TRIP REPORT - July 2018 Waikiki and Aulani FIRST Visit! Last for Aulani

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by scottmel, Aug 13, 2018.

  1. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    I have been home a few short weeks and I miss Hawaii! This was our first visit ever and being from the East Coast, transportation was a huge challenge for me. When to book, who to fly, where to fly to etc etc. - all this and so much more!

    Before I get into the particulars, I want to add a disclaimer. I hope this trip report proves helpful in deciding IF Aulani is right for you and if it is, how long to visit for. I had difficulty with this in my trip research. I don't think this will be your typical trip report :)

    Party of 3 - Me, DH(53) and DD(college aged).We had decided early on to visit Disneyland on the way to Hawaii. This will be our 3rd visit in as many years to Disneyland and my daughter, although in college, still loves it! So we felt this would ease the time zone difference. So after four fun filled park and Long Beach Aquarium days (With private otter tour at aquarium which I highly recommend!) - we were ready to fly to HNL.

    Very recently, I think January, Long Beach Airport began flying straight to HNL direct on Hawaiiian Air. Perfect! Helped us to avoid the LAX dreaded commute. We booked first class seating in January for a July trip and the price never budged lower. While antiquated, the airport was easily accessed from Disneyland.

    We were flying in Hawiian Airline's newer planes and they are really streamlined. The seats were VERY comfortable. Oversized. First Class service was fantastic and trip was around 6 hours. The food they served was paced well and the onboard entertainment system was great. We are officially spoiled after this flight!

    We took Charlie's Taxi for a flat rate of 29.00, plus tip, from HNL to Waikiki. This worked in our favor as their was some traffic and a few slow downs. Few pictures attached of our flight - so hard to get a good picture of airplane seats but I was trying to show the distance between the seats!

    Up next.....checking into the most MARVELOUS hotel in Waikiki! hawaii4.jpg Plane1.jpg plane3.jpg plane2.jpg
     
  2. eeyorefanuk

    eeyorefanuk DIS Veteran

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    I loved doing wakikiki, aulani and Disneyland so can’t wait for this report and to find out which Waikiki hotel
     
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  4. alohamom

    alohamom DIS Veteran

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    Ohhh I cant wait to hear all about it. Thanks for posting the first class pics, the menu looks great!
     
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  5. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    I analyzed our hotel stay like crazy. WHERE to stay. HOW long. WHICH hotel, etc. I drove myself crazy. I knew from the beginning, I had to stay in Aulani at least for part of the trip - we are huge Disney fans, of course! I wanted to end the trip in Aulani. This probably was the first mistake I made.

    For now though, I will focus on Waikiki. There is SO much to do here. Coming from the East coast, we are familiar with larger cities like NYC, Chicago, DC, etc. We have also visited LA many times and Waikiki felt like the most perfect blend of all of this. Very clean. Very upscale. Very bustling. As much as I love this activity, I knew at night I would prefer a bit quieter more upscale hotel. The two big contenders were Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Halekulani Hotel. Both had a lot of pluses but ultimately we chose Halekulani for its reputation of impeccable customer service, beach location and relatively small footprint. The upscale feel of the property was so noticeable. There are a lot of Japanese guests here as they do cater to Japanese weddings. We always saw small ones going on but never any noise, never any commotion. The hotel was at 100 percent capacity when we were there but I felt like no one but a handful of guests existed! I never once saw another guest in my hallway on the way to my room and rarely did I share an elevator with anyone. The hotel was at capacity yet you felt like you were the guest at a private resort. It was surreal.

    Upon check in, around 12 noon, we were told our room was not quite ready yet and offered free drink vouchers to which we used while we enjoyed lunch at their house restaurant "House Without a Key". Perfect open air dining with gorgeous views of diamond head and the beach. Delicious reasonable priced food. I think we ate here three times this trip! Highly recommend to dine here regardless of where you stay in Waikiki. Something about ukulele music playing in the past while you dine near the ocean really puts you in the Hawaii mood!

