Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Feel certain your post will not go unnoticed as erc has revived it and others will find it to help with their insights.
As for your looking into places to use points, that would most likely depend on what type of venue you're looking for to visit on your honeymoon. Give us some ideas please for a starting point.
Per IAHFLYR's request, please do let us know what you're looking to experience for your honeymoon? I myself recently got married in August and will be going to Europe in November for my honeymoon. However, a lot of people do like to come to my hometown for their honeymoon... Honolulu, Hawaii!
But yes, let us know what you'd like to experience, how much you're looking at spending (money and/or points), and certain restrictions you have like total travel time, etc.
I would like to stay under $3K total for flight and lodging. It would be great to do all inclusive but I know options are limited. We just want a beach, pool, and sun which won't be hard because it's July. But somewhere outside of the continental U.S. My fiance really would like to go somewhere in Hawaii. But I've been to Maui before so I don't want to go there at least. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Okay, that's a start. No Maui, try Kaui' as there a some beautiful beaches, waterfalls, hotels and direct flights from the mainland if you didn't want to connect in Honolulu.
Then there is the Big Island, Island of Hawaii and the active volcano, lava rock all along the Kona side of the island....rumor has it (kharada46 will confirm or deny) the island has the driest spot (Kona) and wettest (Hilo) spot in the world on it. More to come as we all lean of your desires I'm sure.
Here's a couple of thoughts - of course, depending on where you live will impact airfares and perhaps given your target budget, your destination - East coast vs. west coast. Here are two east coast locations that I have had enjoyable stays at;
If you redeem points don't forget, you can get five nights for four nights worth of points
Aruba -http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/message/79754#79754 The Marriott is a Cat. 8 (160k pts. for five nights).
Ft. Lauderdale - Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa - Cat. 7 (140k pts. for five nights)
Now, the catch is, using points makes it difficult (not impossible, but difficult) to upgrade to Ocean views/fronts. So if that is an important criteria, then consider cash - both properties have decent rates (still leaving money for airfare and meals) for Ocean view/front rooms in July (relative to their rates elsewise) - but decide relatively soon, because they may disappear (if they are cancelable rates, book and watch).
Your choices are great, erc ! Weather is perfect at that time. There is also the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino, they have a private island for swimming, nature walk and restaurant. . We really enjoyed our stay at the Renaissance, that was about 3 years ago. I also just read Ritz Carlton is opening a new hotel in Aruba. The web site states November 2013. The first time I was in Aruba was 1979 for my honeymoon. The island has built up a lot since then. Also you can't go wrong with the Harbor Beach, great location, you can also watch the cruise ships go by, enjoy all the water sports the hotel offers or just sit by the pool. We have always enjoyed ourselves at the Harbor Beach
Thanks for the update! Where are you located? Airfare will vary quite a bit depending where you are. I think your best option from the East Coast will be to catch a Hawaiian Air flight from JFK - Honolulu. Their fares can be LOW, like $400 low! Anyhow, each island is unique. As IAHFLYR stated, the Big Island does have active volcanoes. It also has white, black or green sand beaches, depending what part of the island you're on. There's also basalt desserts, tropical rainforest, and even tundra. BUT... unless you're an outdoors person, the Big Island (and Kauai) don't have much to do. Further, there are only Marriott properties in Kona and Waikoloa. None exist in Hilo, though Hilo has only junk hotels. Did I mention that Hilo is infested with the deafening loud coqi frog?
Kauai is where you'd go to get away from it all. The entire island is quite rural. Needless to say, there isn't a whole lot of shopping or dining options. There are a lot of Marriott properties though! That being said, the highest rated hotels on the island are the ultra lux & ultra romantic St. Regis Princeville and the Grand Hyatt Kauai. The Kauai Marriott is quite good too though from what I hear. On a side note, there are more chickens (pretty sure literally) on the island than people!
Oahu (my home) is definitely where you want to be if you desire a mix of nature, shopping, nightlife, romance, and dining. You have a Marriott, a Courtyard, and a JW Marriott to choose from. The Marriott and CY are both in Waikiki, though I'd stay away from the CY... definitely not good for a honeymoon. The Marriott is good, though if you choose to stay there, let me know and I'll give you tips on room selection there. The JW Marriott, on the other hand, is an hour away from Waikiki in the exclusive, luxury resort of Ko Olina. Not much out there, but the resort is beautiful and peaceful, even with the existence of Disney's Aulani. It is my favorite property on the island, but also the most expensive.
Anyhow, please do let me know what your Hawaii wish list is and I'll help you with your decision. For now, though, here are some albums to check out:
Awesome information kid.....as expected!! I didn't know about the junk hotels at Hilo, thanks.
I try my best But yes! Hilo hotels are awful! Traditionally, there have only been 3 options: the Nani Loa, the Hilo Hawaiian, and Uncle Billy's. All are, well, VERY outdated and the Nani Loa was recently shuttered due to safety code violations and bankruptcy. Rumor has it, though, that Starwood is interested in acquiring the property and turning it into a 4 Points brand property. I say it doesn't matter who takes it over, a national brand would be a great benefit to the area, bringing a level of quality Hilo severely lacks. I'd like to see Marriott do it, but I'll take any of the big notable brands!
Unfortunately, not really. There hasn't been news on the project for the past two years. All I could find was a small mention about it possibly breaking ground early next year and opening in 2015. Let's see! It's been 4 years since the site was cleared, and even longer since the project was announced!