Author Topic: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai  (Read 19871 times)

Offline David Smith

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2015, 08:01:28 PM »
Great TR so far! Looking forward to more! You're a great writer, i really enjoyed reading it!
Who do you think you are fooling? You think you are going to pull a quick one on your Creator? Good luck with that.
JTZ

Offline lunatic

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2015, 08:05:22 PM »
Awesome,  makes me want to go so badly... I think I am also a no shabbos guy

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2015, 10:32:02 PM »
Please do we can use all different  experiences
I plan on it :)

Beautifully done. Thanks !!
Thanks!

Well well well. Now we all know where you disappeared to. Nicely done!
Yep, I ran off to Kauai ;)

Wow, glued for the entire part!
Aw, shucks.

Wow!!!!!! Great start to the TR! Looking forward to reading the whole thing, despite it being the size of a novella. Way to go!
Find me a publisher :P

That was long! And amazing! Thanks.
I have a feeling future travellers will find this tr especially useful due to its detail.
I hope so :)

Great so far! But can you provide a little more detail?
At 8:38, I went to the bathroom. You asked for it. :-X

Awesome report! Brings back great memories.
Well said. I miss those. I guess we stayed in a different wing.
That's great, looks like SF cleared things up, although your pictures do look like they're overlooking another area of the hotel.

Well there you have it:
Sweet tool. You've just been dying for me to get this out, eh?

Great TR so far! Looking forward to more! You're a great writer, i really enjoyed reading it!
Thank you!

Awesome,  makes me want to go so badly... I think I am also a no shabbos guy
It's still fun, but it's a bit annoying to have to leave so quickly.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2015, 10:32:31 PM »
Monday, 8/17

Well, everyone was right about jetlag. Despite going to sleep pretty late, I woke up at 2:30AM (8:30AM EST) and couldn’t fall back asleep. My wife was able to sleep a bit later till 5:30AM. Because we were up so early, catching sunrise from the room wasn’t difficult, although again, from most rooms of the hotel (and particularly at this time of year - thanks Joe4007 and SomethingFishy), you can’t actually see the ball of the sun.



We Davened Shacharis, and since it was now the second day of Elul…



After Shacharis, it was time to book the return flight as the LH office would now be open. Thankfully, the flight was still available ;), so I called LH and grabbed the flights. I thought we would have to be constantly checking for flights while on the trip, but fortunately, we were able to take care of it right away on our first morning. Going on a trip without all the flights booked ahead of time worked out well in the end. Hurrah!

I then called UA to get an update on our bag as it was past 9:15EST and the bag should have been put on the daily EWR-HNL flight. However, the rep told me they don’t update the system once the bag makes it onto the plane – only once it lands and an agent picks it up at baggage claim. Seriously!? It would be another 11 hours before we would know if the bag even made it onto the plane that morning…

I had heard from DDF and the front desk that I could have our POM meals warmed up by the hotel kitchen and served to us in one of the hotel’s restaurants for $10 a person/meal. I decided that we should try it for one night and a quick call to the kitchen grabbed the last reservation available for that night.

After taking care of those few things in the room, we headed to the Grand Club for breakfast. The staff was super friendly just like throughout the rest of the hotel. Our bagels were waiting for us, wrapped and sealed with an Oahu Kosher sticker. There were several spreads options including fake butter, jams, and Philadelphia cream cheese. The bagel sure tasted like the Thomas’/Lender’s bagels we picked up from Walmart for lunches, hehe, but that was fine with us. As is fairly well known in the Kauai thread, the lox here is also Kosher. However, it’s already laid out on a plate and not knowing what touched it, I decided to avoid it. Some people have asked to get a fresh package of lox (and gotten it), but I didn’t want to bother them with that. The staff also claims that the oatmeal is Kosher, but it’s already being warmed up in a pot and there are several toppings (who knows if those are fine), so again, we just avoided it. We also opted for some cereal and were happy with their selection.



There’s also a fridge with a variety of drinks, but most were soda, so we just took some water. There is also a juice machine (like a fountain soda machine), and they let me look underneath to see the Hechsher on the flavors. Only some had a Hechsher, and because I didn’t know if they ever switch around the spouts/tubes, I decided to just avoid the juices. In the end, a bagel with spreads and cereal and milk was plenty for us. We took our food and ate on the patio outside.



Because it was still very early, we decided to take a more proper look at the grounds after breakfast.


Pond with waterfall in front of hotel


Another pond in front of the hotel, this one with black swans, turtles, and koi fish

The trees and flowers everywhere were beyond stunning:









Back inside, right off to the side of the lobby is one of the several restaurants that sit on the water with open walls. There were birds flying in and out as they pleased.


