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Reviewed January 11, 2013

I love Disney World and I thought what could be better than a Disney resort in my favorite place in the world? It is a lovely resort and not much was left out of this resort but I realized that Hawaii is my favorite place because it is everything Disney isn't. I go there to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy simpler things. I think if I had been there with children it would have been a different story but for just my husband and I, we could have and should have gone a little more low key. The rooms are beautifully decorated and have everything you could ask for, the grounds are immaculate, although very busy (not just with people but not a square foot is wasted.) I just find that when we are there, we're there to experience the island, not the resort.

We went to Ama Ama for breakfast twice and really enjoyed our meals there. We enjoyed appetizers at the bar our first evening and those were very nice too. The spa... This is what I was most looking forward to, as it had received such high accolades from others. I see the potential but it was a miss for me. The outdoor area where you're supposed to relax and enjoy yourself was beautiful and would have been great, had there not been construction going on at both the Disney resort AND the resort directly adjacent to the spa. I paid a good deal of money for a massage and I have to say, it wasn't anything spectacular. There were odd breaks in the massage where I'm fairly certain the girl was checking her phone. I didn't open my eyes to see but I can assume just by the girl's age and what I could hear as I was not being massaged that's what was happening. I wouldn't have been too mad about it if they didn't automatically include her tip in the price as I was checking out, as I didn't feel she deserved the full tip I was forced to give her. I'm never one to argue over price so I didn't say a word, I figured word of mouth will take care of the situation.

The construction. There were a few things that were unavailable during our stay due to constructions. One being the Starlit Hui and the movies on the lawn. I'm not quite sure why, but they weren't being offered. These are really the two activities that I was looking forward to because I was pregnant at the time and there really wasn't much else I could do as far as activities. I realize that my pregnancy is no fault of the resort's but it was a disappointment. Upon checkout, our bill was delivered to our room and it showed a credit for $150, apparently to compensate for the renovations being done. I was more than satisfied with this. The problem was, no one ever told us that it was a credit and it was to be used at the resort on our room card. So after a 2 billing cycles and seeing no credit, I called to see what the problem was. I ended up having to put up a bit of a fight but Disney, as usual, was extremely helpful and I got a check for the $150 in the mail that I felt I was due.

I wouldn't stay here again but only based on personal preference. I prefer something a little smaller and less busy for my vacations.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank ErinEKM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 10, 2013

As a member of DVC this is another fantastic resort destination. This is our second visit. We came in Feb 2012. Early Jan is much quieter and still great weather. The spa was amazing ($200/session) and worth repeating. AMA AMA's food and service was excellent. We are entree sharers so we paid about $70 for breakfast (healthy choices) and $150 for dinner (with beverages). The pools are super and all the staff at Aulani are very inviting and attentive. Disney attention to detail is everywhere. A tourist can not help learn and respect something of the Hawaiian people and culture (our favorite part of this resort). Live music is available every night. Ko'Olina also offers a great walking path along the lagoon beaches (8500 steps a stroll) and several other eating options such as a great ABC store (save money on room eats and drinks), MonkeyPod across the street best Happy Hour EVER (fantastic food and REAL cocktails, great prices), Roy's and several other resort restaurants at standard resort prices. The Aulani variety show is a must (complimentary), Star Gaze ($40/p) was interesting (the adult session is NOT strictly enforced). We would definitely return to Aulani as a regular! Very relaxing in January.

Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
9  Thank jcrreid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 9, 2013

We returned last week from the Aulani. Overall, I would say that it is a wonderful resort for families. Disney does a great job with the design, activities and service. The only area we felt they missed was the food. I will touch on a few key areas below:

Rooms: Nicely designed and good size. The beds were very comfortable. All rooms come with a small refrigerator that is empty. It was great. We walked to the ABC Store and bought some food and drinks.

Beach: Nice lagoon. Great for kids to play in and it wasnt very crowded. We were there between Christmas and New Years and it didnt feel crowded.

Pool: Great pool for the kids! It will keep them occupied all day. There is a lazy river and two water slides. There is also a kids water park (jungle gym) area too! If you like to snorkel, they have a special lagoon to snorkel in.
There is a strick towel rule. They even make sure to explain it when they give you the towels. If you leave the towels on a lounge for more than 1 hour, they will take them off and take your stuff. You will then have to go and ask for it back. We did see that happen to someone. Boy, were they mad! They have attendants that walk around the pool and check.

Spa: We loved the spa! It is "an experience". You are totally pampered. They have some awesome outdoor showers and soaking tubs. I would definitely recommend it.

Food: This area is the only area we felt the resort lacked. There are just not enough full service restaurants to eat in! They have many fast food options. However, not very healthy. They have a pool bar and grill and will serve you at your lounge around the pool. The menu is very limited and only had one salad (Ceasar). Not very healthy! The fast food, carry out places around the pool had a few more options but still pretty limited.
There are two full service restaurants. One with buffets for breakfast and dinner. Very expensive. $40 for breakfast for adults and $50 for dinner. The other one, is considered their more formal restaurant (Ama Ama). They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which is really the only regular restaurant in the hotel. It is also expensive! I have to say, it was very good though.
We liked the coffee bar below the lobby for a quick and fairly inexpensive breakfast. Muffins, fruit, bagels and breakfast sandwiches.
They sell plastic coffee mugs in the gift shop that are refillable in certain spots at the resort. You will see many people with them. They are great if you are a coffee or soda person. It costs $19.95 for one. It can save you some money. There were 10 people in our party, and at breakfast the 6 adults filled our mugs in the coffee shop and then took them to the restaurant. It would have cost us $21 just for coffee if we didnt have the mugs. Just know, they will not refill them in the bars or restaurants. There is a self serve soda place by the pool, or the gift shop, or coffee bar in the mornings only.
Reservations at the regular restaurant were hard to get. We sat with the conceirge for an hour trying to get a reservation for each night we were there! Make sure to make your reservations before you come.

