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“Beautiful, but could be better.” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Kapolei
Certificate of Excellence
Roscoe, Illinois
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Beautiful, but could be better.”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 August 2014 via mobile

Aulani was a great place for the kids, but the prices were a little to steep. And it being under construction while we were there really bugged me. We didnt stay at the hotel for most of the the time, we explored Hawaii (Which I reccomend you do) rented a Prius and saw everything from Pearl Harbor to Mountains. The service was good at Aulani, and the food was ok (Free breakfast when we went, long lines) The views were spectacular, but an ocean view room cost way too much, so we got a view of the mountains.

Beautiful. Expensive. Construction.

Stayed March 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank detentiongiver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (1,343)
Date | Rating
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Celebration
Level Contributor
98 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 August 2014

First and foremost - Aulani is beautiful. However, before visiting decide where you want to stay. The island is incredibly crowded these days and traffic (especially from Waikiki/HNL) is extremely busy. If you plan to spend your time in the tourist-y areas around there, Aulani is a long drive (In no traffic, HNL to Aulani should be under 30 minutes, but in traffic it can be 90+). Ko'Olina in general is lovely, but if you want to get out and explore, you'll need to leave the resort area and go to the North Shore, Hawai'i Kai, Waikiki, etc. There is relatively little around the area - nearby Kapolei has a Target, health foods store, etc within a 20-minute drive.

The resort itself is lovely, similar to the newer DVC resorts of Bay Towers, AK Lodge, etc. The decor is appropriately Hawaiian and traditional without being tacky. The pool is fun, but quite crowded with limited space for chairs, etc. around. There is a nice splash pad and play area for young kids (even teenagers) will enjoy. The beach is nice, but keep in mind all the Ko'Olina beaches are man-made. For a true Hawaiian beach experience you'll have to leave the area.

Disney does service, amenities and resort-experience well. However, the food at Au'lani was really my biggest qualm. A variety of traditional, asian and hawaiian tastes were available, but even for Hawai'i (and Disney) the prices were exorbitant. Food was good, but breakfast for three adults and a two year old was over $150 for a simple hot meal. There isn't a next-door ABC or other more affordable option within walking distance, so you commit to eating there or driving elsewhere. Not that big of a deal if you are out and about, but a pool day at the resort can turn expensive very quickly.

We stayed in a 3-bedroom via DVC which was fully equipped with a restaurant-style high chair, vacuum, laundry, pack-n-play, etc. We had all we could need and more. The kitchen was full of ample dishes and cooking utensils, and for the room space alone I might have moved in. It's very functional and great for families. We had a pool/ocean view and enjoyed it thoroughly in the morning. Of note, however, was the price that one would have to pay (point value to dollar) for these rooms if not a DVC member. I do not think the price tag ($45k+) is worth the visit. I would prefer to stay elsewhere that is in a more convenient location for considerably less. If you have the points to burn, then this can be a great, affordable option for a hotel stay as any similar-quality resort on the island will run at least $400-500/night. (Upwards of $1500+ for such a large space that the 2/3 bedroom DVC rooms run).

Overall, I would recommend this resort and will return, but only under circumstances where I can use the DVC points and am not traveling with others who want to continually drive to and from Waikiki. It's a relaxing, quiet and lovely spot that is definitely worth considering if you are a DVC member.

Room Tip: Rooms facing away from the pool are quieter. Unless you plan on bunking in your room all day, don...
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank ehan31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Manchester, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 August 2014

We visited last week and wish we could have stayed longer. We had upgraded to a DVC Room and it was well worth the money!
Can't say enough about how great the food, drinks, staff, and property are!
Ama'Ama has a waiter named Owen who is FANTASTIC!!! He gave us amazing service and was very informative, gave us tips of where to visit and where to eat while sightseeing. He was awesome!
Can't say enough about how wonderful this resort is! There's so much to do just at the resort that we didn't even have time for everything. Can't wait to go back!

Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
Helpful?
Thank AngelaAFolsom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Las Vegas, Nevada
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 August 2014

Currently staying at this Disney resort and am shocked at the great reviews this place has received.
Traveling w a toddler and called before hand to double check that toddler amenities were available (including diapers, wipes, etc). Upon arrival learned there are no wipes available! This is a kid basic so to me this doesn't exemplify disney's child focus atmosphere. Furthermore we have been given a room without a bathtub - again not very child minded. Our room is dated and uncomfortable w hard beds and rough linens. Food is average at best. And to describe the hotel as busy is a complete understatement. I guess given it's sold out, Disney does not feel the need to go the extra mile w it's customer service. Def not worth the money we are paying.

