Just How Green Will Disney's Aulani Resort Be?

by Glenn Hasek January 27, 2011 05:53

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts' Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, is slated to open its first phase this August in Hawaii on the western side of Oahu. The new resort will pursue LEED certification. I have tried to get Disney to tell me what about the property will earn it LEED certification but have had no success thus far. It may be just too early for that. I will keep trying. In the meantime, there have been several articles written about the resort that provide some details about what will make the property "green" or sustainable. A Disney representative also sent me an Aulani fact sheet that provides some insight. First, the details on the resort. It will be set on 21 acres and will be 17 miles from the Honolulu Airport.

Upon completion, Aulani will have 359 hotel rooms and 481 Disney Vacation Club timeshare villas. Aulani will include an 18,000-square-foot spa, 14,545-square-foot conference center, and 48,685 square feet of outdoor venues. Eventually, approximately 1,200 people are expected to be employed at the resort.

According to Disney, an Aulani is a messenger who speaks on behalf of a chief and the name Aulani was chosen to describe a vacation experience that will also speak on behalf of the island culture. As the history and heritage of Hawaii are inspiration for Aulani, Walt Disney Imagineering will use its skills in design to help bring those stories to life. The Imagineering team has worked with local architects and cultural experts on Oahu and throughout the state as part of the creative process for the resort. The resulting design is a village celebrating the Hawaiian customs and traditions. Restaurants will feature food unique to Hawaii with ingredients from local farmers and fishermen. Excursions such as dolphin-spotting tours, horseback riding, sea kayaking, and catamaran snorkeling will be hosted by local experts. Images of Hawaii will be seen in everything from the bedspreads to the carpet. Disney commissioned 70 native Hawaiian artists to create works for the resort.  

Sustainability is certainly about respecting local cultures, employing local people and educating guests about the natural environment and how to preserve it. So far, Disney deserves credit for doing that. Whether or not Disney will take steps to truly make the resort energy and water efficient remains to be seen. Will they employ renewable energy technologies on an island so primed for them? I am eager to find out. Your thoughts?

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About Me

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor of Green Lodging News. He has more than 20 years of experience writing about the lodging industry. He can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com or by phone at (813) 510-3868.