Ilima Terrace restaurant

Out back, the pools blew our minds. It was literally like looking at the brochure from some dream resort that you never thought you could ever go to. We didn’t go swimming now, but I’ll describe what the pools are like now while sharing pictures.

My first point will be about Tznius (obviously, from a man’s concerns/point of view), and I’ll clarify that I am not going into this to ease my conscience, but rather, as with the rest of the TR, to help others get an understanding of what to expect - based on my experience. These pictures were mostly fltaken at 7AM, so you won’t see anyone in the pools. However, we went to the pools every day on our trip and at different times during the day. For almost the entire time, the pools were surprisingly empty. We were shocked and grateful for: #1 having more space to ourselves and #2 being faced with a lot less Tznius concerns than we expected. Now, of course, there were women in bathing suits. However, it really felt that the majority of the people in the pool areas were… children. Even the adult pool had maybe 5 people in it at the busiest time we saw it. My wife will also point out that most of the women we saw were mothers with their families and not some young girls trying to attract attention. Obviously, age doesn’t matter in this issue, but it’s a bit easier to deal with than when you’re at a beach destination during spring break. Maybe we were just lucky that there weren’t so many people around, but checking out availability on Hyatt's site implied that the hotel was almost sold out during our stay. I felt that I face the decision of “looking away” more often on my daily walk from the subway to my office than I did at the GHK’s pools. Okay, onto the pools themselves!

All the pools cap out at about 4’ deep, and I was really happy about that as I am not the most comfortable swimmer – although my wonderful teacher [my dear wife (DW)] helped me make great strides on this trip! It was deep enough to swim in, yet you didn’t have to use your energy to float when you wanted a break since you could just stand. The water was always heated to a comfortable temperature. I saw that Dan wrote he would have liked the water to be a bit warmer, which made me expect that it would be too cold, but we were actually very comfortable the whole time. (Of course, it sometimes can take a minute to get used to – it’s not 90 degrees – but always after a minute we were comfortable.)

The adult pool (ages 14+) is at the top, nearest the hotel, and has a few bridges you can swim under. Just a few steps away is a bar (not swim-up) and waitresses take food and drink orders at the pool. It looks like I didn’t get any pictures of the adult pool, but it basically looked like the rest of the pools (see below), just with only adults. ;D The pool eventually leads to a very small connector “slide” out of the adults-only pool and into the open-to-everyone “lazy river.” Slide is in quotes because it’s really just an opening to connect the two pools, and it was always full of kids blocking the way. Lazy river is in quotes because the current was too slow to really push you along without you kicking along yourself a bit. I’m a huge fan of lazy rivers, but we mostly just swam through this one since it didn’t really move you. Let’s just clarify, though, it was still gorgeous!




One of the many bridges you could swim under

The lazy river has 2 awesome waterfalls that you can swim through, into the caves behind them. The waterfalls were really cool (but they were turned off during a few of our swims).





Another nice part of the lazy river is that at several points the river opens up to larger pool areas so you have some more room to move around before continuing.



When you get to the end of the river, you can either walk down some steps to the lower family pool, or take the water slide. We did the slide once, and either I was doing something wrong or it wasn’t that great – I stopped halfway down the slide and had to push myself down the rest of the way (no, I’m not a big guy).


The slide starts up here…


… and drops you off down here

The drop off is a large pool area (again just 4’ deep, so you can tell the slide isn’t some monster-fast/huge-drop slide), which then twists and turns to different huge swimming areas, where you could really just stretch out and swim.



This main pool has an island you can climb onto that has a jacuzzi in it (didn’t get a picture). It also has a few bridges you can swim under, as well as a basketball hoop and volleyball net.



Right next to the pools, you can pick up complimentary pool towels and rent/buy tubes and other pool toys/accessories. There is also a cute food/drink shop right here.



At the bottom of the pools, you’ll find the manmade saltwater lagoon. This area is surrounded by pebbly sand (not too comfortable on the feet) with plenty of beach chairs. There’s a stand here with complimentary suntan lotion and ice water. The lagoon was just as gorgeous as the pools, with several islands to swim around, and felt like the ocean - sans the fish and waves. It starts off shallow, which was really nice to just sit in the shallow water with the pebbly-sand and the sun beating down, and its depth varies throughout, getting much deeper than the pools (however all around the edges, it’s always shallow enough to stand).





At the far end, it hits its deepest point of 9’.


9’ deep right where the guy is swimming

I went into detail about the pools and lagoon because we ended up spending a lot of time here, and they were definitely a highlight of our trip. How about we get started with the day, eh?

