Category Archives: Disney’s Aulani

The Evolution of COVID Travel

WDW During COVID

They say that the only constant is change, and wow! have we had to learn that lesson this year! It’s strange to think that only a year ago (though it seems longer), the travel industry was thriving. Oh, the difference a year can make. It is no secret that the travel industry has been deeply & severely impacted by the COVIID-19 pandemic. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the introduction of vaccines. Additionally, the industry has evolved to help meet the challenges of today & it is my belief, that the industry will come back safer & stronger than ever in the coming months & years.  It is for this reason that I believe now may be the perfect time to start planning your own return to travel. Let me explain.

First, safety standards in the travel industry are higher than ever. We have witnessed this first-hand. As the owners of a travel agency, we have felt it incumbent upon ourselves to continue traveling during these hard times.  Now, don’t freak out. We have taken all of the necessary personal safety precautions & have been disciplined in our adherence to local regulations wherever we went. However, as travel professionals, we felt the need to experience for ourselves what it was really like to travel during COVID. To be the “guinea pigs,” if you will, so that we can truthfully speak from first-hand experience what it is really like out there with the intent to bring ourselves & our guests the peace of mind we all seek when there are so many unknowns.

As we have traveled, we have found that airlines, hotels and tourist attractions are doing really great things to keep their patrons safe. As mentioned, the travel industry has suffered greatly, and no one in the industry wants to compromise a safe & healthy return to service. Our jobs and livelihoods are on the line. We’ve watched our friends & colleagues lose those very things. I think it is for this reason, and because it truly is the responsible thing to do, that safety standards in the travel industry are currently very high.

It is my belief that many of these standards will remain for the foreseeable future & honestly, I’m kind of excited about it. Take for example the Walt Disney World Resort (WDW). We traveled there in early November & I wrote a blog about what it was like to travel there during COVID. You can check it out here. We returned to WDW again early this month, & those standards have remained in place. If anything, it’s going better now than it did several months ago, because the guests are now so used to it, there is not much deviance from the standards they have in place. I personally, have LOVED that there are sanitizing stations going into & coming out of every attraction. I LOVE that there are markers on the ground in queues to make sure people stay socially distanced. I prefer not to have people in my bubble and I love the convenience of being able to sanitize often. These are just a few of the safety protocols in place. It is these & many more safety standards that I believe will remain in place for the foreseeable future & I feel great about that!  I felt safer at WDW than I do going to my local grocery store. As mentioned, the industry wants to be responsible & bring back guests safely & so far, they are doing a good job & I believe that will continue.

Besides the on-the-ground safety measures, we can’t underestimate the value of vaccinations. Whatever your political views, the fact is, the number of cases is dropping & I’m sure the vaccinations are the driving force behind that. In our state, our governor has announced that he believes every adult who wants a vaccination will have the opportunity to have one by the end of May. Whether his timeline is correct, remains to be seen, but regardless, most of the population will have access to a vaccination if they want one within the next several months. This is exciting news for many reasons! With the rollout of vaccines, plus the safety standards already outlined, you will soon be able to travel with the confidence we have lost over the past year.

It is for this reason, that we anticipate a surge in travel coming soon. People have been stuck inside for a year. Travel is important to mental health & we believe it will be an important part of people’s “healing” process as we come out of the other side of this thing. If you feel like you are going to be one of those people, we now offer you the best piece of advice we can: BOOK YOUR TRIP NOW.

As mentioned before, the high safety standards of the industry will likely remain in place for some time even with vaccinations rolling out. One of these standards is decreased capacity at hotels & tourist attractions. If capacity is down, but demand is up, that is going to drive prices up. If you book a future trip now, you lock in the price as it is today. Additionally, if capacity is down, but demand is up, that may prevent you from being able to book what you want at all because there just isn’t anything available.  It will take time for everything to get completely ramped back up, and that may mean you won’t be able to get what you want when you want it if you wait.

Additionally, there are some GREAT deals for travel right now. Because the industry is struggling & trying to recover, airlines, hotels, attractions & cruise lines are all offering great deals. Many of those deals extend into the early summer, but some extend clear to the end of 2021. We are talking things like BOGO 60% off for cruises, or 35% off stays at resorts like Aulani. Now may be the time to book the dream vacation that you normally wouldn’t think you could afford. We anticipate as the industry recovers though, these deals will be short-lived as supply & demand shift. However, as previously mentioned, if you lock your price in now, you can take advantage of these great deals even if you don’t travel for several months.

As with everything associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel industry continues to evolve. We are optimistic about the future & want to make sure you have the information & tools you need to feel safe as you return to travel. There are a lot of safety measures in place already & with vaccinations rolling out, travel will make a comeback. As you think about how you’ll return to travel yourself, consider making plans now, even if you won’t be traveling until later this year. We are here to help! We would be happy to walk you through everything. Send us a quote request by visiting our website: https://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php

Our Travels – Aulani: Living Up to the Disney Legacy

Walking along the beach near Aulani.

