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Spoiler Alert – Detailed Aulani Review

slum808

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As construction of Aulani wrapped up in 2011 we decided to buy into the Disney Vacation Club. My family consist of DW, DS 16, DD 5, and DS 10mo. After doing some research we decided that our dates to go to Aulani would be flexible, but our dates to go to Disneyland would be limited. We ended purchasing a 160 point resale contract for Disney’s Villas Grand Californian. Once our sale went through, I quickly booked a Staycation for us at Aulani for the MLK long weekend.

We left our house near Diamondhead just after lunch on Saturday and it was a quick 35 mins to Aulani. Check in with the guard at the entrance to Ko Olina, and he called our name into the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel the bell service loaded our bags and walked us to the greeting area. We were offered Kukui nut or fresh flower leis, as well as a gift of a Menehuni charm necklace for DD. The Cast member walked us in to get us checked in while speaking of the architecture of Aulani. After looking up our reservation we were welcomed with the traditional “Welcome Home”. I checked in ahead of time online, so the process was very quick and we were give keys for each member including youngest son. It was only 1pm but our room was ready for us, so that was a very pleasant surprise. Once we arrived in the room, I called the bell desk and they promptly brought our bags to the room. I did need to move the car from the valet area to the self parking lot after check in. You need your room key to access the self parking. Parking is free for DVC members.
 

slum808

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Room

We had booked a one bedroom Island View villa and were assigned a ground floor unit in the Waianae Tower. At first I was not thrilled about getting a ground floor unit, but it turned out to have great access to the pool area and the SPA. Not having to wait for an elevator when the kids are done swimming was very helpful. There were three locks on each sliding door so it was very secure. The rooms were a little smaller than I imagined, but very nice. The modern Hawaiian décor was very appropriate, and Disney’s attention to detail was top notch. My DD loved the hidden Mickey covering. The bathroom was among the nicest I have seen, but there was only one Toilet. There is a half bath with a spa tub and sink connected to the master. For a family of five, it would be nice to have two full baths. There was a pack-n-play for my youngest, DD 5 slept in the pull down Murphy bed under the TV, and DS 16 sleep on the pull out couch. The kitchen and dining table were great; we ate all our meals in our room. There is also a highchair stored in the closet.
Cons for the villa include; a supper loud flushing toilet that scared my DD5, bathroom sinks that are very tall and no stools for children, master bed was supper soft and I felt like I was sleeping in a hole. We also had problems with the Blu-ray player in the living room, apparently if you try to watch Cars 2 it freezes up the machine and you can’t eject the disc. Maintenance was quick to respond and new exactly how to remedy the problem.
 

slum808

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Grounds

The hotel grounds are immaculate. Landscaping through the facility is filled with native flowers and trees. There are a number of large trees proving shade in the pool area. The area feels very secure no matter what time of the day. Access to and from the beach all go through a double gate with keycard access. Although Aulani is a large resort by bed number, it is very compact. The longest walk we had, was to Aunty’s Beach House. It’s really only long because its on the opposite side of the pool, so with our stroller we had to walk all the way around. Without a stroller, there are short bridges that cross over the lazy river and would save some time.
 

slum808

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Facilities

The pool has to come first, as it is a marvelous sight. The two main towers of the hotel are arranged to form Waikalohe Valley with the pool complex in the middle. The main pool has both normal step entrance and a kid friendly gentle sloping entrance similar to a beach. My DD liked this because she doesn’t like the deep water. It was very popular with kids and parents. The pool is not overly large, but it didn’t feel too crowded. Menehuni Bridge is the name of the kid’s water play area, which features two small water slides and a bridge structure with water fountains and cannons. DD loved both of the slides, one is an enclosed tube and one is open air. Only con here is that most of water cannon were not working correctly. For the older kids and adults, there are two large slides. One is completely enclosed and is meant to simulate sliding down a lava tube. It’s a weird feeling because you can’t see anything until just before you hit the pool. The second is a similar tunnel which launches the tubes for the lazy river. We didn’t have a chance to enjoy this one. The lazy river takes a meandering path along the valley floor and is quite lazy. It might just be that I’m impatient, but I had DS 16 get out and pull us along a couple times. It is an enjoyable float to just back and relax; I even put my 10 month old on my stomach and floated along. A two tier infinity edge hot tub looks out over the lagoon and was an excellent way to warm up and just soak in the view. Depending on the time of year, this should provide a great sunset. Cons for the pool complex are a lack of chairs. Only two thirds of the hotel is open and it’s difficult to find a chair after lunch.
We did not eat at any of the restaurants because the purpose of the Staycation was to save some money. My thoughts on is that there is no way these two restaurants can handle a full load once Phase III opens. We did enjoy the shave ice stand and the frozen yogurt stand in the spa, both excellent after an afternoon of swimming.
Aunty’s Beach house provided a great way to entertain my DD while we went snorkeling and cleaned up the villa. She’s a Disney Princess freak, and they have a dress up room with all the outfits to try on. They have a large outdoor playground, movie area, videogame area, and craft area. They do provide snacks, or you can arrange a meal for an extra cost. The security here is top notch and your child will be fitted with an RF ID tag that she will swipe in or out. You must provide key card and secret password to pick up your child. Best part about it, it’s free! They accept children 3 and up.
There is a community hall area, with a TV, three video game stations, and lots of open tables to play board games or do crafts. You can also rent/borrow DVDs from the desk.
There is an early/late checkout area which has couches and TVs for those who arrive or leave late. There are also locker and shower facilities that rival a good country club. If we didn’t have a 10 month old it would have been very easy to come early and stay late to enjoy the pool.
 