At around 7:45AM we headed to the concierge desk to pick up our tickets for our 9AM Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour (BH). The normal cost for this tour if booked directly online within 5 days of the tour is $240 per person; if booked more than 5 days in advance, the price drops to $210. When I found out these prices, I was shocked and thought we would for sure be passing on this experience that so many have said was amazing. Looking into a bit more in the Kauai thread, I learned that Costco on the island usually sells BH gift cards at up to 20% off, which could bring the cost down to about $170. Besides for the fact that I’m not a Costco member (and would have to get hold of Costco gift cards in order to shop there – putting aside whether you could even use Costco gift cards to buy BH gift cards), spending $340 on a vacation activity still seemed like it would be too much for us. Eventually, I realized that the hotel’s concierge could book the tour for us. I called up about 10 days before our trip and found out there was availability for the day we wanted to go (our first morning as Kauai Revealed suggests going your first morning – and earlier in the day is always better lighting than later – so you can get a feel for the layout of the island - which I didn't think was so necessary for someone with GPS). I also found out that they charge $215, just $5 more than BH direct. The concierge told me they can either charge me directly (they’re an Expedia Local Edition, not owned by Hyatt) or charge the tour to my room. The benefit of these options is that the charge would come up as a “travel” charge on my bill (either as “Hyatt” or even, I imagine, “Expedia” would post as travel), and therefore, like the car rental, I could pay with my A+ card and redeem my points against the charge for a total of 38,700 points. While the value of those points is worth about $40 more than had I gone the Costco GC route, we all know by now that I view my miles differently than many others and prefer to spend miles than cash out of pocket when possible (and not when the value is incredibly poor) and so we got to enjoy BH without spending cash out of pocket!

Blue Hawaiian (who called a day in advance to confirm), as well as the concierge, told us to arrive at 8:15AM, 45 minutes before the tour, for the safety briefing. At first, I thought that seemed super early (and was concerned we wouldn’t be up in time – HA!) but we decided to try and be on time. The GHK is a half hour from the airport and the helipads (for all the tour companies) are located in the airport. Once you enter the airport, there is a fork right away that points towards the heliport versus airport. Waze was telling us to stay right towards the airport, but I went for the heliport, and we were there 2 minutes later. As we pulled into the parking lot at 8:25AM, 35 minutes before the flight, I got a phone call from BH asking me where I was. ::) When we walked in, they told us that the safety video starts in 5 minutes, a half hour before the flight. So in summary – don’t worry, just be there 30 minutes before the flight. We also found out that because we booked through the GHK, we would be getting 2 free gifts – a DVD of BH’s trips around the islands (unfortunately, not a free video of our personal tour) and a BH t-shirt! Pretty cool to get something unexpected, especially when I still had no clothing. ;D





I found out on DDF that it’s always a big hock whether you’ll be able to get a seat in the front row of the helicopter, or at the very least, on the right side of the back row, as those have the best views and don’t have anyone sitting in your way. When I made the booking, the concierge took down our heights and weights and commented on the fact that we were relatively small and would have a good chance of sitting in the front 2 seats. Well, the BH operators also know it’s a big hock about where you sit, and they played with us throughout the 10 minute video and while we strapped on our fanny pack life vests until they finally revealed that, yes, we would have the front 2 seats! Woohoo! There were two 9AM flights, and we were joined by 2 older couples who got nice and comfy in the back row (6 passengers per flight + the pilot). The other flight took off first, and while waiting outside to board under the wind of the propellers, DW and I were told to wear over-the-head headphones/noise blockers to make sure my yarmulke and her scarf stayed on! They said they know it’s a religious thing (cool that they knew out here in Hawaii), but that after the last time someone’s yarmulke went flying, they make us wear the headphones to hold them on. lol

Well, it was time to board (I was in the “ideal” seat – front right) and off we went!


The pilot told us that Jurassic World used one of BH’s helicopters in the movie and just covered over the “Blue Hawaiian” logo. It was so cool noticing it in the movie afterwards – literally the same helicopter just without the logo!

While I’m not a fan of roller coasters or heights, I was completely confident going into this flight (as I am on planes). DW can’t understand how, but wasn’t complaining. The first 10 seconds caught me off guard as the chopper did not rise entirely smoothly off the ground, but after that, it was smooth sailing. We flew from the airport on the East Shore, passing near the South Shore (the pilot pointed out the Tree Tunnel from the sky) and into Waimea Canyon. As everyone else warns, the pictures here do not do it justice.