I’m a firm believer that if you travel to Hawaii & you have a bad time, it’s probably your own fault. In fact, I’ve recently written a blog about how even traveling during COVID can be a fantastic experience if you’re safe & smart about it. Read more about that here: Oahu, Hawaii During COVID. But back to the topic at hand. Just because Hawaii is fantastic by just existing, that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain experiences that can make an already great location that much better. Aulani – A Disney Resort & Spa is one of those experiences.

Notice I said “experience” and not hotel. We have stayed in several really nice hotels throughout the years, but I wouldn’t say very many, if any at all, gave me an “experience” as part of my stay. It makes a lot of sense though that a resort built by Disney would give you more than just a nice place to sleep. The Walt Disney Company is known world-wide for creating “experiences” for their guests, particularly in their parks & hotels. In fact, the inspiration for Disneyland came because Walt wanted to give families a place where they could enjoy fun experiences together. That philosophy has extended throughout the organization & Aulani is no different. It is meant to be a place where you can gather with your ‘ohana’ & all have a wonderful time. In my opinion, it lives up to all Walt would want it to be. Let’s talk about why.

Aulani’s Story

Most hotels have some sort of “theme” or at least a common design scheme, but Aulani takes it a step further and has their own “story.” If you’re familiar with any of the Disney parks, storytelling is everywhere. You will find stories in every attraction as soon as you enter the queue, all the way until you exit & sometimes beyond. Every restaurant has a story too from the design elements, to what the workers are wearing, and throughout the menu. Sometimes even the bathrooms play along to whatever story is being told in the area! Point being, Disney prides themselves on being master storytellers & they have certainly lived up to that with their design of Aulani.

Aulani was designed by none other than the world-famous Disney Imagineers who worked hand-in-hand with local artisans & cultural experts to celebrate the beauty & history of the island. This is something that I greatly appreciated because for me, one of the best parts of traveling is getting a feel for the local culture. Having been to all four of the major Hawaiian Islands, I can confidently say that Oahu, the island where Aulani is located, is BY FAR the most commercialized of all the islands. If you’re unfamiliar, Oahu is home to the state capitol of Honolulu, the famous Waikiki Beach, and Pearl Harbor. It is the most densely populated island in the Hawaiian chain, and so, I suppose, it would make sense that it’s the most commercialized. Unfortunately, it is for that reason that I believe a lot of what makes the Hawaiian culture & islands so wonderful is lost. In stark contrast to the vast majority of other hotels & resorts on the island, Aulani purposely celebrates the culture of the Hawaiian people. Just in general, it feels much more organic than most resorts. For example, the hotel towers are shaped like canoes, there is contemporary Hawaiian artwork throughout the resort, everything has a Hawaiian name including the pools & restaurants & their unofficial mascot is the Menehune (small, mythological craftspeople said to live in the forest of the Hawaiian Islands). Even their color scheme matches the surrounding landscape of the leeward side of the island. 

Hawaiian Artwork in Aulani’s Lobby

There are also other elements that make it feel like you’re being immersed in the Hawaiian culture. One of my favorites has been storytelling by ‘Uncle’ around the campfire (or pool during COVID season). He tells stories based on local folklore & I feel like through the simple act of listening to a story, I learned so much about ancient Hawaiian culture. We also really enjoyed the Menehune Adventure game. For this, you can check out a tablet from the Community Hall & ‘Aunty’ takes you on an adventure throughout the gardens & pool area of the resort. Not only does the game allow you to do cool things (like send fire out of a volcano or drop a waterfall into one of the pools), it also helps you to get a feel for some of the local culture. Another of my favorites is all of the live music you can find throughout the resort.  The last time we were there, they weren’t doing their luau (which by the way, was awesome the first time we got to go to Aulani), but on the weekend, they had ‘Aunty’ singing Hawaiian songs & someone dancing with her on the lawn while we waited to meet the characters. It’s simple things like that which contribute to the overall celebration of the Hawaiian culture as part of the resort’s story.

Something for Everyone

As with the Disney parks, there is literally something for everyone at Aulani & a lot can be done together as a family. For us, and I imagine most who visit Aulani, the Waikolohe Valley became the center of our visit there.  This is the garden/pool area between the two towers at Aulani. It features a long lazy river (it takes 15 minutes to float around), two water slides (one body, one tube), play area for the kids & splash pad for the littles, two big family pools with three family hot tubs, plus an adult-only pool & two-level infinity hot tub overlooking the ocean (perfect for watching the sunset as you soak). If you’d like to try snorkeling, but are worried about doing it in the ocean, there is also the Rainbow Reef where for a surcharge you can snorkel with the native fish of Hawaii. Additionally, you are only a few steps away from the perfectly golden beach on the lagoon (sand toys & boogie boards are complimentary!).  

