. By that time, prices had crept up to over $700/pp :worried:, but using the companion certificates helped us save. 10 months after having our offer accepted, we were set for our first trip home to Aulani!

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
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  2. Almondmilktea

    Almondmilktea Earning My Ears

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    Day 1 – Travel Day!

    Our Alaska Airlines flight was scheduled to leave San Jose airport at 7:10am. We live about 40min drive away, so left the house just before 5am. Traffic was light most of the way, with only a few areas where it was stop-and-go. We had time to stop at a McDonald’s drive thru on the way for breakfast. Got dropped off, tagged our bags at the kiosk, and got them checked. It took about 10 minutes to go thru security with the TSA Pre line about 10 deep. The non-TSA Pre line was much, much longer. Boarded the plan shortly after and we were off!

    The flight was thankfully uneventful. We did see the lagoons from the window when we were close to landing. We arrived earlier than scheduled, and by the time we got our bags and found the Uber/Lyft area, it was about 9:45am HNL time. We had considered renting a car for this trip, but decided against it because we heard from other families that their kids preferred staying at the resort the entire time. That was pretty much what we ended up doing, so it turned out to be a good decision. Also, my buddy did rent a minivan for his family of 6, so we were able to grab a ride to Costco/Target for supplies.

    My sister’s friend suggested we try Alicia’s Market for lunch, so we took a Lyft over. I probably should have Yelped it first, because we found out upon arrival that it was closed due to a fire. Bummer.

    https://www.yelp.com/biz/alicias-ma...opup&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=(direct)

    Not wanting to Lyft elsewhere with all our luggage, we ended up eating at the deli in the same building/lot. Guess they weren’t damaged by the fire. The food there was fine, but I think I would have enjoyed some of the food at Alicia’s more.

    https://www.yelp.com/biz/k-c-lunch-and-deli-honolulu

    Got another Lyft ride at 11am and arrived at Aulani at 11:30am on the dot. It cost $50.38, but Lyft had a coupon that took 25% off up to $10, so the ride ended up costing $40+tip. Not bad!

    We were greeted by a CM, given lei’s (some nut necklace for me, can’t remember what it is called). Our rooms weren’t ready yet, so we were given a keycard for the Luana Lounge where we could change. Left our bags at the bell desk, changed at the lounge, and walked around.

    My buddy had already arrived a few days prior, but since his stay was on separate reservations, had checked out just before we arrived and was also waiting for their room. Saw them briefly before they drove out to lunch.

    We decided to explore and after walking around the pool and beach areas, grabbed our wristbands, and found two open chairs by the Waikolohe pool. Jumped in the pool, sat in the sun for a bit, then went to explore the shops. Bought a refillable drink cup, and then walked across the street to check out the stores across the street. The Vintage Kona Mocha at Island Vintage Coffee was so good, we ended up going back there every day of the trip for one.

    By the time we walked back, our room was ready.

    Recall in the earlier Background post when I mentioned requesting a high floor room in the Ewa tower, room ending in ’77 or ‘83? We ended up in room 477. Guess one out of two ain’t bad.

    My buddy checked out at 11am, but when he asked which room he would be assigned earlier that morning, was told he was on the 15th floor. By the time he got his room, it was changed to room 481. When he inquired about the change, he was told our two rooms were the only ones they could find that were next to each other.

    Strange thing is, we didn’t request our rooms to be next to each other. In fact, our reservations for June 21-25 were made using separate membership numbers. And when he called earlier that morning, he was told he would be on the 15th floor.

    So what happened?

    We aren’t sure, and didn’t inquire further. After discussing it amongst ourselves, we think that someone, or their system, saw that I had booked my buddy’s first reservation, and assumed we wanted to be together during our stay. It actually turned out to be a plus that we were so close as we had planned a dinner in their 2br one of the nights in advance. Having them down the hall made it much easier. Plus, being on the 4th floor meant a quicker elevator ride, which we didn’t mind! We will return and get a better view in the future.

