Disney’s Aulani Hotel opened back in 2011 and has been a flagship lodging option for Oahu ever since.
Although Oahu’s resort and hotel scene is almost entirely focused in Waikiki, there is one small cluster of properties on the west side of the island in a developed community called Ko Olina.
There you will find condos and a couple hotels, including the Aulani. It feels more like a community than a city when compared to Waikiki, with a well-manicured golf course occupying a majority of the green, non-developed space on the more remote, relaxed west side.
Aulani is positioned in front of a man-made lagoon that cuts down on the surf and creates a safe place for swimming, which comes as no surprise given the number of small children that stay at the resort and spend a lot of time in the water. Beach loungers occupy the slight-sloping, horseshoe-shaped beach where parents can relax while keeping an eye on the kids.
The place is a paradise for young ones, with a large lazy river, several pools, water slides, water-spraying jungle gyms, koi ponds and, of course, living, breathing Disney characters. But adults can also find a bit of serenity—or at least a break—by visiting the adult-only sections, which include an infinity-edge whirlpool. Or, by dropping the kids off at the supervised kids’ club, Aunty’s Beach House.
The Aulani’s standard rooms are fit for couples and small families, but those looking to spread out might consider one of the Aulani’s villas. These have kitchens, washer/dryer and full-size living rooms—best for those who are staying a full week and might want the feel of an apartment rather than a hotel room. Two-bedroom villas can even be shared by two families, as they sleep up to 9 and offer 1,100 square-feet of living space.
Regardless of room type, there are neat local details to notice, including lamps in the shape of poi pounders, pineapple-print comforters, paintings of native fish and art depicting ancient Hawaiian scenes.
Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa
92-1185 Aliinui Dr., Kapolei, Oahu