Watching the Sunset from the Adult-Only Infinity Hot Tub

When the Imagineers designed the Waikolohe valley, they knew what they are doing.  Everything is spaced out very well so it disburses the crowds. They have also worked hard to provide chairs & shade for everyone either from the trees in the garden or via umbrella. There are also multiple places to get food whether it be shave ice, counter service, or sit-down meals. You could literally spend your entire vacation in the Waikolohe Valley and be just fine. I don’t necessarily recommend that because there is a lot to see on the island, but I would definitely commit at least a few days to staying at the resort & to use the pool area as a place to unwind at the end of the day.

That being said, there are some quirks about this area. It seems like it would go without saying, but only Aulani guests are allowed to use the pools. The beach is technically open to the public (though the chairs & umbrellas are not), so I think some of the beach visitors try to sneak into the pool area. This must be somewhat of a problem because guests are required to get a different colored wristband every day to prove they are a guest of the resort as they use the pools. Some may think that is inconvenient, but we found it to be reassuring that only guests of the resorts are using the accommodations we paid for. They also have a system where if a cast member folds a towel over the headrest of the chair you’ve staked out & put your stuff on, you have one hour to take it down or they will remove your belongings & securely store them where you pick up your wristbands. We just made sure to circle back once an hour to get a drink or a snack and make sure that our towels were not signaling we had been gone. This is their way of making sure everyone has an equal chance at the poolside chairs. We’ve been to Aulani twice now (once before COVID & once during COVID), and we have never had a problem finding a chair or having our stuff moved. Everyone is very courteous & as long as you circle back once an hour, you’re just fine.

One of the Family Pools at Aulani

There are a few other areas at the resort that should also be mentioned.  First, what would a Disney vacation be without the characters?! Usually, you can find them interspersed in the Waikolohe Valley, but with COVID, right now they are meeting on the lawn (where they usually have the luau). We’ve met Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Stich, Duffy, Shellie Mae & Moana. It just brings a little bit of extra Disney magic to your trip being able to meet them while you’re there. Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the spa on property as well. When COVID isn’t a thing, they offer a full-service spa with treatments for teens, individuals & couples. There is also the Community Hall where you can pick up the Menehune Adventure game, rent movies & games & make crafts. It’s a place where everyone can come in and enjoy. Additionally, when COVID isn’t a thing, the kids can enjoy activities for their age group at Aunty’s Beach House. The counselors there will keep your kids entertained so you can go to the spa, explore the island, or just take a nap while knowing your kids are safe & entertained. There is so much to do at Aulani! I promise you can find plenty to make you & your family happy while you stay there.

Meeting Donald & Daisy at Aulani

Accommodations

Speaking of staying there, there are a number of different room types available at Aulani to accommodate any family. Aulani is considered a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property. That means the people who have bought into Disney’s timeshare program can stay there using their membership.  However, you DO NOT need to be a DVC member to stay there.  ANYONE can book a room at Aulani & enjoy the resort. Room types range anywhere from a traditional hotel-style standard room with two queen-sized beds, to a three-bedroom villa with full kitchen. We have stayed in both a standard room & a 1-bedroom villa with full kitchen. Both suited our needs just fine for the different trips we took. We did enjoy having a full kitchen with the villa because we could save some money by cooking some of our own meals, but the standard room has a mini-fridge so you can keep some things in there too. Whatever type of room you stay in, they are very nice & I’m sure you will be very comfortable.

Kitchen Ares in the 1-Bedroom Villa

Location on the Island

Aulani is located on western side of Oahu in the Ko Olina development. This is the leeward side of the island, so where it is rains almost every day on the windward side of the island, Aulani has beautiful sun-filled days with very limited rain. It is somewhat out of the way, at least compared to the hustle & bustle of downtown Honolulu & Waikiki Beach.  However, we have never found it to be a problem. In fact, Aulani is just as convenient to get to the East & North sides of the island as Waikiki due to traffic & access to the freeways that take you to those sides. However, if you’d like a comparison, let me share my opinion as we have stayed both in Waikiki & at Aulani.

Waikiki is in the heart of Honolulu & like all major cities, it is very loud & crowded. It is as touristy as it gets in Hawaii, and as previously mentioned, it is very commercialized. The beach itself is typically covered with tourists & honestly, is only one of many beautiful beaches on Oahu. I would by no means call it the best beach on the island, just the most crowded. If you are looking to do some sightseeing outside of Waikiki, due to Honolulu traffic, it really isn’t more convenient than Aulani if you’re visiting anywhere besides Honolulu. If you’re looking at staying at Waikiki because you believe it is more convenient, it truly is only convenient to itself, not the rest of the island. If you like the hustle & bustle of a big city, Waikiki is for you. If you prefer a much calmer & quiet vacation with significantly more amenities, than Aulani would be your best bet. We have stayed at both, and for us, there was no comparison. Our time at Aulani was significantly better than Waikiki.  

