Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:20 PM | Contributed by Jeff
The Walt Disney Co. on Monday opened the first phase of Aulani, its new hotel and time-share resort in Hawaii. Aulani time-share sales have been suspended since July 9, when Disney realized it had miscalculated annual maintenance fees and was not charging buyers enough to cover the cost of operating the resort. The company fired three executives over the error, including the president of its Disney Vacation Club time-share business.
Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.
This project has been interesting to watch for a number of reasons. My first concern was that they would "cheapen" Hawaiian culture, but it seems like they've been pretty good about not doing that. As a potential guest, what I would worry about is whether or not they can truly pamper guests at that scale. When you're over $400/night, you have to treat every person like royalty, or they won't come back.
I don't think they'll have problems attracting the cream of the large hospitality industry there.
I was able to visit the resort area last year when in Hawaii on business. I snorkeled in the lagoon right in front of Aulani and saw a 5 foot white tipped reef shark. JF, to your point, I'm not entirely sure you're right. The resort development (it's part of a whole area that includes a few other hotels and quite a few condo developments) is on the very rocky southern coast of Oahu, and is in no way a 'beach' resort. The lagoons they have created have beach-like areas, but the actual coastline is all boulders and is not really swimmable. It's far away from any of the other 'touristy' areas on Oahu. The actual hotel is going to be gorgeous, but it's definitely a hard sell to both timeshare owners and casual vacationers, who will have many, many other options for much less. It will surely get a lot of use from DVC owners from other properties, but especially now that ownership is going to be more expensive, it's going to be interesting to see how well it does. I'm sure it won't be a failure, but I certainly couldn't see myself going all the way to Hawaii and then just spending a week at this one out of the way hotel. A night or two, perhaps, as a splurge.
Oahu overall is a harder sell for me, because many areas are frankly a lot like Florida, especially Waikiki. Admittedly, I've only spent about 48 hours at most on the island. When I think Hawaii, I think more natural and rural, like much of Kauai and the east half of the big island. Smaller, laid back. This doesn't seem lime that.
But as a Disney fan, I'm willing to try it. It just has to be that good.
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