Unfortunately disappointed compared to WDW resorts

Mackenzie Click-Mickelson

Chugging along the path of life
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
So why would non Disney fans go? It’s a super nice hotel, and the lagoons in my opinion have the best swimming of any Hawaiian resort.
If it was the only place in town maybe. But that's the point Disney built it for their Disney clientele. When you're not really into Disney you're not even going to look at it. If your kids aren't into Disney why would you want to take them to a place where you can pay for them to see them? As far as lagoons there's 3 lagoons there, Disney isn't the only one to get that. And to some, including my husband and I, that's a large con to us. My husband would have been bored to tears with it and much preferred where we were at and to be fair he was like that in Negril, Jamaica as it was more wading and not swimming. It's been a bit but Marriott at least the grounds that we saw was quite beautiful and Longhi's view so peaceful and the tiramisu pancakes divine!

There's also plenty of places you can get a water park. Actually the for rent by owner place we rented the owner had Wet N Wild tickets for us just for being guests although we did not use them. And no I'm not comparing Wet N Wild to Aulani, just giving an example.

What this thread is about is a Disney person going to a Disney place comparing their experience. But ask people who are just not into Disney if their choice was Aulani vs some other place and chance are they are likely going to go elsewhere especially if they get get hotel reward points. But that's fine because they are going to places that match what they are looking for. You call Aulani unique and I would agree but there's a reason why the other hotels are built the way they are because they are appealing to the masses which is what I was commenting about.
 

Paul Stupin

New DVC Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
If it was the only place in town maybe. But that's the point Disney built it for their Disney clientele. When you're not really into Disney you're not even going to look at it. If your kids aren't into Disney why would you want to take them to a place where you can pay for them to see them? As far as lagoons there's 3 lagoons there, Disney isn't the only one to get that. And to some, including my husband and I, that's a large con to us. My husband would have been bored to tears with it and much preferred where we were at and to be fair he was like that in Negril, Jamaica as it was more wading and not swimming. It's been a bit but Marriott at least the grounds that we saw was quite beautiful and Longhi's view so peaceful and the tiramisu pancakes divine!

There's also plenty of places you can get a water park. Actually the for rent by owner place we rented the owner had Wet N Wild tickets for us just for being guests although we did not use them. And no I'm not comparing Wet N Wild to Aulani, just giving an example.

What this thread is about is a Disney person going to a Disney place comparing their experience. But ask people who are just not into Disney if their choice was Aulani vs some other place and chance are they are likely going to go elsewhere especially if they get get hotel reward points. But that's fine because they are going to places that match what they are looking for. You call Aulani unique and I would agree but there's a reason why the other hotels are built the way they are because they are appealing to the masses which is what I was commenting about.
All good points. We love the Marriott Ko Olina as well, but it could be anywhere, there‘s nothing distinctly Hawaiian about it. Re the water park, yes, of course we could go buy tickets to some other water park facility, but that has nothing to do with the fact that the hotel itself has an amazing lazy river. We’re not water park people and frankly would never take the time to journey off property and buy tickets to visit one.
Same thing with the lagoons. We tend to primarily use the beach associated with the resort where we’re staying. I love the lagoon for swimming and snorkeling, but I’m not going to drive up to Ko Olina to experience it unless I’m staying there.
 

Paul Stupin

New DVC Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
I love that people think a 16 story, thousand room hotel owned by a billion dollar behemoth corporation is the truest expression of real Hawaii culture.
Ha! Yeah, weird isn’t it?! But that billion dollar behemoth corporation actually took years to research and consult with Oahu residents / native Hawaiian groups, and hire native Hawaiian consultants and artists, including the chief creative exec from Disney in charge of the entire project, Joe Rhode, who grew up in Hawaii.

And those groups, all of whom were apprehensive of the project, are actually supporters now. Of course a modern Hawaiian resort tower isn’t going to be a thatched single story structure perfectly representative of Hawaiian history, but for what it is, it makes a genuine effort to reflect the culture of the state in which it’s located. More so than any other Hawaiian resorts built by behemoth corporations, and there are many.
 

Kmk2

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Ha! Yeah, weird isn’t it?! But that billion dollar behemoth corporation actually took years to research and consult with Oahu residents / native Hawaiian groups, and hire native Hawaiian consultants and artists, including the chief creative exec from Disney in charge of the entire project, Joe Rhode, who grew up in Hawaii.

