An Aulani Review – Day One

Editor’s Note:  This series of blogs on Aulani are from a friend of ToaD’s, Tracy Ferguson.  Tracy has just returned from Aulani last week and has her perspective on the newest Disney Vacation Club resort. Thank you Tracy!

A little background…we are DVC members but stayed at Aulani on rented points.  We paid $805.00 for a 3 night stay, which as you know gave us 4 full days to enjoy the resort, Sunday through Wednesday.  We requested the cheapest studio available.  We got a Island Garden View (one step up) as that was all that was available.  At least that is what we were supposed to get BUT this is where it gets good…

Originally booked a studio but due to what DVC called “a computer glitch” we were “upgraded/switched” to a regular hotel room.  Well, Evey, the wonderful person we rented points from explained to DVC that she did not think this would be acceptable and she was very unhappy, she was told that there was nothing else available. Evey, being a wise experienced DVCer negotiated all the way to an Ocean View hotel room and free breakfast each morning.  Evey was at first unable to reach me and was hoping I would be okay with that!  HA! I LOVED the idea…I wasn’t actually planning on cooking anyway and am not a huge studio fan.  The real story I think is that there simply were not enough units completed…no computer glitch.  And then well guess what….there was yet ANOTHER “glitch” and we could not get a hotel room so they returned us to the DVC side of the resort to a one bedroom VILLA…guess I can stand it but dang I was looking forward to that free breakfast…oh well.

After spending a few days up on the North Shore and one night in Waikiki we finally arrive at Aulani.  Thank goodness, I was growing weary of trying to make my own fun and was ready to have it delivered to me like I am used to Disney Style! (See Catamaran sailing later)

The parking was seamless, easy and well located especially for us very close to our “Tower”, but be advised it is $35.00 per day EXCEPT self-parking is free for DVC members.  By the way, they never asked for proof that we were members but we were staying on points.  Nonetheless we could easily have not been DVC members.  I am not suggesting anyone cheat just sayin they oughta check!  The parking was explained very well to us…free for DVC self park or if you valet park it’s $35.00.  If you eat at a restaurant or bar and get your ticket validated the $35 is waived (you have to spend $35…but that will be real easy, don’t  worry), and you can just tip the valet as you see fit.  I don’t know if you would have to get a new ticket each day or just present $35/worth of receipts for each day but it will certainly be worthwhile to figure it out if you are not DVC.  We met up with a DVC couple that was not aware that self parking was free and they had been valet parking for a week.  They went off to see a manager at my suggestion, always happy to stir up a little trouble ya know.

The staff at check in was superb. We were greeted as we stepped out of the car with leis etc and accompanied to the lobby by a very nice young lady.  Our check in staff must have rung a secret little bell because out of nowhere appeared the DVC rep.  Not sure what her role was but she came forward to greet us and explain how sorry they were that we were unable to get our studio and she hoped that the one bedroom and free breakfast would make up for it…ok hmmm I guess so.  WHAT? We still get the breakfast???..What do we get a bagel?…nope we get the buffet everyday even character day.  Yeah well I guess we will suffer through the 3 nights NOT in our studio…really?  Talk about a nice upgrade!  Basically so far 3 people have assisted us and we have been there less that 3 minutes.  Our DVC rep further explained that they were about out of reservations for meals so she had taken the liberty of reserving us breakfast each morning (very nice) and she then escorted us the 10 feet to the concierge desk to make the rest of our dining ressies.  I had read how expensive the meals were so we booked a very late lunch at Ama Ama, the signature restaurant instead of dinner.  I had perused the menus and did not think we would be missing anything we couldn’t live without.  I booked another lunch at Ama Ama for ourselves and a local friend and a dinner at Mahiki, the buffet where we already had ressies for breakfast each day.

After completing our ressies the concierge escorted us to the gift shop as I had asked where it was located.  They never let you go anywhere alone!  It was just a few feet down the hall in the main lobby area.  Much to my dismay I was told they were all out of the large Donney and Burke bag…sad I really wanted it, oh well.  Guess I will go to the pool and sulk for awhile!

We made our way to the “quiet” ( Wailana )  pool and it was indeed..quiet. Deserted might be a better description.  We did end up sitting by another DVC couple and they had been there a few days and really enjoyed it.  They especially enjoyed the Catamaran so we decided to check it out.  My husband went down to the beach..(a very short walk, this is not a huge resort) and reserved a 1pm time. We hung around the pool a bit longer and were texted that our room was ready about noon.

Put our stuff away and rang bell services to bring our items up.  Our groceries were not refrigerated but it was no big deal we only had a few items and they were not particularly sensitive.  Our items were obviously kept in a cool location but they had said they would refrigerate them but no harm done.  Be aware though if you have milk etc. you may need to really make sure they get it.  They wanted to make sure we would be in the room to receive our luggage although previously they had stated that the items would be brought up we would not even need to call, so we tipped then…now we have to tip again.  Had I noticed the lack of refrigeration I would have mentioned it to the young man (Chris) who brought our things up.  He was extremely knowledgeable and gave us lots of good information and got our TV going etc. He lived on the Island for many years.  I suspect he was a manager of some sort and not your average bell services guy.  By this time we were pretty blown away at the level of service and the attitudes of everyone in spite of the groceries.  Well this is about to change….

