Aulani resort, which was just voted Top Family Hotel in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2014 & 2015, is a great family vacation retreat on Oahu in Hawaii. It is a little off the beaten path as you can see from the map below.
It is located about 20 miles from Honolulu airport in Ko’Olina away from the scene of Waikiki beach. Due to this we do advise having a rental car, as it is nice to go out and explore, and while there are beautiful areas to walk you will not get anywhere that looks much different than where you started.
The Wailkolohe Valley runs through the center of Aulani resort and most buildings have one side looking over the valley. The Waikolohe Vally is said to be the home of the mischievous Menehune. Legend says they are master builders who come out at night and build amazing structures before sunrise.
The Menehune are one of the many great stories of Hawaiian culture you can learn about at the nightly fireside Mo’Olelo (campfire storytelling) at Aulani. Well worth attending, you learn a lot about your surroundings while having a good time.
Tales of the Menehune and other great folklore told at Aulani is available from Amazon. [amazon template=thumbnail&asin=0873360109]
The lazy river at Aulani is, in our opinion, pretty perfect. Over the years we have come across a lot of lazy rivers which do not connect back to the beginning. If I’m going to embrace ‘Lazy’ I don’t want to have to walk all the way back to the beginning, I just want to be able to loop around again and again. It’s very family friendly, there are no rapids like at Atlantis, it is indeed very relaxing.
If you want to break things up a bit you can hop out and go down the tube water slide, which although you do have to get out and walk up some stairs carrying your inner tube, once you come careening back down it does end right back in the lazy river to start your next lap. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting out and exploring but sometimes it’s good to just relax and enjoy your present surroundings.
Laniwai is the onsite Spa at Aulani, I don’t usually seek out a Spa when I’m traveling, but I will admit after an exhausting day in the lazy river, this helps you unwind. =). Here is a link to the current treatments available to see if anything tickles your fancy. The rain showers are great, and the ambiance is impressive. Which I guess as far as spas are concerned really does matter as I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a large portion of what you are paying for.
If you are traveling with your kids, you will want to drop them off at Aunties beach house so you can go enjoy the spa with some peace of mind. There is no extra charge, and is open to kids 3-12 years of age. We have found from speaking with other parents, that after initial resistance to checking it out, most kids do not want to leave once checked in, and that was our experience as well. If you are going to be at the resort several days it’s also a great place for kids to meet other kids to plan future activities with.
The Starlit Hui is basically the luau done Disney style. Honestly after seeing about every one on every island, it’s pretty decent as far as these things go. It’s very laid back with some arts and crafts time ahead of the show, and a Disney dance party afterwards. If all of that sounds like too much and you want to escape to a more tourist centered luau one can be had almost next store. The big differences are fairly simple to me, the Starlit Hui is free. Going off property you will see a longer version of basically a similar show, get a free drink or two and some buffet style food and in return pay upwards of $80 per person. If it were me I would save that money and head across the street to Roy’s for a nice dinner, or down the road to Chucks Steak House with a nice walk around their Koi ponds.
On the subject of food, this is an area Aulani just has not yet quite figured out, and it’s a bummer since you are surrounded by it. Everyone’s taste is different, but our consensus was it felt like theme park food at a nice resort. For a good lunch we highly recommend the Monkeypod KoOlina across the street, it’s reasonably priced with a nice happy hour menu where you can get a good deal on the Garlic Truffle Oil Fries and some Poke Taco’s. We covered their Maui location on our Hawaiian Cruise Review.
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Click below for detailed information and pictures about each room type available.