So, I got so many questions and requests about our stay at the Disney Aulani hotel I decided I would share our thoughts and reviews of the place.
1. Aulani is located on the island of Oahu. We always visit this island because thats where my husbands mother, grandmother, and family live. The airport you fly into is Honolulu and the resort in the city of Kapolei, it is pretty close to the airport (only 20 minutes). The resort offers a FREE shuttle to and from the airport when you book your reservation (do it over the phone). They even include carseats if you don't want to lug yours all the way to Hawaii with you.
Probably the best/most exciting thing about this resort and for my child was that the Disney characters are there. Every day! He got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy, Donald, Chip n' Dale, Stitch, Moana etc. It was truly a magical time for him to see. Every day at the front desk is a beautiful flyer of the daily events. It lists things from the weather and some history of the resort to all the activities you can join in on. From FREE fitness classes (yoga on the beach, bootcamp, etc) to Ukulele lessons, Hula lessons, photography lessons, pool parties, I mean all the things you could imagine. They have a separate kids side for kids activities and events (arts and crafts, story time, treasure hunts, etc.) also FREE. They offer a free daycare for kids called Auntys beach house and just had so many things to do there is no way you couldn't be involved in something. But back to the Disney characters that was our sons favorite, besides swimming and beach play. Because the characters are spread around the resort at different times and different areas it was never a huge line or long wait, and you got to take as many photos or tell as many stories to them as you want.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS SIDE OF THE ISLAND: WEATHER/BEACHES/AMMENITIES
Although we have been to Oahu many times with and without our son this is the first time on this side of the island. I loved it, especially for kids. It is always sunny and little to no wind even while we were there in February. The resort itself is very much for kids. The beach includes 4 lagoons (so that means there are no waves, there is no surfing) but the kids big and small can boogie board, paddle board, go on boat tours, snorkel, swim, and just enjoy a nice relaxing calm beach day. You can check out boogie boards. life jackets, and sand toys for FREE every day you just go up to the hut at the beach and give them your room number (paddle boards are a small fee).
Another nice thing about these beaches is they are ONLY for people staying at Aulani. Its not a public beach that people can just drive to, park, and get out all of their stuff. It wasn't too crowded and Aulani provides lounge seats, those small sitting beach chairs, and umbrellas for their guests everyday. There was no fighting over space or anything like that.
The sun comes up in the morning on the beach so we always spent the first few hours in the morning swimming, building sand castles, and adventuring to see fish, jellyfish etc.
AULANI SPECIAL OFFERS + PACKAGES
So we always go to Hawaii in February, its when Michael is done with football season, right around our son Kaimanas birthday we have done that for the past 4 years. I know everyone cannot travel during that month BUT people love to visit the islands in summer so prices go up in summer. If you can travel sometime between February and May room rates and flight rates are significantly cheaper. It costs roughly $500+ a night to stay at Aulani but if you book in those earlier months you save almost $100 a night (spring break prices may go up again). They also offer perks like if you stay for 4-5 consecutive nights, have an ocean view room, etc. you get a certain percent off your stay. We stayed 6 days 5 nights at this resort (two other nights with Michaels family) but I think that is the perfect amount of time.
CALL AND BOOK YOUR STAY (GET A VILLA NOT A ROOM)- call Aulani directly when you are booking your stay. They offer even more perks and incentives just by calling and booking. We got a free rental car for 24 hours to visit anywhere on the island, they upgraded our room to a better view, things like that. We stayed in a standard garden view room with two queen beds, very nice bathroom, and fridge. I chose not to stay in a villa because the studio villas (one king bed and pull out couch) are actually smaller than the standard rooms. I wish we would have stayed in a villa though because the one thing I was disappointed in is online amenities it says the rooms include a fridge, coffee maker bar, and microwave, but they in fact only include microwaves in the villas. We will most likely stay in a one bedroom villa next time just to have a full/or half kitchen and a little more space. Parents with kids can understand having a fridge and microwave for all their snacks, oatmeal, Mac-and-cheese, leftovers etc is ideal especially because food at any resort, especially in Hawaii is expensive, and my son is a picky eater so I hate to waste food.
Across the street from Aulani, literally walk outside and cross the street is a golf course country club, some beach shops, a few restaurants, and a luxury ABC store. If you aren't familiar with ABC stores in Hawaii its like a Walgreens/Rite Aid Hawaii style. Food, sunscreen, alcohol, beach toys etc. I went shopping on the second day and got cereal, milk, fruit, stuff for sandwiches, chips, all sorts of Aloha snacks to have in our room for breakfast and lunches we could take to the pool or beach or eat in our room. It definitely saves a lot of money for you and then you can splurge on dinner and not be worried you spent money all three meals!
THE SWIMMING POOLS!!!
Its funny to be writing about swimming pools while you are visiting Hawaii because people probably think all the time needs to be spent at the beach but with this resort its different. Its almost like its own waterpark but without too many people. Again we went in February it was still busy, I CANNOT imagine staying there in the summer it would be too overwhelming, but if you stay in those off season months it will be the best time. Aulani offers so many amenities for in the pool area which I loved. Each day you go down to the towel huts on the pool deck and they give you a new wristband and you get your towels, from there you can choose to sit wherever you want beach lounge chairs are everywhere around all of the pools. There is a lazy river with a hot tub above it, there is a waterpark/splashpark type thing, there is a infinity pool with cave + hot tub, there are three waterslides for all ages (2 tube ones, one just body slide), there is another pool right by the beach with a hot tub above it and then one private 18+ older pool as well as hot tub in more private secluded areas. There are restrooms and water stations about on every corner so you can get complimentary cups of water or just fill up your water bottles. What I like most especially with kids is that Kaimana could be fine one minute swimming in one pool and say lets go to the lazy river or lets go to the beach and we could leave our stuff on the chairs and it is all right there. You honestly never have to leave the resort, unless you want to adventure other parts of the island.
I'm not sure why food wasn't my main point, especially coming from the pregnant me, but thats okay. There are lots of options for food in and around the resort which is also a bonus. Little huts and small shops offer a variety of Hawaiian and American food to buy while you are at the pool and waitresses come up and serve you and offer food as well. We ate at these places for lunch a few times and all were great they are just expensive. Thats why I suggested above getting some food to have in your room or to pack for snacks that way you don't feel like you HAVE to eat out. At dinner we ate at some of the nicer places at our resort, across the street, the buffet one night, and at surrounding hotels. ALL great! I can post the names and what we ate at each place if people need that information but I feel that people can pick out their own food items!
You can find more information about Aulani at disneyaulani.com but I just wanted to share why we enjoyed our stay so much and many of the things I found out while being there. We will definitely be back especially while our kids our small.