So down to the beach we go ready for a great sail and yeah, you guessed it no more sailing today! So much for Disney delivered entertainment. Per the catamaran operator Disney has unexpectedly shut him down due to a not always enforced ordinance that prohibits the use of a prop motor in a bay where there are “lots” of swimmers.  So he bad mouths Disney for awhile and we begin to see the real situation.  He knew about the ordinance all along, Disney of course did not.  They should have but did not.  Some local agency must have popped by and said HEY! This cove has “lots” of swimmers so no motoring out to sail. You gotta paddle.  Well it’s too hard and there was not enough staff to paddle that thing outta there for sure!  So everyone is pointing fingers and I am like well you know these things happen no bigggee.  Maybe Tuesday after the 3 day weekend?   Because apparently it will not be a problem when there are not “lots” (that must be a local term) of swimmers.  Ok it’s a date!  Off we go to  explore the beach next door at JW Marriott and even a little further around the corner is a virtually deserted cove and then back for lunch at  Ama Ama.

Lunch was good, not great but good. We both had the fish tacos and I should have said hold the pink “chipotle” sauce (isn’t that the stuff we used to call secret sauce ? I swear it’s the same) the fish was Opah and it was very good and the sweet potato fries were fine.  Not huge portions but that’s okay because despite the fact that every dessert is $10.00, I want to try one.  And for $10.00 I have pretty high expectations, so maybe we should split one?  No, the waiter thinks we should not LOL!   No kidding…when they come Coconut Panna Cotta for me and chocolate cake for him they look like samples!  I am not kidding they are tiny.  Well that’s okay I should be dieting anyway.  My husband and I devised a way to make sense of the prices… everything is exactly times two. So whatever your expectation is either cut it in half or double the expected costs and then you will be just fine!  Oh well it’s a vacation right?  The service was quite good. The bill was..are you ready $70.00. The sales tax is only 4.12%. roughly.  No we did not have 6 cocktails each…we had… yup tap water. You can get “filtered” water for $7.00 per carafe – silly.  Did I mention the prices are kinda high?

Well, we logged a little more pool time, went and visited the gift shop again and bought a string and a waterproof box thingee because there were no cool lanyards and they did not have the plastic see thru thing for your room key anyway, not sure why not.  That was pretty much our day…until wait what’s that I see a Donney and Burke bag… everything goes to slo…mo.  I am trying to get to the bag without knocking anyone over and I see a hand reaching for the bag and alas it is not my hand and it’s going to get there before me and… dang missed it by an inch!! I whirl around… ok the momentum was hard to stop and come nose to nose with the store manager and I say in probably my best spolied princess voice…. “I was told there were no more bags!” (whine whine) and the manager smiles and says there aren’t now and she sort of chuckles and I cannot help sort of laughing because I sense there is a good explanation and I am laughing at the way I must have come across… I didn’t mean to… and I am pleased that seasoned manager Debbie has not taken offense at my attitude.  Debbie explains that a gentleman has just returned the bag.  At precisely the same moment seasoned manager Debbie and seasoned shopper Tracy realize that young woman who has taken the bag is indecisive.  Debbie and I lock eyes and no words are needed.  Slowly we surround the areas where the woman may at any moment set the bag down and Debbie is totally on my side now and wants me to have the bag. She even enlists another clerk to aid us in shadowing… ok stalking… the poor woman who has foolishly taken the bag.  At one point I tell Debbie I am pretty sure she is a shoplifter…we are all laughing pretty hard by now… at me… and then Debbie needs to go to the back room for a second… no Debbie don’t leave me, please… young clerk girl may not be fast enough… omg… omg she is setting the bag down… on the shelf… from where it came.  Debbie is turning, turning,  slowly but is on the wrong side of the counter…  young clerk girl has been intercepted by someone who cannot possibly find their own dang T-Shirt.  Young clerk girl is starting to panic no doubt wanting to please her manager and snag the bag before another hungry customer (did I mention this is a HOT item and its last shelf rest was under 15 seconds).  I cannot take it anymore, Debbie is around the corner coming fast but cannot actually see the bag or me… young clerk girl is walking backwards toward the counter trying to politely fend off the 3 zillion customers who suddenly have appeared out of nowhere and have questions so I calmly get between Debbie, young clerk girl and the bag and I rip the bag from the shelf and say MINE MINE MINE really loud and Debbie at first not realizing its me as she is a ways around the corner still is horrified and young clerk girl begins to cry (ok almost) and then Debbie sees its me and we all fall on the floor laughing… ok not the floor but we are all in hysterics and poor Debbie… I really gave her a fright… well you had to be there.  But anyway I got the bag!

I had to go to bed after that..oh by the way as I was at the counter paying and  an older gentlemen next to me quietly says “yeah good thing I brought that bag back”.  I almost died of embarrassment… he must have thought we were quite the crazy women of Aulani! I think he watched the whole thing unfold… hats off to Debbie… good sport, good fun!


One response to this post.

  1. I’m enjoying this trip report so much, Tracy. Thanks for posting it! I’m also THRILLED that the staff at Aulani stepped up after changing the reservation so many times. I can’t wait to read more… Evey =)


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