    While eating, we received a phone call that our room was ready. We were personally escorted to the room while given a hotel tour. It would remind me of how Disney treats club level guests. The Room? It was PERFECTION. Our room was huge - I think around 600 square feet including the lanai. Simply gorgeous. I loved the bathroom. It reminded me of the bath at the 1 bedroom at Old Key West for some reason. There is not much beach access at all, we called it a swimming cove really, but honestly that never bothered us. We relaxed at the pool and when ready, just opened a small gate and was standing pretty much in the water at high tide! We could have easily taken a short cut to walk to Royal Hawaiian Hotel beach, which is large, but we were very happy with where we were. I could see if you had small children this could be a safety issue without much beach but we were fine. Waves definitely had a lot of punch here and we loved it. We spent the rest of the day at the pool/beach - I loved how they set up lounge chairs for you and covered each with a terrycloth fitted cover while providing you with complimentary bottled water and frozen bananas. :)

    It was an early night for us tonight. We were all in bed by 8 pm! We had a Hawaii 5 0 Tour scheduled the following morning. Huge fans of the show and this was something I was REALLY looking forward to this trip!
    Sign.jpg house without kdy.jpg View 3.jpg pool 2.jpg Beach Access.jpg Bath.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
  6. eeyorefanuk

    eeyorefanuk DIS Veteran

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    Hotel looks lovely. We stayed at the outrigger Waikiki beach and loved how calm and quiet the hotel was inside.

    How spooky I am already writing a list for Hawaii next time and the Hawaii 5 0 tour is on there
     
  7. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    I get my outriggers mixed up but I THINK The beach one is the one right next door to Halekalani. I really love that general area. Mere 5 minute walk to fun! Definitely put Hawaii 5 0 tour on your list. I highly recommend Zoom as your driver. The other driver's passengers indicated they wished they had requested the same....I noticed on your name tag you were thinking of adding San Diego to your trip. We did that last year and LOVED IT there! Gorgeous!
     
  8. eeyorefanuk

    eeyorefanuk DIS Veteran

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    We were right by the “pink palace” and few steps from the beach with dukes restaurant :)

    Yes I agree close to restaurants and shops but on the beach perfect spot

    I will we watch every episode though miss chin and kona.

    We are tagging San Diego on before the DCL panama cruise. We have two half days there. One day is taken up but just cannot decide on the other one ..... too much choice ..... no car so thinking of La Jolla tour.... any thoughts?
     
  9. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    DAY 2 - PART 1

    The morning started EARLY! We were due at the Hula Grill for breakfast at 6:30. Hula Grill is located in the Outrigger and it had rated one of the top breakfast spots. We left the hotel at 6 AM to grab some hot tea in the lobby. That is one thing that surprised is there was no hot tea or coffee maker in our room. But it was available in the lobby so we grabbed tea on the way out. A quiet walk thru Halekalani Hotel

    Hotel Grouds.jpg

    SHops.jpg

    The view at the Hula Grill was lovely. I had the avocado toast and it was good. I recommend to DH and DD the pancakes that seem to get rave reviews. They proved to be just ok. Huge portion but we didn't finish them. We took note on leaving where the pickup point was at this hotel for tour buses as we were being picked up here tomorrow for our Pearl Harbor tour because our hotel can't accept pick ups or drop off in tour vans. Driveway too small?

    We were picked up promptly at 8 am for our Hawaii 5 0 Tour. The company is called Hawaiian Jeep and Specialty Tours and they came highly rated. Both guides that run this tour, in separate vans, work on the show in some capacity. Our guide, Zoom, was super friendly and funny and an extra on the show. We toured the city of Waikiki stopping at many spots were the show was shot and a video clip was played to refresh our memories. We stopped a lot for photo ops. Fans of the show will instantly recognize Danny's favorite spot, the exterior of the houses of Kono, Lou, Danny, etc. Most of the interior shots are done in a studio. Fun fact the McGarrett house is a private residence that is super popular with weddings and the show had to film around the weddings. After the first season, they actually rebuilt the inside of the house in the studio and now just use the original house for exterior shots in the backyard or front of the house. Visiting this house is not promised on the tour, but we were able to. The owner has the sweetest dog. The backyard is lovely!

    501.jpg 500.jpg 512.jpg 511.jpg 999.jpg standup.jpg




    As we were sitting on the chair's in Steve's backyard, my phone rang. It was my tour guide for tomorrow's Pearl Harbor Tour asking if I minded having a free lunch on our tour tomorrow. They were testing a new tour that included lunch and needed to have a test run. Sure!

