Disney’s Aulani Resort on O’ahu offers tropical paradise in its most luxurious sense. A full service resort with offerings for the whole family, a health spa infused with an authentic experience of Hawaiian culture, lush natural surroundings and amazing entertainment and food, it’s a true escape from everyday life. But much of what makes an Aulani vacation stand out as “Disney” is the magic of their attention to hospitality down to the smallest details as only Disney knows how to do.
Some of these small touches of comfort and care are translatable to everyday life in any home anywhere — and can be beautiful and generous gestures you can make to those around you. Use these simple ideas to pamper your special someone, or even yourself, right at home, in the context of the day-to-day grind, where moments of magic might be needed the most.
1. NAP TIME!
There is no greater gift for a parent of a small child than an uninterrupted afternoon nap in complete quiet and cocoon-like darkness. Give your partner or a friend who needs it the full hotel room experience: find some thick curtains that will keep out all the light and install them in the bedroom. Draw them closed, take the kids out for an afternoon, and insist he or she takes a cat-nap. Throwing in a plush new bathrobe never hurts. Total luxury!
2. FRUIT-INFUSED WATER
At Aulani, where the sun is warm and almost constant, drinking water is made available to guests almost everywhere. What makes this simple necessity item extra special, though, is that the water is infused with small amounts of sliced lemon, cut cucumber, or chunks of fresh fruit. The flavor is subtle, but very delicious, and is said to be cleansing to the body. Try floating a couple slices of lemon and cucumber, or some mint, strawberries, or any other fruit or herb you like, in a large pitcher and storing it in the fridge. Whenever you or your partner need a glass of water, it will be extra delicious, maybe even transportive. Can you hear the ocean lapping?
3. SERVE PAPAYA WITH LIME – AMAZING!
This is the most simple and amazingly delicious snack ever, and yet unless you grew up in a tropical climate you’re likely to find it unusual, exotic, even mind blowing. Putting lime on papaya in the tropics is as common as putting milk on cereal or bread on butter to the rest of us. So how does one eat a papaya with lime? Take a whole papaya and whole lime, split them both in half lengthwise with a knife, scoop the seeds out of the papaya, maybe sit cross legged in front of a fire with your partner and share something healthful and romantic. Papaya is soft, and can be scooped out with a spoon. Give each bite a tiny squirt of the fresh lime — and prepare for complete culinary bliss.
4. WALK THE WALK
Aulani’s spa, Laniwai, has an outdoor garden area that is unforgettable. It offers pools, tubs, healing rain showers and total peace. It also features something called a reflexology walking path. This is a very simple idea — it’s basically a textured stone walkway you walk on barefoot. It’s based on a simple idea: you know that feeling you get when you take your shoes off and step onto warm sand, or across smooth rocks? It wakes you up, and feels great. Your feet are highly sensitive, and the simple act of walking barefoot across stones massages your feet. Turns out, it’s not so hard to make one of your own, and many sites offer do-it-yourself instructions. Consider making one in your garden, yard, on a terrace, or even indoors. Do you live in a small apartment? You can even make a small version consisting of sand and stones inside a large box. Take a few moments a day and stand on these natural elements — if you relax your feet, you will relax yourself.
Those of us who live in cold winter climates would probably call the concept of shave ice “sophisticated snow cones.” If you don’t have snow readily available, you can make these using crushed ice that’s put through a food processor or blender, just like they do in Hawaii. Or, if you’re living in a winter wonderland, go grab a bowl full of snow. Pour exotic-flavored gourmet syrups on top (you can buy these at most supermarkets.) But here’s what makes shave ice in Hawaii so unusual — it’s topped with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk, right out of the can. You won’t believe how delicious this very simple treat is. This one’s obviously great for the whole family.