And those groups, all of whom were apprehensive of the project, are actually supporters now. Of course a modern Hawaiian resort tower isn’t going to be a thatched single story structure perfectly representative of Hawaiian history, but for what it is, it makes a genuine effort to reflect the culture of the state in which it’s located. More so than any other Hawaiian resorts built by behemoth corporations, and there are many.
Skip the Safari folks. You can just go to AKL. - because Disney did the research.

Truth is, obviously, none of these giant hotels represent Hawaiian culture. I’m a fan of the look of Aulani - it’s beautiful. But it’s just a hotel.
 

SueInBoston

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Ha! Yeah, weird isn’t it?! But that billion dollar behemoth corporation actually took years to research and consult with Oahu residents / native Hawaiian groups, and hire native Hawaiian consultants and artists, including the chief creative exec from Disney in charge of the entire project, Joe Rhode, who grew up in Hawaii.

And those groups, all of whom were apprehensive of the project, are actually supporters now. Of course a modern Hawaiian resort tower isn’t going to be a thatched single story structure perfectly representative of Hawaiian history, but for what it is, it makes a genuine effort to reflect the culture of the state in which it’s located. More so than any other Hawaiian resorts built by behemoth corporations, and there are many.
From my room, I had the perfect view of Waianae tower and the Four Seasons and I kept thinking how ugly the Four Seasons facade is compared to Waianae.
 

Mackenzie Click-Mickelson

Chugging along the path of life
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
All good points. We love the Marriott Ko Olina as well, but it could be anywhere, there‘s nothing distinctly Hawaiian about it. Re the water park, yes, of course we could go buy tickets to some other water park facility, but that has nothing to do with the fact that the hotel itself has an amazing lazy river. We’re not water park people and frankly would never take the time to journey off property and buy tickets to visit one.
Same thing with the lagoons. We tend to primarily use the beach associated with the resort where we’re staying. I love the lagoon for swimming and snorkeling, but I’m not going to drive up to Ko Olina to experience it unless I’m staying there.
Right but I think you're missing the point of why I commented.

When I mentioned the water park it wasn't to be literally speaking about a water park but rather that features can be had elsewhere. I think the lazy river was cool but to some people that's not high up on their list to have continuous access to it and they will opt for a place elsewhere. Just like a few very opinionated posters here about Hawaii...go explore the island :)

You were defending Aulani for standing out amongst the generic styles, while that is true, there is a reason the other hotels are like that and why they have guests that want to stay there. Most of the guests who stay at Aulani do so because they have some sort of desire to be around Disney in some capacity and this is especially the case with DVC where arguably the going comment is DVC points is the way to go to stay there.

Sure you can subjectively discuss just how much Disney is contained there in decor but it's still Disney and as such pulls specific people. Disney knows this. So yes Aulani is unique in architecture for instance but it's not normally going to pull people not into Disney...and that's okay. Not to mention that of course Disney strategically picked where they picked but if they hadn't picked where a manmade lagoon was and they were unable to build one you'd find some cons there.
 

Kmk2

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
From my room, I had the perfect view of Waianae tower and the Four Seasons and I kept thinking how ugly the Four Seasons facade is compared to Waianae.
The four seasons is building is ugly. Really ugly. But every aspect of your stay is calm and luxurious. I get how some people would prioritize one thing over the other.
 

MGoAway

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jan 27, 2017
The Grand Hyatt Resort, Kauai, is pretty tough to match, even by Disney.
My only gripe about it is that the lazy river isn't a complete loop ... and its on the west coast of Kauai not the north shore.

The Four Seasons Lanai is pretty great
 

Kmk2

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
My only gripe about it is that the lazy river isn't a complete loop ... and its on the west coast of Kauai not the north shore.

The Four Seasons Lanai is pretty great
That flight was a terror! Lanai was beautiful though!

My favorite is FS Hualalai.
 

Paul Stupin

New DVC Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
Skip the Safari folks. You can just go to AKL. - because Disney did the research.

