Aloha from Aulani!
It was another beautiful and very full day - but I had a chance to enjoy the resort a bit today. There's still an awful lot to see and do, though!
I think the best way to tell it is in photos - a picture is worth 1000 words!
This is the beach behind Aulani. As you can see it's a beautiful white sand beach, and pretty wide by Hawaii standards - but of course it's also man-made. The water is very calm and it's very safe for swimming - no waves to speak of.
Here you can see the breakwater. There are 4 of these man-made lagoons here - Aulani is on Lagoon 1, Kohola, which I believe is Hawaiian for "whale". There's a 1.5 mils path that runs the length of Ko Olina behind all the resorts which is publicly accessible (the beaches are publicly accessible). There were quite a few people out walking or jogging this morning, and not all of them were hotel guests!
There was no one out at the pool yet, since it doesn't open until 8:00, and it was about 7:00 at the time.
They have these menehune statues hiding all over the resort - there are quite a few in the Waikolohe Valley. (Waikolohe means "Waters of Mischief"). I found some yesterday, and spotted quite a few more today.
My best find, so far, is this one - which is in just *one* of the six elevator cars in the Waianae Tower. I happened to see it on my way back from the pool today when I did NOT have my camera...and later on I tried unsuccessfully to get on that elevator, but it simply would not come to my floor. I did manage it tonight, though.
At Makahiki, the buffet restaurant, there is a character breakfast on selected days of the week - and today was one of the days. Mickey wasn't very busy and saw me taking photos from the lobby lanai and gave me a wave. :-)
I had the opportunity to visit the rooms they made available to us to visit, which were a standard hotel room, an accessible hotel room with king bed, a dedicated two-bedroom DVC villa, and a Grand Villa. They were all beautiful, of course, but the latter was simply stunning. There will eventually be 21 Grand Villas, all with a spectacular ocean view.
Here is the kitchen in the one/two bedroom villas - these cabinets are just beautiful. The wood seems to glow from within. Note the rice cooker on the counter - apparently Disney researched timeshares in Hawaii and found that rice cookers were the #1 requested item that was not standard for most timeshares.
I also took a tour of the Laniwai Spa (lah-nee-vai), which means "freshwater heaven". I'd read the press release about it being 18,000 square feet inside and 5,000 square feet outside, but those numbers are kind of meaningless until you actually walk through it yourself. It's really big - but it's not all one huge space, but everything is interconnected with its own story, like the lumiakalani at the end of the 'Ohia Corridor.
Most of the outdoor space is devoted the the Kula Wai - the hydrotherapy garden. There are herbal pools, a reflexology path, whirlpools, and six rain showers. (Access to the Kula Wai is included with a spa treatment.) It looks wonderful - I'll be checking it out for myself on Friday. (The things I do in the name of research! :-) )
This afternoon I had some free time so I went to the pool area - Waikolohe Valley - and checked out some of the mischief that's going on in those waters. So here's Aulani Pool 101:
To use the pool, slides, etc. and to get a towel, you must have a wristband. You get this at the towel station near the main pool and you must show your room key. There's a different color every day - collect the whole set! (Just kidding!)
After I got my towel and wristband the first place i went was the slides. Tubestone Curl is the tube slide - pick up a one- or two-person tube at the bottom of the stairs first. It was fun, though the attendant at the top warned me I might need to pick up my feet to avoid banging them on the side - and that was true, but thanks to his warning I didn't have that problem. At the bottom you can either get out or get into the lazy river stream.
Volcanic Vertical is the body slide. It's completely enclosed and dark until you get pretty close to the end. Not recommended for those with claustrophobia. I got dunked pretty good at the end, but it was not bad. This is where it dumps you out, and you can either get out, or go through the grotto into the main pool.
Waikolohe Stream is the "lazy river". This was a little too slow-moving for me, and I didn't stay in very long. I think there are some other more mischievous features further along.
The main pool is not very deep, but was a pleasant swim. There are zero-entry points for both the lazy river and the main pool.
There is a really cool hot whirlpool spa on a terrace above the main pool. (Hmm...a "cool" hot whirlpool is rather an oxymoron, isn't it?) It has a waterfall falling into it - and it's hot water. I did not expect that, but it makes sense, because otherwise the water would cool down way too fast.
There's another terraced hot whirlpool spa that's on two levels, each with an infinity edge - and it would be a great place to watch the sunset.
One of the most fun features is the Menehune Bridge. This is the kid's water play area "intended for guests under 48" - but since there weren't any of them around at the time, I wandered through it. :-)
There's lots of menehune actually on the structure that are dumping gourds of water on unsuspecting heads, or even some of them teaming up to direct a stream of water. Really a fun area with great detail.
I had a good time during my pool time - there's a lot to do in Waikolohe Valley.
This was tonight's sunset, taken from the terrace below the 'AMA'AMA restaurant.
Tomorrow evening is Aulani's Grand Opening Ceremony. Throughout the day I'll be exploring more of the resort and trying to get answers to some of your questions. Remember when I said answering questions had to be easier than finding menehune? I think sometimes it might be easier to find menehune...
Disclosure: As an invited media guest, AllEars' travel expenses to the Aulani Grand Opening event were paid by the Disney company.