|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 & Marina in Kapolei on the Hawaiian 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. (Aulani is a Hawaiian expression that means "messenger of a chief"). 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.
Initially 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 Imagineers collaborated with WATG 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 in 2018 included Lilo, Stitch, Nani, David, Moana, Donald Duck, Pluto, Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
When staff are hired, Hawaiian language skills are preferred for all jobs as part of the resort's plan to expose guest to the language of the land.
In July 2019, Forbes magazine review 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". The reviewer made this comment:
"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". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- "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", Travel Pulse
- Allison Schaefers (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. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- Dingeman, Robbie (October 11, 2009). "Disney Resort Taking Shape on Oahu; Expects to Invest $800 million, Employ 1,000 / October 2009". The Honolulu Advertiser. McClatchy-Tribune Regional News. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- "New Disney Hawaii resort gets a name". Pacific Business News. January 19, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
- "Disney to open reservations a year before resort opening". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. July 2, 2010. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- Jason Garcia (August 15, 2011). "Disney halts sales and fires executives amid financial issues with Hawaiian resort". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "2018 Aulani Sales Update", DVC News
- "Winners announced for the 2019 aio Media Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Awards", Hawaii Magazine
- Kain, Matthew (2011-10-12). "The Co-Branded Kingdoms". Honolulu Weekly. Archived from the original on 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
- "Aulani – A Historical Spotlight", DVC Store
- https://www.escape.com.au/destinations/north-america/usa/hawaii/disney-meets-hawaii-the-resort-thats-the-best-of-both-worlds/news-story/06ef474806c7bc83beea041fba2c2232 "Disney meets Hawaii: The resort that's the best of both worlds"], escape.com
- "Everything You Need to Know About Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii", Travel and Leisure
- http://betweenusparents.com/tips-for-meeting-characters-at-disneys-aulani/, Tips for meeting characters at Disney's Aulani
- "Tips for meeting characters at Disney's Aulani", Between Us Parents
- "Is ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Adding Value to Business Brands?", Hawaii Public Radio
- "Aloha Hawaii: How Beautiful Aulani Disney Resort Can Make You Smile", Forbes, July 11, 2019