When The Mananui showed up on my Instagram feed, I immediately had to find out more. It looked incredible. This tiki lover’s paradise is designed by Typhoon Tommy, a well-known tiki designer, and it’s been visited and blessed by Walt Disney Imagineering legend Tony Baxter. The only trouble was, I couldn’t find an available date until three months from now.
By Dani Dennison Meyering
Soon, an Instagram story from The Mananui popped up showing there was a late-minute cancellation. I jumped at the chance to book it, and I’m so glad the tiki gods were smiling down on me that day.
What is the Mananui Airbnb?
For anyone unfamiliar, Airbnb is an online platform that enables property owners to list this homes, apartments, and other dwellings for short-term stays. Guests can view listings in their desired area and book a stay at a wide variety of accommodation types, including full homes and singles rooms within a multi-room unit.
Some Airbnb accommodations can be booked instantly; others require approval from the host before being confirmed. Such is the case with The Mananui. I submitted the dates I wanted to book through Airbnb and an alert was sent to our host, Tahiti Gil. Within just about an hour our reservation request was approved.
The Mananui Airbnb is located in Kissimmee, Fla., in the Sherwood Forest RV and Mobile Home Resort. Owned by Tahiti Gil and designed by Typhoon Tommy, this tropical hideaway is already creating buzz in the tiki community. This one-bedroom mobile home is packed wall-to-wall — including the ceiling — with incredible tiki, Polynesian, and Adventureland-inspired decor. Anyone who is a tiki fan or fan of Disney’s Adventureland atmosphere and attractions needs to have this place on their list.
Features of the Mananui Airbnb
This one-bedroom mobile home is incredibly immersive and comfortable. My husband, 3½-year-old son, and I stayed two nights recently. After our two-night stay, I would say having a child along made it tough to relax, but this is no fault of The Mananui. Our host, Tahiti Gil, and I chatted about my son and wanted to make sure all of the priceless tiki decorations would be safe from harm. I assured Gil that our son knows not to touch things that aren’t his, and we will keep a very close eye on him, and I was mentally prepared that if we had to pack up and head back home, forfeiting the money and our time in this tiki paradise, then so be it. We prepared our son well before our stay letting him know what to expect and our expectations of him.
There is tiki decor everywhere you turn. Even as you arrive you will be greeted by tiki masks, tiki torches, and a few Disney touches on the exterior of the home. There is a short driveway which did fit both of our cars, but only just so. I arrived on my own, ahead of my husband and our son. My husband needed to head straight to work on our departure day, and I wanted some undisturbed time to snap photos and videos of this incredible place.
Once securing the house key from the lockbox, I stepped into the large lanai. This lovely screened-in porch soon became my favorite spot at The Mananui. Already the decor just on the exterior and in the lanai brought a wide cheerful grin to my face.
Then I unlocked the door and my jaw dropped. After a second of composing myself, I uttered the words “Alexa, turn on the house lights.” As though I had flipped the switch in the control room of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, vibrant, colorful lights immediately washed over the space. I wasn’t sure where to look first.
Being a mobile home, The Mananui is slender and compact, compared to a standard home. Its size coupled with its massive tiki collection makes the space border on overstimulation, in a good way.
After entering from the lanai you’ll be standing in between the kitchen and the living room. Each is slightly smaller than the average home, but there is still plenty of room. The kitchen is home to every standard appliance including a full refrigerator, full stove, and perhaps the largest microwave I’ve ever seen. A Keurig coffee maker came in handy each morning, and it was kindly already stocked with Joffrey’s K-Cups, plus non-dairy creamer packets and sweeteners — so thoughtful. A tea kettle and Earl Grey teabags sat next to the Keurig coffee maker, as well as a sturdy toaster. The custom-made cabinets housed plenty of quality dishware and cookware. It is all truly impressive.
Along the side of the kitchen is The Mananui’s signature bar. With three high-top stools and a bartender’s stool behind the bar, this is the place to hang out. Barware like a shaker and strainer is available for your use.
Laid into the bar’s top are countless vintage photos, postcards, and other interesting sights from the worlds of Disney and the height of the tiki culture era. We spent two nights here and I still didn’t have a chance to see everything in the bar’s top.
The Mananui is a smart home, powered by Amazon Alexa. It felt like the Carousel of Progress home had moved to Adventureland. We changed the temperature by voice, we turned the lights on and off by voice, and best of all, we asked Alexa to play some tiki music for us and it wafted gently through the speakers in the ceiling both in the living/bar area as well as in the bedroom.
