Will Aulani Recover?

Hawaii REALLY doesn’t want visitors.

I totally understand pandemic precautions but there is a thing about going too far. You have to get a COVID test within 72 hours of departure of your last leg to Hawaii. I’m cool with that. Even if you’re fully vaccinated. Seems a bit paranoid, but there are reports of people faking vaccination and buying vaccination cards so if your whole population is on an island, I’m still with you. And you have to get it from a Trusted Testing and Travel Partner. Got it.

But this is where it gets ridiculous. Turnaround time is NOT guaranteed. There are some places that offer a Rapid NAAT instead of the regular one, but it does generally cost more (the NAAT is the only test accepted by the Hawaiian government). So the choice is fork over EVEN MORE money to get quick results (about $100 more per test) or risk not getting the results in time. Because here’s the thing. If you don’t you have results uploaded to your state visitation page, you are required to quarantine for 10 DAYS and they will send inspectors to come and find you to make sure you are in compliance.

You are not allowed to leave your hotel room or place of residence for any reason other than going to the hospital. By the way, too bad for you if you need to, you know, EAT – ordering in is all at your expense. And here’s the kicker. Even if the results get to you eventually, you STILL have to quarantine for 10 days regardless of the results! Doesn’t matter that you got tested within the 72 hour time frame. Doesn’t matter it wasn’t your fault the results didn’t get to you in time. You just wasted your vacation.

At least the beaches are still open!

If they forced you to quarantine just until the results came in, I could understand that even, but to force you to quarantine for 10 days regardless of the results? Look, it already costs an arm and a leg to travel to Hawaii and to add $200+ per person on top of that for test results – even after you’re vaccinated – seems an undue burden. Plus, with all the guidelines that Hawaii has there is so much you are restricted from doing. It really piles on toward making any visit to Hawaii a negative one. For an economy founded on tourism, it seems to be a potentially lethal blow to many businesses.

On top of that, the Aulani resort itself has heavily restricted what you can do. Experiences that used to be open are just closed. Not even adjusted for COVID – just plain not even offered. Here is a list of the things you currently CAN’T do at Aulani taken right from the website (with commentary by yours truly):

The Laniwai spa being closed is a major downer

Temporarily Unavailable
The following amenities and experiences will not be available during the initial reopening period:

  • Laniwai Spa – the best part of going to Aulani! Spas can be open with masks being worn.
  • Painted Sky: HI Style Studio
  • Aunty’s Beach House – understandable but a major setback for families with young children
  • Luana Lounge – photo experience for DVC members – could be moved outdoors
  • Ho`okanipila (Ukulele Lessons) – do NOT understand this one since they have done it outside before
  • ‘Ohana Hula – again could be done outside and does not require singing or close proximity

Additionally, the following special offerings will not be available during the initial reopening:

  • ‘Ohana Movie Night – since this is outdoors makes no sense to cancel
  • Shake-A-Shaka Pool Party
  • Instructor Guided Tours, including photo tours – why not limit attendance or charge a premium?
  • Disney Animation – indoors but could wear face mask the entire time
  • Kapala Ki`i (T-shirt stamping)
  • Painting Programs – again why not just limit attendance and wear masks?
  • Surf’s Up, A Surfin, Fishin, Dancin Party
  • Fish Are Friends – believe this is outside so not sure why its canceled?
  • Kakamora Chaos
  • DVC Member Hour – I’d be willing to wear a mask and social distance
  • Aulani Chef Demonstrations, including Mimosas and Macrons, and Aulani Mixology Workshop – okay, you can eat indoors but can’t go to a chef demonstration?
Although these classes are so popular they have moved them into a classroom, they could do them outside as they have done in the past

Nearly all of the activities that are outdoors could still be done with limited attendance. There’s really no need to cancel them completely. And many of the indoor activities can be done with social distancing and mask wearing. With the room rate non-members are paying and the amount DVC members put into their timeshare, they could certainly offer more than they do at this time. Staffing might be the biggest obstacle to doing some of these programs, but for a business founded on hospitality and the guest experience, this might be a tough one to recover from. Aulani is such a great experience normally, I’m hoping it is able to bounce back after the pandemic. But if it doesn’t? What happens to all of those DVC patrons who have a stake in this timeshare?

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