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Re: Big Island Of Hawaii Master Thread Just returned from our Big Island getaway courtesy of your local Delta Glitch ticket, and wanted to post a report, as I've done in the past with Kauai and Maui. I apologize in advance for the rant.

Flights: $119 RT in Business to HNL; we bought 3 tix, assuming our 18month old would come. She didn't come in the end because our last 10 hour journey to Israel, just 2 months earlier, was a disaster, even with the extra seat we had for her. The cancellation fee would've negated any credit so just wasted the ticket. Originally, booked JFK-LAX-HNL-LAX-JFK then decided to go to KOA. Obviously Delta wasn't going to change to KOA, even when they'd made multiple schedule changes(each under 90 mins individually), the best they'd do was switch routing which I did on the outbound JFK-ATL-HNL. HNL-KOA-HNL was $310 one way and 6K united on the other(no miles option on our arrival date). The flights themselves were great. JFK-ATL 738- standard domestic first-no tv. ATL-HNL was the new reverse herringbone business, which was really comfy and private. Narrow seats but still more room than business on their 767's. The FA's were all really great and the 9 hour flight went by really quickly. On arrival to HNL, transferring to inter-island terminal was seamless(less than 10 min walk or shuttle bus- no security checkpoint), with a pit-stop through HNL's Japanese gardens with Koi ponds on the way for some serenity(and some amazing plane spotting through some of the fences). While Hawaiian airlines interisland flights bug me because of their obnoxious pricing- they are the only ones in the market essentially- they have great customer service and on-time performance. They really operate like clockwork, there are tons of flights each day, and they have interline agreements with most Airlines, to transfer bags easily, without having to claim and re-check. The return HNL-LAX on 753 was horrendous, even with the best seats on the plane(1A, B have cutouts with extra legroom), as there are old leather recliner seats, and pretty much everything was broken. LAX-JFK was a 763 with lie-flat coffin seats; no complaints as it was a much needed improvement from the previous segment. Food; on all flights were consistently bad; either frozen, tasteless, or non-identical, I believe it was Borenstein all the way through(although I'm still trying to forget, ugh). Food in Hawaii was ordered through R'Chazanow, who's an awesome guy, and I encourage anyone going to any island, to offer to bring food to the shluchim, as they provide an amazing convenience for kosher tourists in Hawaii.

Car: Midsize SUV through Alamo certs from the AMEX daily getaways deals- saved over a $100(total was around $120 for 5.5 days)- Didn't really need the SUV as we didn't end up doing South point(was rainy in that area), Mauna Kea or Waipio valley drive(the last one was against the rental agreement, and everyone said it was very slippery).

Hotels: Mauna Lani hotels and bungalows- I had very mixed feelings- overall positive but here's the list; Pros- Great service- even more prompt and friendly than the GH Kauai, perhaps because it's a much smaller hotel. Nice gounds and amenities- Great beach and spa complex- the $25 resort fee covers internet, vallet parking, bikes, snorkel gear, and cabanas. The fitness center and tennis courts rental are also included, but require a 4 min bike ride to get to as it's sep from the hotel. I didn't mind the ride, and we really enjoyed the tennis(they also provide rackets and balls so you don't have to shlep your own). Price- $190 through Hotwire hot rates! We upgraded to ocean view for an extra $50 which I found to be semi-worthwhile, as we ate most of our meals on the Lanai. Cons- Small pool area- no explanation needed. Rooms/layout of the hotel- While the rooms were very spacious and re-modelled, there were a few things that bothered me;a)No blackout shades, which basically meant getting up as soon as the sun came up(save the violin playing, we just went back to sleep!).b)The A/C didn't function all that great(was a little old school, as  it only kicked in when the temp dropped, as opposed to others which continuously blows air)c)The way the hotel is laid out with basically one giant courtyard in the center surrounded by rooms, make any noises, whether birds, loud children, or luggage wheels, largely amplified. Still, overall, the hotel is great value, with a very picturesque setting. Also, it was shabbos friendly, in that all the stairwells are within the indoor courtyard, so none of that automatic light shtick that you find in almost every other hotel in Hawaii.

Activities
We really just wanted to relax at the hotel, which is what we ended up doing most of the time, with some snorkeling in between. I only allocated 2 days of actual touring. The first day we drove to the Volcano, which is really an amazing sight to see. Did some hikes, walked through the lava tubes, and got a great viewpoint from the Jaggar museum. The only way to see lava is by long hike or helicopter, both which we weren't too interested in doing, but appreciate @Pbaruch's suggestions and guidance. That night we stayed north of Hilo in a great rental http://www.vrbo.com/149612. The following day we did the 4 mile scenic drive, a must to get close up to the bay. We also did Akaka falls,Kolekole Beach Park, and one of the revealed books adventure hikes which got us our very own huge waterfall. Many advised that Mauna Kea wouldn't be easy, so we decided against it.

 True, we may have missed opportunities of a lifetime, but our goal was to take it easy and enjoy some nice sights along the way, which I feel we accomplished. We saw most of the island from the roads and my main takeaways were that it's an incredible island and that the Hilo side doesn't get enough publicity, because in many ways I enjoyed it even more than the road to Hana. In fact, after visiting Kauai, Maui and the Big Island, I'd rank both Kauai and the big island ahead of Maui just because Maui is extremely touristy compared to the other 2. This is just one man's opinion. I'm here to share my thoughts and offer assistance or advice in gratitude to the DDF contributors that made my trips to Hawaii so enjoyable. Thanks for reading!

June 27, 2014, 01:06:53 PM
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Re: London Master Thread Currently on a quick Business trip to London and had some random thoughts thus far. The Wiki is tremendously helpful:
- AA 772 lie flat is really really solid. Soft product is inconsistent but seat is great with tons of legroom. JFK and LHR lounges are fresh and clean with showers and ironing service in LHR.
-Heathrow express is the way to go(probably stated a few times, but another data point).
-Stayed at the One Aldwych. Ordered food from Hermolis(as the hotel is far from Reubens). Rates aren't cheap, but cheaper than other 5 stars and a lot less stuffy. They asked when and where I wanted food delivered, and delivered to the second of when they said they would. Great location to walk around the city(or Jog, which is a great way to see the city instead of the gym). Indoor pool looked cool too.
-Hermolis food was really good. Tasted as if it was freshly ordered from abigaels or Le marais.
-DD sandwhiches are really good as well. Kosher food situation is really manageable with proper planning.
-London is a really great city. People compare to NYC and dismiss but the character and architecture is really cool.

May 04, 2017, 09:30:48 AM
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