Well it's been awhile since I've last reported on an adventure, and trust there's been a lot of them, I just haven't had the time to report on them. Many of you have heard of the 'Aulani Resort, it's the latest resorts built by Disney.
I was invited by my very good friends to celebrate my godson's 12th birthday. So with my luggage and my godson's birthday present packed, along with my niece who joined in for the celebration I headed on over to the resort with my godson's mother (and good friend). These are the same awesome folks I traveled with in my Cali adventure...http://haynmade.blogspot.com/2010/10/in-cali-haynmade-style.html
Behind the PR and millions of dollars dropped to build the facility (which you'll see in my photos), the Aulani did come with its controversy. Even for me too, it's kinda hard for me to give my honest opinion about the place. I have a number of friends who were a part of the project and I have a family relative who works there. In the building of the resort, the designers worked to be as "authentic" as possible, hiring local Hawaiian musicians to select and write music with the resort in mind. Famous local artists were also hired to come up with the art that can be found everywhere at the facility. Disney also actually kept its word of hiring a majority of locals for Aulani who work in an array of positions there including management, cooking, security, lifeguarding, etc. etc.
In the true fashion of Disney, you can totally tell that the training for all employees required them to embrace "Hawaiian hospitality" making sure that whenever they have eye contact with guests, they are required to say "aloha" or some kind of a greeting. My godson's mother said it was a little overkill, lol, and she felt sorry that the employees there have to "go out of their way" to share the "aloha spirit"to that extent with the locals who stay there, which may sometimes present itself as a slightly awkward moment, being that we aren't really that way on a day to day basis. (I use quotes for these terms, because they too hold controversy, especially in the tourism industry. Critics say that these terms are coined by the tourism industry as part of their marketing and business/profit sense.)
The other part of the whole Aulani controversy lies with the different musicians, artists, practitioners, advisors, etc. who were a part of the project. Critics say that those people who were a part of the project are "sellouts" for sharing information (with commission of course) at the expense of "selling out" our Hawaiian way of life and being to the tourism industry, and more specifically with Disney. On the other end, people involved in the Aulani project wanted to get as close as possible to "Hawaiian authenticity" versus the "hokey pokey grass skirt hula" tourist image often painted in the media. So how else would that be achieved if those experts were not part of the project? There lies the debate (amongst many) involved in the Aulani project.
I know for me, I wanted to see things with my own eyes, and having my godson's birthday celebration was a good cause for me to check it out.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted right from the get go by the bell hop staff who quickly took our luggage. The front lobby staff, even before entering the main entrance of the lobby area we were greeted with kukui nut lei for the guys and flower lei for the girls. Upon walking in the entrance, I quickly recognized the voice of Keali'i Reichel (a famous local musician here in Hawai'i) who wrote a number of compositions specifically for the Aulani Resort.
Dress rehearsal video #1:
Dress rehearsal video #2:
Behind the scenes with Keali'i Reichel recording for the Aulani...
When you walk through the front entrance, the check in counter is on your right, and that was done quite deliberately so that you could immediately embrace the view of the Aulani along with the unreal artwork found nearly at every nook of the facility.
I took a bunch of photos of the murals in the entrance area, which depicts both contemporary and traditional Hawaiian life.
Contemporary Hawai'i mural (ocean side of front entrance)...
Traditional Hawai'i mural (mountain side of front entrance)...
In back of the check-in area staff, there's a long photo mosaic of at least 50 photos arranged in the colors of the rainbow. To me it was a work that represents the diversity of Hawai'i.
After checking in, we went to check things out in our room. The Aulani is split by two wings, the Wai'anae tower, which is what I suspect is the "Kane (male)" side of the facility and the Ewa tower, which is what I suspect is the "Wahine (female" side of the facility, based upon my personal observations. (I'll talk about this more in my upcoming entries about Aulani's artwork.) Our room was in the Ewa Tower, and we were on the top (16th) floor. Upon exiting the elevator on our way to our room I snapped this pic...
It was pretty nice, it was a two bedroom-er, complete with a little living room area, complete with kitchen. The living room had its own bathroom in near the entrance/kitchen area and it split the master bedroom to the left, complete with a full bathroom (toilet, jacuzzi and separate stand up shower) with a king size bed and the 2nd bedroom to the right, complete with a full bathroom (tub n toilet) with two full size beds. Near the kitchen area, we were surprised with a fully edible dessert tray (yup, the surfboard and Stitch were made out of white chocolate) for the birthday boy.
Along with a birthday card (Mickey and Minney also left a message on the phone for the bday boy)...
After checking in, we headed on over to Costco and Safeway to do our food shopping. (We had to take advantage of the kitchen in our room and cook our own food, lol.) When we returned from our food shopping, I was able to snap a bunch of pics of some of the artwork in the various areas of the lobby.
After my mini adventure, I headed back to the room, assisted with all of the prep for Saturday and shortly after the bday boy's friends arrived and they booked it to the pool. I took my niece along and I became the family lifeguard, to look after everyone.
More to come...