Trip Planning: Hawaii 2017 Follow-Up

INTRODUCTION

 

When I last wrote Trip Planning: Hawaii March 2017, about our upcoming Hawaii trip, I had a lot of ideas on what I wanted to do in terms of lodging but was not at a point where I could nail anything down. This was partially because I was still working on building up our points stash, but also I was trying to figure out if obtaining hotel status’ was possible. I’m happy to say that we’ve finally firmed up all our plans except for a few minor things here and there! The countdown has begun… t-minus 20 days!

 

FLIGHTS

The tricky thing with the Alaska tickets that we won is that the closest airport with Alaska metal is Atlanta, which is a 3 hour drive, ugh. The second tricky thing about flying to Hawaii from the East Coast, is that it is essentially two 6 hour flights. TWO TIMES SIX EQUALS TWELVE HOURS. 12. That is brutal in and of itself, but try doing that with a toddler! For our sanity’s sake, we’re breaking it up. We’re leaving Friday evening, arriving in Seattle, spending the night, then flying out the next morning to Honolulu. I did end up booking a short-hop American flight to get us from from Oahu to Kauai, but that was straight forward and easy. Coming home, we’re doing the same thing, flying from Kauai to Seattle, spending the night, and then flying out the next morning. It was either this, or taking a red-eye into Atlanta. NO, THANK YOU.

 

LODGING

However, breaking up the two 6-hour legs has its drawbacks – extra hotel nights stays. Thank goodness for a diverse portfolio of points! We will be staying at the Hampton Inn & Suites Seattle-Airport/28th Ave. This is the #2 highest rated, and first big chain hotel, in the Seatac area. We’ll be staying here both going to and returning from Hawaii. Makes things easy, and especially on a big trip like this, the more you know what to expect, the better. Or as G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.”

We will still be staying at the Hilton Waikiki as originally planned, but now, my dad will be joining us! He basically hasn’t seen baby girl since she was 4 months old, and will be hanging with us for the duration of our first week on the islands. I was able to book an extra room for him on points, and I've already emailed the property to request either joining rooms or a suite upgrade!

For the second half of our trip, I had been pretty set on the St. Regis Princeville Resort as 1) my sister spoke highly of the property when they visited the island, stayed at another property next door, and went there for brunch 2) Thus far, I’ve been treated very well (to my standards at least) as a SPG Gold member. However, a good friend of mine highly suggested that we stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa instead. Her reasoning being that it is closer to the airport, all the good food spots, and on the side of the island where Waimea Canyon is located. I think more than anything it was our over-the-top amazing St. Regis Bali experience during our 1-month Asia trip, which further enhanced my SPG loyalty, that was pushing me towards having us stay at the St. Regis. Based on my friend imploring me to change our reservations, we will now be at the Grand Hyatt!

 

STATUS & UPGRADES

Last year almost all the hotel groups were handing out status like Oprah was handing out free cars, “You’re a diamond, and YOU’RE A DIAMOND…” I wasn’t able to get in on the Hyatt Diamond match at the time, but I was able to obtain a Hilton Diamond match through SPG Gold. In general, we don’t usually stay at Hilton properties, even though they have a huge worldwide footprint, as most properties have very low point/$ value. However, I’ve heard that Diamond members get treated quite well and breakfast is a free benefit.

I wrote about my mattress running in my last post, which I will finish just in time for our Hawaii trip. I mentioned it slightly, but having booked a cash + points stay at the Grand Hyatt, we will most likely be upgraded to 1 of 3 rooms – Garden View Suite, Ocean View Suite, or a Deluxe Suite. A suite compared to a standard rewards room means several things 1) The main bedroom is separate from the living area 2) There is usually an additional bathroom 3) This means we can put baby girl and her crib in the other bathroom, while still have the bedroom and living space to ourselves when we put her down either for a nap or for the night! Having Diamond status also means free breakfast here with Hyatt as well. That might not seem much in writing, but let me direct you to our Park Hyatt stay once more.

Lastly, due to some generous travel hacking friends, who graciously gave me some of their Gold Guest Upgrades out of their abundance, we were able to upgrade 1 of us for one segment, and 2 of us on another segment of our flights. Obviously we would prefer not to sit apart, so we’re hoping that close-in first class paid upgrades will be available for the remaining seats needed!

 

Conclusion

That pretty much is a wrap on our Hawaii plans! The last thing that I need to figure out is if it will be cheaper to rent a car for 2 1-ways to/from Atlanta or do paid parking for the duration of our 12-ish day trip.

Planning trips like this is always fun, but it is definitely a lot of work trying to get all the logistical pieces in place and working smoothly. But, in the end, the memories that are made, the quality of time spent together, IT CAN’T BE BEAT!