Discover the culture and aloha spirit at the Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa

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Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Spreading aloha and embracing Hawaiian traditions
Experience the waves crashing on the white shores and the sounds of sweet ukulele melodies at the Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa.

O'AHU, Hawaii (KGO) -- Shadowed by towering palm trees, waves crashing on the white shores, and sounds of the ukulele accompanying sweet melodies, you'll find the Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa. Despite the vacation feel, the island destination upkeeps Hawaiian traditions and takes inspiration from O'ahu's natural wonders.

Taking us back to the island he calls home, ABC7 anchor Reggie Aqui explores the heart of Aulani Resort: Hawaiian culture.

One of his first stops is catching up with the Aulani Disney Ambassador, Kanoa Kawai.

Kawai describes the importance of sharing Hawaiian culture to all of Aulani's guests through the resort's storytelling, music, hula, dance, and more, he said.

Walking into Aulani's Maka'ala lobby, guests are met with traditional artifacts and murals adorning the walls that tell the stories of the Hawaiian people and their gods and goddesses.

"I love that we can continue to pass on those traditions to future generations," Kawai said.

An Aulani fitness instructor, Kapiolani, leads Aqui and his husband Phil Heuring in a session of morning surfboard yoga.

She later explains the spirituality behind the word "Aloha."

"It means compassion. It means forgiveness. It means grace. But most of all, it means love," she said.

Kawai said the Disney cast members really make Aulani special.

"They are not just sharing a story, but they're sharing a story that they've lived because they are from the islands," he said. "They were born and raised. And they just add that special touch, that little extra magic."

Aqui then stops into Aulani's iconic luau.

The evening attraction combines classic Hawaiian dishes and lively entertainment, complete with a unique storyline.

Not only is the luau a draw for tourists, it is also ingrained in Hawaiian culture.

"It's always important to come together," Kawai said. "And any chance we have to come together and have a party, and just celebrate one another. We do not hesitate to come together for those things."

When asked to name one Hawaiian word that is a concept to be shared with visitors, Kawai responds with "Le'ale'a."

"Le'ale'a means to have fun, to enjoy," he said.

And Kawai did just that. He strummed his ukulele and sang the Aulani Hula, detailing all the adventures one can find at the resort.

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