Author Topic: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style  (Read 8762 times)

Offline 3yummyboys

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Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« on: November 10, 2015, 12:06:47 PM »
First and foremost, thanks to everyone on DDF who helped make this trip happen! I will not name names because I am sure I will leave someone out, but there is no way we could have done this without you! I really hope to pay it forward and would love to answer any questions for others out there.

(I also have to thank mechayamom for posting her TR which gave me the push to start posting mine!)

I decided to post what I have so far, so that it will motivate me to keep writing!

Planning Stage

Hawaii has always been a dream to visit, I never thought I would ever make it there! After reading all of Dans TRs I knew that we had to make it work. After a lot of back and forth, we decided on Kauai and the Big Island. We chose Kauai for two main reasons 1) I really wanted to stay at the GHK and 2) I was nervous to go to Maui bc I tend to get very carsick and was not sure I would make it on the RTH, which is the main attraction. We chose TBI because I had been hoping to see some volcano action, but alas, it was not meant to be. However, TBI had so many other great features that it was still worthwhile. Thanks PBaruch for all of your tips!

We started planning in earnest last summer (2014) and I had mapped out exactly which CCs we would need and got to work. After opening two Hyatt cards, A CSP and two Inks we were well on our way to our goal. We needed this trip to be done with no out of pocket costs. Here's the original chesbon I came up with:

NEED:
Flights to HI 120K
Interisland flights 10K (I assumed we would go straight to LIH and then straight from KOA home)
Hotel 4 Hyatt nights
Rental home on  BI: $ cash (sell points) approx $2-3K
Car: SW points for Kaui and AA points for BI (we already had those points and had no other use for them a the time)

As you will find out, this was not how it worked out!

HAVE (or pending)
45K from CSP
130K from Ink
50K UR already in account
35K United
4 Hyatt nights
60K SW points
75K AA points

Yay! It all looked like it was going to work out. I began looking for flights, keeping my fingers crossed that the pending points would post in time. Now we just needed to figure out when to go and who would watch the kids. I had off from August 15-Sept 2 and DH finished camp Aug 20. Our window was short but definitely doable. My AMAZING parents offered to take the kids the week between camp and school. We offered them a trip to Vegas as a thank you, using up some leftover skypesos! We debated going to LA Wednesday night and then on to Kauai on Sunday. We ultimately nixed the idea because it would be too complicated with our POM meals and it would also mean DH taking off the last day of camp. At this point I had already read the revealed books twice and gotten lots of feedback on DDF regarding things to do and see.

Then DH dropped the bombshell. Due to his school schedule we would not be able to travel! I told myself that it was for the best and that we could make it work some other time. Having spent so much time planning (and dreaming) it was a big disappointment but it was out of my hands  :'( :'( :'(

To be continued ....

Offline 3yummyboys

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2015, 02:01:06 PM »
Fast forward a few months, and DH has worked out his school schedule to make this trip work.WHEW! We had to leave on a specific Sunday and had to be home 10 days later because the kids were starting school that Wednesday. After holding multiple tickets that ended up not working out, I began to get nervous. We had AA miles to spare so we planned to fly to LAX on AA and then on to Kauai. However, the only direct flight from LAX-LIH was 9:20 in the morning and there was no way we would be able to get to LAX the night before. We found one business saver and one first saver award for Sunday at 10am on AA. (67K AA miles) I grabbed the tickets, hoping to figure out a way to get us both on first. I figured that worst case scenario, I would switch the first class seat for a business seat so we could sit next to each other. Later that week UA opened 2 saver award seats LAX-HNL at 4 pm so we took them for a total of 80K. I was at work and wasn't able to call to transfer points to Singapore and book that way, and I was afraid of losing the flight  :P .

