Aulani Trip Report – Part 6
BY MARY WARING – JANUARY 2012
Day 6 (Sunday)
Pool Time; Poolside Food & Drink; Activities; Things for Kids to Do
I was up before the pools opened at 8:00, and watched as people started streaming up the wristband-and-towel hut as soon as it rolled up its awning. Even so, when we went downstairs to the pool at 10:30, there were still plenty of loungers. In fact, it was very quiet at the Wailana Pool, with just one family (and me) swimming in it until about 11:30, at which point it got very busy.
Based on our time at Aulani, I would say peak pool hours are about 11:00 to 3:00. If you get to the pool before or after that time (at least in the off-season) you should have no problem finding a place to put your stuff. During that time block, you may have to work hard to find a lounger. Saturdays and Sundays are obviously the busiest day of the week for the pools, since locals are visiting.
While we were hanging at the pool I ordered a non-alcoholic beverage, the Pineapple Ginger Splash, which was (surprise) intensely sweet. However, once the ice in it had melted, it was okay. I wouldn’t order another one, but I was able to drink it. Kids might like it.
I also ordered the pulled kalua pork sandwich with kimchi, and fries. We noticed the two side options at the pool were fries and taro chips. The option of a side salad wasn’t offered on the poolside menu, though you can get it at One Paddle, Two Paddle, which carries exactly the same meals. The sandwich was good, though messy. The kimchi (spicy Korean fermented cabbage) gave the normally bland kalua pork some flavor. There was also a mildly spicy mayonnaise-based sauce on the sandwich. The fries were nice and crispy. Overall, no complaints. Sure, it cost $13.50 plus gratuity, but it was brought to my lounger and frankly that’s about the going rate for a simple lunch at the higher-end Hawaiian hotels these days.
A tip for anyone planning to spend time at the Wailana Pool: the easiest restroom for adults to reach is the single-stall, coed restroom in the Fitness Center. The Fitness Center is only open to adults, and you’ll need a room key to get into the Fitness Center: the restroom is the first door on the left. Otherwise you’ll have to thread through several crowded areas over to the main pool restrooms.
We enjoyed the pool until a bit after 1:00, but eventually it became a little too raucous for us, and we decided we were ready to go inside. There were still quite a few seats available in the Wailana Pool area, though the pool was full of active kids.
In the afternoon I went to a free lei-making class. Supposedly there were two classes, one for ‘ohana (families) and one for adults. As it turned out, adults and their kids attended both classes. The Daily Iwa stated that you had to make a reservation to attend, but in reality people dropped in and if there was space, the staff accommodated them. In general they seemed to have a very flexible attitude, which was great. So I would suggest that if you find yourself with some time at the last minute, it’s worth stopping by to see if you can join a class.
Some activities have a fee, and it can be substantial (the star-gazing activity offered a few evenings a week is $39 for adults, for example), but every day I noticed at least two free options, including various Hawaiian crafts, learning to play the ukulele and learning to hula.
While we were not traveling with children, I did observe many of the kids’ activities at Aulani, and I talked with quite a few kids and their parents about what they’d been doing around the resort. The kids were having a great time! If the children ever got bored with the pool (highly unlikely, from what I observed), there were plenty of other options. There were at least four meet-and-greets with characters each day, plus usually at least one activity involving characters, such as a pool party. Every afternoon there were pool games.
At Aunty’s Beach House, which offers complimentary care for kids 3-10, there were multiple special events offered each day, in addition to ongoing access to activities like dress-up and games. One “premium” activity was usually offered each day, with a big price tag (like $60-$80 per head). Activities for tweens and teens centered around the teen spa, Painted Sky, which also has a frozen yogurt counter. The one weakness in the kids’ programming is that there is absolutely no babysitting for kids under 3.
All in all, Sunday was a pleasant, low-key day. In the evening we made boiled shrimp with garlic butter for dinner. Delicious and easy. Then I relaxed in the spa tub with the bath salts I was given at the spa a couple of days earlier. Ahhh… talk about relaxing!