Mickey Shave Ice at Aulani

Never a Better Time to Go

The two weeks we’ve spent at Aulani during two different vacations (one pre- & one post-COVID) have convinced us that it is one of the best resorts on the island. It is beautiful, it celebrates Hawaiian culture, it has something to keep everyone entertained & happy, plus there’s an added dose of Disney magic thrown in there as the cherry on top. A stay there is absolutely worth it.

If you need more convincing, Aulani is currently offering 30% off 5-night stays between now & June 10, 2021. You can do it! You can go to Aulani & we would be happy to help you. To request a quote, visit our website:: https://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php

Our Travels – Oahu, Hawaii During COVID

Aloha! In our second “Our Travels” installment, we will be discussing what it was like to travel to the island of Oahu in the beautiful state of Hawaii right now. We recognize that COVID has a lot of travelers concerned (rightfully so), but you can still travel safely if you pay attention to local regulations & follow them. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed traveling to Hawaii right now because there simply aren’t the crowds there normally are. But let’s start from the beginning – getting there.

Sunset from the Adult-Only Infinity Hot Tub at Aulani

Before You Arrive

As mentioned, we had a great trip to Oahu last week, but I’d be lying if the preparation to arrive there wasn’t a bit stressful. As with everything COVID-related, the State of Hawaii & their policies are constantly evolving. The requirements changed twice between us booking our trip at the end of October & actually traveling at the beginning on December. As of right now (12/17/20), they are requiring a negative COVID test in-hand upon arrival to Oahu, Maui & Hawaii, which was taken no more than 72-hours before the final leg of your flight. If you do not have that negative test in-hand, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days, no exceptions. If you want to visit Kauai, they are requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine even with a negative test. That being said, things will continue to change, I’m sure.  You can find the most up-to-date information about travel to Hawaii on this website: https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/  

What hasn’t changed, is that every traveler to the islands must create a Safe Travels account on the state’s website. Once you’ve logged in, you can register for your trip, upload your negative test results & complete the mandatory health questionnaire that will be available to you 24-hours in advance of your trip. You will find the Safe Travels website here: https://travel.hawaii.gov/. There is a helpful video imbedded into the homepage with more information.

The trickiest part for us, was getting a Hawaii-approved COVID test within 72-hours of the last leg of our flight into Hawaii. In fact, it was kind of a nightmare because there simply aren’t very many places offering approved tests where we live. I don’t need to rehash it all here, but if you’d like to hear more about that experience, check out our blog, “Handling Stress on Vacation.” I don’t believe our experience is the norm, but if it happens to you too, I’ve got some advice outlined in that blog post. You can find a list of approved Trusted Testing & Travel Partners on this website: https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners/.

As you go through this list of Trusted Testing & Travel Partners, pay attention to the timelines each company provides. Our flight left on a Wednesday morning, so 72-hours prior to that would have been Sunday morning. However, not very many places are open for testing on Sunday. That meant that of the few options we had in our area, most wouldn’t have been available to do the test until Monday, which was only 48 hours before we left & they couldn’t guarantee we would get our results in time. You have to pay attention to what you are choosing so you can make sure you will have those test results in hand. It is worth doing your research.

Walking on the beach at Aulani

Arrival to the Islands

As previously mentioned, it was stressful trying to make sure we were prepared to arrive in Oahu. However, everything worked out. We had our negative tests in-hand, we had filled out the health questionnaire & we were ready to go. Once we landed in Oahu, we had to present our documentation. As we exited the plane, I noticed two military personnel monitoring people’s temperatures as we disembarked.  We must have walked under a sensor that was checking our temperatures because they didn’t stop you unless they saw something off. We watched as they stopped a little girl in front of us and double-checked her temperature using a handheld touchless thermometer. I think most people wouldn’t have noticed them at all, but because they stopped the girl in front of me, I paid more attention.  We were then filed into a line to wait our turn to present our documentation.

As mentioned, 24-hours before arrival, you must complete a health questionnaire in your Safe Travels account.  Once you have, they email you a QR code. You will present that QR code to the authorities in the airport.  We uploaded our negative tests as well, but they hadn’t been reviewed yet, so they asked us to produce a physical copy. We did & they approved us & we were on our way in just a few minutes.  Honestly, the process once we got there was pretty quick. Granted, we were some of the first off of the plane, so we didn’t have to wait in any sort of line, but I’m sure they moved through the line quickly as there were several agents waiting to check people’s documentation.

Plumeria blooming at the Punchbowl Cemetary

I will mention, as easy as it was to be cleared since we came prepared, they didn’t have any bathrooms available to you until after you had been approved to enter. We were grateful we didn’t have to wait in line because we had to go! You may have to wait in line though, so I’d recommend going on the plane before you start your final descent into the islands. That way you’re not crossing your legs doing the potty dance while waiting to be cleared.