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Jenycal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Clarendon Hills, Illinois
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 August 2014

We visited Aulani in late March/early April. It took awhile to decide where to book with so many choices, but ultimately committed to Disney, knowing they do things right. One hesitation we had before choosing Aulani, was learning it was far from other parts of the island we wanted to visit. We narrowed our choice down to a property more conveniently located to other points of interests, and Aulani. We were happy with our final choice (Aulani!), but note if you want to explore different parts of island, expect to rent a car or sign up for excursions either through Aulani or on your own. Some of these activities can be a 45 minute drive each way. My teenagers loved the Hawaiian feel and architecture Disney created when building this resort. They also loved the grand entrance looking out to ocean on arrival and the live singing entertainment in the evening.

As is customary for a Disney owned resort, a warm and efficient welcome is received the minute you arrive. Bottom line, service is excellent as always. Our room was a double and we asked for a roll away (it's a blow up mattress). Room is nice; ours overlooked parking lot/mountains, street which was fine. Nothing unpleasant. However, I wished we had been oceanfront. Although we explored island much of our time there, I still would have loved to come back to that ocean breeze and view from our balcony. Something to consider if that's important to you when making your reservation, and if it's in your budget.

I was traveling with my two busy teenagers, ages 15 and 16, both of whom are competitive swimmers with only Spring Break off from school to get away (other than limited time at end of summer) as they practice most of year and through holidays. Given our limited time, I researched activities prior to arriving and also was lucky to get a tip or two from locals while there.

If you want to visit Pearl Harbor, go online and reserve a spot ahead of time. I suggest the first slot of day if you don't mind waking early to get there. By reserving your spot ahead of time, you also do not have to wait in line to get in. Also, by being the first ones you will have little wait time overall and time to plan other things for day. We followed our tour with a visit to Aloha Stadium for 'Swap Meet and Marketplace' shopping which is just adjacent to Pearl Harbor. The International Marketplace previously located in Waikiki has closed, so this was a substitute.

The other excursions we planned that were conveniently close enough in proximity that we could visit both in one day were Kualoa Ranch and Kailua Beach. (we did these on our own, rented car). Aulani has pre-printed directions to all major attractions if you decide to drive; they're awesome! I will give separate reviews for those in a different post; but suffice to say beautiful drive through mountains as well as beautiful destinations. Aulani does offer an excursion to Kualoa Ranch including transportation.

If you are interested in snorkeling/dolphin/whale watch, I suggest forgoing Aulani's in-house excursion and schedule with the Harbor in walking distance from Aulani. The tour group that books with Aulani is a 20 minute minimum drive away, although a shuttle is included. However, you can have a 1 minute drive or 5 to 10 minute walk to harbor and head out quicker.
Make sure to do the Starlit Hui at Aulani and skip the luau's elsewhere. It is wonderful. It is entertaining for ALL ages. Beautiful setting, incredible talent and no need to go elsewhere for luau type experience unless you want the food with it. Trust me, your kids will love it no matter what age and Aulani does it like nowhere else, so take advantage of what you have where you are staying!

Some side notes:

For moms out there who shop for daughters: don't expect to find a swimsuit easily in this area. My daughter only had practice and competitive suits and coming from a harsh, long Midwest winter, we had little options and time to shop ahead for that. But, I assumed, we are going to Hawaii, so the selections and choices would be abundant for swimwear. Not so. At least not at Aulani or anywhere close by. After not finding anything on property or at neighboring hotels (last thing you want to do on vacation is hunt down a needed item) thanks to a waitress at Aulani , we did locate one place, but 'slim pickings'. If staying at Aulani, pack all you need. Aulani has one small shop in pool area for swimwear and all other shops on property have mostly Disney attire. Older teenagers don't want Mickey in background of their t-shirts, shorts, etc. (Love ya Disney, but expand your offering there, and I think you will find a profit for that market. My kids wanted a souvenir, but supply was limited for their age).