    In any case, after resting up for a bit, my friend then took us to Costco and Target for groceries, mostly breakfast items to last us the entire 4 days and things we needed for our pre-planned in-room dinner.

    We had 8:30pm reservations for 10 people at the Makahiki buffet. Have to say, it wasn’t the best buffet I’ve ever had, especially at the $50 price point, but the seafood was fresh and so I think I would do it again in the future. I had maybe 4 refills of the pineapple juice :yay:. By the end of dinner, my family was pretty tired so we went to bed.

    To be continued...
    View when I first walked in :welcome:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  4. Almondmilktea

    Almondmilktea Earning My Ears

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    Day 2 – Beach Day

    I was wide awake by 5:45am due to the time difference. Texted my friends to see if they were up. They were, so we made a coffee run at Ulu Café with our refillable mugs. The resort is so peaceful in the mornings. Grabbed some hot chocolate packets for my niece, and filled up our mugs with coffee. Returned to the room and started making breakfast around 7:30am. Originally, my plan was to book a studio, but I’m so happy we splurged for a 1br with a full kitchen. Being able to cook breakfast every morning was not only cost effective, but it let us get ready for the day at a comfortable pace. While I cooked, my sister went down to the beach to save some chairs. It turned out we didn’t have to do that for the beach, but hey, we’re newbies :rolleyes1

    We went down to the beach :beach: by 9am and it wasn’t crowded at all. I borrowed some boogie boards from the shack, and we pretty much jumped in and out of the lagoon until 2pm. Found out later that I used some expired sun block, so my back got kind of red. Oops :o Thankfully, it didn’t turn out too bad, and the redness was the worst of it. Check those expiration dates on your sunblock, people!! :rotfl2:

    For lunch, we bought an order of chicken tenders at Mama’s Snack Shop, and ate some poke we bought from Costco. Before returning to our room for a mid-afternoon nap, we made an Island Vintage Coffee run and some aloe gel from the ABC market for my sun burn.

    Refreshed from our nap, we went down to check out the lazy river around 6pm. Probably my and my niece's favorite feature of this resort, the lazy river is just….awesome. There isn’t much more I can say about it. We went around twice, and then hung out by the Ka Maka Grotto pool and spa until it closed at 8pm.

    Walked across the street to Just Tacos for dinner. I had one of the burritos, which was humongous. My girlfriend had the fish tacos, which we’re excellent and made me wish I ordered that instead. Guess I should have followed the name of the restaurant :confused3

    View from the lounge chairs on the beach:

    [​IMG]

    Caught the tail end of a wedding from our balcony:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  5. Almondmilktea

    Almondmilktea Earning My Ears

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    Forgot to mention...while walking around Aulani on arrival day, we noticed a lot of people had waterproof pouches around their neck for their phones. The store at Aulani sells them for $30. The ABC market across the street has them for $20.

    During our Target run, we bought some for $10 each:
    https://www.target.com/p/wemco-153-waterproof-phone-bag-cell-phone-case-black/-/A-53151996

    Of course, Amazon.com has them for much cheaper (2 for $8), but we didn't come prepared:
    https://www.amazon.com/Mpow-Universal-Waterproof-iPhone-Samsung/dp/B01I1430WQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1531326633&sr=8-3&keywords=waterproof+pouch+for+swimming&dpID=511De52%2BE-L&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch
     
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  6. GAN

    GAN DIS Veteran

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    Loving your trip report. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  7. scrappydew

    scrappydew l wish I were at Aulani!

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    I'm enjoying reading about your trip!
     
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  8. Almondmilktea

    Almondmilktea Earning My Ears

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    Day 3 – Pool Day

    Woke up around 6am again, but my family was still fast asleep. Texted my friends in the other suite, but didn’t get a response. Guess nobody had issues acclimating to “Hawaii Time”. :tiptoe: And so, I made a solo coffee run at the Ulu Café, being sure to grab a few more hot chocolate packets.

