Friday, September 9, 2011

Never All-in-One: Aulani Dining Thoughts

So far the Aulani resort looks incredible and meticulously themed.  The info on the restaurants looks great, but one question always comes to mind about going to a pricey resort like this.  Why is there no all-inclusive option?

If you talk to your friendly local travel agent, all-inclusive resorts are simply non-existent in Hawaii, although some websites off all-inclusive "travel packages", not nearly the same thing as you would find at your local Sandals or similar property in the Caribbean or Jamaica. 

Should Disney be in the All-Inclusive Business?

 Disney already offers a partial all-inclusive option with the Disney Dining Plan in their packages.  It is not often thought of in this way, but by pre-paying for the dining, you are essentially making your Disney world vacation an alcohol-less all-inclusive option.  The opposition to the dining plan and the accusations that its introduction has homogenized food across the spectrum of Disney Dining would be troublesome for a high end resort, however.

All-inclusive resorts would certainly put Disney in a different business than they have been before.  Allowing the guests to prepay an unlimited food option would be out of the Disney a la carte realm that we are used to seeing from their booking options. 

When Aulani was first announced, a hope that Disney might choose the cruise ship model of payment, somewhere between a true unlimited alcohol all-inclusive and the current model for their beach DVC properties was still alive.  Pay one price, include basic food and then have a few upscale restaurants with a nominal cover charge.  Alcohol and spa privileges would continue to be a la carte.  Spend more if you want to, don't if you don't.   As more details arose, this hope was quickly dashed.

During the subsequent therapy sessions, thoughts arose about why this system doesn't exist.  Anyone who has been on a cruise can tell you that food quality is high in the main dining room despite serving to the masses.  If Disney could replicate some of the outstanding dining from their cruises into a resort system ,you could attract many more families and budget-conscious people who like the idea of options and prepayment on their trips, hopefully without the pitfalls that DDP presents in Orlando. (In full disclosure, my first Disney cruise will not be until next summer, but friends and family rave about the food...)

Disney should get on board and give us a new and magical resort experience along the lines of a land-based cruise and price it accordingly.  That being said, a review of all of the authentic food at Aulani can't come fast enough!

What do you think of the resort system and pricing?  Should it be changed and improved?