Ok, so we had our flights to get there, just needed to figure out a way home. As far as return flights, we were planning to travel to TBI on Thursday, before a 2-day shabbos so we would only have Sun-Tues to do things there. We decided we needed the HNL-EWR direct flight Tuesday night to maximize our day on Tuesday and to get home well rested so we could hit the ground running.
Since we needed one specific flight, I constantly checked for availability. When there were only 4 business class seats remaining, I had to decide if I wanted to shell out 90K per ticket to secure the tickets or wait and hope saver would open up. Knowing that if this flight didn't work out we would either lose a lot of time on TBI or we would end up without a good nights sleep, I decided to go for it. I know, it was a lot of miles to blow, but that was what we needed and I am glad we did it.

Now we just needed inter-island flights. Since there are no direct flights from LIH-KOA it would be a total of 4 segments. We decided against using miles because at this point we were running low on miles and would have had to pay a lot of baggage fees. So we booked with JJ for about $300 per person and we each got 2 free bags (thanks again).

We waited too long to book the rental cars, and there was recall on Mustangs so convertibles were hard to find and very expensive. We ended up using Discount Hawaii for car rentals on both islands, a Camero from Advantage at LIH for 4 days (around $300)  and a Jeep from Alamo on TBI for 5 days ($215).

We booked 4 nights at the GHK. On TBI we wanted a rental home since we would be there for two days of shabbos. We wanted something with a pool since we were told that we could swim on the first day of shabbos (we just couldn't do melacha d'oiraissa). We found some gorgeous homes in the range of $2K for the five nights. In the end, we splurged and stayed at an AMAZING home in Kona for $3K. (At this point we had gotten Amex Plat 150K offer so we planned to sell those points to pay for this  :) )

We ordered 6 meals each from POM, and I cooked food for shabbos to freeze. I ordered all of our supplies to be delivered straight to the hotel so we didn't have to schelp (snorkel gear, batteries etc.)

Woohoo! Now all we need to do is pack!

Next up: We are actually going to Hawaii!!!

Offline Dawie

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2015, 02:28:58 PM »
lovely!!! keep it going

Offline mechayamom

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2015, 02:40:46 PM »
Wow really nice job on the write up.  Cant wait to see the trip details.

I owe a great deal of thanks as well to 3yummyboys and the countless others on the site who were instrumental in making my trip happen.  Couldn't have done it without you folks.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2015, 02:44:57 PM »
Nice job so far! Glad everyone is coming out with their TRs now! Keep going.

Offline sam28

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2015, 05:00:12 PM »
thanks for the TR so far u doing great.

Offline ygygold

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2015, 09:55:44 AM »
Yay! Happy another person got to enjoy this magical place(s). Keep on going!

Offline efflpetzel

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2015, 09:59:28 AM »
$600 total from LIH to KOA as apposed to 12k UA?, sounds like a terrible value

Offline 3yummyboys

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2015, 10:33:32 AM »

$600 total from LIH to KOA as apposed to 12k UA?, sounds like a terrible value

4 segments

HNL-LIH
LIH-HNL
HNL-KOA
KOA-HNL

It was $335 per person instead of 24k per person + baggage fees for two bags each (we signed up as Hawaiian miles members so $35 for two bags times 4 segments totals $140 per person)

Online TimT

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2015, 10:40:16 AM »
Nice! Looking forward to the rest.

Offline 3yummyboys

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2015, 08:31:43 AM »
The week before the trip we began hearing about a hurricane that was supposed to hit the Hawaiian islands the week that we were arriving. In almost all of the models, Kauai was going to be hit hard. At this point we kept our fingers crossed and hoped for the best. As of the day of departure, Kauai wasn’t going to be hit directly but the forecast called for heavy rain throughout our trip. Having been warned that the weather in Kauai is impossible to predict and that it can be raining one minute and sunny the next, we tried to stay optimistic.