The incredibly lush green


Peeking over the edge of one of the valleys with some red mountains…


… and then, seconds later, being blown away by the valley below

BH warns you to wear dark-colored clothing, so that your camera doesn’t pick up your clothing from the reflection against the glass. I wore a dark shirt, but didn’t realize my shorts mattered. :-[ I have tons of pictures like the one below, just hope I didn’t ruin others’ pictures…


Despite my legs in the way, this is one of the famous waterfalls from the original Jurassic Park!


Our first view of the Na Pali Coast (now we’re on the West Shore)


A hauntingly dark view of Na Pali; sometimes bad lighting turns out nice pictures :)


Look at the depth of those peaks!


While this one isn’t too clear, it was cool to fly into some of the valleys and then turn around to face the ocean


Kalau Beach, at the end of the famous and treacherous Kalalau Trail


The water was so incredibly blue


Tunnels Beach (now we’re on the North Shore), famous for great snorkeling. Our pilot said the water here that day was the clearest he’s ever seen it – from the sky, we were able to clearly see the reefs 100 feet underwater

As we headed down the East Shore (staying pretty inland) we hovered over Mount Wai'ale'ale, one of the wettest spots on Earth, and ironically, it wasn’t raining at all. Heading back to the heliport, we got some last few pictures.


This white patch in the side of the mountain can be clearly seen in Jurassic World - was cool to notice it in the movie after having seen it in real life

 
Pretty cool seeing our shadow on the mountainside


This is the road from Jurassic Park when they’re driving away in their jeeps from the oncoming dinosaurs during the storm - sweet!

As you can tell, I really liked the Jurassic Park/World scenes and didn’t care too much for the other movies that were filmed here. ::) All in all, the hour trip was awesome – first time in a helicopter, the views, the green, the pilot’s commentary, the famous scenes, ah it was wonderful! Once you’re back in their shop, you can watch a video from your flight. There are a bunch of video cameras onboard that the pilot switches between to catch the views you see and your faces/reactions. While the video is cool and not crazy expensive at $25, we felt like it would be something that would probably sit on our shelf and never be watched, so we passed on it and headed out.

It was just after 10AM, and the plan was to rent a kayak to head down the Wailua River to Fern Grotto and Secret Falls. Dan suggested to rent from Kamokila Hawaiian Village (noted in the book as well), since the trip from there to the falls is about 10 minutes in the water (and a half hour hike), which means you don’t need to be ready for a strenuous 2-3 hour kayak trip as you do with all the other rental companies (who leave from the mouth of the river). However, 2 things changed our mind. One was the price, which I found out before our trip. At $35/person for the rental (and no way to cover the charge with points as the GHK’s concierge didn’t have a deal with this rental company), a $70 activity didn’t really appeal to us too much. The second reason was what actually solidified our decision and that was exhaustion. Travel - even when lying in a bed – is very tiring for us. The long flight, getting bags, getting the car, Walmart, waking up at the crack of dawn, the jetlag, etc… in combination with seeing the incredible pools of the GHK meant that even at just 10AM, we were ready to call the rest of the day a hotel day. We drove the half hour back to the hotel, passed through the awesome tree tunnel once again and went up to our room. We changed for the pool, made bagel sandwiches for lunch and brought our POM meals down to the Ilima Terrace restaurant off the lobby (not where we would be eating) where one of the chefs came out with a tray that had a printed sign for The @Yehudas. Again, just another example of their awesome service. We gave him our meals and headed down to the pool. I already described the pools and lagoon in detail and swimming in them now was a blast. I should point out that as soon as we landed, I realized I had left my contact lenses at home and that definitely hurt my swimming experience – although it was still great. I kept switching off between my glasses and goggles – glasses meant I couldn’t go underwater, goggles allowed underwater but didn’t allow for much sight. Catch 22, hehe. Despite there being a few more people than at 7AM, we still had no trouble getting beach chairs and towels and still felt like the pools were almost empty with just a few kids/families around. After a while of swimming, we ate our sandwiches and… got right back in the pool.

After a few more hours in the pools (seriously, we were there from the late morning till late afternoon), we took one of the little paths out of the lagoon area to Shipwreck Beach. Shipwreck doesn’t get fond reviews in the book or on DDF, but being our first Hawaiian beach, we thought it was nice. It had the same proportion of people as the pools did, and we were able to find a spot to sit down that was decently far from other people.



