I know what you’re thinking. Or at least what I’m thinking. Hawaii personifies everything that Disney is not.
Don’t get me wrong – I think Disney is one of the best companies for customer service. Their theme parks and hotels are unparalleled in terms of cleanliness and catering to families. I just would have wanted to keep the “magic of Disney” away from the pristine shores of Hawaii.
Yes, I know some big hotels with water slides have sort of already tarnished the natural beauty… but Mickey with a lei on a white beach just seems wrong.
Nonetheless, it is my job to tell you that the Aulani is now open on Oahu – a grand Disney resort with 359 hotel rooms, and 460 vacation club villas. It is located on the leeward side of the island, about 17 miles west of Honolulu airport. You would need a taxi or car if you want to go into Waikiki.
The resort is actually located in a beautiful setting near lush green mountains and right on the beach… but in a sort of fabricated Disney way. I’ve never been, just for full disclosure, and am just saying this according to the research I’ve done.
To Disney’s credit, they have put Hawaiin art all througout the resort, and tried incorporating authentic touches. Even better, it means jobs for the locals, and Disney has contributed back to the community by donating money to local schools.
The activities are of course, family friendly. There are some awesome pool play areas. But many hotels in Hawaii have similar great programs. Kids club, waterslides, more than one pool, beach activities, but at a price. Renting a beach umbrella and chairs for the day costs $20, and to rent a Stand Up Paddleboard – $30.
One thing that stood out as different to me is that they have a “teen spa.” Catering to girly-girls, it offers a mixology bar to make perfume, and body polishes. It also has a yogurt and elixir bar, teen activities, and computer stations – which I would have left off. Can’t they go off the grid in a place like Hawaii? But teens will be teens.
It will be interesting how the hotel does – I was just on Oahu, and hotel bookings were down due to the decrease in Japanese visitors affected by the March tsunami. If you want to check it out, just go to www.resorts.disney.go.com/aulani-hawaii-resort/
Aloha and have a great weekend.