Warm smiles and fragrant leis greet us as we arrive at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, in the quiet Oahu neighbourhood of Ko Olina. We are tired after a 12 hour red-eye flight and just want to sleep. Our designated room isn’t yet ready for us to check in, but, with one look at our weary faces, our new “ohana” (family) at the resort find a room that is ready so we can rest after our big journey.
We can’t stay in the room too long, however, as we near hear the roar of the ocean from the window, and as we walk out onto our balcony we see paradise spread below – an amazement of slides, pools, lagoons and a splash park below that are beckoning us down.
Aulani is Hawaiian for “the place that speaks for the great ones” or “the place that speaks with deep messages.” It is a resort designed for families to relax, connect with each other, and enjoy beautiful Hawaiian culture.
The 360-room resort is set on 21 beachfront acres with a stunning mountain range as a backdrop. Hawaiian culture is at the forefront of the resort’s design, with just a little touch of Mickey Mouse to remind you that you are, indeed, at a Disney hotel.
It’s completely possible to stay at Aulani for an entire week without needing to leave the resort for other activities. The excellent Aunty’s Beach Club provides a quality kids’ club program for youngsters while adults take five at the 18+ pools and bars, but it’s hard to sit still for too long when the resort’s program for all the family is so good! We choose ukulele playing one day, lei making another, and partied with Minnie Mouse and friends in the pools.
Family evening entertainment is included too, with movie nights and the popular Starlit Hui show, where our daughter learns to hula under the stars.
Food is not included with the room price and is the only downside to our stay as we find the food is too expensive and unvaried to buy three meals a day at the resort. We walk across the road to the little shopping complex however and buy basics like yogurt, breakfast cereal, fruit and milk from the ABC Store to do us for breakfasts, and alternate light lunches at the cafes or at the resort.
We do indulge in the character breakfast buffet one special morning. At $32 for adults and $18 for kids (up to 9 yrs) it’s not something you’d do every morning, but is great fun for a once-in-a-vacation type of feast. The omelette station wins my heart, while the Mickey Mouse waffles and the sweetest Minnie Mouse we’ve ever come across wins my daughter’s.
Our stay at Aulani is just what we needed it to be – a bit of paradise to rejuvenate and leave us with beautiful memories of our special family time together.