August 6, 2017
Hotel Overview: Aulani Resort and Spa in Oahu, Hawaii
I typically stay at chain hotels when I travel because they offer some really cool perks when you have top tier elite status. For example, my Starwood Platinum status (which I can match to Marriott Platinum) offers me perks like late checkout, complimentary suite upgrades, 50% bonus Starpoints, and more! That said, there’s a lot of excellent resorts that don’t participate in hotel loyalty programs, like Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa in Hawaii.
A trip to Aulani is going to be expensive. It’s a Disney hotel in Hawaii, so that’s kind of a no-brainer. You can’t book free rooms using hotel or credit card points unless you have a ‘cash back’ card that lets you redeem points for statement credits, and those only give you 1 cent per point so they’re rarely a good value. One great way to save money at Aulani is to use the Citi Prestige credit card. The main perk of this card is that when you book a four night stay through the Citi Concierge, you get one night free. They calculate the average nightly rate (excluding taxes) and apply one night’s cost as a statement credit. Given how expensive Aulani rooms are in high season, you can save a tremendous sum of money this way.
I was in Hawaii with a large group during this trip, so we booked a two-bedroom villa. Unfortunately for us, the check-in time for villas is at 4:00 PM while the check-in time for standard rooms is at 3:00 PM. We ended up getting to the hotel bright and early around 9:00 AM. Even though I had done the mobile check-in on my phone and noted that we would be arriving early, our room wasn’t ready. This is as expected given it was the middle of July and the hotel was packed.
Because I had done mobile check-in ahead of time, my room keys were waiting for me at the mini check-in desk in front of the lobby. I got to avoid what appeared to be a very long check-in line for guests who hadn’t done this ahead of time. The lady at the outside check-in desk gave us our keys and a small tour of the facilities. While she wasn’t the best tour guide in the world, she was available to answer our questions, gave us a basic layout of the resort (Aulani is massive), and gave us a few maps to help find our way.
The hotel has a lounge on the ground floor which offers an air conditioned seating area along with showers and lockers. It’s intended to be used by guests who are either arriving before their check-in time or are leaving in the evening after they’ve already checked out. We gave our luggage to the bellhop, changed into our bathing suits, and spend the morning on the beach while waiting for our room. Around 2:00 PM I received a text that our villa was ready (two hours ahead of the 4:00 PM check-in time).
The two-bedroom villas are huge, coming in at 1,125 square feet. There’s a master bedroom with a king bed and its own full size bathroom, there’s a second bedroom with two queen beds and its own bathroom, there’s a full size living room, kitchen, washer & dryer, and another half bathroom. On top of that, two of the couches in the living room can unfold and turn into beds. This enables the two-bedroom villa to sleep up to nine guests. Here’s what it looks like:
Our villa was very well maintained and massive. There was more space than we needed. This was my first time staying in a room with a full kitchen and washer dryer. We surprisingly ended up using these much more than I expected. It was nice to be able to store leftover food in a proper sized refrigerator, make coffee in a full size coffee maker, and wash dirty clothes after being on the road for a week.
I had two issues with the room. The bathroom door in the second bedroom wouldn’t lock. This wasn’t a huge deal but it was annoying. My other issue was the air conditioning. No matter how low you set the thermostat, it just wouldn’t make the rooms very cold. I suspect this is because Aulani prides itself on conserving energy. The bedsheets at the hotel were also much thinner than usual. Conserving energy is great at all, but common. You’re charging me thousands of dollars and you’re limiting my room temperature?
The rooms were top notch aside from those two issues and I’d have no problem staying here in the future. This is the first in a series of articles I’ll be publishing about Aulani as there’s just too much to fit into one piece. I’ll have another artcile shortly describing the pools, ocean, dining experience, and Disney characters at Aulani!
Featured Image Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani