Aloha! Like any good travel addict, I have been spending countless hours browsing the internet looking for information about Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa that has recently opened in Hawaii. This post will share the information that I have gathered during my extensive internet research as I prepare for an upcoming trip to the resort. [After the trip I returned to edit this post as well!]
First things first, getting to the resort, please check out my previous post with Tips and Information about getting to and from the resort from the airport.
Aluani is not yet completed, but on August 29, 2011 it had a soft opening welcoming the public. The completion is occurring in phases. Phase 2 will be complete around November 15, 2011. The final phase is scheduled to be completed in the winter of 2013, but for all intents and purposes the resort is open and ready for travelers.
Disney designed this resort for families. In reading the reviews of Auntie’s House, I can see why. There is a huge children only area, where your child can be supervised during the day by Disney Cast Members without paying an additional charge. My husband and I are traveling without kids, so this preparation blog will be geared towards those traveling sans children.
So, what can we expect? An amazing resort with comparable Hawaiian resort prices and, of course, some Disney characters. The characters are “on vacation” just like the guests. They interact with the children in the pool and have regular visits throughout the day at the resort. So far the characters that have been sighted are: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy,Donald, Stitch, Chip and Dale. Apparently Lilo is not likely to make an appearance, as Disney did not want to insult any natives with the idea that Lilo is Hawaiian.
Dining. This resort is just that: a “resort”. Being a resort in Hawaii, it has comparable resort prices. There are 2 sit down restaurants on the property, and reservations are a must at both.
‘Ama ‘Ama Beach restaurant – its signature restaurant (think California Grill pricing). Currently it offers lunch and dinner dining, with breakfast dining beginning in Phase 2. Men are requested to wear collared shirts for dinner. The hours of operation are: Breakfast – 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (beginning in mid-November), Lunch – 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Dinner – 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. A money saving tip is to have a late lunch, thus enjoying the benefits and ambiance of the restaurant at less expensive prices. Lunch entrees are generally in the $20’s, while dinner entrees are in the $40-$50 range. Desserts range around $10 and are apparently quiet small. Click for the ‘Ama ‘Ama dinner menu and lunch menu.
Makahiki Buffet, which stands for “The Bounty of the Islands” – as the name suggests it is a buffet, serving lunch and dinner. The hours of operation are: Breakfast – 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Dinner – 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Makahiki has character dining 3 days a week (currently Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday) for breakfast. Adults $32.00, Keiki’s (Ages 9 and Under) $18.00. The remaining days of the week, the prices are as follows, Adults $27.00, Keiki’s (Ages and Under) $14.00. The prices for dinner are as follows: Adults $43.00, Keiki (Ages 9 and Under) $21.00. Tax and tip are additional. As of now you can request an a la Carte menu for the breakfast service only- I can tell you I am highly looking forward to trying the Chocolate Milk-dipped Haupia Bread French Toast stuffed with Bananas and Peanut Butter off the a la carte menu during my visit. [Post trip comment- I did try the French Toast, and it was AMAZING!! Very worth it!]
Additional dining options include:
The ‘Olelo Room- serving Continental breakfast, drinks all day, and appetizers in the evening. Breakfast 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.; Lounge 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. In the evening, this bar has singers and other entertainment.
Off the Hook- an open air bar, with some table service, behind Ama Ama. 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight.
The Quick Service options are: One Paddle Two Paddle, Lava Shack, and Rip Swirl. One Paddle Two Paddle offers the same menu as pool side dining, but charge $8 less per item. For a sandwich meal the prices are approximately $14. However, those inclined to have someone else bring their food to them can do so at the pool from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lava Shack offers grab and go food such as cold lunch box meals, novelty ice cream, etc. Rip Swirl is located within the teen portion of the spa and offers frozen yogurt.
For those interested in other dining options, there are several in the Ko’Olina resort area. There is a free shuttle service that runs between the Ko’Olina resorts. Busses arrive at Aulani about every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Roy’s Restaurant is highly rated and recommended.
Directly across the street (from the parking garage) at the Ko’Olina Center & Station, there are several dining choices: Just Tacos Mexican Grill & Cantina serving Mexican Cuisine for lunch and dinner. Hawaiian Bar-b-que serving contemporary, seafood cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Two Scoops serving ice cream and frozen yogurt all day. There is also a terrific Deli at the Island Country Market. It is full service island deli and market offering the usual souvenirs, Hawaiian Sun drinks & Kauai-made rum. Hours: Mon-Sun 6:30 am – 11 pm. They have a beef and brie grilled sandwich that is supposed to be phenomenal, it even tastes good cold as leftovers the next day. They also have fresh omelettes each morning at a reasonable price. There are a handful of tables outside at the front of the store to eat your meals, or you can bring them back to the hotel, and eat either in your room, or on a bluff ocean side.
On to the Spa. The spa, Laniwai, meaning “freshwater heaven” is apparently that, akin to spending the day in an earth version of heaven- relaxing and exquisite. The prices are similar to those offered on the Disney Cruise and other high-end resorts. For $45 a day, complimentary with any full-service spa treatment, guests can access the fabulous Laniwai Spa complex, including the outdoor Kula Wai hydrotherapy garden with private vitality pools, co-ed mineral baths, a reflexology path, six different “rain” showers, whirlpool jet spas and more. You must be 18 or older (14 and older with an accompanying adult) to use the Kula Wai facility. Teens (ages 13-17) can enjoy the Painted Sky facility. There is also a private family suite where the whole family can enjoy treatments.
Other random information. Parking is $35 a night for guests staying at the hotel, but is free for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members. If you are just visiting the resort for the day- the rate is assessed differently. If you spend at least $35 in the resort, 4 hours of parking will be free. There is a daily paper, Iwa (Aulani’s daily activities schedule and newsletter) available at the reception desk, and delivered to the rooms during turn down service, find out about “Disney Friends Meet and Greets,” shows, and other free and charged for activities that are happening during your visit. The nighttime Starlight Hui is a must for guests of any age. They also offer evening showings of Disney movies under the stars.
Mahalo ~ thanks for reading this edition. If you do not already have your fabulous trip to Aulani booked, contact me and I can let you know some pricing. Disney is offering a special- stay 4 nights in paradise, and the 5th night is FREE! Book before Dec. 16, 2011, for stays most nights Nov. 27 – Dec. 16, 2011; Jan. 4-12, 2012 and Jan. 16-25, 2012.
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Originally published Oct. 2011 with some edits that followed.