Hawaii is currently on my radar for September 2015. Not a definite yet, but if all goes smoothly, I'll be booking 2 FF redemption tickets through Alaska Airlines within the next month. From CMH, it appears I'll be on DL or AA with one or two stops each way . Duration is yet to be determined but I'm looking at between 9-12 days. I last visited both Kauai and Hawaii in 2004. The reason for visiting either island again (aside from visiting the county seats ) is to get away from the crowds and enjoy nature (Volcanoes or the Na Pali coast?). I know I will enjoy either place.
Once the flights are set, I can figure out at which Marriott properties I wish to use my points. With the exception of the inter-island flights and car rental (and of course food), I'm doing this all on points.
At the moment, I'm looking at the Waikiki Beach Marriott for 2-3 nights if the trip is 9 days. If the duration reaches 12 days, I will likely stay 5 nights on Oahu (and might look at Ko Olina) and 5 days on Kauai or the Big Island since the 5th night redemption would be free.
I notice that some of the MVC properties on Kauai are requiring upgrade certificates (in addition to the normal points redemption) which will add an extra 15k-50k points to the cost of the stay. If I'm using 210k points for 5 nights (e.g. Waiohai Beach Club) I want to be sure it's worth it.
Which properties on Kauai are worth visiting? Same question for the Big Island.
Eventually I'll tap into kharada46's extensive knowledge for more information, but for now, I'm trying to figure how best to spend my MR points.
We have stayed on Oahu at the Marriott KO Olina and loved it. We did not stay at the Waikiki Marriott because we didn't like the area of Waikiki Beach. On Kauai, we have stayed at the Kauai Marriott and loved it, too. That has been 7 years ago though. We also have visited the Waiohai just to check it out. We didn't see any rooms but it was on a better beach. We liked the Poipu area better than Lihue anyway. There is also a Courtyard on Kauai but it is not a nice resort. More like a Holiday Inn. On the Big Island, we stayed at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott and loved it. Again, that has not been recent, but 3 years ago. There is also a Courtyard on the Big Island but even though it is on the beach, it's in the "downtown" area that isn't peaceful and resort-like to us. Kauai and the Big Island are definitely our favorite islands!
I liked the Poipu area too which was why I was looking at Waihoai.
Good to hear you enjoyed Waikoloa Beach on the Big Island. I would probably choose that over the CY. Now that the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is becoming and Autograph property, that might also be a possiblity if I end up on the Big Island. Last time there I stayed in the "downtown" area you mentioned. (plus a night at the Volcano House and one in Hilo).
Awesome bejacob! We'll have to plan a meet up when you're here! That being said, I've never stayed at the MVC Ko Olina, but do like the Waikiki Marriott. The property isn't the nicest and the location isn't the best, but I've always received upgrades, I love the on-site and nearby restaurants, and it's a lot closer to all the sites of downtown Honolulu and East Oahu.
For your other island visit, I'd have to put my vote in for the Big Island! There's the volcano, sunset + stargazing atop Mauna Kea, zip lining and other activities in lush tropical rainforests, and more. But... if your goal is to abandon civilization with a Marriott property, Kauai would be your best bet. If you haven't been to Maui, I'd highly recommend it. I love Maui, though it's pretty developed and I'm not a fan of the Wailea Marriott at all.
Always ready and willing to help, so let me know
I'll definitely reach out to you for your expert opinions on the Islands when the time gets closer, kharada46.
I stayed at the Waikiki Beach Marriott a long time ago (1989?). It was for one night on the way to Australia. That said, I remember walking past (and through) it on my last trip 11 years ago, so I'm familiar with the location.
I'll be watching for more Insiders to chime in before I make my decision.
While I haven't ruled out Maui, it's not on my plan at the moment. I will have to visit some day (how else can I "collect" Maui County? ). I'm still in the planning stages and things do have a way of changing. If so, I'll be reaching out for different info.
Thanks for a great start. You'll be hearing from me soon.
Hawaii Big Island Hotels | Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is a wonderful property with the Village close by for shopping and dining. The hotel does not sit right on the beach, but it's very very close with a short walk down a path the the beach.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection: Kohala Coast Unique Hotels looks like a great spot as well, even though a bit higher priced and slightly further north of the Village. I don't think you can go wrong either way on the Big Island.
Inter-Island flights you should be able to book using miles as I'm almost positive they code share with DL and AA, but AS does not.
The Poipu area is very nice as well, a nice drive through the tall trees between Lihue and Poipu make you think you're not even in Hawaii. The Poipu Kaua’i Vacation Rentals | Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club looks awesome and off the beaten track, but they only have 2BR villas which to me would be a waste since I'd only be using 1BR. Kaua'i though is such a beautiful spot and to be able to take a boat your down the Wailua River is just gorgeous.
Thanks for the comments, IAHFLYR. Lots to think about. In fact, kharada46 got me to consider Maui. I might make that my arrival and departure point instead of HNL and spend a few nights there before heading to the Big Island. If I do that, I would likely only do the final night in HNL (just because) before flying back to OGG to catch my plane home. Still looking at options, but I love getting perspectives from Insiders.
Now we do love Maui so, only problem is making sure you get a true ocean front room not simply an ocean view as those tend to be a sliver of a view when you stay at the Marriott's Maui Ocean Club. The location is perfect and if you get a great room splendid joint.
If you plan on ending the trip in HNL, why fly back to OGG just leave from kharada46 town for CMH?
