Disney Aulani . . . The Accommodations

November 7, 2017 by  
Filed under daily life, hawaii, hotels, Life in Hawaii

Our staycation at the Disney Aulani was nothing short of magical. Being Disney fanatics, we have been dying to stay at The Aulani since it first opened in August 2011. “Aulani” which means “Messenger of a Chief” is located on the Leeward side of Oahu on the beach of Ko’Olina. The warm hospitality and beautiful decor continuously reminds you that you are in a Hawaiian paradise.

When you first pull up to the port cochere of the hotel you’re immediately greeted by a host offering you either a beautiful orchid or kukui nut lei. The kids were thrilled and it gave us the feeling that our magical vacation was about to begin.

You’re then escorted to the Front Desk where you’re checked in. The first thing you’ll notice is the beautiful rainbow of photos on the wall. These 100 photos were taken by 100 local high school students who were asked to capture the image of a color in the rainbow.

The check-in process was pretty quick considering all the information they provide you with . . . including a comprehensive map of the resort and your very first Daily ‘Iwa (Activity Calendar).

You’ll also receive your room keys with each guest’s name printed on them. You use these keys as your credit cards while at the resort and you can establish which keys have charging privileges.

Then it was time to check out our room . . . a 1 bedroom Parlor Suite with partial ocean view. When we opened the front door I think we were all pretty speechless. Talk about a beautiful room. The combination of Hawaii and Disney was everywhere. From the Hawaiian print upholstery with hidden Mickeys in them to the wooden Mickey light fixtures . . . you really feel like you are in Hawaii . . . Disney style.

The room accommodates up to 5 people with 3 beds . . . a king-size bed in the master bedroom, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa and 1 twin-size pull-down bed in the parlor.

There’s also 1 1/2 baths which made getting ready with 3 kids a lot easier.

 

 

The Kitchenette is perfect for those who want to cook a little during their stay. It comes completely stocked with cookware, dishes, glasses, cutlery and basic cooking utensils.

 

There’s also a cute dining area where the family can gather before heading out for the day.

And how about this view?

If it wasn’t for all the fun activities we had planned we may have never left the room.

Coming up . . . Disney Aulani . . . The Activities

This post was written for Disney Aulani who sponsored our family for the weekend.

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Reinvigorate Your Love For The Island

September 10, 2012 by  
Filed under family activities, hotels, informative, Life in Hawaii

The rigors of a routine can certainly catch up with you. With work, family, and bills presenting challenges on a daily basis, it can be difficult to find a moment to take for yourself. Despite the stresses that add up, Oahu never loses its splendor, and while you may have grown used to it over the years of living there, it is important to take a step back and unwind for a weekend. Whether it be for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or just a weekend you and that special someone agree upon, Oahu is teeming with spots that are perfect for a quick getaway. Taking a deep breath, sitting on the sand, and staring out at the Pacific is the best way to reconnect with what’s important in life. Here are a few ways to make your weekend unforgettable.

Book A Hotel

Even if it’s just down the road, booking at one of the luxurious island hotels is a great way to get yourself into that carefree-mode. Whether it be one of the many Waikiki hotels, such as the Lotus Honolulu, the Windward side in Kailua, or a bed and breakfast on the North Shore, packing a bag and letting go of household responsibilities will have an immediate effect on your demeanor. There isn’t anything quite like finding your bed turned down and ordering room service!

Go On A Tourist Excursion

Some people go their entire lives without exploring some of the tourist hotspots in their hometown. While this goes against the local mentality, grabbing a bit of culture–especially some as vibrant and eccentric as that of Hawaii–can help boost your pride in your area even further. Once you set your stuff down at the hotel, pick and choose from the huge host of cultural options available to you, such as the Bishop Museum, or the Honolulu Academy of Art. Living in an area that millions visit a year, it’s important to understand and appreciate the rich history of what surrounds you.

A Genuine Adrenaline Rush

Even if you feel completely familiar with the island, there are several activities that will help define your weekend tremendously: going skydiving is one of them. With you and your loved one hurtling towards the ground, the rush that you’ll experience is unlike any other. It is sharing experiences like this that strengthen relationships–and the 360 degree views of the island are pretty nice to boot!

Living on Oahu is a joy that shouldn’t be taken for granted. If your daily routine has you missing the beauty of your surrounding environment, or you just need a weekend to take a break with someone special, make it a weekend that will keep you going for a good, long time!

This is a sponsored post

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Hawaii Misconceptions

With all the publicity Hawaii receives on TV and in the movies it’s easy to get a skewed picture of what the islands are really like. Hawaii’s diversity and varied geography allow for many different experiences; even stories you’ve heard from friends may paint a skewed picture. This article looks at some common misconceptions and will hopefully give you some ideas to plan a perfect trip.