Truth is, obviously, none of these giant hotels represent Hawaiian culture. I’m a fan of the look of Aulani - it’s beautiful. But it’s just a hotel.
Uh, why belabor the obvious? Of course it’s just a hotel, no one’s saying it’s an offshoot of the Polynesian Cultural Center.
And if it was, no one would want to stay there. Obviously.
And actually, for folks who might not have the inclination or resources to undertake an African safari, AKL might be a fun alternative. I guess folks should head off to Europe as well instead of booking a room at the Riviera.
 

dvcgirl67

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
The Grand Hyatt Resort, Kauai, is pretty tough to match, even by Disney.


-Paul

I wandered over here because we're taking a trip to Hawaii next year for our 25th anniversary. We're first timers to Hawaii....and figured I'd find some trip reports here where people island hopped a bit, but seems like most stick to Oahu and Aulani. Makes sense I guess, as that's what this board is about. We are staying four nights at the Grand Hyatt on Kauai. Reading the OPs comments, seemed like they were not just underwhelmed by Aulani, but also the setting and maybe Oahu? Hard to completely tell.

After consulting with our friends who did a two week vacation in Hawaii last year, we are skipping Oahu altogether. They did 4 nights in Oahu, 6 nights in Maui, and 4 in Kauai at the Grand Hyatt and they loved it....they said the grounds are incredible. They spent 4 nights at the Four Seasons in Ko Olina, and while they said the resort is nice, they advised we skip Oahu altogether....and go heavier on Kauai over Maui. We're going for 12 nights, and because they just raved about Kauai overall we decided to do just four nights in Maui at the Four Seasons Wailea, then four at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and the final four at the new 1 Hotel resort that is opening at the end of this year in Princeville on Hanalei Bay. They loved the GH Kauai, but wished they split their stay between the North and South shores of Kauai....so we took their advice.

The photos of the Hanalei Bay area are just breathtaking, so really looking forward to that. The Ko Olina area seems perfectly suited for families with those manmade lagoons but we are looking for more natural settings I guess. One thing is for sure that everyone here seems to agree on....Hawaii is *expensive*......having just been to Los Cabos....it's like three times as expensive for comparable resorts. I mean I've always heard it's expensive, but I was surprised at how crazy high it is. Everything we booked...including flights is refundable....not playing games getting our money back like we did for a canceled trip early on in the pandemic.
 

SueInBoston

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
We're going for 12 nights, and because they just raved about Kauai overall we decided to do just four nights in Maui at the Four Seasons Wailea, then four at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and the final four at the new 1 Hotel resort that is opening at the end of this year in Princeville on Hanalei Bay. They loved the GH Kauai, but wished they split their stay between the North and South shores of Kauai....so we took their advice.

The photos of the Hanalei Bay area are just breathtaking, so really looking forward to that. The Ko Olina area seems perfectly suited for families with those manmade lagoons but we are looking for more natural settings I guess. One thing is for sure that everyone here seems to agree on....Hawaii is *expensive*......having just been to Los Cabos....it's like three times as expensive for comparable resorts. I mean I've always heard it's expensive, but I was surprised at how crazy high it is. Everything we booked...including flights is refundable....not playing games getting our money back like we did for a canceled trip early on in the pandemic.
I just came back for Aulani and Kauai. the vacation condo I stayed in was about a hundred yard from the 1 hotel construction, from my patio I can see some of the hotel guest rooms (the road curves). I know the name is 1 Hotel on Hanalei Bay, but it is not on the bay. You can't walk to the bay. Princeville is basically on a cliff and you have to walk steep down to the beach. My condo's description has "path to beach" but realistically it's a very steep path...LOL...so we ended up driving to other beaches.

We loved Aulani and Kauai, we are DVC owners and my kids grew up with Disney resorts. My DD did the Disney internship program so Aulani is perfect in our eyes. Our rooms (3) were all clean and as expected. Yes, it's a little dated but we love the decor and the Disney hospitality.
 

tidefan

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
I wandered over here because we're taking a trip to Hawaii next year for our 25th anniversary. We're first timers to Hawaii....and figured I'd find some trip reports here where people island hopped a bit, but seems like most stick to Oahu and Aulani. Makes sense I guess, as that's what this board is about. We are staying four nights at the Grand Hyatt on Kauai. Reading the OPs comments, seemed like they were not just underwhelmed by Aulani, but also the setting and maybe Oahu? Hard to completely tell.

