Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Disney's Aulani Resort

yellow hibiscus with red roof, palm frond and Makaha sky

Makaha Valley is the second to last valley on Farrington highway which is the only road in and out of the Wai'anae coast on O'ahu. When I was growing up there, going far to get anywhere was normal.  To get into Honolulu it would take at the least 45 minutes.  Makaha is country and local and so laid back.  We loved staying there but had heard people rave about the Disney Aulani resort just at the other end of the coast, so we decided to go and have ourselves a look around.  It was quite a culture shock to visit the opulent hotel after staying in such a casual place.  

The hotel is within Ko Olina resort, a group of high end hotels, homes and time shares.  It's at the end of the Wai'anae coast closest to Honolulu.  Just a week or two before we decided to have a visit, Aulani had hosted President  Barack Obama and his wife Michele during the APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation) leaders' summit that was held in Honolulu.  From what we heard,  it takes a lot of body guards to make it possible for the First Lady to go and get a massage!  

The look of the place was a mix of modern and old fashioned Hawaiian style, with rich dark woods and high ceilings that reminded me of the inside of a canoe.  At the check in area, there was an impressively massive wall-mounted collage of photos of various beautiful Hawaiian plants and nature.  There was low lighting with little sign of it being a Disney resort at all, except for a themed coffee cup I saw and a person dressed as Minnie Mouse shaking some hands. The pool was fancy looking with a few small water slides and some pretty landscaping around it.  The gift shop was so expensive I was afraid to let my kids go inside.  

I think the best part about the Aulani resort is the part that anyone in Hawaii can enjoy with some perseverance: that's the water.  Aulani is situated right on the edge of one of four manmade lagoons.  The water is protected, not too deep, the beaches are sandy and the kids love it.  

We came back there to swim another time early in the day so we could get one of the ten spaces they so kindly have for the public to park in.  I say this a little facetiously because the coasts of Hawai'i are to belong to everyone, but they're not really as accessible as you might think.  I enjoyed having a lifeguard on duty, no waves to sweep my little ones away, and the floating plastic platform, which was randomly hosting a kids' yoga class.  Of course the boys, brazen as they are, joined right in.  They weren't kicked out, so I let them enjoy themselves.  

There were employees at every corner in the lobby it seemed, watching whatever we did.  They dressed in beautiful old fashioned holoku and aloha shirts.  I felt sorely out of place and was ready to go back to Makaha, which we promptly did.  Most of the photos I share were taken just walking around the comfy condos we stayed in there.  There are regular every day people living there and beautiful plants all around.  There was a large pool for the big kids, a hot tub and a kiddy pool for the littles.  The beach was 4 minutes away.  It was there I felt most comfortable.  Just for fun, we looked up what it might cost for our family to get a room at Aulani.  They said our family exceeds the limit for rooms there, and that we'd have to rent adjoining suites.  Apparently if we left one kid behind, we could all stay in the same room for $2750 a night.  We could fly to Europe on that.  Or save a bunch of people from starving or something.  Why pay when we can enjoy the best part about Aulani for free?  I'm so happy I grew up in Makaha and already knew the perfect place for our large and somewhat loudish family to stay.  


Landscaping at guarded entrance to Ko Olina
The cool floating platform in the public-ish lagoon in front of Aulani
The Lagoon 


Hau blossom
dramatic Levi
Fire Power!
This plant has gigantic leaves is really called Monstera.
Wilted Hibiscus

Shower tree bark

Croton

Red Ti

Spider lily


Fern

Plumeria petals

Shower tree leaves


Bouganvillea


Aulani's check in desk collage


Tourist hat and disney cup at Aulani

Testing the forbidden waters



Windy atrium at Aulani resort

Inside Aulani


Walking to the lagoon at Aulani

 Hibiscus leaf dying

red hibiscus back in Makaha

Palm frond

End of Palm Frond
Grass.  I remember picking the seeds off this grass and finding little cockroaches down below during outdoor assemblies in elementary school.
Plumeria

Bug on Ti


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