This week I got the pleasure of introducing a wonderful new client to Aulani Hawaii Resort and Spa. When I told her about this Disney property that was perfect for families she was a little resistant because, while her family loved Disney, they were looking for a different kind of vacation this year. They were looking for an authentic Hawaii experience. All it took was one email with the details, a video and a list of the amazing, 100% authentic Hawaiian onsite experiences and she was hooked!
Aulani is a Disney Resort and Spa located in Ko Olina Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Located just 20 miles from Honolulu International Airport on the lush leeward side of Oahu, Aulani is a quick transfer to an from the airport or to other locations across the island.
The resort was voted No. 1 World’s Best Family Hotel by Travel and Leisure in 2014 and for good reason. Aulani provides a true cultural connection for families wanting to experience the “real” Hawaii.
A travel colleague who specializes in Hawaii told me she was super skeptical about visiting Aulani because of the Disney ownership. She treasures the traditionals and legends of theHawaiian Islands and feared it would be “theme parked” somehow by Disney. She was blown away by how great it was. She has stayed there twice since and thinks it’s the perfect location for families visiting Oahu because it provides so many great authentic experiences complimentary onsite. I agree with her.
Other great reasons to visit Aulani is the ability to vacation the way YOU like to. Aulani offers rooms and Villas.
The rooms come with daily cleaning, luxurious views and luxurious fixtures but the villas come with bedrooms, sleeping accomodations for larger families or groups, full kitchens, washer dryers and more.
Hawaii does not have all inclusive resorts so for many families the ability to buy groceries and eat some or all of their meals family style in their room makes a big difference in their meal costs.
The location of Aulani is another great reason to bring your family there. Oahu is part of the US so American visitors are at ease driving around the island exploring. Ko Olina is in the perfect spot to hop on a shuttle, rent a car onsite to go exploring or even walk to some great shopping and dining locations right near the resort. Oahu has a lot of family friendly spots to visit like the zoo, the Dole pineapple plantation, the Bishop Museum, Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Waikiki Aquarium, several luau’s or just a day trip to check out surfing mecca Pipeline on the North Shore
You don’t have to go offsite to enjoy yourself. Aulani has complimentary clubs for kids and teens. Aunty’s Beach House get’s rave reviews from kids and parents alike.
I once had a parent tell me that her child was so upset when she came to retrieve him from Aunty’s that he didn’t even want to speak to her! Every day of their visit they had to negotiate how much time he got with Aunty and the rest of the family. Great problem to have I guess knowing that your child is having the time of their life on vacation.
Aulani has many great dining options onsite as well. While all dining is a la carte, there are options ranging from shaved ice and snacks to casual poolside and beachside cafe’s to elegent seaside fine dining.
There is also a daily character breakfast at the buffet restaurant. This is Disney afterall. There are other opportunities to meet and greet some Disney characters, especially Hawaii locals Lilo and Stitch, but the atmosphere is not theme park-y at all. A daily times guide let’s you know where to find the character fun and all other activities going on.
The biggest draw here is the authentic Hawaiian experiences and amazing facilities onsite. Most are complimentary too.
There are several pools, a lazy river, whirlpool spas (for adults), water slides and aqua play structures, a splash zone for the keiki (kiddos). There are weekly pool parties, a lagoon for water sports and snorkeling too. The whole family will love watching Disney movies under the stars with some yummy snacks and pre-movie trivia contests.
The biggest cultural draw at Aulani is the Starlit Hui, a complimentary evening celebration that blends traditional and modern Hawaiian entertainment with hula performers and some character fun. The entire family will love this show!
Aulani is the “hidden gem” in the Disney Destination portfolio. Its the perfect blend of authentic Hawaii and the family focused quality resort and activities that Disney is known for all wrapped up into one relaxing fun vacation in paradise.
Is Aulani right for your family? Don’t delay. Unlike other Disney Destinations, or even the Disney Cruise Line vessels, space is more limited at Aulani and stays fairly booked up. There are only 359 rooms and 460 villas at Aulani. Contact me at Jennifer@JenniferHandTravelPro.com or 205-541-4980 for more information