After consulting with our friends who did a two week vacation in Hawaii last year, we are skipping Oahu altogether. They did 4 nights in Oahu, 6 nights in Maui, and 4 in Kauai at the Grand Hyatt and they loved it....they said the grounds are incredible. They spent 4 nights at the Four Seasons in Ko Olina, and while they said the resort is nice, they advised we skip Oahu altogether....and go heavier on Kauai over Maui. We're going for 12 nights, and because they just raved about Kauai overall we decided to do just four nights in Maui at the Four Seasons Wailea, then four at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and the final four at the new 1 Hotel resort that is opening at the end of this year in Princeville on Hanalei Bay. They loved the GH Kauai, but wished they split their stay between the North and South shores of Kauai....so we took their advice.

The photos of the Hanalei Bay area are just breathtaking, so really looking forward to that. The Ko Olina area seems perfectly suited for families with those manmade lagoons but we are looking for more natural settings I guess. One thing is for sure that everyone here seems to agree on....Hawaii is *expensive*......having just been to Los Cabos....it's like three times as expensive for comparable resorts. I mean I've always heard it's expensive, but I was surprised at how crazy high it is. Everything we booked...including flights is refundable....not playing games getting our money back like we did for a canceled trip early on in the pandemic.
You will be missing out. Many people conflate "Oahu" with "Honolulu/Waikiki". Yes, Waikiki isn't everyone's cup of tea, and it's more akin to a big city on the water (Miami/South Beach maybe closest I can think of?), there is a LOT more to Oahu than just Honolulu. You will be missing out on Haleiwa and the rest of the North Shore, which, IMHO, is somewhere I'd recommend everyone visit. You'd also miss things like Hanauma Bay and Kualoa.

As to Ko Olina, I find it pretty similar to the Wailea area on Maui, but maybe that's just me. For us, Maui was a one and done (stayed in Ka'anapali area). If I were going to see one other thing in Hawaii, for me it would be the Big Island and Volcanoes National Park. Also loved the Waikoloa area. Nothing wrong at all with Kauai or Maui, but don't shortchange the other islands...
 

Mackenzie Click-Mickelson

Chugging along the path of life
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
The Ko Olina area seems perfectly suited for families with those manmade lagoons but we are looking for more natural settings I guess.
Ko Olina is just one part of Oahu though.

We stayed in Makaha and that is more residential but also away from hustle and bustle. The place we stayed at was not one you'd want if you're looking for a resort as it's just a condo, but boy the views were amazing.

1661267053913.png
The building we were in was the white one although the one next to is is also a frequently rented out place

1661267276274.png

This was the view from where the doors to each unit were located:
1661267508843.png

The place we were at I would not recommend for swimming if going during surf season because the water is rough with the tides but it was very peaceful. We went in the month of September and you could tell the water was starting to get rougher.

I also agree with another poster I wouldn't skip Oahu just because of your friends saying so, their experience may be drastically different than what yours is. We really enjoyed our days we drove around Oahu and the various look out points. We also did a catamaran ride for sunset. And we did Bowfin, Missouri and Pearl Harbor. The Dole Plantation as well.

We almost consider Kauai or Maui ourselves for next April but opted not to because of our traveling group. We still want to go there and they have such beautiful landscape and plenty of adventures just I wouldn't discount Oahu thinking it's too commercial I guess maybe is what you're thinking. If you have the opportunity to island hop with financials and time I'd at least give Oahu a stop. You don't have to stay in Waikiki (in fact we were very much not wanting to stay there although we stayed our first night within walking distance of Duke's restaurant) nor do you have to stay in Ko Olina either.
 

jimmymc

Professional Adventurer!
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
I love that people think a 16 story, thousand room hotel owned by a billion dollar behemoth corporation is the truest expression of real Hawaii culture.
Compared to the other resorts in the state it's a hell of a lot closer. But I get your point, no resort is the same as living like a local.
 

SueInBoston

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
For us, Maui was a one and done (stayed in Ka'anapali area). If I were going to see one other thing in Hawaii, for me it would be the Big Island and Volcanoes National Park. Also loved the Waikoloa area. Nothing wrong at all with Kauai or Maui, but don't shortchange the other islands...

we were in Maui (FS Wailea) and Aulani in 2019 and I feel the same about Maui. My next Hawaii will be the big island and VNP too. (lol..maybe I got the idea from your previous posts?)
 

jimmymc

Professional Adventurer!
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
So, to chime in…

I think this is an important point. We are DVC members and have now been to Aulani 5 times and hope to go back next year.