We were so relieved once we were cleared to enter (& went to the bathroom). Theoretically, once you’ve been cleared at the airport, you should be fine to roam about the island without any restrictions.  This is true, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to verify you’ve been approved again.  Specifically, when we picked up our rental car & when we checked into our hotel, we all had to have our Safe Travels account up & show them we had been approved to enter the state.  They are simply wanting to make sure no one slipped through the cracks, which I totally understand.  Just make sure you know your username & password for your account & can sign-in on your mobile device to show your status. Your status will change in your account once the authorities clear you. Those were the only two times we were asked to verify our status. Otherwise, we really were free to roam the island as we pleased.

Beach at Haunama Bay Nature Preserve

Enjoying the Island

I’m a firm believer that if you have a crappy time in Hawaii, it’s your own fault. There is so much to do even with COVID restrictions! We were on the island of Oahu, which is where Honolulu is located.  It’s the most urban of the islands with major attractions like Pearl Harbor & Waikiki Beach available. As of right now, most tourist attractions are open including: Pearl Harbor, Haunama Bay, Kualoa Ranch, Waimea Valley, all beaches & most hiking trails. The only places we would have liked to go that aren’t open yet are Diamond Head & the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).  However, the PCC is scheduled to open in January.

Hawaii just started welcoming visitors back last month, so they are slowly opening up more & more. Even without some of the major tourist attractions, there is plenty to do on every island, most of which won’t cost you anything. The places we enjoyed on our trip include: relaxing at the resort (we stayed at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa – I HIGHLY recommend it), Haunama Bay, Halona Blow Hole, Waimanalo Beach, Manoa Chocolate Factory (free walk-in tastings!), Maunawili Falls, Kailua Beach, Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts, Aiea Loop Trail, watching big-wave surfing on the North Shore, Kahe Point Beach Park, Pearl Harbor (including tour of the Arizona Memorial), Waikiki, several shave ice establishments & Leonard’s Malasadas (multiple times), etc. Point being, there is SO MUCH to do.

Hiking the Aeia Loop Trail

That being said, are there things you may not be able to do? Yes. The one that was most notable for us, was the number of restaurants that are still closed. Unfortunately, I suspect many of the closed restaurants will never re-open. However, those that are open are offering a variety of safe options including take-out & delivery. Sit-down restaurants are not allowing more than groups of five to sit together, so keep that in mind if you have a group traveling together. We were also asked to fill out our info on a form for contact tracing whenever we chose to sit-down at a restaurant.  Some may be annoyed by that, but I was reassured that they really are doing all they can to make traveling to their state a safe experience.

As with most places across the country, they also require face coverings to be worn in public spaces.  However, you don’t have to wear them in the pool or on the beach. In fact, we found most everyone to be really respectful in keeping their distance in these places so we could all relax without our face coverings while swimming or lying on the beach. Since we’ve been wearing masks for nine months now, it really wasn’t a big deal to continue that habit in public.

USS Arizona Memorial – Pearl Harbor

Conclusion

So, is traveling to Hawaii during COVID worth it? I can say for us, it was a huge, resounding, YES! Is it different than what we have experienced in the past? Yes. Was getting our negative test beforehand a bit of a pain? Yes. Was what I had to go through worth it? YES. Are the islands just as beautiful & wonderful as they have been in the past? Yes! If you are willing to jump through the hoops before arrival, a trip to Hawaii during COVID can be as great as it ever has been. This was our fifth trip to the islands & I can honestly say it was one of the most relaxing & fun.

If you’re interested in booking a trip to Hawaii, we would love to help you! Feel free to request a quote here: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php  Aloha!

Handling Stress on Vacation

Vacation is one of those things that when it’s good, it’s usually really good.  However, when it’s stressful, it can be REALLY stressful. Case in point: We have an upcoming trip to Hawaii. 

We knew this trip to Hawaii was going to be trickier than when we have gone in the past due to COVID-19 restrictions. To prepare, we have been diligent in keeping track of Hawaii’s requirements & making sure we have everything in order. As is fairly common knowledge at this point, one of their requirements is that you have to have a negative COVID test in hand when you arrive. The trick is, you can’t take it more than 72-hours before the departure time of your final flight into Hawaii.  They also state they will only accept tests from organizations certified by the state of Hawaii.  So, we did our research, made our appointments with Walgreens (the one & only place certified by Hawaii in Utah that could get us our test results in time), & we were ready to go get our test yesterday afternoon. 

Infinity Pool at Aulani, Oahu

When we arrived, there was a vague sign in front of the testing area stating they were not doing tests & giving their corporate number. We panicked. What do you mean I can’t have my test? I have a confirmation number & I’m here when YOU told me to be here. Why didn’t you notify me my appointment was cancelled? Are we going to have to cancel our trip because we can’t get our tests? Why aren’t they doing tests? Are they going to be back open tomorrow? Can we get it somewhere else? The questions flew fast & hot. We called corporate, sent my husband in to speak with store management about options, called other locations, etc. For TWO HOURS we tried to get somewhere with someone & ultimately all we got was told “F— You” by the assistant store manager. That’s not a metaphor. My husband & several others in the EXACT same boat as us who had gone in for help (and who, by all accounts, were all quite calm) literally got that yelled at them in addition to a very special viewing of some “birds.”

