native building techniques. Warm woods,
woven fabrics and leafy prints are inspired by
native culture. Wood furnishings—ceiling
fans, mirrors, headboards—are carved in
shapes that recall fish hooks and paddle blades.
The attention to the smallest detail is impressive. Even the art of Hawaiian lashing, a centu-ries-old construction technique that uses a
braided or twisted cord instead of nails, is
showcased throughout the resort.
Not to be outdone by the art and architecture is the carefully designed and cultivated landscape.
“As you step out of the lobby onto the balcony, you can see that Aulani is wrapped
around this miniature valley [Waikolohe
Valley, Aulani’s seven-acre play area], which
rolls right out to the sea,” Rohde says.
Waikolohe Valley was inspired by Oahu’s
M;noa Valley, with the tall walls of the surrounding resort creating the “edges” of the valley. It reflects ahupuaa, the traditional division
of land, extending from the top of the mountain to the sea and encompassing all of the
resource zones that families needed to thrive.
In keeping with Disney’s commitment to
preserve local culture, the resort offers a number of interactive activities such as poi-making,
fire-pit storytelling and Hawaiian language
practice. In the Olelo Room lounge, for example, Hawaiian words and their meanings are
Clockwise from left: Aulani from above;
another beautiful sunset; safe snorkeling
in Rainbow Reef; Aunty’s Beach House
provides supervised fun for children.
scattered throughout on wooden blocks, and
employees are conversant in native Hawaiian.
The result of all these efforts is a resort that
has become a cultural center, a destination for
schools and a hot spot of Hawaiian language,
art and music revival.
Says Rohde, “Hawaii is ideas, values, traditions. Hawaii is about family, it’s about unity, it’s
about doing things together, it’s about forming
a bond. Hawaii is about perfection; it’s about
doing things with purpose and doing them
very, very well. Hawaii is about magic; it’s about
the belief that there are magic things around
you all the time. And Disney is about
these things too.” C
CULTURE ASIDE, what does Aulani
offer? Here’s a quick look.
Waikolohe Valley, an oasis of lush,
mature trees and foliage, and home to
three large pools—one of them an exclusive adults-only quiet pool—a swimming
grotto, a fun splash zone for smaller children, poolside and beachside dining,
two very fun water slides, a 900-foot
lazy river and a 3,800-square-foot shallow snorkel lagoon stocked with angelfish, tangs and butterfly fish.
The Menehune Adventure Trail,
a high-tech scavenger hunt that provides interactive experiences for
guests of all ages
Pristine, white-sand beach and a
beautiful lagoon protected by a rocky
breakwater for swimming, kayaking and
paddle boarding. A mile-long coastal
beach walk links this and three other
Aunty’s Beach House, where
children explore Hawaiian culture
through supervised entertainment,
including arts and crafts, movies and
traditional Hawaiian games
Storytelling and nighttime
music and dance performances
The Laniwai spa, with 15
treatment rooms offering spa,
salon and massage services for
adults, groups, families, children and teens
A shave-ice stand, a yogurt
bar, four restaurants and three bars
Disney character breakfasts
Off-site discovery excursions
Next to a championship golf
course and full-service marina.—TFJ