|(all photos except where noted: TheHopefulTraveler)|
|(photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/LATimes)|
The Walt Disney Co. finally opened Aulani, an $800 million oceanfront hotel and vacation club, in Ko Olina on the leeward side of Hawaii's island of Oahu after nearly three years of construction. Today I had the chance to wonder around the 21-acre property and over the next few posts will publish the photos from my visit and information about the resort. The soft opening officially welcomed guests this past week with the official opening date scheduled later this month.
Aulani translates into "messenger of a chief" or as Disney has reported, "One who speaks on behalf of a higher power." Photographed at top is the Ewa tower of the two-tower resort and below it is an L.A. Times photo overlooking the property. Below is a map and legend (click on either photo to view a larger version) located on the complex.
Thought was placed into the physical layout which creates a facsimile of a "ahupuaa" (mountain-to-sea land division). The two towers represent mountains creating a central valley filled with flowing water that connects beautifully the beach and Pacific Ocean just steps away from the hotel.
The resort is located 21 miles west of Honolulu in Ko Olina on the leeward side of Hawaii's island of Oahu. The man-made lagoons with white sandy beaches is the physical trademark of the 621-acres that is Ko Olina. Other hotels and resorts in the area are the JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort & Spa, Ko Olina Beach Villas Resort and Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club. Unlike Waikiki the area represents an exclusive and uncrowded option. Also located within Ko Olina is the 18-hole Ko Olina Golf Club, Ko Olina Beach Park, Ko Olina Marina and the Paradise Cove luau. Ko Olina is part of Oahu's second city of Kapolei where the town center nearby represents the closest option for shopping, dining and entertainment including a 16-theatre multiplex and the Wet'n'Wild water park.
Also of note is that Ko Olina, being on the leeward side of the island, has practically perfect sunny weather year round that is warmer and dryer than other parts of the island.