The living room space is part of the same room as the kitchen and bar. The centerpieces are a vintage bamboo frame sleeper sofa, with a brand new memory foam mattress, as well as a flat-panel television housed inside a custom-built frame that perfectly resembles an old television set. Additionally, it’s a Roku TV that does have some voice functionality. Access to Disney+, Netflix, and a few other services are included.
A small, well-decorated hallway leads to the bathroom and bedroom. The bathroom is very well-appointed. I felt so refreshed from showering in a tiki-decorated space with skylights that let in natural light. Shampoo, conditioner, and soap are provided, and we found plenty of towels in the cabinet. The only things lacking were towel bars and counter space. The bathroom is a popular space for a selfie, because it is nearly an exact recreation of the bathroom at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Resort.
The bedroom also lacks some counter space, and yet, it is incredibly well-appointed. The queen bed is not only comfortable but beautiful as well. A Thuma bedframe brought us joy, as it is the same brand of bedframe we have at home — we decided to indulge in buying this expensive bedframe a few months ago and have found it to be worth it. A custom-built backboard resembles the exterior of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and has two tiki flame lamps. The nightstands on both sides of the bed with matching tiki lamps and lots of outlets are very thoughtful touches.
Waking up and falling asleep in this space is enchanting. I felt like a privileged guest who had won a special giveaway to spend the night in Adventureland. If you’ve ever dreamed of what it would be like to live in one of the façade apartments you can see while strolling through Adventureland, the Mananui is pretty much a dream come true.
Tips for Booking and Staying at Mananui Airbnb
The Mananui is tucked towards the center of the Sherwood Forest RV Resort and Mobile Home Community. There are house rules and community rules to follow, so please keep the tiki gods happy and follow all the rules. There is no street parking after 9 p.m. and quiet time begins at 10 p.m. We witnessed hourly security patrols in the evenings, which helped us feel safe.
A key to the community’s pool and hot tub is included. Although the pool area is very simple and by no means a fancy resort pool, we loved it! The morning of our second day was spent at the pool. Two residents were the only other people in the pool area for the majority of our time there. Although the pool is very simple, it is nestled along the side of a creek. I loved soaking in the natural beauty of the cypress trees, pine trees, and palm trees as we splashed around in the pool. It sure beats fighting crowds for chairs and space.
While inside the Mananui, be sure to browse the recipe books for tiki drink ideas. We snapped photos for recipes to take back home. Be sure to read the binder with information on how to use Alexa, the remotes, and light switches in the house — a PDF of this information should be sent to you prior to check-in. We also enjoyed signing the guest book and reading others’ entries.
Booking The Mananui can take a little skill. As you might imagine, this one-of-a-kind Airbnb near Walt Disney World is quite popular. I had been checking availability for a few weeks and debated if I should book further out into early 2022 or hope something earlier became available. One morning, I viewed their Instagram stories and saw they had a cancelation. I instantly jumped into action, hoping my fingers could move fast enough to book it. Soon the approval request went through and when I received the acceptance email about an hour later I felt like celebrating.
Location and Other Information
Kissimmee, Fla. is the original vacation destination nearest to Walt Disney World. Being in this part of the Orlando attractions area feels retro. I don’t spend much time in this area — most locals don’t — but staying here for two nights in a retro-themed Airbnb felt like stepping back in time.
The Sherwood Forest community is tucked back from Highway 192 and there are so many casual dining options nearby. There is also an Aldi grocery store and a CVS store on either side of the road that leads directly into the community. Sherwood Forrest is both an RV Resort and a Mobile Home Community; the RV Resort is on the left as you drive in, while the Mobile Home Community is on the right, which is the side where The Mananui is located.
The community is five miles from Walt Disney World. It took us about 15 minutes to drive to Epcot on a Sunday afternoon. Old Town and the town of Celebration are popular areas for dining and shopping, both about five minutes from the community.
We enjoyed the uniqueness of The Mananui, and the relaxed atmosphere of the community so much that we didn’t stray for very long. While we were in Epcot, I felt a tinge of wanting to get back to our “little tiki hut.” If you’re going to book such a unique place you might as well as soak in the atmosphere and good vibes while you can. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another place like it.
You can check out our video report from The Mananui below: