My husband and I (both in early 30s, no kids) plan on going to Hawaii for the first time during Thanksgiving week & using our Marriott points for our stay. We plan on staying for 5 nights and will be coming from LA. Our primary goal is to relax, enjoy the scenery and the beach, experience the culture and eat good food. We don't know how to swim so we won't be doing any diving/snorkeling but we plan on relaxing by the beach, maybe dipping our feet in the shallow part of the beach, do some hiking & maybe driving around the see the scenery. We are not interested in nightlife, shopping, museum or arts. We can rent a car if it's really necessary to get around. My husband wants the kind of vacation where he just sits around & relax since we will be having a whirlwind trip to Europe in May. Which of these resorts would be best in terms of value for redemption & experience? Ideally, we'd like to stay at an ocean-front resort or a resort that is within 5 minute walk to a beautiful beach that we can hang out in for the day. I think I've cut it down to the Kauai Marriot resort & Wailea Beach Marriot Resort but I'm open to suggestions. I'd really appreciate your feedback and many thanks in advance
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Courtyard Waikiki Beach
Courtyard Maui Kahului Airport
Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel
Courtyard Kaua'i at Coconut Beach
JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort & Spa
Kaua'i Marriott Resort
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
This really depends on which island you want to be on. Each island is quite unique. I'd have to say, though, that the best dining is on Oahu! But I'm biased, I'm from Oahu. But, Kauai is quite undeveloped compared to Maui & Oahu, so dining options are limited. Shopping options are also limited. But Kauai has a lot of unspoiled natural beauty and is more peaceful. Oahu being the most developed has a lot of shopping and dining, while still maintaining a degree of natural beauty. Ko Olina resort is far away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, and is quite peaceful... but it's location means it's far from most dining and shopping options. Maui is the second most developed island and resembles Oahu 20 years ago, minus a strong mass transit network and freeways. Maui does have a bunch of good dining options, though distances can be far if you want to go to somewhere in Lahaina while staying in Wailea. But Maui has unique landscapes, especially at Haleakala National Park. At the same time, Waikoloa on the Big Island is a solid option as well, but there isn't a whole lot of dining options outside of the hotels...
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You will fall in love with the relaxed Hawaii time & love it! The Wailea Beach Marriott Resort is perfect for what you are wanting to do. It has my highest vote! I send a lot of clients to Hawaii & they all fall in love with Maui. Have a friend who went about 5 years ago and ended up staying - loved it so much! They have some fabulous places for foodies. If you like fudge try out the Lahaina Fudge with flavors made just for the islands. You will be buying it for Christmas Presents for sure! http://www.lahainafudgecompany.com/ I know you are wanting to lay by the beach & do nothing, but if you can get the energy to explore then rent a jeep and drive the island for some breathtaking waterfalls, gorgeous beaches and nature definitely take your breath away! Make sure & take your camera because you are going to want to capture the world around you. Take a picnic along and make some memories that will last a lifetime!
We simply love Maui and have at stayed at the Wailea Marriott as well as the Marriott Maui Ocean Club Lahaina/Napili Towers.
If you can get into the Lahaina/Napili Towers on West Maui over Thanksgiving I would stay there because of Kaanapali Beach and the close proximity to the town of Lahaina, such great dining and the beach is excellent. Take a sunset cruise there is noting like it, if you want to shop there is shopping in town, buy some groceries and fresh local fish to cook on the grill as most of the villa's have a full sized kitchen, but the best part is you're right on the beach!
kharada is spot on with the drive from Wailea should you stay there as it's about 45 minutes to Lahaina on the mostly two lane road along the West Maui mountains. Either way, the islands is incredible so explore it all.
@kharada46, cyndy, IAHFLYR: Thank you so much for your responses. They are very helpful.
It sounds like Wailea in Maui would best fit what I'm looking for. It has gorgeous scenery & beaches but not as crowded as Oahu with great food options. We want to lay on the beach & do nothing but we'll also drive around to explore the island if we go there. Now I know this might throw everybody off but I'm also re-considering the JW Marriott in Cancun. I know they are two very different places. From what I've read Cancun is more of a party place but it also has beautiful turquoise water & white sand beaches versus Maui has mountains & beautiful beaches with more of an island feel. What do you think? Which of these resort and/or vacation area would you rather go to? We are not into shopping/nightlife or big crowds and don't know how to swim (we plan on going for 5 nights during Thanksgiving week from Los Angeles leaving on Tuesday & returning on Sunday). I've read that Cancun is not too busy during Thanksgiving week (it's supposed to be right before the winter rush). How about Maui? Will it be crowded during that time? The reason why I'm re-considering JW Marriott in Cancun is because I found cheaper flights to Cancun than Maui and we'd get better room for points value (Wailea - 140k for standard guest room with resort view & balcony vs JW Marriott Cancun - 120k for standard guest room with ocean view & balcony).
Thank you again for all your help. I'd really appreciate to hear your feedback.
Thank you for your kind words!
Wailea would be an excellent choice! I love Maui, though I haven't been there in over a decade! There will be much to see, though, from beautiful beaches, to the I'ao Needle, and even Haleakala National Park with it's amazing sunrise, endemic animals, etc. On Maui, you will also find Sansei Seafood & Sushi, pretty similar to the one in my blog, as well as Maui Fish & Pasta by the same owner in Lahaina. Also be sure to head to Leoda's kitchen in Lahaina for truly unique local food! Oh, and if you go to Haleakala, be sure to also check out the Ali'i Kula Lavender farm in Kula for the sights, gifts, and a meal. You can even tour a winery in Ulupalakua near Kula. The road to Hana is also pretty amazing, though I've never been... It takes at least 3 hours, more if you want to hike and what not on the way. If you do this, you might want to consider staying a night in Hana at the amazing Travaasa Hana!
BUT, I'll have to play devil's advocate and ask what about the Big Island? The Waikoloa Marriott is beautiful and is located near many shops and restaurants. There is also a Sansei seafood there! Not to mention Dolphin Quest with their dolphin encounters at the Hilton Waikoloa near by, and you don't need to know how to swim or be a resort guest to participate! The Big Island also has Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain on earth when measured from its true base on the ocean floor. It snows at the summit AND there are excursions that go up to watch the sunset and do star gazing. It's a must do for me yet, but I have friends that have done it and said it was amazing! Not to mention the Hawaii Volcano National Park on the Hilo side of the Big Island. It'll take you 2-3 hours to get there from Kona, but there's nothing like seeing an active volcano! Unfortunately, Hilo has very few hotels to choose from and those that are there are quite substandard. Best chance would be to stay at the Volcano House within the Volcano National Park. In Hilo, be sure to stop by Big Island candies for their famous chocolate dipped shortbread cookies, as well as Two Ladies Kitchen with their AMAZING mochi wrapped strawberries!
I would stay away from Cancun because of the problems Mexico is having with the drug cartels... but I've also heard from others in Insiders that they prefer Hawaii over Cancun. Plus, Hawaii needs no passport, no customs upon return, and no currency exchange! If you still want to go someplace tropical and different, I'd suggest Tahiti! It's far, I know, but it is stunningly beautiful and is on my list of places to visit. Unfortunately, I don't think there's a Marriott there... I could be wrong though!
For what its worth, the JW Marriott Ihilani is a top notch destination that just completed a top to bottom renovation. She is a grand, elegant hotel in the peaceful Ko Olina resort. Oahu may be busy and crowded, but Ko Olina is an exception, unless you venture over to Disney's Aulani! All my dining reviews are on Oahu, so that's another thing to consider!
What ever you choose, I'm sure you'll have a great time!
To help you find cheap flights, check out this link by Google: Matrix - ITA Software
Check out the MVCI Ko Olina Beach Club on O'ahu: beats Ihilani yet gets you into all the Ihilani cool stuff! Easy to fly to, answers all your criteria re relaxed, away, Hawai'ian - yet is a mere half hour drive from Honolulu should you want a day in "civilization" so to speak. We've owned an MVCI timeshare here since 2003 and absolutely love the place - except from regretting the actual purchase as over time the maintenance fees have doubled while the trade-in points remained the same, but that's another subject for another thread. The Beach Club has a 0.7 mile walkway right along the beach to Ihilani and you get all kinds of benefits in that hotel, not the least of which is a 10% discount in its many fantastic restaurants. Our fave is the Japanese one, Usheo Tei. My wife also loves their Spa but, the Beach Club has some of that spa stuff too. The path is longer than that walk: goes in the other direction 0.5 miles to the Marina and I use it all the time for running and walking, roundtrip approx 2.5 miles. A setting unlike any other in Hawai'i - or the world, for that matter. The Club itself has great units, from efficiency guest rooms to one and two bedrooms, pools galore, several restaurants including a nice informal one along the path and beach, great for sunset drinks, and an excellent full gym. Also a "Market Place" to buy some modest groceries if you want to do some simple cooking/eating/drinking in your unit. You get Marriott Rewards points too! Wholeheartedly recommended: after 40+ trips to Hawai'i, all islands, this is our favorite still. But, as said, don't fall into the timeshare trap :-) they're hard to sell, even at original value of 10 years ago!