Service: All employess were very friendly and helpful at the resort. "Very Disney". Again, the only area the service lacked was in the restaurants.

We attended the New Year's Party on the beach. The buffet was good. (Lobster, clams, mussels, Hawaiian pork, and yummy desserts! They had a DJ that was "ok". The party cost over $100 per adult and then they charged you for sodas $5, wine and cocktails $11. We heard many people complain about it. Plus, you had to buy a ticket for each drink and then go over to another place to get the drink. For the money, the sodas should have been free and the alcohol should have been more reasonable. They would have sold more drinks that way.
The fireworks show was amazing! The best we have ever seen!!!

Overall, we enjoyed our trip. We have older kids and would probably not go back again. The singing from the buffet restaurant in the mornings was enough. Our room was near the lobby and we were woken up by it every morning!
If you have young kids, I would recommend getting one of the villas that has a kitchen. That way you can cook to save some frustration and money.

Room Tip: Get a Disney vacation club villa or make sure you are away from the lobby. The closer to the ocean the better. Also floors 5 and above have ocean views.
  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled with family
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7  Thank Iluvtwins
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 9, 2013

Went there in December for three nights. Loved it. Staff very informative, attentive, and friendly.
Hotel is very clean. The room was clean, no problems. We booked the ocean view DVC Villa Studio, even if we aren't a DVC member, we opted that route since it has a micro/fridge.
Loved the view as we had clear view of the pool area and the lagoon. Two slides, no need to bring tubes as they provide them to you. You can pay $18 for a cup and there is free refill stations for juice/soda throughout the property. Awesome deal especially with kids. You can refill it with coffee or hot cocoa but only in the gift shop in the main lobby. Food is expensive, we only did the character breakfast once. We like it, the kids enjoyed it surprisingly more than disneyland. They at Auntys show during the breakfast where the kids would go up and play musical instruments and march around, it was cute, they loved it. There is a ABC like store across from Aulani, where you can get cheap breakfast/lunch fresh fruits, etc. Pool side they handed out free ice pops to the kids. There were lots of pool staff on duty so they were always watching the pool areas to make sure everyone was okay. Use the room key to get your pool bracelet and towel. Each registered party in the room gets their own key card. They have a snack shop pool side hot dogs/french fries, etc. I found that to be reasonable, like $5.50 or around there for a bottle water, hot dog, and fries for the kids. Shaved ice was around $5 but that is with toppings.

Took the kids to auntys beach house, safe and secure. Lots for them to do. Definitely book premium activities well in advance, they were all sold out when we go there for the whole trip.
My 3 yr old son went there without his sister one day, he was fine when we left him. When we got to the room they called and said he wanted to go home. So I went to pick him up, he was fine, all he did was tell them he wanted to go so quick they call. He wasn't crying or anything. If they just entertained him or showed him where things were or just made a little bit effort to make it fun, he wouldn't even have thought saying that. So that was a bummer.

But I loved the lagoon, its man made so no rocks or anything. It is wonderful. December is cold and windy though. So I would recommend coming from march - summer.

Bed was comfy, pull out bed, was so-so. The bed is really high up, so I would recommend getting bed rails (hotel provides) if needed for little ones.

We could get a chair at the pool side at all times of the day even if hotel was booked, which was awesome.

Since we were there for four days/three nights we rarely left the hotel. There is so much to do!! We just enjoyed every minute of it, then later moved hotels to waikiki to do shopping and stuff towards the end of our trip. Will do the same next time!

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled with family
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5  Thank kimochii
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 7, 2013

Positives:
Kids loved the beach, the pools, water park and aunties house
Kids were never bored
Staff was friendly although they seemed a bit slow and not too bright.

Negatives:
1. Bad Food
Food was unbearable. Even our 5 and 8 yr old didn't like the food
Minimal healthy food choices
2. Poor Service
Servers consistently got our orders wrong
Restaurants seemed understaffed. Many families waited to be seated as empty tables sat empty for up to 20 minutes.
Servers only come by twice during meals.
3. Rooms
3 star quality, at best.
When I asked to have my room cleaned, I was met with unfriendly questions as to why.
Rooms were never thoroughly cleaned. Our kids were battling colds which is why I requested clean rooms. Cleaning staff never cleaned the bathroom mirror. Never removed old soaps that got stuck to the bathroom counters, left old, empty toiletries in the bath tub. Did not pick up trash or towels off bedroom floor.
Room had minimal lighting. Two dimly lit lamps.
4. Penny pinching resort
Went for the New Years celebration. After forking out nearly $900 for a table, had to pay cash for all non water drinks (juice, soda, alcohol). Food, again, was terrible with only choices of lobster or pork. Sides and salads were pretty non-existent.
Party favors consisted of a paper hat and plastic bead necklace handed to you in a large white trash bag-very tacky. Music was terrible and put our kids to sleep.
New Years "gift" was a Longs drugstore 2013 paper calendar - again, very tacky.
No lighting so people couldn't see the buffet or their food as they were eating it.
5. Overpriced

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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6  Thank 674Anonymous
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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