It's all about how I book the award travel and how the points work out. If the best deal is RT CMH-OGG, I'd do an inter-island route OGG-KOA-HNL-OGG to pick up the flight home. If CMH-OGG and HNL-CMH works, I can skip the last leg. Sometimes an open jaw route ends up costing more points (which I currently don't have to spare ). Of course I'm still considering RT CMH-HNL. Once I book the award travel much will become clear. And LIH is still an option over KOA. Decisions, decisions.
IAHFLYR is exactly right. I have stayed at three properties on Maui (none of them the Marriott...oops ) the Sheraton Black Rock, the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, and the Fairmont in Wailea. If a true ocean front beach view with nothing in the way is what you want, absolutely book ocean front or deluxe ocean front. I really think it is a sham when properties call something Ocean View and then you need to step outside onto the lanai, then step to the railing, then lean over the railing, and have to really strain in order to see any water, let alone the beach. Some properties call this "Partial Ocean View" and in that case there is no room for complaints but when you are in a standard Ocean View and all you see is treetops, pools, and bushes, that's not cool.
Here was our last room we were given after I booked and "Ocean Front" room at the Maui Ocean Club back near this tree on the second floor not even a high floor. That building to the right was out view off the balcony. We ended up leaving within about 20 minutes that night and going to the Kapalua Ritz with a huge suite for 1/2 price after we told them what the Marriott did to us and then wouldn't even make it right.
The GM of the hotel at the time was pretty insensitive to the entire deal which didn't make it any better. I am pretty sure he got an ear full and email full of my wife!!! LOL
How's this for an ocean view at the Wailea Beach Marriott?
I requested an "ocean front" room, which are the ones of a great view of the beach and neighboring islands on the pretense that I was a Platinum on a 1 year anniversary trip (all true), and this is what I got. Not to mention we had to carry our luggage up 2 flights of stairs to get to our room
I'd actually love to stay at the neighboring Andaz Maui (Ren. Wailea) one day!
It now appears I will fly into HNL (with only one stop from CMH in LAX ) arriving early afternoon. Having been to Oahu a few times, I'll only spend 2 nights there (Waikiki Beach Marriott) before heading to the Big Island. Still haven't decided between Waikoloa Beach Marriott and Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (leaning toward the first). Five nights there (to take advantage of the 5th night free points deal) which will have to include lava watching (at sunset or just after dark?) and stargazing atop Mauna Kea (plus lots of time in and around the water ).
To round out the trip will be two nights on Maui. Plan to fly in on a Wed morning and the flight home doesn't leave until after 10p on Friday (so almost 3 full days to enjoy). No way I can do everything, so I won't try (though Molokini is on my list ). Haven't figured out where to stay on Maui yet (suggestions as well as why you reccomend one place over another are welcome ).
Anyway, this is where the planning has moved me (quite a shift from where I started). I'll be watching for additional feedback, particularly on Marriott properties (but also on recommended activities). I appreciate all the comments so far.
Great news that the flights work from OGG rather than having to transfer islands. Even though inter-island flying is easy it is still better if you can head directly to the Mainland.
Lava watching at sunset is priceless. We got to watch that long before cameras were developed and wish we would have taken pictures of the beauty of the stream as it enters the water.
Maui, the first time we stayed at Lahaina Resort | Marriott Maui Ocean Club – Lahaina & Napili Towers right after they had torn down the hotel part and replaced it with the these towers we had a great time. The next time we actually left because the Ocean Front Villa we reserved in Lahaina/Napili Tower was not what we got upon arrival they put us in the other buildings with a partial ocean view and they had no desire to make a change and honor the reservation, so we left and worked a great deal at Resorts in Maui - Luxury Resort Maui Hawaii | The Ritz-Carlton which was incredible. We much more enjoy the West Maui area over Wailea Hotels | Maui Resorts | Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa area and the Ka'anapali Beach cannot be beat. The town of Lahaina is fun to visit plus you can go and get Maui Jim's right from the store!!
We've been on about three different operator catamarans and always find Teralani Sailing Charters | Maui Snorkeling | Maui Sunset Sails | Maui Whale Watching | Maui Sailing to have been the most fun, one trip I think we did their sunset sail every night (darn and no frequent sailor points ). Another treat is the trip to Hana and that famous Road to Hana. Warning though do NOT try what I did and attempt to return to your hotel via the south road, we made it back but thought the little Mustang ragtop was gonna die. I thought we were in Afghanistan.
More to come as I think of it and you absorb it all!
Glad to hear your plans are coming together bejacob! What days you looking at being in Honolulu? To sway your opinion on Maui, here's a few more photos
Tentatively arriving in HNL on the afternoon of Tuesday 9/2. Two nights in town with a mid-afternoon flight to KOA. I've got the flights I want picked out, but I have to wait for some points to show up in my AS account before I can actually make the reservation from CMH. Once that's done (maybe a couple weeks), I'll begin booking the rest of the trip.
Then I get to decide on all the fun stuff I want to do (leaving at least a little time for laying around the beach, geezer naps , and just general relaxation). I'd hate to come home so tired that I need another vacation.
Message was edited by: bejacob
It is located at Nakalele blowhole. You pull off the road and park in one of a few paved cut outs. Then you hike roughly a mile out toward the water. There are several ways to get there, so many people have been over the years there are well worn paths in the dirt. Just keep walking toward the ocean along the paths and you will find it. It is not too bad of a hike but absolutely wear solid shoes. Sneakers are fine, but don't wear flip flops, slides, or flimsy footwear. As you will have to walk on/near jagged rock during the last couple hundred yards.