slum808

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Pictures

View over Rainbow Reef

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Volcano that holds water slides, Phase III Ewa tower in background

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Grand Villas of Waianae Tower
Notice the palm trees block the ocean view up to floor 5, only the first floor is a standard view.
Request a high floor if you spring for this room!
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slum808

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Overall Impressions

Well worth my money. Was it expensive, Yes! But its a really awsome place to take the kids. I think it servered our purpose of having a minivacation before we can get back to the mainland. I'm new to the TS world so its difficult for me to compair against other hotels or TS. I also look forward to one day just the wife and I going. I think it will be a different, but equally fun trip. Best part is, its only 40 mins away, I told DW not to stress about packing, if we forget something I can just drive home.
 

alwysonvac

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Thanks for the review :)
 

glypnirsgirl

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Thanks for sharing. I am looking forward to getting there some day!

elaine
 

GregT

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Marriott: Maui Ocean Club Lahaina Villas (3BRx5), Ko Olina, Shadow Ridge II, Willow Ridge, Aruba Ocean Club, DC Points HGVC: Flamingo, Sea World, I-Drive, Starwood Bella (x4), SDO, TradeWinds, Worldmark
Steve, great review and thanks very much for posting it!

Best,

Greg
 

slum808

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Thanks for the thank yous

I'm glad you all enjoyed it. Im glad I finally have something to contribute to TUG.
 

a1000monkeys

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Excellent review and the lighting in your photos is impressive. Very nice.

Our family of five will be checking in 3 weeks from today. Can't wait.
 

slum808

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Excellent review and the lighting in your photos is impressive. Very nice.

Our family of five will be checking in 3 weeks from today. Can't wait.

That was not really by choice. My 10 month old was waking up at 5 am, so I put him in the stroller pre dawn so he wouldn't wake everyone else up. Does make for some nice pictures though.
 

6scoops

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Thanks loved reading your review and your pics!!
 

slum808

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Couple more pictures

Here's some pictures shot by my DS 15 with his go Pro

View from Lazy river
That's me and my youngest son on the tube
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top of Menehuni Bridge

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slum808

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Old pics

Here's the pics that I had linked on my flicker page. So that's the last of them. Hope you enjoyed the trip!

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GregT

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Steve,

Great pics -- thanks very much!!

Greg
 

chalucky

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We will be at the Marriott next door....I assume we can eat there or visit the shops...I also assume they were pretty strict in regard to wristbands around the pool....can we enter from the lagoo or is that locked off by keycard?
 

Amy

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Thanks for the review and the great pics! I'm hoping to get a unit at the 7 month window for this coming winter break. I'm just hoping that DVC sells this timeshare slowly so I'll be competing mostly with the non-home owner folks. ;)
 

slum808

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We will be at the Marriott next door....I assume we can eat there or visit the shops...I also assume they were pretty strict in regard to wristbands around the pool....can we enter from the lagoo or is that locked off by keycard?

There are two sit down restaurants on property. Anyone can make a reservation there. The entrance from the lagoon is by key card gate, but the gate often swings almost shut without locking. If its locked just wait for someone to come and go. You could also try and ask someone at the rental kiosk to let you in.

There is one small shop. Has some Disney theme items and clothing
 

cruisin

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Stayed Thanksgiving with my wife and no kids, we really enjoyed it, did not spend a penny on food there, a 1br with Kitchen would be required for us for going to Costco etc... , had a friend who had to burn points, so it was free for us.
Disney really did a marvelous job in theming and the look, it is beautiful. This is probably the best resort I have ever been to if you have kids the kids club age, they are really engaged and it is way more than baby sitting in my opinion. I would not go back on my own points, just too expensive for me, maybe a couple nights to go with a Marriott exchange. resort was half open, and I am in the camp that thinks the overcrowding when fully open will be a serious problem in the pools ,lazy river,slides etc. the pool area seemed at full capacity now, can not even imagine with twice the guests, probably a lot of people on the beach? If you have the money, and overcrowding does not become a problem, it is a really nice place.
 

slum808

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Thanks for the review and the great pics! I'm hoping to get a unit at the 7 month window for this coming winter break. I'm just hoping that DVC sells this timeshare slowly so I'll be competing mostly with the non-home owner folks. ;)

Actually I think you want Aulani to sell out quickly. Even though Phase II is open, you can only book rooms that are declared into inventory. If Aulani sells slowly, DVD will have no reason to declare more villas into inventory.
 
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