Showing posts with label Disney at Ko Olina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disney at Ko Olina. Show all posts

Monday, August 29, 2011

Aloha Aulani: Disney's Doing Hawaii!

koolona2010 024I bet Mickey’s wearing his Aloha shirt and Minnie's dancing the hula today. 

And, if this were a movie, it would be titled, "Disney Does Hawaii" because today is opening day at Aulani, the new Disney Resort and Spa at Ko Olina, on the island of O'ahu.

Actually Mickey, that Pint-sized Prince of Happiness, has been hanging out in Ko Olina for several months keeping watch over workers preparing for today's opening.  I snapped this photo of the little fellow last January as he sat in the resort's van.

It's been great fun the past couple of years to watch the construction progress. We only wish we could be there today to be a part of the opening celebration; it is probably one b-i-g Disney extravaganza.

Because our Marriott’s Vacation Club digs are an easy walk and just two lagoons away, we've had plenty of opportunity -- for a few weeks each winter -- to watch and speculate on the neighbor resort's progress. (And thanks to the Disney media folks we had an up-close-inside-the-construction-fence  tour during our stay last January).

Aulani's (ah-oooh-lawn-ee) two towers blend 359 traditional hotel rooms with 481 two-bedroom Disney Vacation Club suites (their timeshare program).  The photo below was taken from the walking path that links the Ko Olina lagoons.

koolona2010 012The Disney folks put their team of “Imagineers” (could there be a better job title?)  with local historians, architects and artisans to create a resort that ‘celebrates’ Hawaiian culture.  Activities and resort design and decor reflect all things Hawaiian with just a hint of Disney.

 koolona2010 026 That means that Mickey and Pals, don't have starring roles in this Disney production but they do have a subtle presence as evidenced in the photo to the left of the guest room lamp.

There is no theme park. No rides. No long lines waiting for rides.  But that doesn't mean guests won't have plenty to keep them busy. The 21-acre site features a water playground with pools, slides, a 900-foot water course and lava rocks.  Aunty’s Beach House, their Kid's Club, offers activities, stories and movies for the younger guests, and the 18,000-square-foot spa with 15 treatment rooms and exercise facility will tempt adults.

Even those of us staying down the beach will get to enjoy its two restaurants, AMA AMA  and Makahiki, and, of course, its tropical bars.

koolona2010 029 The resort's name, Aulani, traditionally means ‘a messenger of a chief’ – one who delivers a message from a higher authority. 

"We want this resort destination to reflect the vibrant culture that surrounds it," says Joe Rohde, Sr. V.P. Creative for Walt Disney Imagineering. "The name 'Aulani' expresses a connection to tradition and deep storytelling - and its roots are in this land right here. As the history and heritage of Hawai'i are the inspiration for Aulani, we are committed to using our skills in design to put guests into these stories."

As I said above, the Imagineers and designers, seem to have gone into over-drive with the subtle blend of Disney and Hawaii.  The photo below is of one of the guest room quilts made in traditional Hawaiian design. Look close.  Do you see that Pint-sized Prince of Happiness?
koolona2010 027

If You Go:  Aulani is in Ko Olina, a development on O'ahu's Leeward Coast (the western side of the island). It's 17 miles from the Honolulu International Airport and about 30-45 minutes from Waikiki. It is about 20 minutes from some of the smaller North Shore surf towns and beaches.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Songs of Sunrise and Sunset

We have a symphony playing each day precisely at 6:30 a.m. and again at 6:30 p.m.  It heralds in the pink sky of morning and the blaze of the sun as it sets out over the Pacific.

Ko Olina sunset
J. Smith photo (c) 2011
 It is the symphony of Mina birds who flock by the dozens to two 'garbage trees' (named so by the groundskeepers because of the leaves that perpetually fall from them) in the gardens outside our Marriott Vacation Club at Ko Olina.

While on a horticultural tour we learned that Marriott had once tried devices in the trees to discourage the birds from singing their songs, so they wouldn't disturb the guests. . .the tour participants were aghast. 

Can you imagine being in the tropics and not hearing the songs of the birds?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's Hula Babe and Beach Boy Back Again!

Watching Waves - Ko Olina
Yes, in a matter of days the tales of Hula Babe (that would be me) and Beach Boy (that would be Joel) and their annual sun and sand adventures in Hawaii return, undoubtedly, a highly anticipated event -- LOL here --  for you regular readers.

BTW, I christened us Hula Babe and Beach Boy last year, after visiting Pioneer Woman, a phenomenally popular blog written by a woman who no more looks like a Pioneer Woman to me, than I believe I look like a Hula Babe.

But if she can be a pioneer woman,  I can be . . well, let's say for a short period of time I will  throw caution to the wind.  Every so often we '50- and 60-somethings' should remind ourselves we aren't as old as those numbers sound! 

And don't you find that when you travel, you re-invent yourself as you go along? 

You can be an adventurer, explorer, food critic, a wilderness trekker or a grand lady or gent. When you don't pack your normal customs and routines of 'how it's done back home';  you have plenty of room to explore and absorb your new surroundings and to re-invent yourself for at least a short period of time.

Hula Babe and Beach Boy are heading to their 'home away from home,' Ko Olina, a 642 acre development on Oahu's western shore.  In coming posts we will tell you all about what's new:  like Aulani, the new Disney resort at Ko Olina, and the new Marriott Edition Hotel on Waikiki beach; old favorites like 'our' sea turtle who frolicked in the waves with us last year. And of course how well our Diet to Go, is going.

So, grab your shades, and sun tan lotion . . .and come along.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ko Olina Resort and Marina, O'ahu

I've focused on the Marriott Vacation Club but want to clarify that Ko Olina is much more than Marriott. Ko Olina Resort and Marina is a multi-project development with free standing vacation homes, full ownership condo's, an 18-hole golf course, a J.W. Marriott Ilihani and a marina. Soon Disney will be opening an enormous 21-acre vacation complex located on the beach between the J.W. and the Marriott Vacation Club.
Last January ground had barely been broken on the Disney facility and this year the structural steel is giving a sneak preview of the resort that will follow. Aulani, 'the place that speaks with deep messages' is not like other Disney properties as it isn't associated with a major theme park. Plans are to open the resort -- with 360 hotel rooms and 481 two-bedroom units like those in other Disney Vacation Club properties -- in the fall of 2011.

Our 'home', Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club last January had slowed completion of its third building Nai'a; one wing is now open and is where we spent our first week. Talk is that the second wing will open Jan. 2011. Construction on the fourth building is to begin in 2012 with completion slated for 2015.


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