Aulani Trip Report: 1-Bedroom Villa Review
BY MARY WARING – JANUARY 2012
Overall we really enjoyed our 1-bedroom villa. The décor was as nice as any we’ve seen in Hawaii and in general the unit was very functional. The kitchen offered all the basics, including a full stovetop and oven, microwave, full-sized refrigerator and dishwasher. It is always great having a washer and dryer right in the villa.
The soundproofing between units seems to be excellent. Even though we were in a lock-off (we had a locked, connecting door to the next unit), we did not hear our neighbors indoors. I actually didn’t realize the next unit was occupied until we were both out on our balconies one night. Even then, the “white noise” of all the fountains and water running in the pool area below helped to obscure the sound of the neighbors talking.
There were two very nice spa-style robes in the villa, which we enjoyed using. The iHome clock in the bedroom had an iPhone/iPod dock that actually worked to charge my iPhone 4 (many docks in hotels only allow you to play music, but don’t charge the device). I loved having free wi-fi, and it was usually pretty fast and reliable. Another nice touch was the electronic connections panel beneath both TVs, allowing guests to connect a variety of devices to the screen.
Still, everything was not perfect with our one-bedroom villa. Here are my observations on things that were less than optimal.
- There were no teaspoons provided. The only spoons were round, flat soup spoons and two larger serving spoons. It was strange eating ice cream or stirring coffee with a soup spoon, but oh well.
- The bath is split, with a louvered door in between the two sections: one part includes the toilet, a sink and the shower, while the other part includes the jetted tub, a sink and the master bedroom closet. I prefer the layout in the newer DVC resorts at Walt Disney World (Bay Lake Tower and Animal Kingdom Villas), with a full bath in the bedroom and a smaller full bath near the entry. However, the Aulani bathroom layout is acceptable, if less than ideal.
- Most of the internal doors in our villa included louvered panels: two of the three bathroom doors, and the door between the living room and bedroom. While louvers are very attractive, they reduce privacy. Noise passes easily through them, as does some light. The panels separating the jetted tub from the bathroom are also louvered. Even when they are closed, if you are lying in bed and the lights are on in that part of the bathroom, you can see pretty clearly what’s going on in there.
- The furnishings on the balcony are heavy and high-quality, but not terribly comfortable. We had four chairs and two small tables on our large rectangular balcony. The chairs were made of metal with a woven back and seat. There were no ottomans. In other words, there was no way to put your feet up unless you put them on one of the little tables, and then there would no place to put your drink. It would be nice to have one or two loungers out there. There is plenty of room for them.
Housekeeping Hits and Misses
The villa’s cleanliness on arrival was pretty good, but not perfect. I found hairs in the shower when I first used it, and the bathroom floors looked dirty, though I finally decided that was mainly due to the tile color (green with brownish streaks).
Since we were staying on DVC points, we were supposed to receive only limited housekeeping, meaning “trash and towels” service on the fourth day of the stay. Based on our experiences at Walt Disney World, the DVC resort trash and towels service normally includes emptying the trash containers; removing dirty towels, replacing them with clean towels and making the hanging towels look tidy; and replacing the toiletries, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and coffee. On some occasions we’ve also received random acts of additional housekeeping, such as loading the dishwasher, though that’s not typical.
I was pretty surprised at the very minimal trash and towels service we received at Aulani. The trash was emptied and two new bath towels and two new washcloths were hung on the towel rods, alongside the ones already hanging there, which were not folded or tidied. Several dirty towels that had been left hanging over the edge of the tub were not removed. We received some new toiletries but no detergent or coffee.
I decided not to complain about the haphazard towel service, since we had plenty of towels. However, we did need some more dishwasher detergent: there was only one small packet when we arrived, and it was long gone. I called Housekeeping and asked if dishwasher detergent is usually replenished during the trash and towels service. I was told only the coffee and toiletries are normally replaced. I mentioned that we’d received no new coffee, but that was fine since we had our own. However, I would like some more dishwasher detergent, if possible. No problem – someone brought it right up.
Later I realized the toilet paper had not been replenished, either, which meant another call to Housekeeping.
Another housekeeping-related issue is that since DVC guests don’t get turndown service, they also don’t receive the Daily Iwa delivered to their studios and villas. I recommend going down to the front desk and requesting one each evening. We did receive the Weekly Iwa under our door on Saturday night, but it gives only a general overview for the week and is not detailed enough to substitute for the daily newsletter.
Things I Will Bring With Me If I Return to Aulani
- Chip clips or tape for closing up opened bags (rice, potato chips, cookies, coffee, etc). We keep chip clips in our Owner’s Locker in Orlando, but it didn’t occur to me to bring any to Aulani. Since it is so humid in Hawaii, it’s important to be able to re-seal opened packages, to prevent crispy things from becoming limp.
- Bamboo toast tongs that help you pull toast out of the toaster without burning your fingers or electrocuting yourself. The toaster in our unit did not pop the bread up high enough. Every time we toasted anything we had to unplug the toaster and fish it out with a fork.
- Basket style coffee filters. (Another thing I normally keep in my Owner’s Locker in Orlando.) We had to buy a huge package of the filters at Safeway, because they don’t sell smaller packages.
- Scissors. I had to open packages (coffee, etc.) and take our pool wristbands off with a knife. It was awkward.
- Small, bright flashlight. What if the power goes out, it’s the middle of the night, and you have to evacuate the building due to fire, tsunami or earthquake? Some resorts provide flashlights, usually in a bedside drawer: Aulani does not.
- Extra laundry detergent and dryer sheets. The resort only gives you one single-load box of laundry detergent.