Hi v1cky84 - looks like some great input from others thus far
Here's a list of all hotels in Hawaii, most with reviews from peers. And then any time you want to look for reviews on a specific property, you can find them via the The specified item was not found. section.
Oh wow! To have such a decision to make... as others have said it depends on what you're looking for. Having stayed at both Marriott hotels (Kauai & Maui) they are both spectacular resorts. The Kauai one has a free airport shuttle (short 5 minute ride) so there wouldn't be a need to rent a car for the full trip. Maui you will need a rental as the resort is a good 20-30 minutes. Kauai is still an undeveloped island so there is limited things to do and see. (but in Hawaii you can do as much or as little as you want). Maui has a lot more to see and do. And as Tony Bennet left his heart in San Fran...mine's in Maui. Maui no ka oi!
@kharada46: Thank you for your feedback & for posting the pics. They are NOT helping me in making a decision...lol The Ko'Olani resort looks beautiful. It's so difficult to choose because all of the islands look beautiful.
@conman, boatpi, pointjunkie: Thank you for giving me your feedback. They are greatly appreciated.
I don't think I can book a room at MVCI Ko Olina Beach Club on O'ahu using the rewards points so the choices are a bit limited. I think Maui is gonna be our first choice for now because it has good food options, good reviews of the resort & more activities for a couple who doesn't know how to swim compared to Kauai. So far the cheapest flight I can find during Thanksgiving week from LAX to OGG is ~$770-800 per person because we are going on Thanksgiving week. I'll continue to look for better deals. Thank you again for all your help. I really appreciate it.
They are, and they are all very unique in their own way... just gotta take the time to really experience them! Ko Olina would be ideal for beach lounging for you, in my opinion, because it isn't that crowded, and its a sheltered lagoon. No big waves, and the drop off is very subtle. It's a manmade lagoon, but there aren't any life guards. Ihilani does have rewards nights available during Thanksgiving, so that's always an option. But, like I said, I love Maui too!
As for airfare, did you try using Matrix Airfare Search?
It returned rates as low as $330/person each way that week. I just learned about it in travel blogs and is a really powerful tool!
No matter what you choose, I'm sure you'll have a great time. Let me know if you need any help, especially if you decide on Oahu!
Oh, and FYI, Disney's Aulani has a manmade saltwater lagoon near its pools that is stocked with over 2,000 reef fish. You can swim in the lagoon, and I doubt you even need to know how to swim! You're required to wear a life vest and wear a snorkel and mask! No currents, no waves, and lifeguards constantly watching! Only downfall is you need to be a hotel guest, and it costs $20/person. But its the safest and easiest way to have such an experience!
All good responses here.
Let me add two more:
We have vacationed in Hawaii for 40 years although we live in California. We like the quiet life while on vacation, so in choosing where to stay you will need to get enough info to discern those places that will give you peace and allow you to do things you enjoy. While I occasionally love to have my grandkids around while in Hawaii, we otherwise prefer to stay at quality, quiet places. I suggest you start with the island ---- Kauai and the Big Island have the widest choices of qukality and quiet places. Within the Marriott system, we prefer Waiohai on Kauai with Kauai Lagoons (quiet new) as close second.
Second, FYI, Alaska Airlines is now the airline that has by far the most flights between the mainland and Hawaii (I know, that makes no sense --- but it is true!). But - far more impkortant - Alaska Airlines has the best companion fare deal for Hawaii: Many airlines have $99 companion fare deals with their affinity credit cards --- However, Alaska's credit card with Bank okf America is the only one that allows mainlanders to get $99 companion tickets to Hawaii not just within the lower 48 states (buy any ticket on Alaska airlines and - once per year - you can get a companion ticket for $99 plus tax). Plus Alaska gives you the companion fare certificate the first year you have the card and as soon as it the card is approved (you don't have to wait until the card's first anniversary) . For info go to Bankofamerica.com and look at their listing of airline credit cards).
@kharada46: I've come across that Matrix Airfare search before but totally forgot about it until you mentioned it to me. Thank you so much for reminding me of it. I'll let you know if we decide to go to Oahu instead of Maui. You have been so helpful. I really appreciate it.
@countryjim: Thank you for your response and for letting me know about the Alaska Airline's credit card rewards. I didn't know of that one even though I've been on credit card rewards shopping spree lately. I'll check it out...having the companion ticket will help us save quite a bit of money.