It was bananas. And those that should have been helping us, were definitely not. We went home last night defeated, angry, stressed & unsure if this trip was going to happen. After talking about it, making online reviews, tweeting about it, etc., we decided the only thing to do was to show up on the doorstep of the one & only other Walgreens location in the state (45-minutes away) right when they opened this morning & hope that they would squeeze us into their already full schedule.  So, that’s what we did. We were nervous wrecks. Fortunately, my husband had made some friends yesterday of people in the same boat & they were there too, a few cars ahead of us.  They pulled up; the workers took their information & they gave them the test! We were so relieved.  Then it was our turn.  Same thing! They gave us the test! Yay! And! We got the results back within an hour.  Good news – we are negative for COVID! Our trip is back on track!

This experience though has reminded me of other extremely stressful situations we’ve had on vacation: lost luggage, being given an already occupied room at a hotel, really terrible service, etc. The list could go on & on. As with life in general, not everything goes smoothly while on vacation. I’m of the opinion that the better you plan, the less stress you’ll have (see my blog on “Planning Never Hurt Anyone”), but things happen that are simply out of our control.  So, what can you do when you’re in the moment & things seem to be falling apart? Here are my suggestions:

Place Blame Where It Belongs

When things go wrong, it’s easy to accost the nearest employee and demand they make things right. Although not completely inappropriate, keep in mind that most often, the first person you come in contact with, has limited ability to fix your problem. These poor front-line employees don’t get paid enough for you to be rude to them.  By all means, let them know of your problem & hopefully they can help solve it, but don’t be a jerk.  If they can’t solve it, it is important not to “lose it” on them & lay blame to them if it is literally out of their hands.  In our situation yesterday, their machines broke down. It’s obviously not anyone’s fault, so it wouldn’t have done us any good to yell at the poor cashier inside because they were the first person we saw.  That being said though, problems still need fixing & asking for someone in a management position to help you is not inappropriate. Likely though, even the manager isn’t to blame, so make sure you’re being respectful. Remember the old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”? That is particularly relevant when trying to resolve issues. You will almost ALWAYS get better resolution to your problem being respectful rather than rude.

Politely Stand Up for Yourself

Don’t be deceived. Being polite & respectful does not mean you can’t stand up for yourself. Some people don’t like conflict and are willing to take a loss to avoid it. This will not serve you well when you travel. When I say place blame where it belongs, that also means not unnecessarily taking it upon yourself.  If your luggage is lost by an airline & now you have no clothes for your week-long trip, ask for compensation to buy replacements! If your food comes out cold or has a hair on it, ask for a new one! If one Walgreens location won’t give you a test or help you reschedule, show up on the doorstep of another one! It is your job to make sure you’re politely standing up for yourself & things are put to right as best as possible. Sometimes the only advocate you have is yourself. That is definitely what we experienced with our testing issues yesterday. After two hours of trying, they claimed no one could help us, so we had to take matters into our own hands.

Use the Resources Available

Speaking of taking matters into your own hands, it is imperative that you use the resources at your disposal. As mentioned before, with our issues yesterday, we called the corporate phone number they had on their sign, we went in to talk to store management, we called other Walgreens locations, we did everything we knew how to do. Was it time consuming & sucky? Yes.  Would it be worse to not go on our trip? Definitely. When those things didn’t work, we started reaching out to the company in different ways. Both of our friends going with us tweeted Walgreens about our experience and guess what? They responded almost immediately. My husband messaged them through Facebook and guess what? They responded! Don’t underestimate the power of social media. Businesses do not want bad reviews or to be tagged in negative posts. Point being, use the resources available to you. Again, you don’t want to be a jerk, but being honest about the issues you’re experiencing through multiple platforms can yield results.

Acknowledge Corrected Mistakes

Being gracious goes a long way. Last night, in addition to the social media posts, we also left some negative reviews for the Walgreens location we had so much trouble with.  I do not think this is inappropriate as long as you keep it classy.  However, if you’re going to leave a negative review when a mistake is made, you need to leave a positive review when it is corrected.  As we anxiously waited to see if we would get tested this morning, our friend said, “If this works out, I’m going to leave a great review for this Walgreens.” And he did. Acknowledging when wrongs have been righted is powerful. It shows other potential customers that although issues came up, they were also fixed. We all deserve forgiveness & recognition for when we rectify a situation. Please make sure you adequately thank those that help you whether in person, online, or in any other way you can. As already eluded to, often the people with the ability to fix your problem are NOT the ones who created it in the first place. Give credit where credit is due.

Overall, stay classy out there. Stand up for yourself, but don’t be a jerk. Two wrongs never made a right & just because you’re stressed about the issues that WILL come up during vacation, doesn’t mean you have to ruin someone else’s day too.