If Aulani existed when my kids were 12 and under NO hesitation in recommending. There is so much to do without leaving resort for younger ones. We just did not experience all that was offered had we if they were younger. Beach/cove is perfect for little ones, but not much to offer for older kids. They did enjoy the spa and took advantage of services there. Overall, we all loved it; just consider the activities you wish to do while there and plan ahead. Beautiful property and wonderful staff, which is why we picked Aulani to stay at in Hawaii; we knew that it being a Disney property it would deliver the warm family feeling we are accustomed to when staying at their properties. Smiles and warmth from all their employees. That counts for a lot for us.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
11 Thank Mary D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
154 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 August 2014 via mobile

Stayed at Aulani last week. Gorgeous 1 bedroom, fabulous pools but overpriced restaurants, even for Disney. Not enough pool chairs for all the guests. People everywhere all the time. Spent a lot of time on the beach which was quite nice. Plenty of rental equipment available. AMA AMA has a very limited, odd menu. Very very expensive. Service was pretty bad. Tough for kids to find something to eat. Buffet was much better. Lots of options and delicious. Only other food options was fast food with a few freshly made items, but that was not great. We are happy we stayed there, but it is not comparable to the quality of service on a Disney cruise.

Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
Helpful?
5 Thank joshua916
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Marietta, Georgia
Level Contributor
33 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 August 2014

When I read some of the reviews, I was a little nervous, but I'm happy to report we had an amazing time. I'm not sure where some people have vacationed before, but the crowds weren't any worse than the majority of the family-friendly or on-property hotels we've stayed at in Disney World or other Summer hot spots. We had no problems getting a raft or a chair. No, you can't always get one immediately, but we just walked or waited a few minutes and 1 (or usually 2-3) opened up for us.

We booked a standard room, pool/gardens view, which basically means you get one of the two buildings closest to the lobby, 5th floor or lower. We got a ground floor, which would have been great if we were not right next to the restaurant. I know lots of people enjoy these units and they'd be great a little further out - the studios on the ground floor would be in better locales. So, we called the desk and switched to an ocean view on the 9th floor. We had to pay to upgrade, but it was worth it to us to get the breeze and amazing views. It was really no trouble to move as we went to the room first to check it out before they brought the luggage.

The property was very clean and well-maintained. The kids enjoyed the slides and the lazy river. We spent most of our time at the pool, but a fair amount at the beach as well. There is also a nice sidewalk to walk around the lagoon, which includes the Marriott as well.

We walked nearly daily across the street to the shops. There is an ABC store there. While not as cheap as some other ABC stores on the island, you can get decent prices compared to the hotel. I recommend taking a trip to Target and Costco, which we easily did one day. They are about 4 miles away and you can save a ton of money....especially on drinks and snacks.

The kids went to the kid's club nearly every day. We did have to get there around 7 am to sign them up, but didn't have any issues with that and they got to enjoy all of the 'limited sign up' activities. They really loved the Volcano activity. You do not have to sign up for the activities though to use the club. They have free play all day, where they can enjoy multiple rooms of activities.

We did pay extra for the character breakfast and the Chip and Dales surf party. The breakfast was great, lots of food and interaction with the characters. We ate around 10 am, which kept us full until late in the day. The surf party included dinner, which was great for a date night out. I did book that 3-4 weeks out from our trip and there were less than 5 slots at that time.

I recommend the unlimited Photo Pass package so you can get lots of pictures. Some times we didn't have our camera on us, so this was great. In addition, they take a ton of pics of the kids at the kids club and you can get them all.

If you love Disney and are looking for a hotel with lots for the kids to do...and give you some downtime while they are at the kids club, I highly recommend. I have never seen my kids smile so much.

The luau they offer for free was great. We didn't pay to go to one and this one was perfect for our kids. Lots of dancing. We brought food and drinks to eat during the show; as did lots of other people.

Room Tip: Ocean view rooms are above the 5th floor - though anything above the 9th is ideal.
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank AmberG8R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Property: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Address: 92-1185 Ali'inui Drive, Kapolei, Oahu, HI 96707-4434
Region: United States > Hawaii > Oahu > Kapolei
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Kapolei
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa 4.5*
Number of rooms: 819
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa In Hawai`i Hotel Kapolei
Aulani, a Disney Resort And Spa In Hawai`i
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa Hawaii/Oahu

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