|Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa|
Aulani Resort in August 2011 just prior to opening
|Hotel chain||Disney Parks, Experiences and Products|
|Opening||August 29, 2011|
|Owner||Disney Signature Experiences|
(Disney Parks, Experiences and Products)
|Management||Disney Vacation Club|
|Design and construction|
Walt Disney Imagineering
|Developer||Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Number of rooms||351 hotel rooms|
481 Disney Vacation Club Villas, including 21 Grand Villas
|Number of suites||16|
|Number of restaurants||4|
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is a beachside resort hotel at the Ko Olina Resort in Kapolei, Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Affiliated with the Disney Vacation Club, Aulani was the third Disney "stand-alone" hotel that is located in an area without any adjacent theme park. The others are Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort and Disney's Vero Beach Resort.
The word Aulani in Hawaiian can be loosely translated as "the place that speaks for the great ones" or "with deep messages". When the word is used as a name, it can mean "message from the chief".
The 21 acre Aulani opened to guests on August 29, 2011 with 359 hotel rooms and 460 time-share villas. A November 2018 report stated that at that time, there were 351 rooms (in two 15-story towers), including 16 suites and 481 villas, most being "2-bedroom-equivalent". An October 2018 review specified that there were three restaurants with seating (Makahiki, Ulu Cafe and 'AMA'AMA, ) and some smaller outlets serving snacks such as the Off the Hook poolside lounge.
Announced in October 2007, Disney unveiled the resort's name in January 2010. The project was estimated to cost $800 million and eventually generate about 1,000 jobs at the resort. The project was managed by Disney Vice-President Djuan Rivers and designed by Joe Rohde of Walt Disney Imagineering.
The resort began timeshare sales on July 15, 2010, and began taking room reservations in August 2010. On August 12, 2011, Disney suspended Aulani timeshare sales indefinitely and fired three executives, including Disney Vacation Club president Jim Lewis, after senior management realized the annual dues had been set too low to cover maintenance costs.
Timeshare sales were subsequently re-started although an October 2018 review was unable to exactly determine the total number of sales since 2010 due to gaps in published information.
In March 2019, the resort was named "Best Hotels/Accommodations – Luxury Accommodations" in the 2019 aio Media Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Awards.
Walt Disney Imagineering collaborated with Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo and Architects Hawaii Ltd. and cultural experts to design and construct what will celebrate the customs and tradition of Hawaii. The company also created an advisory council of Hawaiian elders to ensure great authenticity to Hawaiian culture.
A review in 2018 stated that "the modus operandi at Aulani is 'Big H, Little D', as in: big emphasis on Hawaiian traditions and history, with just a little bit of Disney fairy dust sprinkled over the experience". Other reviews specified the Disney influence as including poolside visits by characters, Mickey-shaped foods, and character breakfasts and dinners. Disney characters that one could meet at the resort included (as of June 2017) Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, Moana from the 2016 film of the same name, Chip and Dale, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pluto, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. On February 14, 2021, Angel (Experiment 624) from the Lilo & Stitch franchise began making appearances at the resort, although socially distanced from guests as with all other characters at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Hawaii.
In July 2019, Forbes published a review by Laura Manske that emphasized the company's extensive use of Hawaiian culture, including art and architecture and the program that exposes youngsters to the "culture, art and music of Hawaii through interactive play". In her review, Manske commented:
"There is both a dramatic and sublime sense of place here, as everything—from architecture to art, activities to aliments—at Aulani connects to a deeper meaning and embraces the people, places, past and present, art, music, dance and foods of Hawaii ... Aulani is not a theme park; it is a ... hideaway with just enough Disney-orchestrated animation and activity to add rhythm and variety to your vacation days.
- Garcia, Jason (June 30, 2010). "Hawaii resort Aulani may be key to Disney growth". Orlando Sentinel.
- "Aulani, a Disney Resort that Speaks with Deep Messages"
- "Aulani Disney Resort and Spa — Hotel Review". The New York Times. December 18, 2011.
- "Inside Look: a Deep-Dive at Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa", Seattle Magazine
- "Aulani, a Disney Resort that Speaks with Deep Messages"
- "Disney Does Hawaii". TravelPulse. September 14, 2018.
- Schaefers, Allison (October 6, 2007). "Disney's travel club cannot sell in Hawaii: A resort on Oahu is set, but the firm needs an OK to offer time shares". Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
- Dingeman, Robbie (October 11, 2009). "Disney Resort Taking Shape on Oahu; Expects to Invest $800 million, Employ 1,000". The Honolulu Advertiser.
- "New Disney Hawaii resort gets a name". American City Business Journals. January 19, 2010.
- "Disney to open reservations a year before resort opening". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. July 2, 2010.
- Garcia, Jason (August 15, 2011). "Disney halts sales and fires executives amid financial issues with Hawaiian resort". Orlando Sentinel.
- Lovato, Wil (October 23, 2018). "2018 Aulani Sales Update". DVC News.
- "Winners announced for the 2019 aio Media Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Awards". Hawaii Magazine.
- "The History of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Part One". Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo. July 18, 2017.
- "Aulani – A Historical Spotlight", DVC Store
- Johnson, Neala (September 17, 2018). "Disney meets Hawaii: The resort that's the best of both worlds". escape.com.
- Wisel, CARLYE (July 18, 2017). "Everything You Need to Know About Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii". Travel + Leisure.
- "Tips for meeting characters at Disney's Aulani". Between Us Parents. June 16, 2017.
- Moreno, Nikki (February 14, 2021). "See Angel and Stitch at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa". Disney Parks Blog. Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
- "Is ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Adding Value to Business Brands?", Hawaii Public Radio
- Manske, Laura (July 11, 2019). "Aloha Hawaii: How Beautiful Aulani Disney Resort Can Make You Smile". Forbes.