    Filming for the show is July thru May but we did not see any filming happening. The our lasted around 4.5 hours and was really enjoyable!

    Up Next... Part 2 of our day!
     

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  10. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    Oops! Forgot pictures of Steve's backyard
    Steve Backyard.jpg
     
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  11. eeyorefanuk

    eeyorefanuk DIS Veteran

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    Fab :)
    The hula grill was in our outrigger. We went to dukes :)
     
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  12. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    YES! https://www.sandiegoprivatetours.com/ -Julie is owner, only guide, books fast. Excellent day. She takes you EVERYWHERE you want to go. Fantastic day with her. We saw ALL of San Diego in one day and next day went to the zoo and felt like we saw pretty much the city!
     
  13. eeyorefanuk

    eeyorefanuk DIS Veteran

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    Oh brilliant thank you will look that up later. Sounds promising. Very excited now getting closer. Booked the cruise May 2017
     
  14. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    Oh no she picks you up in a car - you pick where you want to go. We chose the city, la jolla, balboa park, gaslight district, old towne. It was fantastic. You obviously get out many many times at stops to see stuff but by no means are you on a walking tour. She takes you everywhere. We got hooked on private tours in LA and have found his is the best way to see a city. We loved LA Jolla! seeing the seals, lunch at Duke's, shopping - we just loved our day Highly recommend Julie. Incredible knowledge and you design what you want to see! :)
     
  15. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    Day 2 - Part 2



    In continuing with our Hawaii 5 0 Tour, we sought out the area of filming where the Shrimp Truck is normally parked in Hilton Hawaiian Village. This is NOT the same shrimp truck but it is the same area. It was pretty hot today and we walked over from Halekalani. 10 minute walk maybe? Of any hotel in Waikiki, this reminds me of Aulani. It has the lagoon, beach area, a lot of people and very family friendly. The village has many shops and you feel as though you are on a resort in and of itself. To be honest, it is nicer than I envisioned, although I was never INSIDE the building. I heard the rainbow tower was a nice place to stay!

    After sharing a few plates of shrimp here, we headed back to the beach/pool area at our hotel to enjoy some outdoor time after lunch.

    Around 5 pm we ventured upstairs to get ready in our room to head out for a night on the town. We were about a 5 minute walk from the main busy shopping area. We fell in love with Hawaiian Cookie Company! They are every bit as good as they claim to be! I love the upscale shopping here - their Louis Vuitton and Tiffany store is multi-leveled though the merchandise is not what I see in the USA.The LV store has a lot of clothes and not many monogram bags 0 more the solid. Maybe that is what the Japanese tourists are into? I don't know.I needed a new phone case but ended up ordering one on line instead! The shops are upscale and plentiful and I really like the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Good food court too, we tried that later in the week :) The interior of the mall is gorgeous and we prefered this mall over the Aloa Moana Mall.

    Little bit of shopping, little bit of snacking and we were home by 9 pm. Yet ANOTHER early day tomorrow - Pearl Harbor! We were due at 6 Am for our pick up!!! Getting to bed was early was easy thanks to the time difference!!!

    Hilton Sign.jpg Hilton Lagoon.jpg Hilton3.jpg Hilton 6.jpg hilton 7.jpg Garlic Shrimp.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  16. eeyorefanuk

    eeyorefanuk DIS Veteran

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    Thank you

    Yes we did a day tour in Hawaii and it was fab

    Las jolla is one of the places I want to go to

    Ooooooo and dukes

    Gets even better
     
  17. eeyorefanuk

    eeyorefanuk DIS Veteran

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    Oooooo I forgot how good the Hawaiian cookie company is

    I love seeing shots of Hilton Hawaiian on Hawaii 5 0
     
  18. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    Day 3 - Pearl Harbor

    We booked a tour thru Polynesian Adventures through Tickets At Work at a pretty decent savings. As I mentioned earlier, they included a free sit down lunch a the last minute. The tour bus was what they called luxury bus and was small maybe 24 seats? Very comfortable. Great guide who narrated the city as we went and got us organized at Pearl Harbor with a meeting point etc. No lines, no hassle. Our tour included the boat ride to see the memorial - we could not get out, just rode around and near it - as well as tickets to the Mighty Mo. I thought it was a good match - they have other packages that are longer but this was 9 hours including lunch and transportation. I enjoyed the narrated tour of the city on the way home. We were able to jump off the bus in a few spots for photos.