    Found out yesterday from a CM while in line for a wristband at the main tent (next to Menehune Bridge) that they also issue them at another location near the Ka Maka Grotto. This spot, called Kawele Korner, has a separate DVC member line between 8-9am. Sometimes the line at the main tent was pretty long, especially at 8am, so getting the wristbands at the other location was a helpful tip. :thumbsup2

    During my coffee run, I scoped out where Kawele Korner was so we could return later. Returned to the room and had some coffee on the balcony. People in my suite started stirring by 7am and so we began to prepare the day. My niece wanted to swim in the pool, lazy river, and possibly try out a slide today, so at 7:30am, my sister went downstairs to reserve some chairs with a shade.

    We’ve been keeping an eye open for shady spots under umbrellas and trees since Day 1, so my sister was able to choose a few good seats that we were sure to be relatively shaded. She waited at the seats until 8am, left some towels on the chairs to hold them, and returned to the room. During that time, I cooked breakfast and got ready. After breakfast, we returned to our chairs, got our wristbands at Kawele Korner, and jumped into the pool. We rotated between the pool and lazy river until the early afternoon.

    At the lazy river, my niece (and our family) got to try the tube slide. Doubles for my niece the first a few times, then surprisingly, she was willing to go down on the tube solo. She LOVED the tube slide!

    I also went down non-tube slide, which was also fun.

    By the early afternoon, it was time for all of us to head back to the room for a nap. It also started getting really windy, enough that the CM’s had to close all the umbrellas. Bye bye shade. I also need to prepare for dinner at my buddy’s 2br suite, so the break couldn’t have come at a better time.

    When my niece woke up, she requested to go back to the lazy river, so we went back down for a few more rotations and did the slide again when we saw the lines were short.

    Up until this point, I hadn’t walked along the path to the left of the lagoon, so my gf and I started heading in that direction. We walked to the rocks and stayed to watch the sunset. What a beautiful sight!

    For dinner, my friend and I had planned before arrival on making a prime rib using our sous vide machines, which we brought from home. We bought a 7lb prime rib from Costco on Day 1, and started the water bath at around 3pm. I must have used 50 salt/pepper packets combined from the cafe to season that thing! :rotfl: The largest pots in our kitchens would not fit our 7lb roast, so we had to cut it in half and use two pots. Thankfully, we each brought our own machines!

    Our shady spot by the pool

    [​IMG]

    Mickey spam musubi from Ulu Cafe. Apparently, they are ready around 11am and are usually sold out by 3pm. Get them early!

    [​IMG]

    Aulani from the rocks :love:

    [​IMG]

    Sunset

    [​IMG]

    Sous Vide prime rib

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  9. pharmama

    pharmama DIS Veteran

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    Enjoying your report- thank you for sharing! Do you have any more pics besides the wedding one of the view from your balcony? I plan to make the same request as you but would be good to know what it will look like if we don't get the high floor part either...
     
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  10. Almondmilktea

    Almondmilktea Earning My Ears

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    Apparently, I didn't take very many pictures from the balcony using my phone.

    My friend took this one from room 481. We were to the left of this in room 477. Both are Island View rooms.
    [​IMG]

    My friend also had this view from room 1577, which was before I arrived. It is a 2br lock-off Island View category, so it can also be split into a 1br and studio.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Definitely checkout this Aulani views post in this forum. The building diagrams really helped me when I was requesting my room.
    https://www.disboards.com/threads/aulani-villas-views-updated-03-21-2017.3570961/
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  11. pharmama

    pharmama DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for the photos! I've spent lots of time in the Aulani villas views thread (which was how I arrived at basically the same room request plan as you had :) ) but it can be frustrating with how many of them don't have working photos anymore so I appreciate the recent ones!
     