If you need help relieving some of the stress of planning a vacation, we’d be happy to help you! Feel free to request a quote through our website: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/

Aulani Fall Offer: Save Up to 35%

View of Aulani Across the Lagoon


The longer you stay, the more you save when you take advantage of this special offer—valid for stays most nights November 1 through November 22 and November 28 through December 21, 2020, with check-out on December 22, 2020.

  • Save 35% on select rooms for stays of 5 or more consecutive nights
  • Save 30% on select rooms for stays of 4 consecutive nights
  • Save 25% on select rooms for stays of 3 consecutive nights

Book through December 17, 2020.

No matter how long you stay, you’ll enjoy a magical vacation that includes something for everyone: stunning pools, exhilarating water slides, a relaxing lazy river, an idyllic beach—and so much more!

This offer excludes suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas.

Flexible Cancellation
To provide additional flexibility, you may cancel your Aulani resort reservations up to 24 hours prior to their arrival date for stays through May 20, 2021 without Disney-imposed cancellation fees.

Mickey Shave Ice Poolside at Aulani

Important Details:

  • Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room and the same travel dates. Book from September 25, 2020 through December 17, 2020. Travel must be completed by December 22, 2020.
  • Not valid on suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas, or on previously booked rooms.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
  • Excludes applicable fees and taxes.
  • Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and occupancy restrictions apply per room.
  • Additional charges apply if more than two (2) adults per hotel room; not applicable for Suites or Villas.
  • Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers.
  • Subject to restrictions and change without notice.
  • Select activities require additional fees.
View of one Aulani tower from the lazy river.

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is currently closed and will plan to begin a phased reopening on November 1, 2020.

Upon reopening, Aulani Resort rooms, restaurants and other locations may be limited in capacity and subject to restricted availability or closure based on direction from health experts and government officials to promote physical distancing. Furthermore, experiences, services and amenities may be modified, have limited availability or may remain closed. Offerings are not guaranteed. Aulani Resort reserves the right to cancel any reservations or purchases and provide applicable refunds.

Contact us for more information and to book your next Aulani Resort Trip!

Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com

Aulani: Summer and Fall Offer: Save Up to 35% on 5-Night Stays

The longer you stay, the more you save when you take advantage of this special offer—valid for stays most nights August 1 through November 22 and November 28 through December 21, 2020, with check-out on December 22, 2020.

  • Save 35% on select rooms for stays of 5 or more consecutive nights
  • Save 30% on select rooms for stays of 4 consecutive nights
  • Save 25% on select rooms for stays of 3 consecutive nights

Book through October 24, 2020.

No matter how long you stay, you’ll enjoy a magical vacation that includes something for everyone: stunning pools, exhilarating water slides, a relaxing lazy river, an idyllic beach—and so much more!

This offer excludes suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas.

Important Details:

  • Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room and the same travel dates. Book from June 16, 2020 through October 24, 2020. Travel must be completed by December 22, 2020.
  • Not valid on suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas, or on previously booked rooms.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
  • Excludes applicable fees and taxes.
  • Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and occupancy restrictions apply per room.
  • Additional charges apply if more than two (2) adults per hotel room; not applicable for Suites or Villas.
  • Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers.
  • Subject to restrictions and change without notice.
  • Select activities require additional fees.

Contact us for more information and to book your next Aulani Adventure!

Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com

Very Merry Unbirthday Giveaway!

madhatterUnbirthday

Today is Cody’s birthday, which means it’s time to celebrate! In honor of his real birthday and your Very Merry Unbirthday, Woodbrey Family travel will be giving away $500 towards a future Disney trip! There will also be two runners-up who will win Disney Gift Packages with Disney merchandise. The celebration ends on February 29, 2016. Click here  to entered to win the giveaway. Gain an extra entry by donating to the Kellsie’s Hope Foundation, click here to donate.

Here is How to Win

To be eligible for the GRAND PRIZE $500 credit towards a future Disney vacation package, please follow these steps:

1. Fill out the entry form
2. Accept Giveaway Terms and Conditions
3. Like the Woodbrey Family Travel Facebook page 
4. Share the Very Merry Unbirthday Facebook post

The grand prize winner will be chosen from participants who have completed all four steps above.

Two additional winners will be chosen for a Disney Gift Packages with Disney merchandise.

Good Luck and thanks for sharing and may you have a Very Merry Unbirthday!

