Disney has given its first Hawaii resort its official name: "Aulani: A Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawaii."
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced the new name for its still-under-construction Hawaii destination property this week, and launched the resort’s official Web site: www.disneyaulani.com. The company also shared plans to open Aulani’s first phase in the fall of 2011.
The 360 hotel room/481 multi-bedroom vacation villa resort, designed for family travel, has been under construction since last summer on 21 acres of beachfront at West Oahu’s Ko Olina Resort & Marina.
In a statement announcing the resort’s new Hawaiian name, Joe Rohde, a senior vice president with Disney’s theme park and resort design and development arm Walt Disney Imagineering, said the word aulani "expresses a connection to tradition and deep story-telling." Rohde also noted that aulani, translated from Hawaiian to English means, “the place that speaks for the great ones” or “the place that speaks with deep messages.”
Writers Mary Kawena Pukui’s and Samuel H. Elbert’s Hawaiian Dictionary listed the word ‘aulani (note the ‘okina, or Hawaiian language glottal stop) as a noun meaning “messenger of a chief.”
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts first announced the Hawaii resort project in October 2007, shortly after purchasing the Ko Olina acreage. Ground was broken on the project—then called Disney Vacation Club Resort Hawaii—in November 2008.
Disney’s design plans for the Aulani Resort & Spa include 48,685-square-feet of outdoor features, including a centerpiece “wonderland of water” featuring snorkeling lagoons, river pools, sunset-facing hot tubs, waterfalls, water slides, fishponds, pathways and tide pools stocked with native sea life. The resort will also include an 18,000-foot family-friendly spa, two restaurants, kids clubs, wedding lawn and a 14,545-square-foot convention and banquet facility. The resort also claims one of the man-made crescent lagoons along the Ko Olina shoreline.
Disney has said that it plans to market the Hawaii resort toward luxury family travel. The company has not yet revealed the project’s estimated cost or room pricing structure.
Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa (foreground), under construction, at Ko Olina Resort & Marina
Closer look at Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa construction site
View looking out toward pools and water features
For more Aulani Resort & Spa artist renderings from a previous HawaiiMagazine.com feature, click here.
Photos/artist renderings/video: Walt Disney Co.