The unforgettable details woven throughout Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, make the resort a destination unlike any in the world. Let’s begin this new series the same way your Aulani vacation would with a warm welcome, or e komo mai, and a traditional lei.
Upon my arrival at Aulani, I noticed cast members waiting with lei at their side and large smiles on their faces. One of those cast members greeted me with my own personal lei. Talking with her, I learned that each member of the ‘ohana, or family, receive this symbol of aloha – the gift of a lei. Women receive an orchid and tuberose lei, while the men receive a kukui nut lei. I was then escorted into the breathtaking Maka’ala Lobby where the same cast member told me the significance of receiving a lei. The lei has been an important part of the traditional Hawaiian culture for centuries, as well as the modern local culture of Hawaii today.
I wanted to learn more about this tradition, so I asked Aulani Cultural Advisor, Kahulu De Santos. She shared many stories about lei, such as the beautiful feather lei worn by the aliʻi, the royalty of traditional Hawaii. In addition to being a symbol of aloha, the lei also symbolizes the importance of connections. Just like the flowers or kukui nuts are linked together, the lei embodies the connections to places and relationships we have with those around us.
It is through the spirit and magic of Aulani that you will establish new connections or strengthen existing ones during your stay, and your lei will help you remember those memories when you travel home.
Once I checked into my room with my lei still around my neck, I could not think of a better way to begin a Hawaiian vacation. The warm greeting, the lei, a personal escort through the Maka‘ala Lobby and the gentle breeze – it made me realize that my magical journey was only just beginning.