Oahu and Waikiki

Waikiki, a suburb of Honolulu, is the most popular tourist destination in Hawaii. Dozens of inexpensive hotels, the bright lights of a beautiful, active and modern city, and the allure of Waikiki Beach combine to form an intoxicating cocktail that many tourists can’t resist.

But Oahu’s real beauty is found outside Honolulu. The scenic H3 freeway cuts through razor edged volcanic ridges and takes one from the west to east side of the island, revealing miles of beautiful beaches. You won’t find hotels or condos here, rather several nice residential towns like Kailua where President Obama and his family vacation over winter holidays. Oahu’s north shore is much less developed, and out in the “country” is where one finds a few of the most famous surf breaks in the world – the Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay.

So although Waikiki wins the prize for being the most popular destination in Hawaii, it represents only a fraction of what Hawaii or even Oahu has to offer.

Crowds

Based on the popularity of Waikiki Beach one may expect the rest of Hawaii to be similarly crowded. Fortunately that’s not the case. Hawaii has over 100 great tourist beaches and on any island it’s possible to find one that’s virtually empty. This is especially true for Kauai’s north shore where you can count on many great beaches being visited by only a handful of people on weekdays. Every Hawaiian Island including Oahu can accommodate those who want to get away from big tourist crowds.

Cost

Hawaii caters to everyone including those on a tight budget. The best vacation value can be found in vacation rentals which allow for the possibility of inexpensive home cooked meals. Even on Maui, sometimes referred to as the playground of the wealthy, you’ll find condo rentals on the beach for less than $100/night at complexes like at Waiohuli Beach Hale, or from $150/night at places like Poipu Sands on Kauai.

Car rental prices fluctuate depending on demand. Rates of $30/day are common. Given how much there is to see and explore renting a car is highly recommended. Only Oahu has a good public transportation system.

Visitor Destination Areas

Hawaii has strict zoning regulations and it’s illegal to offer vacation rentals in many areas without the proper permits (permits are hard to get). Unfortunately this means you can’t rent an apartment or home in any residential area you want, particularly areas that are less touristy.

Fortunately several resort areas offer a nice selection of rentals including homes, condos and cottages and some resorts have a mix of residents and vacationers, particularly on Kauai which has a nice selection of condos.

Weather

Hawaii arguably has the best climate in the world. Winter time highs average about 78 degrees (25 Celsius), summer time highs around 86 (30 Celsius). Consistent winds prevent suffocating heat from ever taking hold. The ocean is always warm enough to swim in.

As wonderful as Hawaii’s weather is, from the perspective of a tourist who’s visiting for a week and expects the best, the weather can be frustrating. The same winds that make Hawaii one of the premier windsurfing destinations can also create unpleasant beach conditions, especially on east facing shores. Although the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii doesn’t see much rainfall, the topography of each island creates its own weather system, collecting and bunching up clouds. The result is a huge difference in weather in very short distances. For example, the wettest recorded spot on earth is on Kauai, but only 20 miles away it’s very dry, almost desert like.

The bottom line, residents of Hawaii are extremely lucky, but vacationers going for short trips need to plan winter vacations more carefully, selecting the driest region of an island to get the best possible weather.

Scenery

Whatever you imagine Hawaii to contain in terms of scenery, you’re probably right. What other region of the world contains such a variety of landscapes stuffed into such a small land mass? Jungles, forests, canyons, jagged cliffs, meadows, deserts, baron fields of lava rock, red dirt, palm fringed beaches, snow capped mountains, volcanic craters, moonscapes, and waterfalls. No wonder so many movies are filmed in Hawaii.

To see the contrasting scenes you have to leave the comfort of your resort and do some driving. For example, flying into Maui you’re not going to see any evidence of lush tropical scenery. But drive the road to Hana on the south east coast and you’ll be treated to waterfalls and a million shades of green.

Volcano

If you’ve seen anything on TV about Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island your impression of this area will be completely skewed. TV programs show a portion of the volcano up close at times when it’s spewing lava. Normally the volcano is simmering out of sight in a remote area of the park, and lava flow is below ground except where it enters the ocean.

Volcanoes National Park is an amazing area that should be visited. There are miles of hikes and interesting geology to explore. Just don’t go expecting to see lava. You may get lucky, but if you really want to see flowing lava you’ll need to take an air tour.

Sharks

Traveling to Hawaii is probably the least stressful vacation you can take. You don’t have to worry about terrible weather, tropical diseases, crime, or contaminated food. Perhaps because there’s so little to worry about, some people start fixating on Shark attacks. There are sharks in Hawaii, but attacks are rarer than other beach destinations. Hawaii averages about 3 attacks per year making the odds of an attack more than 1 in a million. Instead of worrying about sharks, worry about dangerous ocean conditions. About 50 people drown every year in Hawaii.

Length of Stay

The islands of Hawaii are relatively small. Maui is 727 square miles, while Kauai and Oahu are less than 600. As such many people try to see several islands in one short trip. That’s a mistake because each island has so many attractions to explore, and although only separated by a half an hour plane ride, the reality of modern day airport travel means that jumping islands wastes a full day.

