The Aulaini Resort

This is the large window below the main lobby entry doors.

This is the large window below the main lobby entry doors.

I gave you a room tour, but want to show you a little more of the resort itself. The lobby is always the first impression and it is gorgeous! The arched roof lines are reminiscent of the native canoes and the lighting is a soft golden glow from gourd-like fixtures.

This was taken from the outside at night from near the Dancing Waters fountain area.

This was taken from the outside at night from near the Dancing Waters fountain area.

Standing lobby lights - a warm, welcoming glow!

Standing lobby lights – a warm, welcoming glow!

This shot shows the arch motif nicely as well as the gourd-like ceiling fixtures.

This shot shows the arch motif nicely as well as the gourd-like ceiling fixtures.

My favorite Menehune was tucked up in one of the elevators. A cast member (that's what Disney calls their employees, remember?) told me that this guy will switch elevators upon occasion!

My favorite Menehune was tucked up in one of the elevators. A cast member (that’s what Disney calls their employees, remember?) told me that this guy will switch elevators upon occasion!

Disney did a lot of research into the Hawaiian culture and, although there are the expected “Hidden Mickeys” like the other resorts, the changed it up at Aulani and had Menehune tucked everywhere! Menehune are little mischievous characters that spend their nights creating fantastic inventions and sleep during the day.  I believe there are more than 200 of the little guys all over the resort! Although there is a kind of scavenger hunt activity to try and track them(probably geared toward kids, but that doesn’t usually stop me), I chose to snap a few pictures and enjoy floating past ones placed along the Waikolohe Stream.

This Menehune is the largest one I saw.

This Menehune is the largest one I saw.

The patterns in the hallway wallpaper evoke many native themes - flowers, people, food - but do you see the hidden Mickey?

The patterns in the hallway wallpaper evoke many native themes – flowers, people, food – but do you see the hidden Mickey?

Dancing Waters fountain outside Makahiki Restaurant. Hmmm - I see Goofy and Minnie in there!

Dancing Waters fountain outside Makahiki Restaurant. Hmmm – I see Goofy and Minnie in there!

Water features are prominent throughout Aulani. The Laughing Waters fountain ends in a koi pool which is just across the path from a whirlpool next to the Waikolohe Stream. See what I mean?

The koi pond - Dancing Waters fountain in background.

The koi pond – Dancing Waters fountain in background.

Whirlpool next to Waikolohe Stream. Can you see the shark carving on the far side?

Whirlpool next to Waikolohe Stream. Can you see the shark carving on the far side?

Ama Ama had fabulous views of the lagoon!

Ama Ama had fabulous views of the lagoon!

The views are extraordinary. We enjoyed breakfasting at Ama Ama – which has a lovely view of the lagoon, or lounging near the pool to look for hidden carvings on Waikolohe Mountain (water slide). At night, looking down from an upper floor to the whole pool area is magical!

The Waikolohe Mountain (Disney always has to have a mountain!) has subtle carvings that are fun to hunt for while lounging or walking around the pool area.

The Waikolohe Mountain (Disney always has to have a mountain!) has subtle carvings that are fun to hunt for while lounging or walking around the pool area.

The Waikolohe Valley at night

The Waikolohe Valley at night

HallArtWork

One of the many paintings throughout Aulani.

On every floor, in elevator bays, along the hallways – there was beautiful artwork. The paintings looked like they were painted on sheets of plywood – there was wood grain visible through the vivid pigments used for each piece. The staircase leading up to the lobby from the entrance to the Makahiki Restaurant at pool level is a work of art in and of itself!

Carved container in a lobby display.

Carved container in a lobby display.

Beautiful stair case.

Beautiful stair case.

I’m sure I missed many aspects of the Aulani Resort – I probably should go back and take a little better notes…

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Plane, Trains, and Automobiles (and a Ferry, too!)

Our epic journey began with a ferry ride, followed by a commuter train – and then light rail, followed by a plane and, finally, a taxi to the resort! Of course, somewhere in the middle we very nearly missed our flight! We had received a text from Alaska Airlines telling us our flight was as scheduled and that our gate would be D-10. For whatever reason, we believed them and settled in at that gate. After a while, we noticed that there still wasn’t a plane at the gate and it was scheduled to leave in the near future. I went over to the Departure screen and guess what? The gate we should have been at was clear at the end of Concourse C! I grabbed my husband and we started running towards C as we heard the final boarding call for our flight and our last name followed by, “Party of 2, please report to gate C-16!” As we ran, my mouth went as dry as the Sahara. When we got to the gate, they were about to give our seats to someone else! We got on the plane and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath – I needed to cough long and hard, but I couldn’t. I sat and fanned myself and tried to take even breaths without crying, throwing up, or wetting my pants. It was a struggle to even speak – very disturbing! Eventually, I was able to breath somewhat normally again, but, even as I write this, I have that little, “I need to cough” tickle in my throat. We talked about it later and wondered if it might have been an exercise induced asthma attack – which is a real thing, apparently. And, no, it doesn’t just mean I’m a fat lazy-butt, so get that right out of your mind!
Anyway!!!! We made it to Hawaii and it is warm, lush and beautiful! The Aulani Resort is lovely, the staff very attentive and our room is nicely appointed! We have a Deluxe Studio with an ocean view. In many ways similar to the Grand Californian with lots of nice woodwork and quality furnishings. I’ll do a post with pictures later on. We were greeted with leis – a tube rose one for me (very fragrant!) and one made of some sort of nut (I’ll look it up later) for my husband. I plan to borrow it to wear with one of my dresses later on!
After we unpacked, we decided to explore the resort a bit with the goal of grabbing something to eat. By this time, I was starving, having only nibbled a little trail mix during the 6 hour flight due to my distressed condition. We watched people take floats down a water slide, float along in a “river” as well as a more traditional pool. We later found a hot tub area that were “horizon” pools – very neat! We poked our heads into a couple of restaurants, but it was too early for seating. We felt like it was nearly 7 pm, but here it wasn’t yet 5 pm. We ended up eating at the “Off the Hook” poolside bar at a table with a nice umbrella. We watched people in the pool and could see the ocean just beyond a short wall. We both had the fish tacos which I thought were wonderful and my husband thought weren’t tangy enough. While we waited, a few of the clouds decided to join forces and rain for a bit. No problem! We were under an umbrella and from Seattle – let it rain! It didn’t last long and we soon were witnessing a lovely sunset.
We continued our walk, passing an elegant wedding chapel as we headed to the lagoon on the resort property. We could also see the outdoor movie area – canceled tonight because of the rain (Awww, man!) We stopped and made breakfast reservations at one of the restaurants on our way back to our room. Tomorrow, we’ll try out the pools!

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Next Stop: Aulani Resort in Hawaii!

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We finally did it – we bought into the Disney Vacation Club and booked a vacation at the Aulani Resort for late January 2012! This is a brand new resort that opened this past fall (2011) and, although it is a Disney Resort, it is not “character driven” like the theme park locations (not that there is anything wrong with that!). It looks to have a lot of water/pool features, so I bit the bullet and bought a couple of new swimsuits (and am exercising furiously, but hopefully not futilely!) before our trip.
This will be our first experience as DVC members and also our first trip to Hawaii, so there is much to be excited about! I hope to post before, during and after our trip, so stay tuned! More information about DVC can be found HERE.