– Cody Woodbrey

Creating Dream Vacations
Cell: 435-757-0838
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Terms and Conditions

Woodbrey Family Travel Giveaway Official Rules: No Purchase Necessary to Enter or Win. Some restrictions may apply. The Woodbrey Family Travel: Happy Unbirthday Giveaway (“Contest”) runs from 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time (MT) on February 3, 2016 until 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time (MT) on February 29, 2016. Contest is sponsored by Woodbrey Family Travel. This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or Twitter. You understand that you are providing your information to Woodbrey Family Travel and not to Facebook or Twitter. Eligibility: The Contest must be over eighteen years of age as of the beginning of the Contest. Contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. How to Enter: To enter, you must do the following; 1: Each participant must fill out the entire entry form with his or her information 2: Accept Giveaway Terms and Conditions. 3: Be a fan of Woodbrey Family Travel on Facebook and/or Twitter. 4: Share the Very Merry Ubirthday Facebook post. Participants must enter to win by February 29, 2016 at 11:59pm. Winners will be announced within 48 hours. Prizes: There will be one grand prize winner of a $500 credit to use towards a future Disney Vacation Package. There will be two additional winners of whom will win a Disney Gift Package with Disney merchandise. Attempts made by the same individual to submit multiple entries by using multiple or false contact information, including multiple Facebook or Twitter accounts, may be disqualified. The $500 credit can only be used through bookings with Woodbrey Family Travel. When using the $500 credit for a Disney Theme park package, the winner must include; 2 Day Park hopper tickets, hotel, Disney dining and must be greater than 3 nights. Notification: Winners will be notified through social media or by email. In the event of non-compliance of these Official Rules, or if the prize is unclaimed, the prize will be forfeited and awarded to an alternate winner. By accepting any prize, the winner consents to the use of his or her name, likeness and any other information of any and all advertising/publicity purposes without further consideration, except where prohibited by law, and without any additional compensation. The winner expressly waives the right to review any and all advertising bearing his or her name, photograph, likeness, and titles prior to their use. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY AND RELEASE. WOODBREY FAMILY TRAVEL ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR TECHNICAL FAILURES OF ANY KIND, OR FOR ENTRIES THAT ARE STOLEN, MISDIRECTED, INCOMPLETE, DELAYED BY COMPUTER TRANSMISSIONS, LOST, LATE, MISDIRECTED, ILLEGIBLE, OR MUTILATED. WOODBREY FAMILY TRAVEL IS ALSO NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY INCORRECT OR INACCURATE INFORMATION, WHETHER CAUSED BY WEBSITE USERS OR BY ANY OF THE EQUIPMENT OR PROGRAMMING ASSOCIATED WITH OR UTILIZED IN THE CONTEST OR BY ANY TECHNICAL OR HUMAN ERROR WHICH MAY OCCUR IN THE PROCESSING OF SUBMISSIONS IN THE CONTEST. SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT AT ITS SOLE DISCRETION TO CANCEL, TERMINATE, MODIFY OR SUSPEND THE CONTEST. ANY ATTEMPT BY ANY PERSON TO DELIBERATELY UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE IN VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAW, AND, SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. SHOULD WOODBREY FAMILY TRAVEL CHOOSE NOT TO ENFORCE ANY TERM OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES, IT SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE A WAIVER OF THAT PROVISION. Governing Law and Disputes: All participants agree to abide by these Official Rules and by the decisions of Woodbrey Family Travel. This Contest is governed by the laws of the state of Utah. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Sponsors reserve the right to terminate or modify the Contest in its sole discretion. Except where prohibited, all participants agree that: (1) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Contest or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the United States District Court for the District of Utah; (2) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this Contest, but in no event, attorneys’ fees; and (3) under no circumstances will participants be permitted to obtain awards for, and participant hereby waives all rights to claim, indirect, punitive, incidental and consequential damages and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of the entrant and Sponsor in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and accordance with, the laws of the State of Utah without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules, which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of Utah. Miscellaneous. Contest prizes are non-transferrable and prizes may not be substituted for or redeemed for cash. All decisions of Woodbrey Family Travel with respect to the contest are final. At Woodbrey Family Travel’s discretion, it reserves the right to cancel or modify the Contest if fraud or technical problems bring into question the integrity of the Contest.

Welcome to Travel Advice by Cody

Hello!

My name is Cody Woodbrey and I specialize in planning Disney vacations and as someone who has worked years in the parks, I provide the insider’s touch that few travel consultants can offer.

Since my first trip to Disneyland when I was four years old, my passion for this company and what it offers to families has grown exponentially.  I find myself wanting to share that passion, as well as my experience and knowledge with others so they in turn may grow to love what this company has to offer.

When I travel to Disney destinations, I cringe when I see families struggle to enjoy themselves because they are stuck in line, or are just not aware of the amenities and services that Disney provides. As someone who has worked on, and lived near the Walt Disney World property, has experienced Disneyland more times than I can remember, and has cruised multiple times on the Disney Cruise Line, I can help guests and their families plan a vacation that is built around their dreams and is specific to them.  In the words of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

My goal is to provide guests with the most current information, and best advice to make sure they spend their time exactly how they would like to. My services are ABSOULTELY FREE to those who book with me.

This blog is an extension of those services. With advice on all things Disney travel. I am excited to share my love and passion of all things Disney Travel with you.

Your Disney Travel Expert,

Cody

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