So although it’s technically possible to see all the islands in a couple weeks, the experience won’t be as deep or meaningful. The rule of thumb is to budget at least one week per island, if you’re a goal oriented sight seeing type. Feel free to spend several weeks on one island – you won’t regret it.

Partying

Unlike Mexico, the Caribbean or Florida, Hawaii doesn’t have a reputation as a party destination even during spring break. Most tourists are families, couples, and honeymooners. The time zone difference (PST – 3 hours, but no daylight savings) results in earlier bed times for most people including residents who sometimes have to sync up with mainland businesses. Lahaina on Maui does offer some after-hours entertainment but only Honolulu has any significant night life.

Surfing

Hawaii has the most famous surf breaks in the world. Perhaps you’d like to see crazed surfers tackle Waimea Bay, the Banzai Pipeline, or Jaws. Or maybe you’re thinking of taking up surfing yourself, or at least, doing some righteous boogie boarding.

Before getting stoked about the surfing possibilities, there a few points to keep in mind. First, surf breaks are seasonal. The biggest breaks reach over 30ft in winter months, but struggle to top 2ft mid summer. And a number of beaches, especially on Maui, are situated such that they’re never really subject to any sizeable surf, even for boogie boarding. Finally, the best surf breaks are rarely suitable for novice surfers.

So if you’re considering a surfing or wave watching vacation you’ll want to research surf breaks and locations and time your trip. Kauai and Oahu have the best surf breaks for beginners although Maui does have several very mellow breaks. Spring is generally a good time for surfing with greater odds for nice sized waves that aren’t overwhelming.

This is a sponsored post

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It’s Goodies and Good Times for Families at Hawaii’s Outrigger Reef on the Beach

July 2, 2012 by  
Filed under columns, hotels, Life in Hawaii

Families ready for a Hawaii vacation of fun in the sun along Oahu’s Waikiki Beach can stay and play comfortably at Outrigger Reef on the Beach with a new family getaway package. Available through September 30, 2012, the property’s family package starts at $429 per night and includes a spacious suite with enchanting city and ocean views coupled with a souvenir bag filled with Hawaiian-style tasty treats and activities.

Sure to top the charts of all-time favorite family vacations, the Outrigger Reef on the Beach Family Package offers the ultimate combination of landscapes with a city view room adjoined to a partial ocean view room that can comfortably accommodate a family or group up to six. Additionally, Outrigger Reef on the Beach provides each family with a welcome gift valued at $50 including a Kani Ka Pila Grille logo bag brimming with an assortment of local goodies, such as a six-pack of juice, assorted local snacks and a family-friendly book, titled “Akua Hawaii” (Hawaiian Gods and their Stories) by Kimo Armitage.

“At Outrigger Reef on the Beach, we believe that vacations — or any time spent with your family — are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to create lasting memories and unforgettable experiences,” said Patsy Narimatsu, director of sales and marketing for Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and Outrigger Reef on the Beach. “Ohana, or family in the Hawaiian language, is an important value in our culture and the Outrigger Reef on the Beach Family Package offers guests the perfect medley of a relaxing getaway and quality family time.”

Outrigger Reef on the Beach makes getting away with the “fam” a truly relaxing experience with all-new and upgraded rooms, each featuring a 32-inch flat screen LCD television, enlarged bathrooms and full-size bathtubs, complimentary high-speed internet access and Nintendo capabilities for the entire family to enjoy.

Additionally, as one of Waikiki’s most family-friendly properties, Outrigger Reef on the Beach offers a variety of on-site activities ranging from the traditional lei making and hula dancing classes to brief tutorials for families to learn to play the ukulele. For families ready to jump right into Hawaii’s bright blue waters, surfing, stand up paddling and more can be arranged through the hotel’s beach activities desk. The hotel also offers a Na Ali‘i Walking Tour, educating keiki and adults on the local legends and history of the surrounding area of Waikiki. Families can also stroll down the street to Waikiki Beach Walk® to shop, dine and play at some of Hawaii’s premier stores and restaurants. And at the end of a long day, the hotel’s poolside restaurant, Kani Ka Pila Grille, offers a selection of local and established favorites for every taste bud and is host to live nightly Hawaiian music from renowned and up-and-coming artists.

“What truly sets Outrigger Reef on the Beach apart is not just the accommodations — which gives families the space to spread out while remaining close to one another — but the added amenities and perfect location, which puts everyone close to all the action and experiences that Waikiki has to offer,” added Narimatsu.

Hotel reservations can be made by contacting the toll free number 1-800-OUTRIGGER (1-800-688-7444) within the United States, Guam and Canada. Or, visit www.outriggerreef.com or e-mail bf.orf@outrigger.com.

Information & photos courtesy of Outrigger Hotels

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