The New Aulani Resort
Disney’s long awaited Aulani Resort on the island of Oahu is open for business and sure to be high on many family’s vacation lists. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the grand opening celebration and check out the property and I was extremely impressed with what I saw. Disney has once again set the bar for family travel fun. I could probably write a book expressing my love of Aulani but I am not sure anyone would want to read that. Instead, I will give you five reasons why I think families will fall in love with Disney’s Aulani Resort.
The Kids’ Club: Aunty’s Beach House is most definitely a top notch kid’s club. Open to potty trained children ages 3-12, the club features dress-up closets full of Disney princess costumes, Hawaii-inspired crafts, computers, games, and a backyard playground. Aunty even has a movie room but she won’t let kids sit in the house watch movies unless it’s a rainy day. Luckily, all it takes is a little Disney magic for the thunder to start rumbling and the water to start falling from the sky. Best of all – Aunty’s Beach House is free!
The Spa: Laniwai, Aulani’s luxurious and tranquil spa, features treatments that reflect the islands. Lomilomi massages, body cocoons made from volcanic clay, and soaks in private vitality pools in the outdoor hydrotherapy garden bring elements of Hawaii to the spa experience. In addition to Laniwai, Aulani also features a teen spa which offers adolescents both a place to get treatments and a space to hang out. Xbox Kinect games, mixology stations, and a yogurt bar help create a teen only spot that both young men and women will enjoy.
The Pools: The centerpiece of Aulani is Waikolohe Valley, home to the resort’s incredible pool complex. Two waterslides wind through a large rock outcropping while a lazy river takes rafters on a leisurely float around the valley. A zero entry pool provides a great place for kids of all ages to swim while two infinity spas overlooking the lagoon are the perfect places to enjoy a Hawaiian sunset. There is even a water play area for young kids, Menehune Bridge, which features three slides, bridges, and plenty of ways to get soaked. Of course, the biggest pool of all, the Pacific Ocean, is pretty spectacular as well.
The On-site Activities: While the cost of booking a room at Aulani isn’t cheap (rooms start at $400) the nice thing about this resort is that there are plenty of great (and free!) on-site activities to keep your family entertained. The resort publishes the Daily ‘Iwa, an activity guide which highlights all the experiences offered each day. Beach exercise boot camps, character meet and greets, Hawaiian crafts, Mo’olelo storytelling, family movie nights, and Starlit Huis featuring live music and dance performances are just a few of the fun activities that families can enjoy at no additional cost.
The Excursions: As much as I believe that a family can spend their entire vacation on Aulani property and never get bored, I am a still think it’s is important to step off hotel grounds and explore the island. Oahu is a diverse island and families who take the time to get out there and enjoy it will be greatly rewarded with unique experiences and memories to last a lifetime. Luckily, Disney also sees the value of exploring Oahu and is happy to help you book a wide variety of excursions from their Holoholo Tours and Travel desk in the lobby. Many of these excursions were specially put together by Adventures by Disney and include a catamaran voyage to snorkel and spot dolphins, surf lessons from the Honolulu City Firefighters, hiking in Manoa Valley to a 200-foot tropical waterfall, and a private family cooking class in Honolulu’s Chinatown by famous local chef, Sam Choy.