However, when we go, we always use points and get a 2 bedroom, which has a full kitchen and washer/dryer. Are other resorts great too? Yes, but at Aulani, I can use my DVC points to get a Hawaiian vacation. We always rent a car (parking is included for DVC members) and make Costco/Target our first stop. We eat in most nights, maybe eating out once or twice a week. Also, you can load up on Mai Tai’s at Costco as well. Last few times, we have had views over the Haleiwa lawn, so we get to watch the Luau multiple times for free, all while enjoying my Trader Vic’s Mai Tai’s, chips, and that awesome Maui salsa they sell at Costco. In the mornings, I enjoy my Vanilla Macadamia Nut coffee on the same balcony.

Now, would we do this if we weren’t DVC members? Heck no! However, the value proposition, at least for us, has changed a lot over the past few years. As our DD has gotten older and the parks have become so more not user-friendly, especially for us, who never get up early, the whole Genie+/park reservation thing just takes away from how we used to do the parks. We have found more value in the Aulani, Veros, and HHI’s of the system lately, and out of all those, we prefer Aulani.

Now, this is totally specific to us, but it is what works for us. And if we weren’t DVC, it would completely change the calculus. But for DVC folks, Aulani is a very good proposition.
This is where I am as well. Being able to use DVC points and get free parking makes Aulani a no-brainer for staying in Oahu. If I wasn't DVC, I would probably look elsewhere.
 

Paul Stupin

New DVC Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
I wandered over here because we're taking a trip to Hawaii next year for our 25th anniversary. We're first timers to Hawaii....and figured I'd find some trip reports here where people island hopped a bit, but seems like most stick to Oahu and Aulani. Makes sense I guess, as that's what this board is about. We are staying four nights at the Grand Hyatt on Kauai. Reading the OPs comments, seemed like they were not just underwhelmed by Aulani, but also the setting and maybe Oahu? Hard to completely tell.

After consulting with our friends who did a two week vacation in Hawaii last year, we are skipping Oahu altogether. They did 4 nights in Oahu, 6 nights in Maui, and 4 in Kauai at the Grand Hyatt and they loved it....they said the grounds are incredible. They spent 4 nights at the Four Seasons in Ko Olina, and while they said the resort is nice, they advised we skip Oahu altogether....and go heavier on Kauai over Maui. We're going for 12 nights, and because they just raved about Kauai overall we decided to do just four nights in Maui at the Four Seasons Wailea, then four at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and the final four at the new 1 Hotel resort that is opening at the end of this year in Princeville on Hanalei Bay. They loved the GH Kauai, but wished they split their stay between the North and South shores of Kauai....so we took their advice.

The photos of the Hanalei Bay area are just breathtaking, so really looking forward to that. The Ko Olina area seems perfectly suited for families with those manmade lagoons but we are looking for more natural settings I guess. One thing is for sure that everyone here seems to agree on....Hawaii is *expensive*......having just been to Los Cabos....it's like three times as expensive for comparable resorts. I mean I've always heard it's expensive, but I was surprised at how crazy high it is. Everything we booked...including flights is refundable....not playing games getting our money back like we did for a canceled trip early on in the pandemic.
I’m sure you’ll have a good time, but if you’re looking for more “natural settings” the Grand Hyatt on Kauai seems a curious choice. The man made pool area is your only option for swimming, since the hotel‘s beach is not swimmable. Poipu Beach, which is great, is a mile walk away, so you’re going Hawaii, known for its incredible beaches, and staying at a hotel without a beach.

The Maui Four Seasons has a nice beach, and is a short walk away from other hotels as well to vary your dining. It’s pool area is just ok and not so big, and though the hotel has been well maintained, it’s over 30 years old and it’s layout and design aren’t particularly distinctive. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty nice, but for me there’s no real wow factor.

You should also think about how you’ll spend your time. I wouldn’t discount Oahu either. Agree with previous post that Ko Olina is very very similar to Wailea in terms of look and feel. The difference is that there are more spectacular day trips, hikes, fun activities and sites available on Oahu, if you want the option to venture out and explore for a day or two.

Aulani, by the way, is spectacular.
 









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