Erev Shabbos before our trip, I saw saver award availability open on our flight to LAX in first class. I quickly grabbed the ticket. We had a 10 am flight out of JFK, a 4 pm from LAX-HNL, and HNL-LIH at 8:19. This meant we would be arriving in LIH at 8:56 pm which is 2:56 am EST.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny and we stopped at Giant bagel on the way to the airport since we were already starving (it was 8 am). We checked in, hung out in the AA business lounge (it was closer to our gate than the first class lounge) to eat and waited to board. It was hard to sit still since we were so excited. Finally it was time to board and our trip was really getting started! We really enjoyed AA first, the seats were great and the service was outstanding. Every time the steward spoke to us, he crouched down so as not to look down on us. We were offered drinks immediately upon boarding and once again before takeoff. From my understanding, the business class on those flights is very similar to first, the main difference is in the service and the food. The seats are also slightly narrower, although we couldn’t tell just by looking at them. We tried to get some sleep knowing it would be a long day! At this point, the weather reports were still looking pretty gloomy and there were hazard warnings about ocean currents around the entire island of Kauai.

AA first class3 by n d, on Flickr
AA First class seat

After rechecking our luggage at LAX, we decided to get a quick bite to eat. Our first choice, La Gondola, was closed until 5, so we ended up trying LA Burger Bar and we really enjoyed. Nice portion sizes and good food. We stopped at the bakery next door (I think it was Delice) to pick up some pastries for the trip. We Ubered it back to LAX just in time for our flight.

United’s BusinessFirst was a huge disappointment. Although the seats were wider, I actually found Delta’s economy comfort seats to be more comfortable. There was no IFE unless you brought your own device, but since there were no outlets our laptop died within the first hour of the flight. We were not offered drinks or anything else until after takeoff, and even then we had to wait a while.  They did not have bottles of water, so we had to sit with open cups if we wanted to have water throughout the flight. My KSML was expired, although it probably was not edible even if it had been fresher. Luckily, we brought our eyemasks from our AA flight, since they did not give out any amenities on this flight. Neither of us were able to get a good sleep in, and we arrived in HNL pretty exhausted. As soon as we got off the plane we were hit with the humidity and it was pouring. Our luggage was soaked through as well. When we checked in with HA they were sticklers about the weight of each bag and we ended up paying overweight fees on all four bags! When we finally arrived in LIH, we were tired, cranky and soaking wet. Thankfully, the car pickup went quickly (Advantage booked through Discount Hawaii Car Rentals) and they upgraded up to a Camaro (DH’s favorite car). However, we had a very hard time fitting all of our luggage in the car, and since it was raining we couldn’t leave the top down. I ended up with luggage on my lap, in the back seat and the trunk. Luckily, the GHK is not far from LIH.

Our first impression of the hotel was WOW! Seeing the hotel lit up at night, with torches all around the property, it had a fairy-tale feel. As soon as we got to check in, we were offered free valet service for the evening, free access to the spa for the duration of our stay and an upgrade to an ocean view suite. They also called someone from the kitchen to come and take our food for the freezer. A large part of the lobby was closed off due the rain, but we could still see the beautiful trees and flowers in the center. At this point, it was almost 4 am on our body clocks and we could barely keep our eyes open. Fearing that our entire trip would be ruined by the rain, we went to bed.

Bedroom by n d, on Flickr

Our fears were unfounded. Even in the rain, Kauai is a magical place. We woke up around 4 am Monday morning to a drizzling, dark sky. We decided to check out the famous GHK pools before sunrise. Although the pools were deserted, we were able to find a maintenance worker to bring us some towels. The pools seem to go on forever, and we spent a few hours between the pools, Jacuzzi’s and the lagoon. Shortly after sunrise, it began to rain for real. Talk about perfect timing! We went back to the room to daven, have breakfast and plan our day.

Offline GTR

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2015, 10:50:11 AM »
Great stuff.  Makes me feel guilty for not writng a TR... looking forward to more!

Offline yochiek93

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2015, 11:04:02 AM »
Great stuff.  Makes me feel guilty for not writng a TR... looking forward to more!
You can always start writing it now

Offline mechayamom

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2015, 01:54:04 AM »
Great stuff. Keep it coming.

Offline Super Speed

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Re: Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii: 3yummyboys style
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2015, 08:47:00 AM »
Awesome!