Thursday, September 8, 2011

Disney's Aulani Resort: Welcoming Guests to Hawaii

This is one in a series of posts about Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa.

Guests will immediately notice that Disney's Aulani Resort was designed and constructed with much care and thought. However one's view of Aulani will depend on how one feels about Disney opening a commercial venture in Hawaii. I myself was impressed with what I viewed as soon as I walked into the open-air lobby. Much has been written in the local press of how the resort celebrates Hawaiian traditions, art, history and culture. Some would would argue that Aulani is not much different from the company's Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World. But it is different and its designers have as best as possible managed to capture various essences of Hawaii.

There are the obvious features like Kaplepa's which is meant to recall a local country store and Waikohole Valley to resemble a volcano and the water features of the islands. But the most dramatic features is the art and decorative features that is found at almost every corner of the hotel but none more so than in the dramatic lobby.

Even more impressive is that Aulani as a whole claims to have on display one of the largest collections of contemporary Hawaiian art. Over 200 pieces of original art were commissioned by Disney for Aulani with many by Native Hawaiian artists. As a taste the photos above and below gives one glimpses of the design and decor of the resort's lobby.

Though the towers envelope the property, the lobby which overlooks the property gives one a vista that is indeed breathtaking from the manmade features that is Waikohole Valley, which has been manicured with landscaping that seems to have been growing before Aulani's creation, to the Pacific Ocean just beyond.

Side note: I was quite bewildered by more than one guest staring at rocks at Aulani. Apparently in keeping with the spirit of other Disney resorts, the image of Mickey Mouse or "missing Mickeys" is hidden from rock to the wallpaper.

Walking from the resort's parking structure to the hotel entrance one can only admire the detail that is the Waianae Tower. It's probably best that the feast for the eyes awaits behind this tower. It must be mentioned that the footpath leading from the parking is not on the ground level of the structure but mid-level. Then it's a walk along the mountain side of the Waianae Tower then a few more steps to the entrance beneath the porte cochere (note: valet parking available).

I have to admit that driving along Farrington Highway on the way to the exit road to Ko Olina the two resort towers dominate the landscape even from a distance. But I'd much rather view and admire the economic difference that Aulani will make for the residents of the Leeward community in terms of jobs and spending from visitors.

Porte cochere
Mauka side of Wai'anae Tower. 
Road leading to port cochere and main hotel entrance.


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