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  12. Almondmilktea

    Almondmilktea Earning My Ears

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    Day 4 - Pool Day again

    The morning of Day 4 essentially started the same way as Day 3, so I won't go into much detail.

    - Morning coffee run, this time at 6:30am (I'm finally starting to adjust to the time change!).
    - My sister went to reserve shady seats by the pool while I cooked breakfast
    - After breakfast, we went to the pool/lazy river/slides

    This day had probably the worst weather of our trip. Somewhat cloudy, windy (not as windy as yesterday), but slightly cooler by a few degrees, and every so often, there were random showers that lasted less than a few minutes. This weather wouldn't last, as it warmed up drastically by Day 5.

    At about 11am, my gf and I went off to Island Vintage Coffee for another mocha, this time with my friends+family. I had been raving about it every day, so he wanted to see what the fuss was about. As we were nearing the Aulani lobby, we stopped at a pop-up shop that was selling clearance items. The group ended up buying some necklaces and bracelets. I almost bought that suitcase pictured below! It was the last one, and while I was thinking about it, someone snapped it up :charac2:

    [​IMG]

    We spent the rest of the day by the pool/lazy river/slides, and ended it in the spas until just before it closed at 8pm.

    For dinner, we decided on Monkeypod. Our table shared the corn chowder (yum!), lobster pizza (wish it had more lobster, but still good), fish tacos (excellent), and fish n' chips (also good).
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  13. Almondmilktea

    Almondmilktea Earning My Ears

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    Day 5 - Leaving Paradise

    Again, the day started with a morning coffee run and breakfast in the room. We finish most of our food during these few days and didn't have much left over at all :thumbsup2

    After breakfast, we changed into our swimsuits again and went down for one last dip in the lazy river, went down the slides a few more times, and spent some time in the spa until 10am. Returned to our room to shower and pack. Checked out a little past 11am, left our bags at the bell desk, and walked to the ABC grocery store to eat lunch.

    Have to say, the hot food they offer there is really great value, and was good for the price we paid!

    Pork adobo was $6.50

    [​IMG]

    Garlic Butter Shrimp plate was $11.50

    [​IMG]

    We also ordered a cup of clam chowder (salty), and a plate of Kimchi fried rice that was good, but so large that we couldn't finish it. Will be sure to return on future trips for lunch/dinner.

    After lunch, we walked over to checkout the Four Seasons. It was rather empty and didn't have much going on. Looked nice and swanky though! I'd much rather stay at Aulani with the lazy river :dancer:

    Returned to Aulani, called the Lyft, and we were off to HNL. :sad::sad::sad: The return cost $42.31, but the 25% coupon dropped the price down to $32.69.

    Flight back to the mainland left on-time, and we landed in Oakland airport around 11:30pm.

    And that's it. Thanks for reading!
     
  14. Timothy02359

    Timothy02359 Mouseketeer

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    Great report! Thanks for sharing.
     
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  15. a742246

    a742246 And, and, and I caught a fish this big!

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    Thank you for sharing, great report!
     
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  16. AZMermaid

    AZMermaid DIS Veteran

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    Awesome report! That shrimp looks yummy!
     
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  17. Sunclytie

    Sunclytie Earning My Ears

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    Love your avatar, and great trip report.
     
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  18. AussieDisneyfans

    AussieDisneyfans Earning My Ears

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    Great trip report. My daughter and I are heading to Aulani in early December 2019, so reading up all I can.
     
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  19. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Loving the report! We've been to Aulani 4 times now and are looking forward to visiting again next year.
     
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  20. kittylady1972

    kittylady1972 Disneyholic

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    Your trip report sounds like how I'd really like to end our first Hawaii trip...next week! We are staying in 3 different resorts, but that last 3 nights are at Aulani. Your report gave me some great ideas on how to just enjoy the resort while we are there.
     
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  21. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Would love to hear what you think of Aulani compared to the other resorts once you return.
     
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