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Three resorts among Islands' best family-friendly offerings

Source & Image: travelweekly.com

Looking for some insight into what makes certain Aloha State hotels a better choice for traveling families, I spoke recently with several longtime Hawaii experts about three of the destination's top-notch resorts.

An overview of each property's family-friendly appeal and some specific selling strategies follows.

Captivating Newcomer: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

family friendly resort

Confining an entire Hawaii vacation solely within the boundaries of one resort hasn't traditionally made much sense.

There's so much to see and do on each of the islands that families generally want to get out and experience firsthand as much of the state's rich diversity as possible.

It wasn't shocking, however, to hear Paula Singleton, the owner of Sunrise Travel in Mission Viejo, Calif., tell me more of her clients are forgoing car rentals when booking stays at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa on the west coast of Oahu.

"People are really enjoying just staying at the resort because there is so much to do," she said. "I'm finding a lot of clients saying, 'I didn't use my car,' so now I'm telling my clients they don't need one."

Having stayed at the 21-acre oceanfront property twice since its grand opening in August 2011, I can certainly understand why families might not be in a hurry to venture out.

Home to one of the state's top children's programs, operated throughout more than 8,000 square feet of both indoor and outdoor facilities at the resort's Aunty's Beach House, Aulani also has an outstanding collection of kid-friendly water features in its central Waikolohe Valley, including several pools, two thrilling water slides, a 900-foot-long lazy river, the Rainbow Reef manmade snorkeling pool loaded with tropical fish and the 2,100-square-foot Menehune Bridge water play area full of spinning and splashing water toys and all sorts of climbing structures.

Along with the protected ocean lagoon fronting the resort, which is terrific for little ones looking to play in the Pacific and activities like standup paddleboarding or snorkeling, Aulani also offers one of Hawaii's most unique family experiences at its 18,000-square-foot Laniwai Spa.

"We have rooms that can accommodate mom, dad and two kids with separate bathroom facilities and an outdoor area," said Elliot Mills, the resort's vice president and general manager. "It's very spacious, so it's not everybody crammed into a small room, [and] it's a place where they can get a service together, enjoy lunch, relax and then be leisurely throughout the spa."

Aulani also features Hawaii's only spa designed specifically for teens at its Painted Sky facility, offering teen-specific massages, manicures, facials and pedicures plus a range of services for young guys. There's also a yogurt bar, interactive computer-based games and evening programming designed specifically for older kids.

"The redo in Waikiki has been lovely, but your 3- and 4-year-olds aren't going to have that much fun there," Singleton said. "The Aulani, on the other hand, really does have something for kids of all ages, and it lets parents have a relaxing vacation while the children are having a great time."

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