As part of our on-going "5 Minutes With" series, every month we’ll introduce you to a new member of our Disney Meetings team at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort in California or Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai’i. Whether they work in our Disney Convention Resorts, Theme Park Operations, Catering and Convention Services, Sales, Entertainment or dozens of other event-support areas, these Cast Members and their teams are responsible for creating magical experiences and unforgettable events for meeting and event industry professionals, and their important attendees and guests, every single day.

Let’s meet Nate Rhodes, Banquet and Event Services Director at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa:

Hi, Nate. How do you and your team work with meeting and event planners? 

I lead a uniquely structured team that I believe can better assist our clients in achieving their meeting or event goals. Usually, there is one person who oversees the planning and contracting phase, and another person who makes those contracts happen on the operational side. I am fortunate to work with both the servicing side and oversee the operational side. In my role, and with this unique service structure, I can be a better resource to the planners, since I can look at the meeting or event from a birds-eye-view and answer any questions from both sides. 

Can you describe one of your best Disney memories related to your position assisting a convention/meeting group? 

The best memory I have was an event we did last year. On average, we have functions of 200 people or less. But we recently did an event with 1,500 people over four days with various celebrations in different locations around the resort, including ‘AMA‘AMA Restaurant and our beautiful beachfront. 

This was the largest event the resort had ever hosted, and I was so proud to see Cast Members from all different departments and teams come together to help with this event. They were very considerate, asking how they could help and what they needed to do to help make the event a success. It was exciting to see all the planning over the course of the year come together. 

What is one of the greatest Disney Differences for attendees meeting at Aulani Resort? 

Aulani Resort is focused on the celebration of culture and stories of Hawai‘i. We immerse our Guests in the beauty of everything Hawai‘i has to offer, with a touch of Disney magic. Guests can take part in traditional activities, including hula and ukulele classes, they can learn how to make poi at the luau, or they can sit around the fire and listen to stories of Hawai‘i told by Uncle. 

In fact, when our Guests and attendees experience KA WA‘A – A Lū‘au at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, they will see this celebration of Hawai‘i continued throughout the experience – in the food, the activities, and the show’s storyline. Our guests have told us that they love the spirit and traditions of Hawai’i, and through their experiences at Aulani, we hope they make Hawai‘i and Aulani a permanent part of their memories.

Can you tell us more about the lū‘au?

KA WA‘A Lū‘au was created a year and a half ago. “Wa‘a” means canoe in Hawaiian, and KA WA‘A Lū‘au tells the story of the ancient canoe that Hawaiian ancestors traveled to settle in the ‘Ewa Plains – where Aulani is located. The l ū‘au is a wonderful option for group bookings and buyouts as a personal, premiere, and private experience. Attendees can look forward to participating in traditional arts activities, watching a stunning production that brings the legends and lore of ancient Hawai'i to life, and dining on traditional island fare. It is a great evening experience that celebrates the Hawaiian culture.

What are some of the latest, most innovative meeting trends you are seeing in the industry? How do you incorporate these trends into your client’s meeting? 

At Aulani Resort, we are taking a “back to earth” approach and delivering a fresher, cleaner, and more simplistic experience. From the way we present our food, produced by local farmers, to the way we share facts about the water, we are looking at ways to share the beauty of Hawai‘i while also emphasizing a healthy and sustainable environment. This naturally crosses over to the simple, clean look and approach we are taking in how we provide banquet events to attendees. 

What is your favorite part of your role?

My favorite part of my role is the wide range of things I am able to do. I help plan the event, and I have a big hand in the execution of the event as well. I help clients explore their creativity and imagination, and then work with a team to deliver an event that is reflective of what they were trying to accomplish and making it happen. There is never a dull moment!

What can attendees look forward to when meeting at a Disney destination? 

When attendees meet at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, they can look forward to a meeting in paradise. It is a beautiful location that celebrates Hawaiian culture and artistry, with a hint of Disney magic. When attendees come here, they can feel the warmth and the aloha that the island is known for. The Cast will treat your group like family, because we want them to feel like ‘ohana when they leave here. We always want our clients to return and welcome them back as family. 

Tell us – How does Nate’s story inspire you? Let us know on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn using hashtag #DisneyMeetingsBlog. 

We're eager to help you create the perfect meeting or private event for any size group, theme and objective. To speak with a Disney Meetings representative about our pricing and options available at our Disney Parks & Resorts destinations in Florida, California, Hawai’i, or at our international destinations, please Contact Us or Submit a Request for Proposal. Or, Sign Up to stay in touch and continue learning more about Disney meetings and events.