The sand was very smooth and comfortable to lie on (especially compared to beaches I’m used to, like Point Pleasant in Jersey), but it was clear that the water is what turns people away from this beach. While standing in the water felt refreshing and great, the water was not calm at all. The GHK puts up colored flags to let you know how the water is and the red flags (dangerous/swimming not suggested) were raised during our entire stay (as they supposedly normally are). While we felt comfortable standing at the water’s edge, the waves were a good few feet high and that meant we were not about to attempt to swim (especially with no lifeguard at this beach).  About 30 feet into the ocean, though, there were a few boogie boarders who were putting on quite a show in their attempts to ride the waves, which was fun to watch.



All of a sudden the skies got dark, and on the Sunny South Shore – gasp! – it started raining. We grabbed our stuff and ran back the room. As everyone predicts, the rain wasn’t long-lived and by the time we got ready for dinner and Davened Mincha, it was clear again to the point where we were able to get our first fully sunny view from our room. Holy cow, do I miss it...



On our way down for dinner, we once again grabbed a sigh-inducing view of the framed ocean.



We made our way down to Tidepools Restaurant, which is built over one of the hotel’s koi ponds.



The tiki huts, open walls and sitting over the water gives this place an awesome island feel.



The servers were extremely friendly, and our table was waiting for us – plastic cutlery and all – when we arrived.



Reminding them not to open the meals before we got them was silly as they laughed and said they knew how this works. It took a bit of time till the food was ready (which was a little surprising since we scheduled a time in advance), but it wasn’t a big deal. We also ordered sodas ($3 each) so that we felt like we were actually using their restaurant a little more. The food arrived, and it was awesome to eat high-quality food at a beautiful restaurant in Hawaii.




We weren’t too impressed by the variety of POM’s side dish options, so we kept rotating the same few sides. This was the one main I splurged on (i.e. getting a meat dish that was more expensive than the standard chicken options), having the Boneless Spare Ribs (below, left) while my wife had the Buffalo Chicken Wings (below, right). The ribs were very flavorful but a bit too fatty for my tastes, and the wings were okay, although a bit on the shvach side compared to other wings we’ve had. The cauliflower was good once again, as were the roasted potatoes, while the broccoli was nothing special. Don’t get me wrong – the food was overall very good and having this quality of food, warm and in the middle of Hawaii was great – just wanted to give my opinion…



After dinner, we walked along the boardwalk/walking path that runs along the ocean and got to see the gorgeous colors of the sky as the sun was fading.



We continued to walk until we came across a hidden, dark entranceway…



…that turned out to just be the garbage dump area. ;D Sheesh, even the garbage area is mystical here.

Turning the corner, we found ourselves outside the Anara Spa and figured we’d peek inside. DW and I have never gotten spa treatments before and didn’t start now, but figured that we’d put our free Diamond access to use and at least look around.


Aha! So this place *does* have a regular, boring pool :P


While the men/women changing rooms are concealed behind doors, the separate Jacuzzis are out in the open flanking the pool on either side

Back in the hotel, we walked past a performance. Seemed like every time someone was up there singing, they were singing Israel Kamakawiwo'ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”



We headed back to the room, Davened Maariv, found out that my bag successfully landed in HNL (!) but for some reason still wasn’t going to make it back to me tonight >:( and finally called it a night after our first full, long and awesome day in Kauai.

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2015, 10:34:04 PM »
read this through in a single looong sitting and have to say you really struck the balance between educating and entertaining!
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline sam28

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2015, 10:34:23 PM »
Wow amazing so far I hope one day I can write mine to its my dream to go there . I have the points fo the trip but cant make it .

Offline tageed-lee

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2015, 10:45:01 PM »
Awesome!! Great TR! Looking forward to the rest!

Offline Dr Moose

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2015, 10:52:20 PM »
Wow, so many pictures.

Awesome TR!
Hey there! I am using DansDeals Forums.

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2015, 10:58:17 PM »
Great TR so far. Very detailed, i like.
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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2015, 11:46:17 PM »
Love it.
Thanks!
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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2015, 12:27:16 AM »
Excellent stuff.

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2015, 12:36:30 AM »
Great TR!! Got any comp from the travel insurance for the bag?

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #27 on: October 21, 2015, 12:51:43 AM »
Amazing amazing TR,
Reading this is bringing back so many good memories,

and the scent of that hotel ahhhhhhhhhh

Offline tzifanya54

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2015, 01:10:59 AM »
Great so far! But can you provide a little more detail?
+1
LOL great read though.

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Re: A DDF Dream Fulfilled: @Yehuda’s Trip to Kauai
« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2015, 01:30:06 AM »
So regarding the slide, I don't remember it being a problem for me as a kid, and I must have gone down 50 times!  :D

The restaurant looks exactly like I remember it from 21 years ago!

The BH ride looked amazing! I love the pictures!