    After the tour, I had an appointment at the spa at the Halekalani for their deluxe pedicure. I have to say they did an amazing job, 4 weeks later and it still hasn't chipped! We had a quick dinner from the Steak Shack which was quite good and quite close to the hotel.

    A very full day really! Pearl 4.jpg pearl6.jpg pearl7.jpg
     

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  19. ShirikiUtundu

    ShirikiUtundu Cursed Idol

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    I was hoping you'd say you stayed at the Halekulani. I have wanted to try it out, just to see what all the fuss is about. I am glad to hear that you loved it. We've stayed at several places in Waikiki but usually end up coming back to the Moana Surfrider. But we have a breakfast at House without a Key on every trip. I have been eyeing the Halekulani for our next trip. Your review might have edged me over...
     
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  20. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    I was SO impressed with it. Honestly no place I have ever stayed at came close to the feeling I had staying here. We just rebooked for July 2019 for 11 days!!
     
  21. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    Day 4 - Sleeper Hit of the trip!

    This was a weird day. Weird because I was trying to cram so much into it! A benefit of staying at the Halekalani is you get free passes to all the cultural things in the city. Bishop museum, The Palace, Symphony, etc. You can also sign up for a backstage tour of the hotel. Yes that sounds odd but stuff like this really interests me! We did this a the Grand Californian at Disneyland and I always enjoy the behind the scenes peeks.

    Well before I get ahead of myself with that....the morning STARTED at 6 AM with a hike to Diamond Head. Uber ride there so that was easy enough! We had so much planned today that an early start was crucial as well as helping with the heat! Hike took about 25 minutes up, relaxed for 20 minutes a the summit and then hiked down. Uber ride home, shower and we were ready for the first of our 2 tours today! We became Shave ice experts on this trip and the one at the base of Diamond Head is just ok!

    The backstage hotel tour is lead by an 89 year old woman named, Melba, who is a GEM! She took us to the florist, the bakeries (cookies and roll samples too), to the laundry room that was amazing to see, the staff break room where they are fed buffet meals for free all day which I thought was so nice, and a tour of the 8k a night suite! The tour ended at House without a key for a complimentary drink and slice of coconut cake. The entire tour was 90 minutes and we just loved it. It was one of those things I was doing because I was there but in hindsight, I am so happy to have experienced! She taught us so much about the history of the hotel and it was neat to learn of her 40 year experience there!

    We had to rush a bit from here to make it to our Koaloha ukulele factory tour at 1 pm today. My daughter loves ukuleles and has one but has always wanted a Koa Wood one - which of course is a wood native to Hawaii. There are few factories from other manufacturers in the area, but this one got really nice reviews and they have a showroom where they sell "seconds" which honestly you need a microscope to spot a tiny scratch of a flaw. I am not sure WHAT my daughter was expecting this showroom to have but she was so excited to go. My husband and I were luke warm on it but hey - she was excited so off we went.

    Well the place was so cute. It was run by the whole family, everything made by hand and the amount of time and love that went into production there was so obvious. We so enjoyed the 70 minute tour of the workshop and the owner's granddaughter was there to perform who tours locally. Of course we ended up buying an instrument - not cheap at all. Maybe 25 percent off? But she loves it!!! It was funny as she was carrying it around on the way home a few people assumed she was a local and going to ukulele school. (She is Asian Poly mixture!) . She fit right in!

    Rest of the day we hung at the pool and went for Udon noodles at dinner. The place ALWAYS has a line but goes quick. Very cheap and very good really! It was a busy day and I think AGAIN we were in bed at 9 PM but had our alarm set for 3 AM to try to get concert tickets the following morning for an east coast and! DH1.jpg DH2.jpg DH3).jpg DH3).jpg
    melba.jpg
    melba2.jpg uk1.jpg uk3.jpg uk4.jpg uk6.jpg Noodle pic.jpg
     

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